The EMD SW1

The EMD SW1 was the second model produced in the SW switcher series and the last built by the Electro-Motive Corporation before it became an official division of General Motors. As with the NW2 model built during the same time period, the SW1 was very popular with railroads selling well over 600 examples although it never sold quite as well as its counterpart. Today, this little switcher, just as with the NW2, continues to soldier on in all types of applications from use on shortlines and industrial services as well as pulling excursion and tourist trains. Even the very first SW1 built in early 1939 remains preserved at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. As of today, there are more than two dozen SW1s officially preserved although as more are retired from freight service this list will certainly grow.

While General Motors' Electro-Motive Division (EMD) often gets the credit for cataloging highly successful first generation switcher models like the NW2, SW1, SW9, SW1200, and numerous others the history behind these locomotives is sometimes forgotten. It actually all began with the Electro-Motive Corporation, before it was a division of GM. During the mid to latter 1930s the company began marketing various switcher designs meant for certain tasks like the SC, NW, SW, and NC. Most of EMC's designations of its switchers simply referred to how their frames were constructed and their horsepower rating. In the case of the SW this meant six hundred horsepower built with a welded frame.  

The corresponding numbers that followed in later models simply regarded their place in the series. Of course, under GM, ownership some of these designations changed but in general stayed the same. The EMD SW1 was the second model in the series and while it also featured a 600 horsepower prime mover (using the new GM six-cylinder model 567, and later the 567A), the "SW" designation of future models was in name only (the "S" would come to denote "switcher"), as just the later SW600 featured 600 hp (most were more powerful). The unit retained EMC's signature short carbody of just 44-feet with tapering just short of the cab.

Once again, as with the NW2 released that year, the SW1 featured GM's own model D37 traction motors and not those built by General Electric (which was used on early EMC switchers). Even at the early date GE was now a competitor to EMD through its affiliation with the American Locomotive Company (Alco). Up to that time, the SW1 offered some of the highest tractive effort for an EMD/EMC switcher; 49,500 pounds starting effort and 34,000 pounds continuous. Interestingly, the design was even lighter than the NW2, at just a paltry 99 tons! One noticeable difference of the SW1s compared to similar models was its short, "porches" at the front and aft ends of the locomotive.

The model was one of the few EMD switcher locomotives to receive a new prime mover while in production. After World War II the SW1 was reequipped with EMD's updated 567A prime mover, which still produced 600 horsepower. During this time the model also featured a slight update to its carbody. The original switcher was designed with a double-taper near the cab while the updated version featured just a single taper. Other new additions included a better conical, exhaust stack (which became standard on all future EMD switcher locomotives) for better crew visibility, rectangular instead of curved windshields, and a two-beam headlight (the original version included simply a single light).

EMD SW1 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Allegheny & South Side Railroad 101 1 1951
Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company 8 1 1947
Angelina & Neches River Railroad 10 1 1947
Atlantic & East Carolina Railway 9 1 1947
Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal (B&OCT) 216-221 6 1942
Boston & Maine 1109-1132 24 1939-1953
Broward County Port Authority 400 1 1943
Buffalo Creek Railroad 42 1 1940
Burlington 9136-9153 18 1939-1941
Canton Railroad 21-25 5 1941-1949
Central Indiana Railway 1 1 1949
Central Of Georgia 1-3, 7 4 1939-1941
Central Railroad Of New Jersey (CNJ) 1009-1012 4 1939-1942
Chattanooga Traction Company 4 1 1947
Chicago & Eastern Illinois 95-99 5 1941-1942
Chicago & North Western 1207-1215, 1268-1279, 1271 (2nd) 22 1942-1953
Chicago Distric Electric Generating Company 3-4 2 1947-1948
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha (C&NW) 55 1 1940
Chicago River & Indiana Railroad (NYC) 615-621 7 1950
Chicago Short Line Railway 200-201 2 1942-1949
Cleveland Quarries Company 2 1 1953
Commonwealth Edison 10-15 6 1941-1950
Conemaugh & Black Lick Railroad 60-65 6 1949-1950
Detroit Edison Company 210-212 3 1949-1950
Detroit, Toledo & Ironton 900-901 2 1941
Donner-Hanna Coke Corporation 1 1 1941
Electro-Motive (Demo) 152, 700, 755, 802-806, 905-906, 911 10 1938-1951
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 220-246 27 1940-1941
Erie Railroad 360 1 1948
Fort Worth & Denver City Railway (CB&Q) 602, 604 2 1939-1942
Fort Worth Belt Railway 1 1 1939
Galveston Wharves 201-205 5 1949-1951
Garden City Western Railway 201 1 1952
Georgia & Florida Railway 70-72 3 1950
Georgia Marble Company 1 1 1947
Granite City Steel Works (U.S. Steel) 600-601 2 1951
Great Lakes Steel Corporation 11-18, 22 30-31, 33-36, 38 15 1939-1953
Great Northern 80-83, 5101-5105 9 1939-1950
Great Western Railway 61 1 1952
Hanna Furnance Company 14-16 3 1948-1953
Houston Belt & Terminal Railway 10 1 1940
Illinois Central 9014-9032 19 1939-1951
Inland Steel Company 51, 54, 57, 70-73, 76-81 13 1939-1951
International-Great Northern Railroad (MP) 9200-9005 6 1939-1941
Lackawanna 427-437 11 1940
Lehigh Portland Cement Company 5 1 1953
Lehigh Valley 112-115, 118-119 6 1939-1950
Louisiana Midland Railway 11 1 1952
Louisville & Nashville 11-15 5 1939-1941
Manufacturers' Junction Railway 6-7 2 1946-1947
Maryland & Pennsylvania (Ma & Pa) 70 1 1946
Mathieson Chemical Company 1-2 2 1947-1949
McLouth Steel Corporation 3-5 3 1950-1953
Memphis Union Station 10 1 1942
Metropolitan Sanitary District Of Greater Chicago 1-3 3 1952
Milwaukee Road 1610-1634 25 1939-1941
Missouri Pacific 9004-9006, 9011 4 1939-1941
Monon Railroad 5-6, 50, 105-106 5 1942-1950
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 15 1 1941
New York Central 574-599, 600-654, 600-614 (2nd) 98 1939-1950
Pennsylvania 5910, 5944-5953, 5987-5999, 9200-9203, 9104-9105, 9137-9154, 9396- 9428 81 1942-1949
Pere Marquette 10-11 2 1939-1942
Phelps Dodge Corporation A 1 1939
Philadelphia, Bethlehem & New England Railroad 212-218, 220-221 9 1940-1942
Portland Traction Company 100, 200 2 1952-1953
Public Service Company Of Northern Illinois 9-11 3 1950-1952
Reading 16-18, 23-24 5 1939-1941
Richmond Terminal 1 1 1939
Republic Steel Corporation 50-54, 300-306, 340-341, 352, 370-372, 890-891, 893- 894 22 1939-1952
Rock Island 529-546 18 1942-1949
Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway 100 1 1949
Sahara Coal Company No Number 1 1953
Seaboard Air Line 1200 1 1939
Scullin Steel Company 6 1 1951
St. Johns River Terminal Company (Southern) 8565 1 1940
St. Joseph Belt Railway 12 1 1947
St. Joseph Terminal Railway 1-2 2 1950
Soo Line 320 1 1939
Southern Pacific 1000, 1004-1016 14 1939-1941
Southern Railway 2002-2004, 2007-2011 8 1940-1947
Tennessee Coal & Iron Railroad 1000-1003 4 1948
Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis (TRRA) 501-508 8 1940-1947
Texas & New Orleans (SP) 11 1 1941
Union Railroad 455-476 22 1949-1950
U.S. Army 7001-7004 4 1942
Wabash Railroad 101-111 11 1939-1949
Warner Sand & Gravel Company 15 1 1953
Western Pacific 501-503 3 1939
Wheeling Steel Corporation 1001-1004 4 1946-1948

Production of the EMD SW1 ran between the early winter of 1939 and November, 1953. Due to their flexibility, reliability, and a cheap price tag numerous Class Is and shortlines purchased the model with some 661 in total built. Just as with many other models, it also found a lot of interest with industries (like Wheeling Steel, Warner Sand and Gravel, Republic Steel, and others) and even the U.S. Army bought four models. Two years after the model was developed, EMC and the Winton Engine Company became an official division of General Motors on January 1, 1941. Today, just as with the NW2, the EMD SW1 has stood the test of time and remains in operation in several different applications from short lines to excursion trains. 

Top Of Page

› EMD SW1

ADDITIONAL INFO



Photography Featured On This Site

Popular Train Ride Events