EMD "F9" Locomotives

The EMD F9 was the builder's fifth entry in the series although it signaled the beginning of the end of the builder's iconic cab series. By the time the F9 was introduced Electro-Motive had been cataloging the GP7 since 1949 and debuted its successor, the GP9 in 1954. With the versatility these models provided, railroads had less of a desire to continue purchasing cab designs best suited for main line services since they offered poor sight lines in yard service and switching work (engineers had a very difficult time clearly seeing other crewmen and objects outside the locomotive, particularly to the rear).   With an extended cab and windows all around the GP models gave crewmen far better visibility; compared to the FT, F3, and F7 the F9 sold very poorly with less than 300 A/B examples manufactured. 

Interestingly, F9Bs sold better than the F9As, even with Canadian roads. Today, several locomotives remain either preserved or in operation. The most famous of these are the two upgraded F9As operated by Norfolk Southern for use on its business train (these locomotives actually started life as Baltimore & Ohio F7s).

An A-B-A set of Erie Mining/LTV Steel F9's, and a 'Geep' (a nickname given to Electro-Motive's four-axle General Purpose, or "GP," line), unload an ore train on the Lake Superior Ore Dock at Taconite Harbor, Minnesota on August 16, 1994. Wade Massie photo.

The EMD F9 began production in early 1954 as one of the final first generation models of the series. It used an updated version of General Motors' standard prime mover of the era, the always reliable 16-cylinder model 567C, which could produce a hefty 1,750 horsepower (the most powerful F model manufactured to date). Using GM's D37 traction motor the F9 could produce 40,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort and 56,500 pounds of starting effort; these numbers were pretty typical for most of the freight cab models save for the FP7 variant (designed for passenger service), which offered a starting effort somewhat higher.

Milwaukee Road F9A #93-A works suburban service in Chicago during August of 1965. David Hawkins collection.

Visually, the F9 appeared very similar to the F7 with a standard length of just over 50-feet, two port holes along each flank, and large number boards. Perhaps the only two distinguishable features if one really pays close attention is the change in grill location near the port holes (there is an additional grill located to the outside of the port hole nearest the cab on the F9). As mentioned previously, with EMD cataloging the GP7 and GP9 during production of the F9, railroads realized a need for these models due to their increased visibility allowing them to be used in all types of service. Between EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant and its London, Ontario affiliate  just 100 F9As and 154 F9Bs were constructed by the time production had ended in the spring of 1960, although nearly twenty Class Is (including the Canadian lines) purchased the model.

Southern Pacific F9s enter San Jose's Newhall Yard in May of 1966. The author notes that these covered wagons started their careers as Texas & New Orleans F7s and were later upgraded to F9 specifications. Drew Jacksich photo.

For the Canadian lines only the two large carries, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific purchased the F9, in this case F9Bs (38 for CN and 8 for CP). For U.S. lines, Northern Pacific found the locomotive most useful purchasing 60 total A and B units (30 each). Interestingly, private industry Erie Mining Company became famous in the railfan community for its roster of five F9As and six F9Bs using them for decades until they were finally retired during the 1990s (thankfully, at least one of their F9s remains preserved).

A Santa Fe company photo featuring F9A #285 along with a pair of F7A's, an F9B, and an F7A as the covered wagons march a mixed freight westbound along the main line near Anzac, New Mexico.

EMD F9 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Atlantic Coast Line317, 31721957
Chicago & North Western4051B-4054B (F9B)141955
Clinchfield Railroad864-868 (F9B)51955
Colorado & Southern Railway (CB&Q)700D11959
Denver & Rio Grande Western5571, 5531, 5771, 577441954-1955
Denver & Rio Grande Western5753, 5763, 5772-5773 (F9B)41955
Electro-Motive (Demo)462, 97521953, 1960
Erie Mining Company100-10451956
Erie Mining Company200-205 (F9B)61956
Great Northern470B-474B, 470C-474C (Evens, F9B)61954
Fort Worth & Denver (CB&Q)750A11959
Kansas City Southern58D, 74D21956
Louisana & Arkansas Railway (KCS)32A11955
Louisville & Nashville811, 919-92691956-1958
Louisville & Nashville717-720 (F9B)41956
Milwaukee Road81C-86C61954
Milwaukee Road81D-86D (F9B)61955
Missour-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy)226B-229B (F9B)41955
Northern Pacific6500C, 6700A-6704A, 6700C-6701C, 7000A-7014A, 7000D-7014D, 7050A391953-1956
Northern Pacific6700B-6701B, 7000B-7014B, 7000C-7014C (F9B)321954-1956
Santa Fe281-289, 281C-289C181956
Santa Fe281A-289A, 281B-289B (F9B)181956
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco)5140-5152 (F9B)131954-1957
Wabash Railroad1141A11959

An A-B set of Burlington Northern F9's, along with a Geep, have cut away from their train at the Belknap Street Yard in Superior, Wisconsin and are heading for the roundhouse during August of 1976. Photo by Rob Kitchen.

Overall, eighteen North American railroads purchased the F9, including the 20 A and B units sold to Mexican carrier Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.  While few examples of this locomotive were ultimately constructed many remain preserved today or still in operation. Those that you can find preserved include Rio Grande #5753 and #5771; Erie Mining #4211, Nacionales de Mexico #7009 and #7020 (both in Mexico); and Northern Pacific #7003-D, #7010D, and #7012-A. Aside from the rebuilt NS units in operation, Kansas City Southern also rosters a few as does Canadian Pacific. Additionally, short line Peoria & Western Railway continues to use F9s in service. 

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Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource in the study of steam locomotives. 

The amount of information found there is quite staggering; historical backgrounds of wheel arrangements, types used by virtually every railroad, preserved and operational examples, and even those used in other countries (North America and beyond). 

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Researching Rights-Of-Way

A popular pastime for many is studying and/or exploring abandoned rights-of-way. 

Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country.  Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that. 

If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer

It is an excellent resource with thousands of historic maps on file throughout the country.  Just type in a town or city and click on the timeline of maps at the bottom of the page!