Baldwin "VO-1000" Locomotives

The Baldwin VO-1000 proved to be the company's most popular diesel locomotive model. Including the later DS-4-4-1000 (which was essentially the same model reclassified) the Baldwin Locomotive Works sold more than 1,000 examples of the design. While the company did quite poorly in the main line diesel market, it could not even effectively compete with the American Locomotive Company (Alco) let alone industry leader Electro-Motive Division, railroads found its switcher line very reliable, efficient, and rugged. Most sales of the VO-1000 went to large Class I railroads. However, the diesel also found a market with the industries and smaller railroads looking to fill their power needs. Today, the VO-1000 is the best preserved Baldwin diesel, as more than a half-dozen can be found at museums around the country. Additionally, B&O #412 owned by the United Railroad Historical Society is leased out to shortline SMS Lines for revenue freight service.

Macon, Dublin & Savannah Railroad VO-1000 #1000 (built new for the company in 1942) basks in the sun outside the engine shop at Macon, Georgia on February 18, 1956. Two years later the MD&S was acquired by the Seaboard Air Line. Warren Calloway photo (colorized).

Baldwin released its VO-1000 model at the same time as its VO-660 design. The designations behind Baldwin's switchers included engine type (the VO was a diesel engine built by De La Vergne who supplied many prime movers for Baldwin over the years) and horsepower (in this case, 1,000). It was a very straightforward setup that the company, for one reason or another, elected to change soon after using a complex set of numbers, letters, and dashes (far more complicated than designations other builders would use). In any event, if Baldwin had ever shown as much interest in main line diesel locomotives (where the real money was to be made) as it did its early switcher designs the company would surely have survived much longer or perhaps still even be in business today.

Missouri Pacific VO-1000 #9153 (built for subsidiary St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico) and DS-4-4-1000 #1084 are on display at Electro-Motive's 25,000th locomotive celebration in La Grange, Illinois on October 6, 1962. Roger Puta photo.

For more information about the VO-1000 model please click here.  If you are somewhat familiar with the history of the industry, Baldwin was a leading steam locomotive manufacturer for decades and had been producing them since railroading practically began in the 1830s. When diesel locomotives first began appearing in manufacturers' catalogs in the 1930s (such as with the American Locomotive Company's small switchers and the Electro-Motive Corporation's FT and EA design) Baldwin showed little interest in the motive power. The company was not even able to build diesels until it purchased the I.P. Morris & De La Vergne company in 1931, which specialized in industrial diesel engines.

The VO-1000 was actually Baldwin's very first diesel locomotive model it ever released on its own, debuting the design in January, 1939 about four months before the VO-660 (in reality, Baldwin's idea of building customized diesel locomotives for either a specific railroad or certain work environment would prove unsuccessful). It was a bit longer than models being released by Alco and EMC at 48 feet, 10 inches. However, it carried the classic look that would come to define switcher models, an end cab that was wider and taller than the leading long hood to give crews maximum visibility. From an exterior standpoint the one lacking feature of the VO-1000, among all things, was few handrails none of which ran the length of the locomotives' walkways.

St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) VO-1000m #205 is seen here at Kansas City, Kansas on May 26, 1977. Originally built in late 1941 for the railroad as a VO-1000 the locomotive had been re-engined with an Electro-Motive 567 in May, 1957. She was finally retired in July, 1979. Doug Kroll photo.

As with the soon-to-be-released VO-660, the VO-1000 used a four-axle, B-B truck setup and featured internal components almost exclusively from Westinghouse (the two companies had worked well together for many years dating back to the late 19th century in collaborating to build electric locomotives). While the model did not feature dynamic braking or turbocharging it did offer excellent tractive effort; 60,000 pounds starting and 34,000 pounds continuous (a trait not lost on railroads).   Given the switcher's weight (122.25 tons) and length they were quite versatile in light duty service such as branchline and yard work, which is where most railroads employed them.

It also made them marketable for industrial applications where many were also purchased. When production ended on the VO-1000 just after World War II, in December, 1946 548 would be built, which would all but equal Baldwin's total of later cab units and road switchers combined.  An interesting sidenote about the VO1000 was that several lines like the Reading, Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, Atlantic Coast Line, Great Northern, St. Louis–San Francisco Railway, and the Santa Fe all had their models later modified. Most, like the Reading sent theirs to EMD for repowering with the company's model 567 prime mover (the Reading's, for example, kept their outward appearance and still looked like a Baldwin but were classified as a VO-1000m).  

Baldwin VO-1000 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
American Steel & Wire Company1211946
Atlantic Coast Line606-609, 616-617, 619, 621, 62391942-1944
Baldwin (Demo)62000 (To AT&SF, 2201)11939
Baltimore & Ohio413-437251943-1945
Belt Railway Of Chicago401-40221942-1944
Bingham & Garfield Railway801, 80321943
Canton Railroad30-3121944
Central Of Georgia22, 26-2731940-1944
Central Railroad Of New Jersey (CNJ)1062-106651944
Chicago & North Western1024, 1037-1047121944-1946
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha (C&NW)87-8931944-1945
Chicago Short Line100-10231942-1945
Colorado & Wyoming Railway1107-110931943
Defense Plant Corporation262-1, 262-221943
Detroit Terminal101-10221945
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern475-484101940-1944
Escanaba & Lake Superior10011946
Great Northern139-144, 5332-5335101941-1944
International-Great Northern Railroad (MP)9150-915231944
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railroad44-4741942-1943
Lehigh Valley135-13951944
Litchfield & Madison Railway10011942
Louisville & Nashville2202-221091943-1944
Macon, Dublin & Savannah Railroad100011942
Milwaukee Road1860-1861, 1682-1691121940-1945
Minneapolis & St. LouisD-145, D-34021940-1945
Missouri Pacific9103, 9117-9119, 9198-919961939-1945
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis15, 30-3461941-1943
New York Central8600-860781944-1945
Northern Pacific108-109, 111-112, 119-124, 153-154, 159-174281941-1945
Oliver Iron Mining Company907-925191940-1943
Patapsco & Back Rivers Railroad70-7341940-1942
Phelps-Dodge Corporation9-1021943
Philadelphia, Bethlehem & New England Railroad251-25221945
Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway3011943
Reading55-59, 71-89241940-1944
Rock Island760-76451943-1944
Santa Fe2202-2259581939-1945
Soo Line31011945
St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway (MP)9153-9155, 9160-916151944- 1945
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco)200-237381941-1945
St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt/SP)1000-1022231942-1945
Seaboard Air Line1400-1402, 1413-141671941-1945
Southern Pacific1320-1329, 1371-1385251941-1944
Southern RailwayDS-220511941
Spokane, Portland & Seattle30-3451940-1945
Tennessee Coal & Iron800-80341946
Tennessee Eastman Corporation411946
Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis (TRRA)591-601111941-1944
Union Pacific1055-106061943-1944
Union Railroad500-50561940-1941
U.S. ArmyV-1800, V-1801, 1-120, 7126-7143, 7225-7227, 7453-7457, 7461-7464, 7466- 7467351941-1945
U.S. Navy (Bremerton, WA/Naval Base Kitsap)6, 11-14, 18-1971944-1945
U.S. Navy (Burns City, IN/Naval Ammunition Depot)3, 521942
U.S. Navy (Cheatham Annex, VA/Naval Weapons Station Yorktown)35-3621945
U.S. Navy (Crane, IN/Naval Ammunition Depot)7-1041943-1944
U.S. Navy (Earle, NJ/Naval Weapons Station)3-4, 8-10, 13-14, 1981943- 1945
U.S. Navy (Hawthorne, NV/U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot)1, 15-1631943-1945
U.S. Navy (Indian Head, MD/U.S. Naval Ordnance Station)111943
U.S. Navy (McAlester, OK/U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot)1-4, 12-1361945
U.S. Navy (Port Chicago, CA/U.S. Naval Amunition Depot)21-2331945
U.S. Navy (Schumaker, OK)2, 37-3831945
U.S. Navy (Stockton, CA/Naval Base)511945
Wabash Railroad300-30341942-1946
Western Maryland128-13251943-1944
Western Pacific581-58551945
Western Railway Of Alabama621-62441944

Terminal Railroad Association VO-1000 #591 carries out its daily switching duties as a pair of crewman ride the pilot on April 16, 1963. Roger Puta photo.

The GN completely salvaged theirs, turning them into transfer cabooses. The most interesting, however, was Santa Fe's retrofitting one its VO-1000s into what became known as the "Beep" (also known as the SWBLW or "SWitcher, Baldwin Locomotive Works."  The company repowered the locomotive with an EMD model 567C prime mover and had to construct a GP7-like hood (only shorter) to house the engine. The locomotive, though, kept its original Baldwin frame although it was given updated Blomberg B trucks. It entered service in December, 1970 and even though Santa Fe determined the idea unsuccessful the "Beep" (or "Baldwin Geep") remained in service until it was donated to the Western America Railroad Museum of Barstow, California.  Finally, for more information about the VO-1000s please refer to the chart above.

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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

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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!

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In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a web page highlighting virtually every unit every out-shopped by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.  Alas, in 2013 the site closed by thankfully Don Strack rescued the data and transferred it over to his site (another fine resource).  If you are researching anything EMD related please visit this page first.  The information includes original numbers, serials, and order numbers.