Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Santa Fe All The Way
The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad is one of the classic American roads. Founded in the 1850's, the Santa Fe grew west from Topeka, eventually crossing the Rockies twenty years later. Through mergers and acquisitions the company grew rapidly, and by the mid twentieth century was just about the largest road in America. Famed for it's passenger service, Santa Fe's Chiefs were renowned for their top-tier service and dome cars to help passengers better enjoy the fabulous Western scenery. The iconic red-and-silver "Warbonnet" featured heavily in advertising, and was so famous that eventually the Santa Fe resurrected it for it's freight service.
This is a later ATSF passenger locomotive, an EMD FP45. Based on a freight engine, the 45 was designed to have a smoother "cowl" style body like the classic E units, rather than the more workmanlike freight trains. The Santa Fe was the major buyer of these units-nine of the fourteen build went to the road. When Amtrak took over passenger service the FP's went on freight duty. Six of the Santa Fe's old units still survive, including this one at the Illinois Railway Museum.
The Santa Fe name sort of lives on, as the "SF" part of BNSF, and even today you can still spot classic warbonnets plying the rails.