ATSF FP45 97

San Bernardino, CA, December 27, 1991. Gary Kluge photo.


Santa Fe FP45 97 was built in December 1967 as Santa Fe 107. It was renumbered 5947 in March 1970 as part of the 1969/70 general renumbering. John Lucas photographed the 5947 powering westbound Train 17, the westbound Super Chief/El Capitan, just east of Lamy, NM in March 1971 in the upper photo, and in the lower photo, leading a pair of F45's eastbound with Train 18 near Blanchard, NM the following month. Amtrak's takeover of Santa Fe's passenger service, and the end of 5947's regular career as a revenue passenger locomotive, was less than a month away.
Even before Amtrak, the FP45's were frequently pressed into freight service pulling Santa Fe's premium 79 mph Chicago - Los Angeles train, the Super C. The 5947 was again leading two F45's in this Joe Blackwell photographed of the eastbound Super C at Devore, CA in the early 70's. The 5947 would receive the same blue and yellow scheme as the F45's in late 1971 or early 1972 following its reassignment to freight duties and removal of the steam generator. Within a few years, it was repainted into the blue and yellow warbonnet scheme.
The 5947 was the last FP45 to go through the railroad's rebuild program, emerging as 5997 in December 1982. The clipped view at left shows the front of 5947 a year and a half before the rebuild, and a decade after it was relegated to freight duties by the coming of Amtrak. The 5947 still bears a few traces of its passenger heritage: the gyralight between the numberboards, and the 5-chime Leslie S-5TR airhorn on the roof. Both items were gone by the time 5997 emerged from rebuilding at the railroad's shops in San Bernardino.
In 1986, the 5997 was repainted into the short-lived red and yellow SPSF merger scheme. The merger was denied in mid-1986, but the scheme lingered on Santa Fe locomotives for several more years. It is not known whether 5997 was repainted back to blue and before mid-1989, when Santa Fe decided to repaint the FP45's in a revised version of the classic red and silver warbonnet.
The 5997 emerged from the paint booth on December 8, 1989, wearing its new Superfleet paint job and a new number, 105. Gary Kluge photographed the 105, 100, 101, and 102 leading an eastbound manifest at the summit of Cajon Pass in southern California in January of 1990.
In May 1990, the 105 was briefly renumbered back to 5997 to make way for the new 100-class GP60M's. A few hundred feet east of where Gary Kluge photographed the unit as 105 in January, Paul Fryer caught it as 5997 on May 11, 1990, leading a pair of blue and yellow hood units, the 5993, a test car, and a mix of piggybacks and general freight.
Within a matter of weeks, it was renumbered again into the 90-class, becoming the 97. A year later, 97 was caught at Joliet, IL wearing a small US flag. The flags were applied to many Santa Fe locomotives in 1991 as a show of support for US troops fighting in the Gulf War. A few months after this photo was taken, the 97 would see a brief return to "passenger service" as it and the 95 assisted freshly restored ATSF 4-8-4 3751 on the California Limited excursion from Los Angeles to Bakersfield and return in December 1991.
By the late 1990's, the writing was on the wall for the FP45's. They were rarely seen on the point of trains, and could not be used on the point after 1997, since they were not fitted with ditchlights. As Santa Fe thinned the ranks of its 20-cylinder EMD power, the big FP45's succumbed to mechanical failures one by one. Only four, 90, 93, 95, and 97, were in service when these pictures were taken of 97 helping out a couple of GE's on an eastbound freight in July 1998. By the end of the month, a cracked engine block had sidelined the 95.
In the upper photo, Michael M. McGowen caught a very tired-looking #97 idling at Tonville, CO in April of 1999. The two lower photos by Ben Helsel show the unit third-out on a southbound manifest departing Denver, CO on April 21, 1999. By that late date, 97 was the only active FP45 left on the railroad. Less than a month later, on May 6, 1999, it would make its last run as the second unit on train Z-WSPKCK9-06. It was taken out of service at Argentine (Kansas City, KS) and stored. In December 1999, the 97 was donated to the Age of Steam Railroad Museum, now the Museum of the American Railroad in Dallas, TX. The locomotive was shipped dead-in-tow by BNSF, arriving at the museum on December 18, 1999. The engine was moved again to the museum's new site in Frisco, TX in 2013.


1. EuDaly, Kevin, Santa Fe 1992 Annual, Denver: Hyrail Productions, 1992.
2. McMillan, Joe, Santa Fe's Diesel Fleet, Chatham Publishing Co, 1975.
3. McMillan, Joe, Santa Fe Motive Power, McMillan Publications, 1985.
4. Shine, Joseph, Santa Fe 1987 Motive Power Review, Four Ways West Publishing, 1988.
Thanks also to Russ Strodtz and Ben Kroger for information on the 97,
and to Joe Blackwell, Ben Helsel, Gary Kluge, John C. Lucas, Michael M. McGowen, and Paul Fryer for the use of their photos.

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