ATSF F45 5960

San Bernardino, CA, November 1984. Gary Kluge photo.
Santa Fe's eleventh F45 was built in June 1968 as ATSF 1910. Like all the F45's, it was delivered in a modified version of Santa Fe's blue and yellow freight scheme that combined the elongated noseband and yellow windshield area of the F-unit freight scheme with the billboard lettering and yellow pinstripe of the hood unit scheme. In 1970, it was renumbered 5910 as part of Santa Fe's 1969/70 general renumbering. The 5910 was not among the F45's equipped with through steam lines for use in passenger service, but with 3600 hp and a 59:18 gear ratio, it could still get-up-and-go with expedited freight trains. Charles Lange captured the 5910 on an eastbound piggyback train in the early 70's at Sandcut, CA, clearly making the most of the short stretch of relatively flat running east of Bakersfield. The easy going would soon give way to the tortuous grades of Tehachapi Pass. The 5910 would be repainted in the blue and yellow Warbonnet scheme within a few years, and its gear ratio would be changed to 60:17.
The 5910 was remanufactured at Santa Fe's San Bernardino Shops in February 1983 and renumbered 5960. Gary Kluge photographed the unit in front of the shops that rebuilt her in November 1984. The rebuild included the addition of smoke lifters on either side of the exhaust stack, an attempt to keep exhaust gasses from entering the central air intake just below the lifters. Most locomotives Santa Fe rebuilt between 1982 and 1984 received similar modifications. The lifters were not entirely successful and were gradually removed in succeeding years. Less noticeably, Santa Fe modified the number boards, mounting them in slightly raised, hinged doors so that the light bulbs behind them could be changed from the front. The original configuration, with bulb access doors inside the cab, was considered a hazard since debris from grade crossing collisions could potentially penetrate the thin plastic or plexiglas numberboards, knock open the interior doors, and enter the cab.
The 5960 was one of 20 F45's repainted in the short lived red and yellow warbonnet scheme for the proposed Santa Fe Southern Pacific merger in 1985-86. In January 1987, two years and two months after the previous photo, Gary Kluge again photographed the unit at San Bernardino, this time in SPSF paint. Note that the classification lights beside the number boards had been plated over by this time. More photos of 5960 in red and yellow are available. The ICC rejected the merger proposal in July 1986, and the 5960 was returned to the blue and yellow warbonnet between 1988 and 1990.
ATSF 5960 was wearing fresh paint and a cap on its stack as it stood in storage at the Argentine shops in Kansas City, KS in 1991. A view from the front would have shown that the unit had received a small, hood unit sized noseband, similar to many other F45's repainted from SPSF colors. The US flag on the battery box door was added to most Santa Fe locomotives in early 1991 to show support for American troops during the first Gulf War. The end of the unit's career as a Santa Fe locomotive was rapidly approaching.
The 5960 was among the first F45's to leave the Santa Fe roster as one of seven sold to Morrison Knudsen in February 1994. MK renumbered the unit MKCX 5531 and placed it in lease service with its Santa Fe markings painted out and a small MKCo logo applied. By August 1994 it had been leased to the Utah Railway, and in May 1995 it was repainted and renumbered Utah 9013. Dave Vickers photographed it at Provo, UT in November 1999.
Utah 9013 wasn't the first F45 to grace the Utah roster - between 1985 and 1991, the road had leased four ex-BN, ex-GN F45's from National Railway Equipment. During its six years on the roster, though, the 9013 was an orphan. It was seldom used as a lead unit, but on April 22, 1999, Nils Huxtable of SteamScenes Publications made special arrangements to have the 9013 on the point for one trip over the road. Steve Ellis was also on hand, and photographed the rare occurance at Colton, UT.

At some point, ownership of the unit passed to Helm Leasing, and in October 2001, the lease to Utah ended. The F45 was shipped to Metro East Industries in East St. Louis, IL for storage.

Utah 9013 lingered in storage at MEI for eight years in the company of ex-Metra F40C cowls and other locomotives. The unit narrowly escaped scrapping when it was acquired in July 2008 for a novel project - it was to be gutted and converted into luxury accomodations as an added attraction at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, MT. The unit was shipped to the RELCo shop at Albia, IA in October 2008 for initial preparation and painting. In keeping with its future home next to a former Great Northern lodge along the main line over Marias Pass, the unit's exterior was refurbished and modified to resemble a GN F45. The number boards were back-dated to their original style, classification lights were reinstalled, a plow pilot replaced the steeply-sloped Santa Fe pilot, and radiator screens that matched the style of GN's units were salvaged from a scrapped F40C. In addition, a gyralight was added between the number boards (GN's F45's had their fixed headlights between the numberboards and a blank nose door). The unit was given a coat of GN "Big Sky Blue" paint and the number 441, one number higher than the last "real" Great Northern F45. John Lewis found the freshly repainted unit on a BNSF train at Burlington, IA on August 21, 2009 enroute to its new home in the upper photo. The unit was delivered to Essex on August 26, 2009, and the lower photo by Tom Lambrecht shows it in place beside the Izaak Walton on October 2, 2009. More details are available at


1. Graham-White, Sean, ElectroMotive Divison's Classic Cowl Units, Four Ways West Publications, 2002.
2. McMillan, Joe, Santa Fe's Diesel Fleet, Chatham Publishing Co, 1975.
3. McMillan, Joe, Santa Fe Motive Power, McMillan Publications, 1985.
4. Priest, Dr. Cinthia, The Santa Fe Diesel, V.2, Paired Rail Railroad Publications, Ltd., 1997.
5. Strack, Don,
Special thanks to Steve Ellis, Gary Kluge, Tom Lambrecht, Charles Lange, John Lewis, and Dave Vickers for the use of their photographs.

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