In January 1975, Southern Pacific took delivery of its last General Electric U33C locomotive; considering this model's dismal maintenance record on the SP, observers could reasonably expect never again to see new GE locomotives on this railroad.
Just three years later, however, GE came roaring back with their answer to Electro-Motive's GP40-2, the B30-7, and SP was first in line to buy a sample set. Ultimately, the SP/SSW was to buy 110 B30-7 and another 20 B36-7 locomotives. Slipped in among these high-horsepower units were fifteen B23-7 locomotives delivered in 1980. In 1987-89, 95 new B39 and Dash 8 Techno-Toasters were added to the roster, along with 195 GP60s from GM Locomotive Group. Once a tractive effort railroad,the SP was re-inventing itself as a cross-country intermodal conveyor belt in competition with the Union Pacific and the Santa Fe.
At the same time, control of the SP migrated to Rio Grande Industries, then gearing up for a boom in transportation of Colorado-mined coal for power plants. GE was again able to meet the needs of the combined Rio Grande-SP, first with the comfort cab Dash 9-44CW (direct current) six-axle locomotive and, finally, with the dramatic capstone to the Southern Pacific diesel roster of 279 AC4400CW diesels-delivered in the short span of seven months in 1995. In all, 620 modern General Electric diesel units were delivered to the SP and the Cotton Belt between 1978 and 1995.
Their story is told in Volume 19, in 144 pages with 250 photographs. Each delivery phase of each GE model is given its own chapter. While GE locomotives were not very popular in the resale market, many are documented in the popular Graduates' chapter. Successor Union Pacific had dozens of early former SP B-boats rebuilt to green 21st-Century switchers, as well as converting dozens more into remote-control radio cars. Their stories are documented in these pages. Making a brief appearance in their own chapter are the three Morrison-Knudsen MK5000 demonstrator locomotives that made a splash in the December 1994 Popular Mechanics magazine, but were banished in disgrace from SP rails after only a few months of unsuccessful tests.
Shade Tree Books, softcover, 144 pages, 8.5 x 11 x .25 in., B&W photographs, color covers, roster information.