Northwest NEWS

April 24, 2000

Front Page

Diesel locomotives will soon have a new life

Alco diesels

Two Delaware & Hudson Alco PA diesel locomotives await the final leg of their long journey toward restoration.
Photo by Josh Grenner.

by Carol Edwards & Josh Grenner

   WOODINVILLE--What looked like two rusty train engines and a load of scrap metal parked on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks last week turned out to be valuable property.

   The two engines, old Delaware & Hudson Alco PA diesels, model numbers 16 and 18, were parked for just two days before going to Albany, Oregon to begin a restoration process.

   During the two days they were in Woodinville, many people took photos of them and called the paper to inquire about what they were. One provided information that was published about the engines in Trains, a national magazine.

   It turns out that both engines will be restored. One will go to the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and one to Doyle McCormack, a private restorer/collector in Oregon.

   "These particular locomotives are virtually the only two in America today," McCormack said. "In the era of the passenger trains, these engines were considered some of the most beautiful. They have had 50 years of hard work."

   The engines' journey began in Mexico after more than 10 years of negotiation for their return to the United States, McCormack said.

   "As the railroads modernized and the passenger fleet railroads turned into Amtrak, older streamlines were surplused and scrapped," said McCormack. "A few were sold to various other entities in places such as Mexico. These engines were used down there for a few years and fell into disuse."

   McCormack said he tried to negotiate for these engines on his own, but "it was a frustrating adventure. There were others also trying to rescue them, one being the Smithsonian. I am friends with the transportation curator. We joined forces and he had the political connections to negotiate with the proper people. It took 10 years and thousands of dollars to make the convoluted deal."

   McCormack works as a locomotive engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad. "My hobby is railroad restoration ... it has been railroading since I was a kid," he said. "In the past 35 years, it has grown into a big hobby."

   Mexico had a total of four of these engines. According to McCormack, the others have been restored and are on display in Puebla, Mexico. Once the deal was made, the trains faced a circuitous journey, due to their height and inability to pass through specific tunnels.

   The two flat cars came across from Mexico at Nogales, then on to Phoenix, Denver, Cheyenne, Spokane, Wenatchee, and then to Woodinville before being routed around the King Street Station through Renton, Tacoma, Vancouver, Portland, and then to Albany, Oregon.

   McCormack says he has everything he needs for the restoration.

   "We'll unload them onto the wheels and bring one in at a time to our ramshackle roundhouse. I have been collecting parts for the past four and five years that will produce a working model," he said. "The Smithsonian will probably have a fundraising effort and decide whether to have their engine for display only or as a working model."