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Freedom Train
Locomotive #1776

The ALCO (GE) PA-1 that would pull the Freedom Train is unveiled at the company's production plant.

Named "Spirit of 1776", the locomotive was painted to the specifications of designer Chester Mack.

The color scheme was a rather bold choice for the day : a stark white train in the days of stream - unheard of! Diesel locomotives were new to the railroads and the risky paint scheme worked fine (and behind the diesel the train stayed clean fairly easily).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mack's original design for the locomotive called for a large stylized gold eagle on either side of the engine. The emblems were fabricated, but his supervisor nixed the idea, saying the eagles reminded him of those he had seen on German officers' uniforms in WWII.

Image: Bob's Photo

 
 

Though the train started its tour without the eagles, Mack soon managed to get them reapplied by pleading his case up ALCO's chain of command. At right are somewhat rare photos of the engine without its eagles.

Photo: Chester Mack family collection.

 
 

Shown with eagles at Kansas City.

Photo: Todd Schannuth collection.

 
 

After its days on the Freedom Train, the locomotive was sold to the GM&O Railroad and numbered 292. While on the railroad the loco wore a pair of large bronze plaques noting its service on the Freedom Train. The locomotive was eventually scrapped by the railroad, but the bronze plaques it wore on the GM&O denoting its work as the Freedom Train locomotive still exist. One of the eagles from its sides has apparently survived as well.

It is the only locomotive ever to operate in every state in the Union (48 at the time). This classic locomotive type disappeared from the US in 1978 when the last four units were sold to Mexico. There were none in US Museums; none in storage; none at all. In 2000, two of the four were repatriated. One of those, former Delaware & Hudson #18, is being restored as Nickel Plate Road #190.

Seen here in a ceremony handing the locomotive over to the GM&O, the Girl Scouts of Schenectady presented an American Flag to accompany the locomotive. Girl Scout Carol Snyder holds the flag along with Mayor Owen Begley as Alco plant manager J.J. Smith points the the new bornze plaque on the side of the locomotive.

Image: Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen's Magazine, May 1949.

 
 

The plaques read:

FREEDOM TRAIN LOCOMOTIVE

This locomotive hauled the Freedom Train on its 37,000 mile nationwide tour from September 17,1947 to January 22, 1949 before going into service on the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad. The first locomotive to operate in all forty eight states, it was loaned for its historic tour by its manufacturers, the American Locomotive Company and the General Electric Company.

Photographed at the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum in September 2007 by Mary Jayne & John Z. Rowe.

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