Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A "Centennial" comes to Seattle!

Union Pacific 6900, Seattle Washington, June 24, 1969. Despite a gloomy rainy day in Seattle, crowds came down to Union Station to see what the Seattle P-I heralded as "The World's Largest Locomotive", built at a cost of $500,000!

Check out the kids to the left. UP 6900 was touring the West as part of UP's Centennial celebration. The 42 story
Smith Tower, white building in background, was at one time, the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The clock tower is King Street Station.

The Milwaukee Road’s electric trains used the canternary above the Centennial.

In 1969 UP purchased the very largest and most powerful diesel ever built, the DDA40X, with 6,600 HP provided by two diesel engines (prime movers) mounted on one frame. These 270 ton, 98 foot long behemoths were built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation. The "Centennial" was named to honor of the 100th anniversary of the "Driving of the Golden Spike Ceremony” on May 10, 1869.

47 units were purchased, numbered 6900-6946, beginning in May of 1969 with deliveries continuing through 1971. They were numbered using the "6900" series to mark the '69 dates.

The "Centennials" were designed for high-speed freight and by 1980 had successfully run up an average of 2 million miles a piece. With the decline of freight movement in 1980 the fleet of DDA40Xs were taken out of service and put in desert storage at Yermo, California.

In March of 1984 an economic recovery brought a demand for more motive power and 25 were returned to service. However, high maintenance costs caused the retirement of most of them by the close of 1986.

My late wife and I saw the 6900 at North Platt Nebraska in 1989. Since then, she was moved to Omaha, the site of an integrated Union Pacific Museum.

Railroad Stuff: Union Pacific Railroad 6900, General Motors DDA40X, 6,600 horsepower, built EMD April 1969, serial number 34526, retired Jun 25 1984. Donated to Omaha Nebraska, November 1986.

3 Comments - Click here:

Unknown said...

I love these big behemoth Centennials! And the great archive shots of Union Station give a perspective that no longer exists. Thanks Robert!

Robert in Port Townsend said...

Thank You! I don't know what she was doing under the Alaska Way Viaduct. My memory bank is beginning to show signs of wear!

Anonymous said...

Luckily there is still one active, we have one here in Chicago at the Illinois Railway Museum. Even photos dont do this locomotive enough justice, theye are huge!

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