Tuesday, March 22, 2011

GM Open House: CN 5535

September 17, 1989. General Motors Open House, McCook, Illinois. My late wife and I found ourselves at McCook, Illinois, attending the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of FT 103's epoch voyage across America, demonstrating the superiority of diesel over steam power.

As part of the festivities, Electro Motive Division generously rounded up for display a group of locomotives, each representing specific milestones in the development of GM diesel electric motive power. Among the group, CN 5535, noteworthy for two reasons:

First, Canadian National 5535 represented diesel electric locomotive productivity from GM's Canadian subsidiary in London, Ontario. For reasons better left to accountants and financial types to explain, General Motors Diesel Limited (GMD) went on line in London on August 11, 1950, to fill orders not only for the Canadian market, but also for overseas markets.

Second, Canadian National 5535 was the 5,000th unit to roll off the erection floor in London Ontario. The first diesel locomotive built was Toronto, Hamilton, and Buffalo Railway (TH&B) number 71, a GP7 road switcher, followed by Canadian Pacific 4028 and 4029 out shopped in September and November 1950.

General Motors Diesel (GMD) Limited became the Diesel Division of General Motors of Canada (GMDDL) Limited on February 1, 1969.

Sign of Change
About the welcome sign. In the top photo, I am standing near the GM Welcome sign on the day of the Open House, September 17, 1989. How big is the sign? Big enough to be seen and measured (60 feet wide) from the "Google" satellite 2008 view:

General Motors moved locomotive construction moved "off shore" to Canada and Mexico. The field of grass that once hosted the massive welcome sign is gone in the "Google" 2010 satellite view, replaced with a warehouse complex:

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National 5535, built as an SD60F, with a 16V-710-G3A engine, developing 3,800 horsepower. Commissioned in September 1989, serial number A-4722.

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