Northern Bicentennials and the American Freedom Train
locomotives (in different pairs on different occasions) pulled the
AFT to Colorado Springs, CO, Cheyenne, WY, and Billings, MT before
the 4449 steam locomotive caught up with the train just north of
Ogden and pulled it the rest of the way to Salt Lake City. Weeks
later, 1876 would accompany the AFT (and the 4449) through the Cascade
Bob Skillman collection
There is a lot
to know about the three BN Bicentennial units (1776, 1876 and 1976)
in order to understand what you're seeing when looking at photos
of them with the AFT;
especially the accident-prone BN Bicentennial 1876:
#1776 was a GE U30C, originally delivered (and later renumbered)
5325. Retired in October 1990.
#1876 was BN's first EMD SD40-2, originally delivered as road
number 6325. When it was first painted in Bicentennial colors, it
was not number 1876. It was Burlington Northern's 'original' Bicentennial
number 1976. That is, until it was involved in a grade crossing
accident on its very first run in Bicentennial paint. As the railroad
was planning an imminent and very public debut of their two Bicentennial
diesels (1776 mentioned above, and this loco), damaged 6325/1976
obviously was not going to make the big event. The loco was hastily
renumbered back to 6325 (with wrapping paper taped over the "1976"
on its sides and hand-numbered "6325") and sent for a
few weeks of repairs. Still in urgent need of a "1976"
loco for their event, a substitute was found. BN 6397 (an
SDP40) just happened to be in the shops, looked like a good candidate,
and was quickly turned out as "the new BN 1976" -- and
made it to the public event on time (a ceremony in Minneapolis on
May 14, 1975 in which the famed James J. Hill stone arch bridge
over the Mississippi was designated a national historical engineering
landmark. The Bicentennial units brought the mayors of Minneapolis
and St. Paul to the event). Since the damage to 6325 was only to
the front and rear frame and didn't effect the Bicentennial paint
too much, 6325 was fixed up, touched up, and became BN 1876. So,
yes, there were two different "BN 1976" units; just not
at the same time. BN Bicentennial 1876 is now (in 2007) BNSF
6397. Now here's the part you probably didn't notice: SD40-2
BN 6325/1976/1876/BNSF 6397 currently serves the BNSF wearing the
same road number as the BN SDP40 that replaced it as BN Bicentennial
unit number 1976. The two numbers 6397 are in bold above,
but they are not the same locomotive. Need aspirin? You can thank
John Lewis and his Burlington Northern 1975-76 Annual.
Bicentennial BN #1976, as discussed above, was originally BN
SDP40 #6397. It, too, pulled the AFT, but only as a helper with
#4449 in the Cascade range.
So for those
who enjoyed all that and want to take their BN knowledge one step
further, Mr. Lewis notes that...
the SDP40 was the 3rd BN 1976 ...
1st BN 1776
was a former NP GP9, renumbered to BN 1764 (2nd) to make way for
the Bicentennial U30C #1776
1st BN 1876
was a former NP GP9, renumbered to BN 1801 (2nd) to make way for
the Bicentennial SD40-2 #1876
1st BN 1976
was a former SP&S GP9, renumbered to BN 1793 (2nd) to make way for
2nd BN 1976 (the SD40-2)
2nd BN 1876
was the former BN 1976/nee BN 6325
2nd BN 1976
was former BN 6325 (same locomotive that became the 2nd BN
3rd BN 1976
was former BN 6397
Now you know.