Alton 1200

In May 1955, while surveying the Bloomington terminal and yard from the vantage point of the Locust Street bridge, I spotted a rare find outside the main shop building. No. 1200 was the original high-speed passenger diesel locomotive that was not part of an articulated train set. Built by Electro-Motive in 1935 as Baltimore & Ohio No. 50, this 1800-horsepower twin-engine locomotive was first placed in service between New York and Washington hauling the Royal Blue. During this period the B&O controlled the Alton Railroad, and in 1937 the locomotive and its train were sent to Illinois where they became the Alton's Anne Rutledge.

The Alton redesigned the front of No. 50 in the "shovel nose" style of some early diesel streamlining (shown upper left), and in that guise she graced the front cover of Alton Route timetables and was assigned to the Abraham Lincoln. Reportedly the unit was renumbered to No. 100 and, in 1946, to No. 1200, the number it retained after the Alton was absorbed by the GM&O in 1947. Subsequently the locomotive was restored to its original B&O configuration, though decked in the GM&O's red and maroon livery. It was in that final operating stage that I photographed her. A few years later this unit was retired and eventually donated to the Museum of Transportation in suburban St. Louis, where it is displayed restored to its B&O blue and bearing its original number.

Richard Millinger, formerly of Bloomington, sent me some photos of this unit in operation on the Abraham Lincoln, taken while his grandfather, Floyd Millinger, was the engineer. To view these photos, click here. Gary Thompson of Bloomington-Normal also sent me several views of the unit in service as the Abraham Lincoln. To view these photos, click here.