The FA freight unit was the American Locomotive Company's best-selling entry into the first-generation diesel market. Although ALCo's offering could not compete in numbers with Electro-Motive's popular F unit, 864 A units were sold along with 490 B units. The successive models of the FA ranged from 1500 to 1800 horsepower. Enthusiasts have called it "one of the most handsome diesel locomotives ever built." (For more information on the FAs and other diesel cab units, go to Brent Holt's Exotic Diesel Locomotives site.)
The New York Central, a staunch American Locomotive customer in steam days, was one of the heavier users of the FA unit. I took this photo of a four-unit ALCo-GE lashup, headed by A unit 1018, in the yard at Pittsfield, Massachusetts in August 1955. This eastbound freight is about to remount its attack on the Berkshires. The dominating cantilever semaphore tower, the moving freight in the background, and the trainmen conferring at the head of their ready-to-roll steed combine to render this — in my judgment — one of my best railroad compositions.