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Santa Fe's Final Years - The Return of the Warbonnets


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Photos from Santa Fe's Final Years

"Return of the Warbonnets"

A 1989 public relations brainstorm brought what is perhaps the most popular railroad paint scheme back to the rails after an absence of nearly twenty tears.  Santa Fe's famed red and silver Warbonnet graced the railroads famous streamliners for many years, and was a favorite for toy train manufacturers.  Some of the final locomotives delivered in the famous colors were a group of EMD FP45's built in 1967.  Once Amtrak assumed control of passenger trains, these units were no longer needed for that service.   They eventually lost their unique colors and were absorbed into the freight pool.

In 1989, Santa Fe's public relations department decided to revive the popular colors for use on new wide-cab power scheduled for delivery in 1990.  The new power was given the title "Super Fleet".  All Santa Fe power delivered between 1990 and the BNSF merger would be delivered in the red and silver Warbonnet paint.  As a prelude to the arrival of new Super Fleet power, Santa Fe returned their remaining SDFP45's to a modified version of their original colors.  The photos below are a snapshot of some of these final years of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

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Click on the location link to view a map and information on the photo location.

k06239007t.JPG (7660 bytes) Date:  June 23, 1990

Location:  Tunnel #3, East of Bealville

While Southern Pacific trains were mainly lumber drags and general merchandise, Santa Fe was mainly intermodal.  A Westbound glides out of Tunnel #3 approaching Bealville leading a string of trailers toward the port of Richmond, CA.

k06249011t.JPG (8298 bytes) Date:  June 24, 1990

Location:  Tunnel #9 at Walong

When first delivered, many 100 class GP60M's ran in sets of 3 or 4 on Santa Fe's hottest intermodal trains.  One such train approaches Tunnel #9 at Walong and will soon cross over itself on the famous loop.

k06249013t.JPG (5271 bytes) Date:  June 24, 1990

Location:  Walong

Doing as advertised in the photo above, the same train is shown passing directly over Tunnel #9, while the last trailers are still passing through the tunnel below.

k06249017t.JPG (6690 bytes) Date:  June 24, 1990

Location:  Tunnel #9 at Walong

Taken from beside the portal of Tunnel #9 gives a different perspective of this Eastbound train approaching the loop at Walong.

k10009023t.JPG (5524 bytes) Date:  October 1990

Location:  Sandcut

Another of the fleet of Eastbound Santa Fe pig trains heads into the Tehachapi Mountains under overcast skys.  October is a time of transition in the weather on Tehachapi.   While sunny days occur year round, they become less frequent in the later months of the year.

k01139108t.JPG (3469 bytes) Date:  January 13, 1991

Location:  Woodford

Sometimes, Tehachapi weather can change before your eyes.  Minutes before, the visibility was fairly good with the clouds hovering above.  Very quickly, the clouds decided to drop, leaving the visibility at roughly the length of two GP60M's.

k02009105t.JPG (6845 bytes) Date:  February 1991

Location:  West switch, Bealville Siding near Tunnel #2

The early morning sunlight highlights the differences between SDFP45 #95 and the trailing yellow and blue SD45-2.

k12009207t.JPG (7693 bytes) Date:  December 1992

Location:  Walong

Three GP60M's and a GP60B lead a Santa Fe trailer train Eastbound around the Loop at Walong.  The locomotives are now a little over two years old, but are still front line power on Santa Fe's "9" trains.

k12009254t.JPG (5650 bytes) Date:  December 1992

Location:  Tehachapi Summit

A Westbound train approaches Tehachapi Summit on a snowy winter day.

k12009410t.JPG (5105 bytes) Date:  December 1994

Location:  Tunnel #9 at Walong

A symbolic photo of a Westbound Santa Fe train at sunset wrapped around the Loop.   This was also the sunset of the Santa Fe itself.  Less than a year later, BN and Santa Fe had begun the process of combining into the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.