The GP9

The GP9 (HM11NW)

Location: Altoona, PA 16601 Blair County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 29.897', W 78° 29.131'

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Inscription of photo at top of marker GP9 #7048, momentarily off-duty, cools its wheels at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania engine terminal.

Caption of next photo Pennsylvania Railroad GP9 #7048 replaced the K4 locomotive as a trackside monument in 1985.

Main Text

The Pennsy was continually setting firsts in new railroad technology, so it is surprising to learn that The Standard Railroad of the World lagged behind most other major lines in converting to diesel power. It seems that having help build the Allegheny coal industry by both consuming and transporting its product, the Pennsy was reluctant to thumb its nose at its customers by running oil-fired locomotives through their backyards.

And more than most railroads, the Pennsy was heavily invested in steam technology. Their state-of-the-art facility in Altoona employed thousands of skilled workers, most of whom saw their jobs evaporating as diesels caught on. Worried employees manned picket lines to remind the railroads that what was good for the company might not be good for Altoona.

But the writing was on the wall. While the typical steam locomotive's maze of tubes, valves and bearings required shop care for 14 to 16 days every month the diesel-electric ran 29 days out of every thirty.

Diesels, essentially big trucks, could be operated by one man or, as we know now, one woman. Steam engines, despite automatic stokers, still require an engineer at the controls and a fireman to watch the levels. Considered too, were all the costs of ash pits, inspection pits, water and coal towers, and expensive turning-facilities. (With wheels driven by electric motors a diesel locomotive runs equally well in both directions.) This GP9 #7048 stands as a symbol of the revolution. It was part of an order placed with GM's Electro Motive Division at the tail end of Pennsy's slow conversion from steam to diesel. This order and this locomotive helped bring down the curtain on the steam era and on the great dynasty of steam in Altoona.
HM NumberHM11NW
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 2:52am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 713078 N 4486101
Decimal Degrees40.49828333, -78.48551667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 29.897', W 78° 29.131'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 29' 53.82" N, 78° 29' 7.86" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)814
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 57 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Altoona PA 16601, US
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