DRM's Alco RS-1

Danbury Railway Museum Acquires First Locomotive


On December 27, 1995, the Danbury Railway Museum bought its first locomotive, RS-1 number 400, from Green Mountain Railroad of Bellows Falls, Vermont. This purchase will allow the museum to run some of its excursions with its own equipment; it has previously been dependent on rented Metro-North equipment. In addition, the locomotive is a valuable historic artifact that will further the museum's mission of railway education and preservation. It is only the first of several locomotives the museum eventually will own.

The photos above were taken by DRM member Mike Salata on December 27, 1995, just moments after the sale was completed. Click on the small pictures to see full-size images. For more photos of RS-1s, see below.

The 400 was shipped from Bellows Falls on January 8. The New England Central transported it to New London, Connecticut. From there the Providence and Worcester delivered it to Danbury via the Shore Line to South Norwalk and the Danbury branch to Danbury, arriving early on January 19. The saga of the locomotive's journey to Danbury is told on another Web page.


The 400 was built 1946 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco) of Schenectady, New York. It was delivered to the Illinois Terminal Railroad as their number 1053. The IT eventually sold it to the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio, which retained that number. The Green Mountain acquired it from ICG on June 28, 1976, and renumbered it 400. Although the Green Mountain spent over $97,000 to acquire the 400 and sister locomotive 401, the 400 sat unused in the North Walpole, New Hampshire, roundhouse for over seven years. When it finally did make its first run for the Green Mountain on September 1, 1983, it didn't complete its assignment due to warm journals. Things were quickly put right, and the 400 spent many productive years in Green Mountain's seasonal passenger service. It has been used in freight service from time to time, most recently in December, 1995.

Alco pioneered the concept of the road switcher with the 1000-horsepower, 6-cylinder RS-1. Prior to the delivery of the first RS-1 to the Rock Island Railroad in 1941, all diesel locomotives were built for one kind of service, such as yard switching, road freight, or passenger trains. The RS-1 could perform all three functions. This concept was an immediate hit with many railroads anxious to cut the tremendous expense of running and maintaining steam locomotives. World War II manufacturing restrictions meant they had to wait several years to take advantage of the flexibility that road switchers offered, but the railroads eventually bought 417 RS-1s between 1941 and 1960. This 19-year production run is the longest for any diesel locomotive produced in the United States.

The New Haven Railroad bought 12 RS-1s in 1948, using them to convert to diesel service in the Waterbury area. That same year 10 sister model RS-2s replaced steam on all passenger, freight, and switching operations in the Danbury area.

The Danbury Railway Museum bought RS-1 400 from the Green Mountain for $35,000 and spent another $1000 to have it transported to Danbury. The purchase was financed by a loan from Union Savings Bank of Danbury. The museum has begun a fund-raising drive to pay off the loan. If you are interested in contributing to the RS-1 fund, you can contact the museum by writing to Danbury Railway Museum, P.O. Box 90, Danbury, CT 07813, attention Lucye Boland. The Danbury Railway Museum is recognized by the IRS as a non-profit corporation and all donations are tax deductible.


For more information on Alco locomotives in general and RS-1s in particular, see Tom Gibson's AlcoHauler Home Page. As an example, here are links to two of Tom's photos: a Soo Line RS-1 and a Santa Fe RS-1.

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ROS Last modified: Tue Jan 23 21:30:55 1996