Locomotive Builder’s Card

This is the General Motors builder’s card for the Great Northern E-7s built to haul the 1947 streamlined Empire Builder. GM delivered 13 of these locomotives to the GN starting in 1945. The painting on the card is by GM illustrator Ben Dedek.

Click image to download a 520-KB PDF of this card.

Oddly, this card shows the paint scheme of the locomotive as it was used in service pulling the streamlined Empire Builder. What’s odd about this is that the locomotives were delivered with a very different paint scheme on the nose, as shown in the painting by General Motors illustrator Harry Bockewitz below. GN left them in those colors while pulling the heavyweight Empire Builder, but then repainted them as shown on the card for the streamlined train. Note also the locomotive as delivered had only one headlight, instead of the two shown on the card. This shows that the card was printed in 1947 or later, not in 1945 when the locomotives were first delivered.

I always thought the delivery scheme was more elegant, especially with the slightly modernized Rockys facing forward (instead of facing left) on both sides of the locomotive. The painting doesn’t show it, but “The Great Northern” script is in gold. Unfortunately, the old-fashioned Spencerian script on the nose somewhat clashes with the ultra-modern Empire Builder lettering on the side of the locomotives and train cars.

The highly distinctive Empire Builder lettering (available as a font from my friend, Benn Coifman) is arguably the nicest ever designed for a passenger train. I don’t know who designed that lettering, but it was apparently first used on these E-7 locomotives, as the freight locomotives GN had previously ordered from General Motors used a more conventional railroad Roman font.

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