Power and Speed

For the first 27 years after its completion in 1910, the SP&S Railway was powered by hand-me-down locomotives from its parents, the Great Northern and Northern Pacific. But in 1937 and 1938, it took delivery of its first brand-new locomotives, the 900-series 4-6-6-4 Challengers and 700-series 4-8-4 Northerns. This card proudly describes these new locomotives, which it accurately describes as “giants” compared with the railway’s existing locomotive roster.

Click image to download a 728-KB PDF of this flyer.

Both types of locomotives were designed by and for the Northern Pacific, though SP&S’ versions burned oil instead of coal. NP put all of its articulated locomotives, regardless of exact wheel arrangements, in a Z class, and its first Challengers were class Z6, a number that the SP&S also used despite not having any Z1 through Z5 locomotives. NP’s Northerns (a wheel arrangement named after the NP) were in its A class, and the 1938 editions were A3. SP&S, however, put its three Northerns–700, 701, and 702–in the E1 class, probably because it still had some other locomotives in an A class. The 700 still survives and operates occasionally, especially at Christmas time in Portland, Oregon.

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