Vermilion Valley Railroad repaints Erie Mining F-unit

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A broadside view of Vermilion Valley Railroad F9 No. 4210 painted in Erie Mining colors.
Jim Montgerard
An inside cab view of former Erie Mining F9 No. 4210.
Jim Montgerard
Vermilion Valley Railroad officials have painted former Erie Mining F9 No. 4210 into Erie Mining yellow-and-maroon colors.
Jim Montgerard
OLIN, Ind. — The Vermilion Valley Railroad has repainted former Erie Mining Co. F9A No. 4210 in Erie Mining yellow-and-maroon colors. The work was done by the railroad at its shop in Olin, Vermilion Valley Trainmaster Jim Montgerard tells Trains News Wire. Former Erie Mining employee and historian Doug Buell assisted the railroad in obtaining the proper paint color numbers and Erie Mining logo.

Because the unit operated on a private railroad, the Vermilion Valley has had to make several modifications to make it compliant with federal regulations, such as installing an emergency brake valve in the cab, Montgerard said. He expects to install new windshields with FRA safety glass soon.

The railroad brought the unit into its shop and began replacing rusted-out side panels. The original plan was just to paint the panels, but they looked so nice “we decided to paint the whole works,” Montgerard said.

No. 4210 was one of 11 F-units (five A’s and six Bs) built for Erie Mining by EMD in 1956. They were used to move taconite pellets over Erie’s 74-mile private railroad built in the mid-1950s to connect the taconite processing plant at Hoyt Lakes, Minn., with an ore dock at Taconite Harbor on the North Shore of Lake Superior. No. 4211 was built in May 1956 as No. 101. Originally, it wore a blue paint scheme with a silver band, but beginning in October 1963, Erie Mining began repainting its diesels yellow with a maroon band. In 1970, the company renumbered its locomotive fleet and the F9s received 4200-series numbers. Their roofs were painted black beginning in 1975. This is the scheme the locomotive now wears on Vermilion Valley.

In May 1986, LTV Steel Corp. bought Erie Mining, and in February 1987 the name was changed to LTV Steel Mining Company. LTV continued to operate the Fs, and the fleet survived intact until 1997, when four units, two As and two Bs, were destroyed in a runaway accident at Taconite Harbor. After LTV shuttered the Hoyt Lakes plant in 2001, the remaining seven units were stored. There followed periodic movements over the railroad using the Fs in 2004, 2006, and 2008. F9A No. 4211 and F9B No. 4222 were donated to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, Minn., for preservation.

Indiana Boxcar’s Vermilion Valley acquired the remaining two F9As, Nos. 4210 and 4214, in 2014. They were moved to Indiana in early 2015. The units were acquired at the behest of Indiana Boxcar President R. Powell Felix to prevent them from being scrapped. The remaining three F9Bs were scrapped at Hoyt Lakes in December 2014.

The railroad operates 5.9 miles of track from Olin, Ind., to Danville, Ill., where it connects with CSX Transportation; Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern; and Norfolk Southern. Montgerard said No. 4210 would serve as an extra unit supplementing the railroad’s three GP9s. Plans are to eventually repaint F9A No. 4214 in the same colors as No. 4210.
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