Minnesota museum acquires Great Northern SD7

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Former Great Northern and Burlington Northern SD7 No. 6008 works at a grain elevator in Litchfield, Minn. The locomotive has been donated to the Minnesota Transportation Museum.
Steve Glischinski

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Transportation Museum has acquired former Great Northern Railway SD7 No. 558. Cargill, Inc. donated the locomotive, one of 23 SD7s owned by GN and the only one preserved by a museum.

No. 558 was built by EMD in 1952, and is one of the first 20 SD7s constructed. It served in Minnesota in road service out of the Twin Cities terminal and in iron ore service out of Duluth/Superior. After the Burlington Northern merger in 1970, the locomotive was renumbered 6008. Retied by BN in 1983, it was sold and for decades performed switching at a grain elevator in Litchfield, Minn., adjacent to the former Great Northern mainline.

“This engine is a wonderful addition to the Transportation Museum’s growing collection of locomotives that impacted the area,” museum Executive Director Erik Johnson said in a news release.

The museum operates the Jackson Street Roundhouse museum in St. Paul and the Osceola & St. Croix Valley heritage railway in Osceola, Wis.

The engine is still painted in Burlington Northern Cascade Green, but plans are to eventually paint it in Great Northern’s Omaha Orange and Pullman Green colors. The unit will use reporting marks MNTX 6234 for transportation from Pipestone, Minn. to St. Paul.

The locomotive was in running condition two years ago. The museum plans to inspect it when it arrives and pending the results of the inspection may return the engine to service. It will require the installation of ditch lights and be returned its original GN long-hood-forward configuration.

The museum currently owns two other former Great Northern diesels: F7A No. 454A, which lacks an engine, and SDP40 No. 325, which is operational. The museum also owns several GN streamlined and heavyweight passenger cars. It leases Great Northern SD45 No. 400, the first production SD45, from the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. The engine suffered a broken crankshaft in 2017 but it is hoped it can be returned to service this year. The museum also plans to return Soo Line GP7 No. 559 to service this year, after it was laid up pending repairs for several years.

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