Heber Valley purchases Pan Am GP9s

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BM77_Franz
Boston & Maine No. 77, one of two Pan Am heritage units, leads a freight train near Shawmut, Maine, in January 2013.
Justin Franz
HEBER CITY, Utah — The Heber Valley Railroad has purchased three former Boston & Maine GP9s from Pan Am Railways.

Heber Valley Chief Mechanical Officer Michael Manwiller tells Trains News Wire that the locomotives will help standardize the Utah tourist road’s motive power fleet. In 2015, the Heber Valley acquired a former Union Pacific GP9 and ever since Manwiller has been looking for more locomotives like it.

Manwiller says the locomotives are perfect for the Heber Valley because they provide the right amount of horsepower, parts are still readily available, and they’re appropriate for the steam-to-diesel transition era the railroad is trying to recreate. The GP9s are also a favorite among the Heber Valley’s operating crews.

“These locomotives are a good fit for us,” Manwiller says. “Business is growing and we really need the motive power.”

Among the locomotives included in the sale are Pan Am’s two heritage units: Maine Central No. 52 and Boston & Maine No. 77. Pan Am painted the two locomotives for its predecessor roads in 2011. The third GP9, No. 72, is in Guilford Rail System gray-and-orange. All three locomotives were built in 1957. The locomotives are currently stored at Pan Am’s facility in Waterville, Maine.

Manwiller says the locomotives will move to Utah by rail and then be trucked to the tourist railroad’s facilities in Heber City. A date for the move has not been set.

It is possible that one or two of the GP9s will operate in their current MEC and B&M schemes until the railroad finds time to repaint the locomotives, Manwiller says. It is likely that the locomotives will receive a Denver & Rio Grande Western-like paint scheme, a tribute to the Heber Valley route’s original operator. With the arrival of the GP9s, the Heber Valley’s former U.S. Army MRS-1 will be retired.
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