Ex-Pan Am GP9s arrive at Heber Valley in Utah

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Crews hoist former Pan Am Railways GP9 No. 52 into the air. The locomotive will soon serve the Heber Valley Railroad in regular service.
Mike Manwiller
HEBER CITY, Utah — After a 3,000-mile journey from Maine, the Heber Valley Railroad’s new GP9s are ready for service in Utah.

Earlier this month, ex-Pan Am Railway GP9s Nos. 52 and 77 arrived at the Utah tourist road’s home base in Heber City, following a long journey that required the help of five different railroads, four heavy haul trucks and two cranes. Amazingly, the only damage suffered during the cross-country trip was a single bent step tread on one locomotive.

The locomotives were moved by rail to the Utah Railway’s yard in Provo, Utah, where they were then loaded onto trucks for the final 25 miles to Heber City.

A third Pan Am GP9, No. 72, was also purchased by the Heber Valley and is still in Waterville, Maine.

No. 77 made its first revenue run on the Heber Valley on Nov. 28. No. 52 is expected to enter service in the coming days as well.

The Heber Valley purchased the three locomotives earlier this year in an effort to standardize its locomotive fleet. For years, the tourist railroad has used ex-military locomotives but in 2015 it acquired a former Union Pacific GP9 and ever since Chief Mechanical Officer Michael Manwiller has been looking for more locomotives like it.

“We are extremely excited to add these two GP9's to the roster here in Heber,” Manwiller tells Trains. “The growing size of the trains and the added frequency of traffic on Heber Valley Railroad deeply warrants the added power.”

Ridership has been steadily growing, Manwiller says, and in recent years it has frequently topped 110,000 annually.

The two GP9s in Heber City are currently wearing Pan Am tribute schemes that date back to 2011: No. 52 is in Maine Central green and yellow and No. 77 is in Boston & Maine maroon and gold. The two locomotives were built for the B&M in 1957.

The Heber Valley also recently put a new lounge car into service. The car has been painted in Rio Grande gold and black and will be available for private parties and charters. Meanwhile, the Heber Valley continues to work on restoring its former Union Pacific 2-8-0 No. 618.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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