My favorite engine of all time is the General Electric 44-tonner. Not only were they ubiquitous on shortline railroads, but they are also just plain cute. The fact that my favorite railroad had two of them (plus two other, larger G.E. centercab switchers) means that my love for them is pretty much an obsession. Though they generally look alike, there are many differences over their long production run. The September 1978 issue of Model Railroader magazine has scale drawings, though the best resource is Extra 2200 South magazine (issues 51 and 52). Can you believe that only 386 total engines were built? Yet so many survive today!
The Arcade and Attica Railroad purchased two of them, #110 (in 1941) and #111 (in 1947). They ran for decades and both are still on the property, and #111 is occasionally still is used in revenue service! Below is a shot from August 18, 1990 showing the two 44-tonners (the black/orange engines) and one 65-tonner. Engine #110 is on the very left, and #111 is on the very right.
This is engine #111 taken on August 10, 1976. I prefer this paint scheme because it is what I remember as a kid. However, in 2001, the A&A has reverted back to the older "retro" scheme on all of its engines.
This is close to what they looked like when originally delivered from G.E., though this shot is from May 26, 2008 when it had just been repainted for display. It is a sharp paint scheme.
The purchase of the first diesel was so impactful on the A&A that it allowed the mechanical department to retire all of its steam engines. The financial savings from this allowed the railroad to carry through some lean years. General Electric heard about this and even featured A&A #110 in one of their advertisement campaigns!
The diesel locommotives came with reliable Caterpillar diesel engines, and Caterpillar also decided to feature A&A #110 in their advertisement too!
The very last 44-tonner ordered from G.E. was sent to the Dansville and Mt. Morris Railroad in western New York. The line is also near and dear to me because my wife is from Mt. Morris and I have spent a bit of time railfanning it. Now it is now part of the Genessee & Wyoming system. In fact, it was their first railroad aquisition way back when. Anyway, D&MM's engine #1 was ordered from the factory in 1956 and it served on the D&MM until 1986, when it was sold to the Bay Colony Railroad. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of it.
However, the railroad also purchased another 44-tonner engine used from the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad. This became D&MM #2, and it is shown here on May 29, 1980. In this shot it has yellow painted handrails, but earlier pictures have them painted black. It was finally scrapped in 2012. An excellent website on the D&MM can be found here.
Being from Rochester, I have an interest in all western NY railroads. Another 44-tonner owner was owned by the Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad (which I featured on my blog previously). This shortline was formed in 1964 and the 44-tonner were used for excursion trains as well as freight movement. This shot was taken July 1973 and was photographed by Alco legend and shortline guru George Hockaday. I purchased the slide online once I saw who the photographer was because I am friends with his son Warren.
Here is an undated shot of Maine Central 44-tonner #15, painted in the sharp red and black "Minuteman" scheme which was also used by the Boston and Maine Railroad when they shared corporate ownership. Note the marker lights on the front corners (but not the rear ones!)
One final engine, Adirondack Scenic Railroad #105, was previously featured on my blog here.
As you can see, even in the small geographical area of western New York State there were many 44-tonners roaming about. They might not have been large but they did they jobs well and they certainly helped keep freight lines profitable. Thankfully, you can still see a few running today if you know where to look.