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Soo Line colors

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Soo Line colors
Posted by upjake on Monday, May 03, 2010 10:16 PM
I have always been interested in the Soo Line of the 1970s, mainly because the road kept using many of the classic first generation diesels, but I am confused on the colors the railroad used. Various photos I have looked at show Soo engines in red/white with black lettering, maroon with the dollar sign herald, and some engines in all black with gold end stripes. Can anyone help with a timeline of Soo color changes? Also I keep seeing the occasional Soo Line train where I live but didn't the Canadian Pacific buy the railroad in the 1990s (is the CP just saving money by not painting to all red engines)? Thanks.
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Posted by jrbernier on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 9:55 AM

  The original  'Switcher'  paint scheme was black with pale yellow safety stripes on the ends.   Even the GP7 engines were delivered in this paint scheme.

  The 'Road' paint scheme maroon(similar to CPR Tuscan) with a pale yellow band along the lower car body.  All of the 'F' units, and GP9's were delivered in this paint scheme. 

  In the early 60's the paint scheme for all engines changed  to the white/red scheme.  There were variations of this through the years.  SOO took over the DSS&A at that time and their yellow/green engines were still seen through the 60's.

  In the 80's, this was changed to a solid 'Candy Apple Red' with large white lettering and striping.  This happened after the SOO bought the Milw.  CP owned 44% of the SOO and later bought the rest of it.  CP is not very quick to repaint equipment, so there are still red/white, red, and ex-Milw 'Bandits' still running around the system.  CP recently purchased the DM&E/IC&E and I am sure we will see blue/yellow engines for the next 10 years as well.

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by Sperandeo on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 10:14 AM

Hello Jake,

To answer your last question first, yes, the Soo Line has been merged into Canadian Pacific since 1992, but the CP hasn't repainted all the engines yet. In fact, the last time I passed by Bensenville Yard in Chicago, the CP was still using some orange-and-black former Milwaukee Road switchers, and the Soo bought the bankrupt Milwaukee in 1985!

The Soo's early diesel switchers and road switchers were black with imitation gold lettering. The maroon and gold colors were introduced on Electro-Motive F units and also used on GP-type road switchers in the 1950s. In 1961 the Soo Line adopted the red and white (actually a very light gray) colors with the big "SOO" lettering. This marked a corporate restructuring in which the Minneapolis, St. Paul, & Sault ("Soo") Ste. Marie, Wisconsin Central, and Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic all became one Soo Line RR. Solid "Candy Apple" Red with white lettering was adopted in 1989. With any of these paint scheme changes, all the road's equipment wasn't repainted overnight, and often older schemes persisted for quite some time.

The CP had long owned a controlling interest in the Soo Line, and finally acquired full ownership in early 1990. The Soo disappeared as an independent railroad about 1992, but its name and older paint schemes linger on.

So long,

Andy
 


 

Andy Sperandeo MODEL RAILROADER Magazine

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 12:52 PM

Just a little background...before NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and some related treaties / legislation, a US railroad had to be at least 51% US owned. So even though Canadian Pacific has been the largest single shareholder in the Soo since the early twentieth century (if not earlier?), the Soo was still an independent US railroad. By the 1990's, things had changed and CP was able to absorb the Soo...though it might be that it still legally exists in some form on paper.

BTW Canadian Pacific adopted the idea of painting passenger cars (and much later, diesels) maroon from the Soo Line many years ago. The Soo got the idea from Wisconsin Central, which it had taken over  a controlling interest in around 1909 IIRC. WC had wood passenger cars back then, made from varnished redwood, and left them unpainted instead of applying the usual "Pullman green" most roads used.

Stix
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Posted by upjake on Wednesday, May 05, 2010 8:57 PM
Interesting information, thanks. i wasn't aware that the CP had always been in the background regarding the Soo Line. Also I had forgot about the 'candy apple' colors, which do resemble CP engines.
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Posted by wjstix on Friday, May 07, 2010 2:48 PM

    I recall going to a RR historical society convention about the time CP took over the Soo, and the guest speaker at the banquet was a CP executive. In answer to a question about whether CP might adopt Soo's recent all-red scheme, he said he couldn't say so directly but "CP has followed the Soo in the past (i.e. with the maroon paint) and probably will again".

Stix
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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, May 08, 2010 8:33 PM

The Soo Line is blessed by having a very active and talented historical society that publishes an excellent magazine with a good range of back issues available. It seems like a nice bunch of folks based on my encounters at trains shows.   If you have this degree of interest I advise joining and taking advantage of the fellowship .  

http://www.sooline.org/home.html

Dave Nelson

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, May 11, 2010 5:11 PM

Interestingly enough, the Summer 2010 "Classic Trains" has a feature on rail photographer Wally Abbey, who while working with the Soo's PR department designed the red white and black paintscheme....

Smile,Wink, & Grin

Stix

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