GE 80 Ton Locomotives

Alaska Railroad Engineer Ed Alford, Conductor Louie Carey and Road Foreman John Heater ferry two GE 80 ton locomotives (numbers 1650 and 1679) to Clear AFB. Says engineer Ed Alford, "The 80 ton locomotives were purchased from the US Army in Bayone, NJ. They were loaded on flat cars and transported to the west coast where they were loaded on barges and finally off-loaded in Fairbanks. They are powered by two 335HP Cummins diesels and as Roadforeman Heater found out after just 20 miles....the heaters were insufficient at -30 below zero and 25 mph speeds." These locomotives were delivered in January 1999. The folks at Clear run their locomotives, but are not actually licensed engineers. The same guys maintain track/run locomotives and do the maintenance on the locomotives. 

An additional note from Ed, "The GE 80 tonners were carried from Bayone on two special DOD flats #40006 and 40007.  These flats had rails permanently mounted on them with end ramps to run the locos right off or on them."

Photograph by special agent Gary Wing

GE 80 ton locomotives

Additional historic note:

It was during the 1970's and early 1980's that I had a Mobilization Designation Assignment at Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne NJ. I would go to Bayonne for two weeks training with the staff and operations people. Since railroad was my primary interest I spent as much time as possible with the rail personnel there. There were two yard crews assigned to the two GE 80 ton locomotives to receive freight cars from the commercial railroads that served Bayonne and switch them to the various consignees on the base. One worked the day shift and the other an evening shift. Of course they switched cars on base as needed and delivered empties back into the yard for the outside railroad to pick them up. There was a yardmaster on duty during the day and he received orders for switching and had his crew to perform it. Just about all of the crew members were qualified to operate the locomotives. The yardmaster had been an engineer before becoming yardmaster. I took the army test and qualified to operate the locomotives. I still have my operator's license or permit stating that I was qualified to operate the 80 Ton locomotive. I did actually have some photographs of me at the controls of the engine, but I can't put my hands on them right now.

I am not sure what the locomotive number that I actually operated was without finding the photograph but it was one of the two in your picture. When there was radio communication between the yardmaster and those on the engine they referred to them as Loco 1 and Loco 2. I really enjoyed working with the guys in Bayonne and have a tender spot for them. It is good to know where the locomotives are now. Most of the guys at Bayonne are all gone now and Bayonne is no more as an army base. After being promoted to Chief Dispatcher on the CSX I qualified to operate a road diesel locomotive which was much heavier than 80 Tons. I also have a locomotive operators permit from CSX. I never did have to use it but I was qualified. I still miss the railroad but age tells us when there has been enough.

William I Smith Jr.
LTC-TC U.S. Army Retired
CSX Retired

April 2012

Added 4/17/17:

Alexander Gudschinsky and Andrew Packee report that GE 80 tonner #1650 is in the Fairbanks Yard. Apparently, it was purchased through for $10,500. Matt Leistico shared Clear Air Force Station's coal fired central heat and power plant shut down last year. The station was connected to public power and a new fuel oil steam plant was constructed. One of the engines was shipped over to Eielson and the other 45 ton switch engine was to be retained at Clear until further notice. Does anyone else have additional information? - 4/17/17

Added 5/4/17:

C&R Pipe works off the North Star Terminal Lead which is H-2.8 on the Fairbanks International Airport Branch. Since C&R doesn't have their own spur off of the lead and there are customers beyond their facility, we are holding the engine in the terminal until they decide what they are doing with it.

Added 7/7/17:

Aaron Pedersen reports, "The 1650 was purchased by C&R Pipe.  Rumor has it that Dennis Wilfer got it for $12,000.  Doesn't sound like he's going to scrap it.  Don't know what his plan is. If I hear any more I'll let you know."


Added 1/6/18:

Jonathan Fischer adds: "After church this morning (12/31/17) as we finished our morning shopping at Costco, I noticed an oddity in the UP yard. It turns out to be USAX 1650 riding on ARR 17000. A reliable source informed me that this locomotive is travelling from the base at Clear, Alaska to the Napa Valley Wine Train."





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