I understand that the Pennsylvania Railroad's Grand Rapids Division is completely Dieselized. What's the story?
By summer of this year, the PRR's, 365-mile Grand Rapids Division, between Fort Wayne, Ind., and Mackinaw City, Mich., was completely Diselized; the first division on the Standard Railroad of the World to go all-growler. The last of 37 steam engines were replaced by 26 Diesels. The road promptly undertook a $250,000 remodeling job at the former coach shops to convert them into a Diesel repair and maintenance station. The Diesel station lies a few hundred feet north of the Pennsy roundhouse, which with the turntable and coaling station will soon be torn down. Coaling stations at Kalamazoo, Cadillac and Petoskey also will be abandoned.
Present facilities for steam locomotives at those cities can be used for upkeep of the Diesels without change. Kalamazoo and Cadillac yards will have two Diesels each and another switching Diesel will be assigned to the Petoskey yard. The change-over means training of 150 engineers and firemen in operation of Diesel locomotives and 50 shop employees in Diesel repair and maintenance. For the first time since the days of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, predecessor of the Pennsy in Michigan, all locomotive repairs on the Grand Rapids Division will be done in Grand Rapids. Since the PRR took over the GR&I in 1922, Fort Wayne and Columbus shops have handled heavy repairs to engines on the Grand Rapids Division. The division has had one Diesel with 660-hp rating in service for the past two years at the Fisher Body Plant and recently received seven more. Four 660-hp Electro-Motive switchers, eight Baldwin 100-hp Diesels, four 2000- hp Fairbanks-Morse, and four 4500-hp Fairbanks-Morse road Diesels are used on the division. All but two locomotives assigned to the division are for switching, local and long-distance freight hauling. Two 2000-hp Diesels are reserved for passenger service between Fort Wayne and Mackinaw City. The new equipment cost approximately $43,750,000. Pending completion of the Diesel repair shop and maintenance station, the railroad will use a special tank car to fuel the locomotives. The old Grand Rapids roundhouse had been in operation since 1906, and had stalls for twelve engines. The coach shops, built in the 1880's had been idle for many years, but a portion of them had been used recently for truck storage.