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Pantex Alco S-2 Switcher

Photos and History of the Pantex Alco S-2 Switcher 

 

Pantex is the nation's primary nuclear weapon assembly and disassembly plant. Before that Pantex was a high powered munitions development facility. Pantex was served and switched by the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroads, and had its own internal rail service. Through a donation by the Department of Energy and BWXT Pantex, the Amarillo Railroad Museum has received most of the existing nuclear weapon transportation train, along with the Alco S-2 switcher that along with a sister locomotive was used by Pantex to move the weapon transportation train internally. This page explores some of the history of that switcher.

Here is the cab end of the ARM's Alco S-2 switcher taken only days after it came under its own power from Pantex Plant to the Amarillo Railroad Museum, Inc. The locomotive runs very well, with the characteristic "thrummmmb thrummmmb" of an Alco Diesel. Plenty of "Alco Smoke", too!

Enjoy this great view of the right side of the locomotive. The engineer's position is on the right side of the cab from this view, making this locomotive operate "long end" forward. A very few of this style locomotive were set up with the engineer's position on the "left", making them operate as cab forward. By this time in Diesel locomotive design (1943), it was pretty well established that the long end was "front", much like a steam locomotive. Most modern locomotives are now run cab forward!

 

This Locomotive was completely rebuilt at Tooele Army Depot, Ogden, Utah in about 1959. A few years after rebuilding, it was assigned to the Fort Wingate Army Depot, Gallup, New Mexico. Transfer of title to the Pantex Plant was ordered in December 1976 and the title was officially transferred to Pantex on January 18, 1977. The Locomotive remained at Fort Wingate for several months, arriving at Pantex in August, 1977. At Pantex, the locomotive was assigned Pantex Property Number 740-0008, road number 740-8. The locomotive was placed in service soon after its arrival at the Pantex Plant.

 

The Locomotive was completely rebuilt again in about 1983 at the Pantex shops as part of a Preventive Maintenance Program and continued to serve in the switching of railroad cars around the Pantex Plant.

In 1987, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) stopped using rail to move equipment in and out of the Pantex Plant, this locomotive and the railroad equipment sat idle on the Pantex Plant site with very brief operation to keep the batteries charged. 

 

 

Here is the long end of the ARM's Alco S-2 switcher as she sits next to our headquarters depot. Notice the friction bearings style trucks and curved nose. This locomotive is Alco Serial Number 70224, and was part of an order of 37 locomotives. It and her sister, Serial Number 70220, were delivered to the United States Army in 1943. It was originally Army number 7103.

Here is a good shot of the cab end of the Alco S-2 switcher donated to the ARM by the Department of Energy, Pantex Plant. The engineer's seat is on the right side of the door. Inside, the cab is roomy enough for a fireman (still required when this locomotive was built) and brakemen.

 

In 2004 The BNSF started making plans to remove mainline switches that serviced the Pantex Plant. At that time BWXT Pantex and the DOE started to consider options for disposition of the railroad equipment. In 2005 a recommendation was developed to donate the locomotive and rail equipment to the Amarillo Railroad Museum where the general public might be able to view the specialized railroad equipment that had been used in the shipment of nuclear weapons across the country.

On July 17, 2006 the BNSF Railroad assisted in the effort to relocate locomotive number 70224 and a set of specially built railroad cars from the Pantex Plant to the Amarillo Railroad Museum World Headquarters in Amarillo, Texas.

This locomotive became the property of Amarillo Railroad Museum on July 17, 2006 and still has the Pantex road number 740-8. Click here to see videos of the 740-8.