Years have passed since we foolishly scoffed at their sheer numbers and at the ho-hum nature of their parade on the high iron. Now we pine for the days, longing for a glimpse of nostalgia as surely as 1959 cried out for a Big Boy at Hermosa.
The once-ubiquitous has become secretive, elusive.
They are the reclusive goats, toiling away in branchline and local service, and shepherding their charges up and down the ladder tracks. And those curvaceous HT-C trucks are still the sexiest thing on rails, casting scoff at the figureless radial which surely lacks the necessary form to properly display summer beach attire.
They are hard to find, yet Union Pacific still rosters a large fleet of the Greatest Of All Time diesels:
Electro-Motive Division’s SD40-2.
Rebuilt and upgraded into SD40Ns at the Jenks complex in North Little Rock, their numbers fill the slots from UP 1550 to UP 2049.
Here, 43-year old 1714, built in July of 1976 as number 3510, and April 1973-graduate 3213 renumbered as 1842, roll north on the Austin Subdivision near MP201 at Kyle, Texas.
It’s 9:06 am on August 22nd, 2019 and the good-looking units have two cars of lumber for a customer up in Mountain City, which they will switch out for a mix of two-bay loads of cement powder and empty open hoppers and return south to their home in the small yard at Jama, south of San Marcos.