The ALCo PA series locomotives are considered by many to be the most attractive diesel locomotives ever produced. The PA locomotives were built by a partnership of the American Locomotive Company and General Electric between 1946 and 1953. They offered two models, the PA-1 initially followed by the PA-2. Both were powered by ALCo’s 16-cylinder 244 diesel engine generating 2,000 HP in the PA-1 and 2,250 in the PA-2.
The PA locomotives were designed to compete with General Motors’ EMD E-units in the passenger locomotive market. While one could argue the ALCos won in style, they did not win in reliability. Their 244 prime movers could not unseat the EMD 567, and the PAs were demoted to secondary service on many lines. Most were retired as passenger service declined in the 1960s, and nearly all were scrapped.
Happily for railfans, in 1967 four retired Santa Fe units were bought by the Delaware and Hudson. In 1974, after several years of service, they were sent to Morrison-Knudsen for rebuilding and upgrading with 12-cylinder ALCo 251 engines. These four units were used on Amtrak’s “Adirondack” for several years and also saw service on Boston area commuter trains under an MBTA lease. All four units eventually ended up in Mexico.
Two of the ex-D&H units have since been brought back to the US, one residing at the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas. The other unit is privately owned by Doyle McCormack and is being restored to operating condition painted as Nickel Plate #190.