Great Northern W-1

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The W-1 was a class of electric locomotive used by the Great Northern Railway. They were constructed to haul trains on the 73-mile (117 km) electrified portion of the railroad across the Cascade Mountains from Wenatchee, Washington to Skykomish, Washington, including the Cascade Tunnel. Only two locomotives were built, and they had an AAR B-D+D-B wheel arrangements.

Great Northern W-1
Type and origin
Power typeElectric
BuilderGE Erie Works
Serial number28448, 28449
Build date1947
Total produced2
 • Whyte4-8-8-4
 • UIC(Bo′Do′)(Do′Bo′)
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Wheel diameter42 in (1.1 m)
Minimum curve17 degrees (locomotive only)
10 degrees (with train)
Length101 ft (31 m)
Height15 ft 6 in (4.72 m)
Adhesive weight720,000 lb (330 t)
Loco weight720,000 lb (330 t)
Electric system/s11 kV, 25 Hz AC
Current pickup(s)Pantograph
Traction motors12 GE 746 of 420 hp (310 kW)
TransmissionAC Synchronous motors (2×),
DC Generators (4×),
DC traction motors (12×)
Train heatingNone
Loco brakeAir/Regenerative
Train brakesAir
Performance figures
Maximum speed65 mph (105 km/h)
Power output5,000 hp (3,700 kW)
Tractive effort119,000 lbf (530 kN)
OperatorsGreat Northern Railway
Number in class2
Numbers5018, 5019
Scrapped1968, 1959
Disposition5018 sold to Union Pacific in 1960, rebuilt in 1962, and scrapped in 1968.
5019 scrapped in 1959.

The locomotives were built at General Electric's Erie works in 1947, and were numbered 5018 and 5019. They were powered by 2 W-1 motor-generators, with a total 5,000 horsepower (3.7 MW) , and at that time were the largest single-unit electric locomotives used in North America. The engines share a great resemblance to the Little Joe locomotive.

Both locomotives were retired in 1956 when the electrification system was switched off and diesel locomotives started operating. Unit 5019 was scrapped in 1959. Unit 5018 was sold to the Union Pacific, who used its body and running gear as part of the unsuccessful experimental coal burning turbine-electric locomotive #80.


  • "Train Shed Cyclopedia". Train Shed Cyclopedia. Newton K. Gregg (66). 1978. ISBN 0-912318-99-6.
  • Ringnalda, Ben (2005). "Great Northern Empire - Then and Now". Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  • Ross, Don. "Don's Rail Photos - Great Northern Ry".
  • "GN W-1 Operators Manual GEJ-1185". Retrieved 2009-03-29.