Happy with the performance and the prices of second generation Geeps previously purchased from Larry’s Truck Electric, Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad owner Bill David Donoley has returned to the well once more for a pair of EMD GP35s delivered to Santa Fe in 1964. The pair arrived in at the railroad’s Wilburton, Okla., shop in January, still wearing the blue-and-yellow Santa Fe paint received when rebuilt to class GP35u in the 1980s, unchanged other than the BNSF Railway number patches under the cab, patches of rust, and LTEX reporting marks now covering the BNSF lettering.
Donoley, a former Rock Island employee, said the units will soon wear the line’s Rock Island-inspired red and yellow paint scheme, very appropriate to the former Rock Island tracks they’ll be running on. Retired as BNSF 2504 and 2511 at the end of 2012, they join several ex-ATSF GP30s previously obtained from LTEX. An ex-Southern GP35 on Alco trucks was obtained from LTEX in 2013 and painted as A-OK 4510, but later was sold to serve the Georgia-Pacific plant in Muskogee. The 53-year-old locos will be far from the oldest engines on the line; that honor goes to A-OK 536, an SW1 built as Rock Island 536 in 1942.
Launched in 1996, the Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad Company is a family owned and operated Class III railroad serving customers along a 118 mile corridor comprised of two segments between Howe and McAlester, Okla., and Shawnee to Midwest City, Okla.
—Eric Berger, Railfan & Railroad