By Eric Berger
After wearing the green, black and white of Burlington Northern for half a century, the rare EMD SDP40 built as Great Northern 325 will soon be repainted into its original orange and dark green GN paint scheme, thanks to an anonymous donation by a member of the Minnesota Transportation Museum. Once completed, the engine will be reunited with passenger cars in matching GN paint for the first time since the advent of Amtrak in 1971.
Though delivered in GN’s simplified orange and green scheme for use on its Western Star and connecting trains, five of the six SDP40s were repainted into the Big Sky Blue scheme as part of an image rebranding effort that began in 1967. Just a few years later, they received the Cascade green and black of newly-formed Burlington Northern. When Amtrak was created in 1971 the locomotives were assigned to freight service. The last paint change for the former GN 325 came in 1989, with the application of BN’s so-called “white face” high visibility paint scheme.
The 325 became BN 9855, and later BNSF 6327, prior to being donated to Minnesota Transportation Museum in operating condition in 2009. It has served since then as power on the museum’s operating line over former Soo Line rails in Osceola, Wisc., the Osceola & St. Croix Railway.
One consequence of the approximately $60,000 donation is the termination of an earlier fundraising effort to repaint the engine in the Big Sky Blue paint scheme. Donors to that campaign are advised to contact the museum for refunds or reallocation of their donations.
Fans of Big Sky Blue need not despair, however. While GN 325 is the only officially preserved SDP40, Dieselmotive Company has moved BNSF 6326, the former GN 324, to its Stockton, Calif., base for an upgrade to Dash 2 electronics with plans for eventual repainting into the blue scheme.