Vintage Locomotive Sierra 613 Stands In for Steam

Sierra Railway 613

Sierra Railway 613

The Sierra Railway 613, is a diesel-electric locomotive built by GE/Alco for the US Army.  It is a MRS1 (“Military Road Switcher”), Alco number B2063, and weighs 120 tons. 
This is one of 96 diesel-electric locomotives built for the US Army Transportation Corp in 1953.  They were designed with a multi-gauge truck, and interchangable couplers, so that in the case of deployment in Europe, they could be adapted for any type of existing track.  They were preserved in storage until 1970, when five of them were transferred to the Concord Naval Weapons Station for use as  switchers on the base.  The Navy assigned this one the number 65-000613.

In 1991 we purchased the 613 from the US Navy, and it has been in use at Railtown ever since, as a yard switcher.  We also use it for our excursion trains when our steam locomotives are down for maintenance. 

Originally painted jet black, the 613 has an unusual paint job, the result of a commerical filmed at Railtown. 

The differences we experience when operating a diesel locomotive,  emphasize why steam engines were so quickly replaced by this modern technology.  For example, our engine crew doesn’t have to wake up as early in the morning.  Instead of a 3 hour prep-time for steam, the diesel can be ready in as little as 10 minutes, and doesn’t require a fireman.  It also requires less fuel and we can skip the trip to the water tower. 

Our vintage diesel locomotives serve an important role, and have their own unique stories. However, we look forward to having the Shay #2 running again in the near future, after repairs are made to the center truck.