GG1 class of electric locomotives was built between
1934 and 1943 at the PRR shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with a total of 139 units constructed.
remained in service with the PRR's successors until the early
1980s. The GG1 became one of the most recognized and famous classes
of locomotive worldwide.
The GG1s were large locomotives, long and weighing . The
double-ended main body was a single unit formed as a
framework and clad in welded
steel plate. The cabs were set up high about
a third of the way along the locomotive from each end for greater
crew safety in the event of a collision. A narrower section of the
nose in front of the cab windows was lowered to improve the view
forward, although the central part of the nose remained full height
to carry the current-collection pantograph
. The bodywork as a whole was
smoothly rounded, with an appearance that suggested immense power
The axle was mounted upon two great cast
steel locomotive frames
linked by a hinge at the
locomotive's middle which allowed side-to-side movement. Six
(three axles) were
fitted towards the center of the locomotive on each truck (twelve
in total) and a four-wheeled, unpowered guiding truck was mounted
toward each end. In the Whyte
for steam locomotives
each frame comprised a 4-6-0
the PRR's classification
, 4-6-0s were class "G". The GG1 consisted of two such
locomotive frames mounted back to back, so it was classified
—4-6-0+0-6-4. This arrangement is called 2-C+C-2
in AAR wheel arrangement
driven axle was powered by two 385 hp
) GEA-627-A1 traction motors
mounted above and to either
side of the axle. Drive was through a reduction gear and a quill drive
While the famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy
did not design the shape (the
original GG1, No. 4800 was designed by Donald Roscoe Dohner) of the
GG1 electric locomotives (borrowed from the earlier P5a
), he did improve their looks by recommending the
use of a smooth, welded construction instead of riveted
assembly, along with a pinstriped
paint scheme to highlight their
smoothly rounded forms; the "streamline" style, evoking speedy
travel, was popular at the time. The mechanical design behind the
GG1 came from the New Haven
EP3 electric. The New Haven allowed the PRR to borrow
a pair of EP3s for testing, and the PRR was quite impressed with
their performance and decided to base the design of its electric
locomotive on the EP3.
The GG1 was designed to run on the standard Pennsylvania Railroad
power of 11,000 V AC
, 25 Hz
. This high voltage was stepped down by a large
mounted in the center of the
locomotive body for the traction motors, cooling blowers and all
other onboard equipment. The locomotive's power was controlled via
a tap-switching arrangement; the number of secondary windings
in use could be varied, thus adjusting the
output voltage. The units were rated at 4,620 hp (385 hp per motor)
continuous rating and a maximum of 9,500 hp at 49 mph
(intermittent duty). For passenger
service, the GG1 was geared to run at 100 mph maximum, although it
achieved 128 mph in testing . For freight service, the locomotive
was geared to run at 90 mph maximum.
One flaw in the design of the GG1 became apparent in the Blizzard
of 1958. This storm, which swept across the northeastern United
States, began on February 16. The usually unstoppable GG1s were
knocked from service when their electrical components were shorted
out due to moisture. The story is told of a baffled technician,
stepping away from the stream of cooling air, saw his outer jacket
covered in ice. It developed that ice crystals formed adjacent to
the tracks at the height of the cooling air intakes. The crystals
were so fine that they went right through the air filters. Once
they got into the warm electrical components, they melted, shorting
out those components. The solution was to raise the air intakes to
the upper part of the body. This may not have contributed to the
GG1's lines, but it did make it possible for winter operation to go
on with no further complication.
GG1 4876 after the crash.
A GG1 crash
One of the
more interesting moments in the history of the GG1 locomotive took
place on the morning of January 15, 1953, at Washington's
Union Station. Due to a brake line cock (valve) that closed
due to poor location (its location caused the valve to close due to
contact with the bottom cross member of the car), the Federal Express from
Boston was unable to apply the brakes on part of the
Pushed by the unbraked cars, the GG1 engine (#4876)
and two passenger cars ran off the end of Track 16 and crashed
through the floor of Union Station and into the baggage room. With
inauguration in days, the cars were hauled out by the next day. The
GG1 was left in the basement under a temporary flooring. After the
inauguration, in a remarkable demonstration of the durability of
the GG1 engines, Engine #4876 was later cut into three pieces,
removed from the baggage room, and reassembled at the Altoona (PA)
shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It then re-entered commercial
service and went on to be one of the last-serving GG1 engines. As
of February 2008 it is owned by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Museum in Baltimore; the museum has no plans for restoration in the
Although it is widely believed that the GG1s were retired due to a
change in the electric power supply on the former PRR electrified
zone, other concerns led to the retirement of the GG1s. This is
proved by the fact that Conrail retired their GG1s in 1979, two
years prior to ending electrified freight service with E33s and
E44s. While the GG1's performance easily met the schedule demands
of the Northeast Corridor in the late 1970s, the final nail in the
GG1's coffin was an ever growing problem with frame cracks. After a
service life of almost 50 years, availability of replacement parts
for the locomotives became problematic as well. Amtrak's first
attempt to replace the GG1, the General Electric
, did not live up to expectations. Amtrak's purchase of
electric locomotives allowed it to
retire its fleet of GG1s. With the AEM-7s on hand Amtrak was not
only able to replace its own GG1s, but sell a number of E60s to New
Jersey Transit to replace their GG1s operating commuter trains on
the North Jersey Coast Line
(all E60s have since been retired by both Amtrak and NJT, with both
agencies using AEM-7 or ALP-44 locomotives, with Amtrak augmenting
its AEM-7 fleet with HHP-8
locomotives and NJT
It has often been proposed to restore a GG1 to operating condition.
While it would be theoretically possible to run a GG1 on the
current Northeast Corridor
electrical system, most surviving GG1s have had their transformers
drained of PCBs
them inoperative, and have asbestos
their electrical systems. These put restoration costs far out of
reach for most non-profit preservation groups.
- PRR 4800 — Railroad Museum
of Pennsylvania, Strasburg, PA (a.k.a. "Old Rivets" — the
prototype GG1 and was the only GG1 that had a riveted body; was
formerly painted in Bicentennial colors and was the only GG1 to
receive Conrail blue). "Rivets" is now awaiting a full cosmetic restoration, and is residing
in a black base coat to protect it from the elements.
- PRR 4859 — Transportation Center, Harrisburg, PA (designated as
official electric locomotive of PA in 1938).
- PRR 4876 — B&O Railroad
MD (as of Spring 2006, in rapidly deteriorating condition); the GG1 was
languishing and vandalized in a CSX Yard south of downtown
Baltimore (seen from Interstate 95 northbound between Washington
Boulevard and Maryland 295). As of February 2008 it is owned
by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, but is
currently parked on one of the museum's outdoor sidings not
accessible to museum guests, but visible on the museum's train
ride. The locomotive has some degree of rust and graffiti; the
museum has no plans for restoration in the near-term.
- PRR 4877 — New Jersey Transit yard,
Morristown, NJ. Currently undergoing renovations at Lebanon Station
(Raritan Valley Line).
- PRR 4879 — URHS of New Jersey - Relocated to Boonton, NJ in
4882 — National New York Central Railroad
IN (currently painted as Penn Central
4890 — National
Railroad Museum, Green Bay, WI.
4903/Amtrak 4906 — Museum of the American
TX (pulled Robert
Kennedy's funeral train along with
GG1 4901 from New York to Washington on June 8, 1968).
4909/Amtrak 4932 — Cooperstown Junction, NY (owned by The Henry Ford).
4913/Amtrak 4913 — Railroaders Memorial Museum, Altoona, PA.
- PRR 4917/Amtrak 4934 — Leatherstocking RY Museum, Cooperstown
Jct, NY (one of 75 GG1s built with Westinghouse
components, the other 64 GG1s used GE devices and motors).
4918/Amtrak 4916 — Museum of Transportation, St. Louis, MO (was once the property of the
- PRR 4919/Amtrak 4917 — VA Museum of Transportation, Roanoke,
4927/Amtrak 4939 — Illinois Railway Museum, Union, IL (Amtrak's
renumbering in 1976 to 4939 bucked 42 years of numbering by making
it the highest numbered GG1).
- PRR 4933/Amtrak 4926 — Central NY Chapter NRHS, Syracuse, NY.
It has been cosmetically restored and is on display at the NYS
Fairgrounds Historic Train Exhibit.
4935/Amtrak 4935 — Railroad Museum of
Pennsylvania, also known as "Blackjack"; arguably the
best-restored and best-displayed GG1, kept in a non-climate
Last scrapped GG1s
- PRR 4872/NJT 4872 — Date Scrapped Unknown by New Jersey Transit.
- PRR 4873/NJT 4873 — Sold for scrap in 1992 by United Railroad
Historical Society of New Jersey.
The GG1 in the movies
the 1962 version of The Manchurian
Candidate, the train that Marco (Frank Sinatra) takes north from Washington,
D.C. is being pulled by a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1
dressed in the standard PRR pinstripes.
- A GG1 can be seen briefly during the first robot attack
sequence in the 2004 film Sky Captain and the World
- A GG1 can be seen briefly during the first few minutes of the
1945 film The Clock.
- Two GG1s (one painted black with white Penn Central logo; the
other in silver, red and blue for Amtrak) can be seen at the end of
the movie The Seven-Ups.
- An inoperative GG1 can be seen in a train station in Barry
Levinson's movie Avalon.
The scene was filmed at Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station and the
train was actually pushed by a diesel locomotive and can be heard
in the movie.
- A GG1 is seen pulling into a station in the 1952 movie
- A GG1 is seen pulling into a station (head-on shot) in the 1973
movie Last Detail with Jack
- A GG1 pulls at least one of the circus trains in Cecil B.
DeMille's award winning 1952 epic film The Greatest Show on
- 1983 ASME document on GG1, Strasburg, PA - see Page