At the same time the five bi-polars were ordered for use in the Cascades, ten passenger locomotives for use in Montana and Idaho were ordered from Westinghouse and Baldwin Locomotive Works, the only electric locomotives not purchased from the Alco-GE combination. The railroad split its order between Alco-GE and Westinghouse-Baldwin for faster delivery, since the rapidly rising cost of fuel oil used for steam engines then in service was a severe financial drain.
Built for the same high-speed, heavy-duty passenger service as the bi-polars, the EP-3s, as they were designated, had a much more conventional box-cab design.
Although they performed well, the EP-3 locomotives were scrapped shortly after the Korean War due to high maintenance costs and a general decline in passenger traffic.
These Alco-GE units, dubbed “Little Joes” after Josef Stalin because they were originally built for use in the Soviet Union, were acquired in 1950.
With the advent of the Cold War, essential equipment going to Russia was embargoed and the locomotives, ordered by the U.S.S.R., were never delivered. Twelve of the units were purchased by the Milwaukee Road, with others going to the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad and the Paulista Railroad of Brazil.
Built for the Russian 5’ gauge track, the “Little Joes” were modified for standard American 4’-8½” gauge at the railroad’s Milwaukee Shops and put into service. Train heating boilers (since removed) were also added to two of the units for passenger service.
Purchased at very favorable prices, the powerful EF-4s have proved highly versatile and reliable.
Each unit develops 5500 h.p. and is capable of running at 70 m.p.h., making them valuable additions to the motive power fleet. But now even the “Little Joes” are nearing the end of their life expectancy.
The fortuitous availability of these units in 1950 may have single-handedly extended the life of the electrification. At that time the original electric locomotives were rapidly wearing out and a policy decision seemed in the offing on whether to invest heavily in new electric units or to broaden the dieselization program to include phasing out the electrics as well as steam locomotives. But the decision never had to be made.
The "quill motors"
The Little Joes
The Little Joes may have single-handedly extended the life of the electrification...