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  • Front Cover
  • Back Cover
  • Inside Spread

Great Trains 2019 Calendar


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The Golden Age of railroading lives again in the paintings of Gil Bennett. Big steam in Great Trains 2019 ranges from the huge DM&IR 2-8-8-4, UP 2-8-8-0 and Pennsy I-1sa 2-10-0. Other big locomotives include the CB&Q and Reading 4-8-4 Northern, along with the UP 4-8-2 Mountain. We also celebrate the driving of the Golden Spike 150 years ago, along with the D&RGW slim gauge K-28 and K-36 locomotives. More modern power, the AC4400CW and MK5000C, is pictured, too, along with extensive captions for each image.  

Paintings featured in the 2019 calendar include:

Frosted Steam

Denver & Rio Grande Western, 1959

The mercury hovers at -15° on a cold January morning as a duo of Denver & Rio Grande Western locomotives fight the 4% grade heading up to Cumbres Pass. The two locomotives are working as hard as possible as they struggle to get eight cars full of crude oil and six car loads of lumber up to the top of the pass. The crew is happy the sun is out and it’s not snowing; this part of the country gets up to twenty feet of snow--those big plows on the locomotives are needed! Today this line belongs to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railway and is open for tourists during the summer months, still pulled by steam. Both locomotives, 486 and 487, still run today pulling tourists out of Chama, NM and Durango, CO.

Bull Moose at Sunset

Union Pacific, 1948

In 1918 the Union Pacific Railroad ordered fifteen 2-8-8-0 compound locomotives from American Locomotive. Once on the railroad, the crews referred to them as the “Bull Moose.” These locomotives were to be used on the grades of Utah and Wyoming pulling long trains, albeit at a snail’s pace. Eventually a total of seventy locomotives were acquired for the railroad.   In the mid 1930’s, several were rebuilt from compound to simple articulated as part of the railroad’s upgrading program. These were successful increasing train speeds and eventually all the locomotives were converted, with some being changed to burn oil instead of coal for use in the Southwest and Northwest. They worked where there were grades.   One such grade was on the line from Provo to Salt Lake City Utah, where 3524 was assigned to move freight over the 1.14% grade between those two cities. Locomotive 3524 has the first section of train 94 on the grade between American Fork, and Lehi, Utah, as the last rays of the setting sun light the 11,752 ft peaks of Mt. Timpanogos.

Smokin’ through Shamokin

Pennsylvania Railroad, 1956

Two of Pennsylvania Railroads I-1sa hippos blast past the Daniel Webster colliery in Shamokin, PA. The train is S-390, an ore train from Erie, Pennsylvania, headed to Bethlehem. Behind the two I-1sa 2-10-0’s are 90 cars and 9000 tons of iron ore. At the end of the train two more I-1sa’s push on the rear.   The grades on this line are as steep as 1.31% and climb over 500 feet for the 27-mile trip from Northumberland to Mt. Carmel, PA, where the train will be handed off to the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The train is at a crawl as an H-9 switches a caboose around as it makes up a train of coal from the colliery.   

Rockin’ the High Cars

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, 1950

CB&Q 5631, an O5-A 4-8-4, hits a steady 60 mph as it takes a hot shot freight to Chicago. In 1930 the CB&Q had Baldwin Locomotive build eight 4-8-4 Northern type locomotives for fast freight and heavy passenger train service. Classed as O5, the eight locomotives, numbered 5600 to 5607, performed better than expected. In 1936, the railroad wanted more 4-8-4’s so they built an additional twenty-eight in their own West Burlington shops.   These locomotives were classed as O5 A for coal burners and O5 B for oil burners. These powerful and fast locomotives were great in freight service and welcomed in passenger service when required.   Here 5631 rocks the high cars as it runs down the “racetrack” between Aurora and Chicago, Illinois.

Dot. Dot. Done!

Union Pacific, Central Pacific, 1869

May 10, 1869.   The rails from the west met the rails from the east at Promontory Summit, Utah. The wedding of the rails changed the country as it was now possible to travel from New York to San Francisco in just over a week, instead of taking several months. This important event happened 150 years ago, and we celebrate this history along with the Union Pacific railroad. 

Meet at Carracas

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, 1940

In 1936, the D&RGW upgraded its passenger train that ran from Alamosa to Durango, CO. Cars were rebuilt and supplied with electric lights and updated comforts for those traveling the route. The trains left daily from Durango at 11:15 a.m. and Alamosa at 7:00 a.m. and would meet at Carracas, New Mexico at 1:35 p.m. The locomotives of choice were the fleet footed K-28s. Built as freight haulers, they were found to run fast and could handle the steep grades with no helpers required.   Three of these K-28s still pull passenger trains out of Durango on the Durango and Silverton Railroad.

Pause of a Greyhound

Union Pacific, 1950

It’s just past 1:38 pm on a hot summer day as Union Pacific’s mail train Number 5 brakes to a stop in Caliente, Nevada. In 1905 the UP established Caliente as a division point to change crews and add helpers for eastbound trains. The area had many springs that provided water to the locomotives and passenger cars that paused there. Train 5 ran from Chicago to Los Angeles stopping at every town to pick up parcels and mail. Only the fastest locomotives were used in this service, one being 7852 one of the sleek 4-8-2’s, in the famous two-tone “Greyhound” scheme, that were built especially for the Los Angeles & Salt Lake portion of the Union Pacific.


Union Pacific Railroad, 1953

Scattered summer thunder storms dot central Idaho as extra 3807 approaches the top of the grade at Bliss. The road engine is a big 4-6-6-4 built for fast freight in 1936 by the American Locomotive Company. The helper engine is one of UP’s ubiquitous “bull moose” 2-8-8-0’s.   The helper was put on at Glenns Ferry for the 23 mile, 700 foot climb out of the Snake River valley on UP’s Oregon Short line. At the top of the hill the helper will be cut off, take some water, and head back downhill to wait for its next run up the hill helping another freight.

Double stacks on the Pass

Southern Pacific, 1995

In 1994, Morrison Knudson began its foray into the new locomotive market.   The MK5000C was a new locomotive developing 5000 horse power and at the time was the most powerful single diesel electric locomotive ever made. The Southern Pacific ordered three for testing around its far-flung system.   One of the testing grounds was on the 3% grades of Tennessee Pass. The engines were used on coal drags, drag freights and fast double stack trains to test the locomotives.   The three MK5000Cs take a double-stack train up Tennessee Pass at a steady 20 mph, and have just gone through Dean Tunnel outside Pando, Colorado.

Color at Kyune

Southern Pacific, 1996

In the early 1990s, the Southern Pacific Railroad began to show signs of economic heath as traffic started to boom. However, its power pool was old and worn out. The power strapped railroad ordered 279 of General Electric’s new AC4400CW units to be delivered during 1995. The big units weighed in at 210 tons, had new AC traction motors as well as self-steering hi-adhesion trucks. The big AC units were designed for high horse power at very low speeds, just what the SP wanted for hauling coal trains through its mountainous territory. AC4400CW 126, with three other sisters and five swing helpers, lifts an 8000-ton train through Kyune, Utah on its way to the North Valmy power plant in Nevada.

Take a ride on the Reading

Reading, 1956

During WWII, the Reading needed new power. It looked at other railroads and decided to go with the 4-8-4-wheel arrangement. The locomotive builders were too busy to take the order so the railroad took one of its huge I-10sa 2-8-0’s, lengthened the boiler and added a new frame. The result was a fast and powerful locomotive.   Classed as the T-1, they were pressed into service on time freights and coal drags. Over a three-year period, thirty of these great locomotives were built and ran until the end of steam on the Reading. During the early 1960’s, four of the T-1’s were pulled out of storage for “fan trip” service. In 1974, 2101 was rebuilt for the American Freedom Train. Today 2100 is undergoing another restoration to run again.

Last train of the Season

Duluth Missabe & Iron Range, 1955

The snow and freezing weather has come to the upper mid-west. The rush is on to get as much iron ore to the lake boats before the great lakes freeze over. To move the heavy trains, some up to 18,000 tons, the Duluth Missabe & Iron Range Railroad purchased the M-3 and M-4 2-8-8-4 locomotives. These huge engines weighed in at over 1 million pounds and produced a tractive force of 140,000 lbs. As the season ended, the railroad would run as many trains from the mines as possible so the winter stock piles in Cleveland and Erie could supply ore to the blast furnaces in the east until the lakes opened again. The temperature is -7° F as locomotive 231 takes its 17,000-ton train up the 3% grade just outside of Saginaw, Minnesota at a steady 12 mph gait


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