California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Southern Pacific Diesel Locomotive Paint Schemes
The Bicentennials - aka 'Snowflakes'

As there doesn't seem to be much else place to put them, here are photo's of SP GS-4 #4449 in 'American Freedom Train' paint:
4449 in Oregon 4449 in Oregon 4449 inm Oregon 4449 at Ogden Station 4449 in Weber Canyon
4449 in Oregon4449 in Portland4449 in Oregon4449 at Ogden Station4449 in Weber Canyon

To celebrate America's upcoming Bicentennial in 1976, SP painted 3 locomotives in Red, White and Blue in 1975. Quite a few other Railroads were painting Bicentennial units, and over 200 locos wore some form of patriotic paint.

© Charles Lange 1977. SSW SD45T-2 #9389 at Taylor Yard. The first unit painted was Cotton Belt (SSW) #9389. This was chosen as being the 600th SD45 to be built for SP, ie. 590 SD45 including SD45T-2's and 10 SDP45's. Evidently it was given basic Bicentennial paint by EMD, then completed by SP when delivered to Taylor Shops in Los Angeles in May of 1975. Shown here at Taylor Yard in 1977. see also SSW SD45T-2 Info page
© 1975 Bob Dengler. SP GP40P-2 #3197 San Francisco, CA. SP decided about the same time, that a Southern Pacific loco should also wear Bicentennial paint, so as the GP40P-2's were about to be shopped, having done a 6 month break-in service on freight, #3197 was selected to be painted Bicentennial. June 1975 saw #3197 roll out in the patriotic paint. Seen here in San Francisco in 1975. see also SP GP40P-2 Info page
© Gene McKinley, Depot Yard, Union Station, Portland Oregon... SP U25BE was the third unit to be painted in Espee's Bicentennial scheme, although it didn't carry the Liberty Bell like the other two, rather it had a 'Buy US Savings Bonds' logo instead. This unit was rolled out in October 1975, and is shown here in Depot Yard, which was alongside Union Station at the north end of downtown Portland. see also SP U25BE Info page
© Gene McKinley, SP Bicentennial Caboose 1776. To go along with the theme, SP repainted Caboose 1776 in Bicentennial paint. This was originally a C-40-7 built by International Car Co. in 1967 with roofwalks and end ladders. As painted in Bicentennial scheme in 1975, it had lost its roofwalks and end ladders. The Microscale decal sheet contains decals to do this caboose. see also: C-40-7 Info Page

According to the R&R article listed below, these three Bicentennial units were known as "Snowflakes" in Espee internal memo's.

The three locos appeared quite often separately on Espee Public Relation exercises, with #9389 being a part of most helper consists for the Freedom Train, and GP40P-2 #3197 was seen everyday as part of the Peninsular commute fleet.

SP managed to get all three together in Jan 1976 for an SP Annual Report photo shoot in Cajon Pass. The shot eventually used was from another shoot when only #9389 and #3197 were present.

The SP 'snowflake' paint schemes were all designed by the late Mr. Chester Mack, famed RR designer who was also responsible for the paint scheme and controversial eagles used on the 1947 Freedom Train.


  • N Scale - Microscale 60-835
  • HO Scale - Microscale 87-835
  • HO Scale - Herald King L-571 for SSW SD45T-2 #9389
  • HO Scale - Herald King L-601 for SP GP40P-2 #3197

The Microscale sheet contains only one set of Liberty Bells, but will also do the Caboose.

Not sure if the Herald King are still available?


  • Red - Your preferred brand of SP Scarlet
  • White - Your preferred brand of White
  • Blue - Suggestions? - some shade of dark blue
  • Gold/Bronze - Your preferred brand of Gold or Bronze.


  • SP Motive Power Annual 1974-76 by Don Jewell.
  • Railfan & Railroad Apr, '88, Page 42 - 14 Pages of pure heaven, all about SP U25B's with Roster. Includes TE70-4S's, Bicentennial's and TEBU's.
  • SP Motive Power Annual 1981 by Joe Strapac - for Caboose 1776.
  • Cotton Belt Locomotives by Joe Strapac pages 202 and 203, history, photo's etc...
  • Cotton Belt Color Pictorial by Steve Allen Goen - color photo's, data etc...
  • credits to the following:
    • photos:
      • Bruce Conklin.
      • Bob Dengler.
      • Charles Lange.
      • Gene McKinley.
      • Rob Sarberenyi.
    • data:
      • Erik Halstead for confirmation of the location of #6800.
      • Todd Schannuth for the origin of the paint schemes.
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Saturday, December 01, 2001