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

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Model Train Help EBook

Southern Pacific Locomotive Nickname List

Additions welcome. Other List Subjects also solicited.

Although these are SP specific, other RR's may have used them.
AlligatorsALCo RSD15 has a long low-nose.
AlcohaulicALCo C-643 aka C-643DH aka DH643.
Baby BoatsGE B23-7 evidently more usually applied to B30-7's, I've seen it applied to U18B's on the East Coast.
Baby HueyGE U50 from the cartoon character of the same name.
BuffaloALCo C-630 from the side profile.
CadillacsSD9's but not SD7's.
Covered Wagons generally applied to any F Unit.
CrudsSW1500 diesel switchers, also seen Curds, but I suspect a typo.
FlaresEMD SD45's aka Flared aka Flare 45.
Huff & PuffEMD SD9E's 4450 and 4451 that retained their steam generators for backup passenger service when rebuilt to SD9E's.
John Deere'sALCo RSD5
KrautsKrauss Maffei ML4000 hydraulic locomotives, from being manufactured in Germany.
MatesTEBU's Seaboard call their road slugs Mates.
Orange Birdaka Red Bird aka Yellow Bird the second hood unit painted in Daylight colors (after SSW GP7) went through numerous repaints, but was originally more orange than red.
Popsicles TE70-4S re-engined U25B's with Sulzer engines. Were painted in a variation of the Daylight scheme, but more pastel in shade.
Queen Mary EMD E2A SP's oldest diesel loco.
Snailsthe F7B units that were rebuilt to power the Rotary Snowplows.
Sport ModelGP40P-2 Passenger units steam gen. equipped GP40P-2's with a longer frame to allow for the steam gen. short fuel/water tanks, and flared rear radiators ala SD45's. Presumably nicknamed because they were smaller, and hence "sportier" than the SDP45s also used on the Peninsula commutes.
Torpedo BoatsGP9 Passenger units steam gen. equipped non-dynamic GP9's with extra large fuel/water tanks, that forced the air reservoirs onto the roof, looked like torpedo tubes.

Antelopesusually Sacramento built 4-8-2 Mountains, maybe ALCo 4-8-2's as well.
Big Dec(k)s SP's 3700 series 2-10-2's.
Little Dec(k)s SP's 3600 series 2-10-2's.
Mexican Mallets2-6-0's as they were very popular on the trackage in the El Centro California area and the line through Mexico from Calexico to near Yuma. see Valley Mallets...
Mud Hens SP's AC1, 2 and 3 Cab Forwards.
Stuttering Dec(k)s SP's 5000 series 4-10-2's, aka Southern Pacific in Whyte notation.
Valley Mallets 2-6-0's used in the flat San Joaquin Valley, could haul long trains on the flat. see Mexican Mallets...
YellowjacketsGS-2 thru 5 - S.P. engineman - anecdotally - use the term 'Yellowjacket' to refer to 'Daylight' painted GS locomotives. I don't believe that they were ever referred to a 'Daylight' engines at the time by SP enginemen.


  • personal recollections from various railfan magazines.
  • SP Review #23
  • Mexican Mallets from the Beaumont Hill Book via Mark Miller
  • 'Yellowjackets' from Doug Debs
  • 'Sport Model' from Tom Cockle
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Tuesday, July 17, 2001 12:05:51 AM