Built by Electro-Motive Division of GM, LaGrange,IL; August 1959. SP 5873 (3709) was part of SP’s last order of GP9’s, and was the second GP9 produced for the SP with a low nose. It was delivered in August 1959 with serial number 25632 and frame number 5608-2. This locomotive was built as a Phase III unit with 48” fans, and painted in the “Bloody Nose” paint scheme. These were among the last GP9s built by EMD for a US customer, and the only order of low nose GP9s built for a major railroad.
In 1965 SP renumbered all of their GP9 locomotives in roughly the same order they were delivered, and at this time SP 5873 became SP 3709. It appears this loco never went though one of the big SP rebuild programs, but there are indications that it was rebuilt at some point by SP. SP retired it from the roster in December 1986. We hope to gather more information when it reaches Campo.
In February 1987 it was sold to the U.S. Army Transportation School as their 002. Later it became Department of Transportation 1401 and then the United States Marine Corps 296619. At one time the lettering on the side said U.S. Army, but the Army portion has since been painted out – most likely because this unit has been assigned to the USMC’s Camp Pendleton.
The exact condition of this locomotive is not known. However, we know it has operated recently, and a preliminary inspection does not show any catastrophic failure in the prime mover, main generator or air compressor. The dynamic brake fan has been removed, but it appears the grids and cabling is still there. We have not been inside the cab to see if the dynamic switching gear is still there, but the selector for dynamics on the control stand has been removed. A full inspection will be made at Campo when it arrives.
During its rebirth as a Southern Pacific locomotive, the full SP Light Packages will be re-installed on both ends.
Reference: Craig Walker, Richard Percy and Joe Strapac