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2014 - Fundraising for Burlington Northern F45 #6644

Burlington Northern F45 #6644 departing from Vancouver, Washington as photographed by Keith Ardinger.

In May 2014, DynaRail embarked on a new preservation project for a F45 locomotive slated for scrap. Montana Rail Link F45 #390 was sold to Progress Rail, and it was to be scrapped on site in Livingston, MT. We negotiated a preliminary purchase price of $250/ton scrap value, and with repair, transportation and paint costs factored in, the ultimate fundraising goal was set at $75,000. Due to the locomotive already under contract for scrap, we had only five days to campaign, three of those days being a Memorial holiday weekend, so a fundraising page was set up to maximize outreach and ease for donations. Had we reached our $75,000 goal, a RFP (request for proposal) would have been sent out to various museums to solicit interest in taking in a repainted BN F45 locomotive for preservation and display.

In the week following the conclusion of an unsuccessful fundraiser, we networked with others in brainstorming creative ways to purchase the 390 / 6644 before it was too late. When a lead on funding came through, we learned the locomotive was sold by Progress Rail to another party. The good news was that it was purchased and transported, which was ultimately the goal of BN 6644 supporters. This concluded DynaRail's effort, and many thanks were sent to those who supported this project, especially on getting the word out and creating awareness, which likely steered the end result away from the scrapper's torch.

MRL 390 being inspected at MRL's Livingston, Montana locomotive facility.

MRL 390 cab condition at MRL's Livingston, MT locomotive facility.

Many steam locomotives were placed in museums and parks, yet people scratched their heads wondering why no one saved a streamlined NYC Hudson. Quite a few E and F diesel units have been saved, and due to the actions of those who spared them from the scrapper's torch, folks were able to appreciate them at NC Transportation Museum's Streamliners event in Spencer, NC.

What's being done for the generation of locomotives following the F-unit era? There are plenty of SD40-2s around; in fact, one recently became part of the collection in Pomona in place of the Big Boy locomotive that moved to Cheyenne, WY. Meanwhile, the number of F45s have dwindled, and none have yet to be preserved in a museum (note that a handful of Santa Fe FP45s were saved, but those are the passenger counterpart to the freight-designated F45). Burlington Northern F45 diesel locomotive #6644 is the second-to-last F45 ever built, and it was believed that this unit's condition and history made it a worthy preservation candidate.

Inspecting engine room of MRL 390.

MRL 390 being inspected at MRL's Livingston, Montana locomotive facility.

BN F45 #6644 was built in April, 1971. Ordered by Burlington Northern and delivered in its "Cascade" green paint scheme with white stripes, it was used primarily in freight service, but BN F45s have been known to pull Amtrak North Coast Hiawatha trains across Montana, Idaho and Washington. Montana Rail Link, a regional railroad, acquired this unit and renumbered it MRL 390 for use in freight service on their lines. MRL 390 made its last hurrah on a trip to Southern California in 2006, traversing Tehachapi Loop and the Columbia River Gorge.

Later in 2014, NYSW #3636 was scrapped, thus making BN #6644 the last Burlington Northern F45 left in existence.

MRL 390 (BN 6644) traversing BNSF's Columbia Gorge route between Vancouver and Pasco, WA in 2006.

MRL 390 (BN 6644) traversing BNSF's Columbia Gorge route between Vancouver and Pasco, WA in 2006.

In the news:

NBC-MT covered the fundraising effort.



Press coverage in Railfan & Railroad magazine.


Dynamic Rail Preservation Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.