This Space for Rent

The Alco that got away.

When I was a teenager in La Crosse, I spent countless days riding my bicycle over to the North Side so I could watch 576 switching. I did take pictures (and movies) of it, and I spent one freezing cold afternoon sitting by the roundhouse taping the engine idling away, but, of course, since the 576 is the one RSC-2 (of the three that were based in La Crosse) that didn't escape the breaker, I can't find hide nor hair of any of them.

This engine is why I like Alcos. The Burlington Northern had interesting engines of its own (including SW-1 #97), but they didn't have the same impact as this rebuilt road switcher which lasted until the incredibly dimwitted Milwaukee Road management decided to purge their Alcos, Freight Motors, and GE750s and replace them with some of GM and GE's finest.

After the 576 was towed off to the breaker's yard, it was replaced with some faceless GM switcher. That engine didn't last long; it had a crankcase failure almost immediately and had to be replaced with a MP15. 30 years later, I realize that this was because GM switch engines don't load the same way that the Alcos do, and the crew was expecting the horrid thing to work like a proper engine.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

(picture from