Home Run. That’s the only way to describe the revived red-and-silver Warbonnet paint scheme, seen here close up on the cab of C40-8W No. 922. The original designers hit this one right out of the park, and it really worked on the modern GE locomotives.
Santa Fe’s “Warbonnet” paint scheme is one of the all-time classics in American railroading. Passing through several variations since its introduction in 1937, the design is instantly recognizable. A Warbonnet-clad locomotive says “Santa Fe” louder than anything else.
Warbonnets Across New Mexico
On several occasions between May 1994 and October 1997, I had occasion to be in Mountainair, New Mexico, and nearby locales. Mountainair is a hamlet adjacent to the summit of Santa Fe’s main line between Amarillo and Belen. The rails follow Abo Canyon up from the Rio Grande valley, which is a pretty steep climb to Abo Summit. To the east the ground is high and the grades more moderate.
It was fortuitous that I took these images, since they offer a glimpse of the last days of the Santa Fe before the BNSF merger.
Warbonnets in Arizona
Warbonnets in Colorado
I do not have many shots that fall in this category, and most of these are post-merger, but here you go…
Warbonnets in Transition
The periods just after mergers are usually hard on railfans, especially if they have a strong attachment to the previous roads. Looking back, however, these times show to be extremely interesting, with a wide variety of equipment mixed together, and running in locales where it was never seen before. Such was the case in May 1996 when I made yet another trip to the Abo Summit area. BN equipment was becoming common, but solid sets of AT&SF power were still a regular occurrence.
Warbonnets on the BNSF
After the merger, BNSF experimented with a variety of paint schemes. One was based on traditional AT&SF colors (essentially the red-silver warbonnet with BNSF letters); another drew heavily on the Great Northern colors of the past (Heritage I, or H1); yet another blended the Santa Fe blue-yellow with the GN scheme (H2). Mix these with the two Santa Fe schemes still running and the various BN green schemes, and you had a rainbow of locomotive paint. This continues to the present, though the BNSF orange has come to dominate.
A couple of days near Mountainair, October 10-11, 1997, revealed just what a variety could be seen on any given day.
See the BNSF section for additional Warbonnet views, and stay tuned as I resurrect additional posts with Santa Fe alumni.