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Pennsylvania GG-1 - A Locomotive Profile


Pennsylvania GG-1 - A Locomotive Profile

A Broadway Limited HO scale GG-1 rolls above the city streets on the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania's model railroad. Two full-scale GG-1s are preserved at the Museum as well, including the prototype.

®2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Arguably the most successful electric locomotive of all time, the GG-1 hauled freight, passengers and more from 1934 to 1983.

Prototype History

Builder: Baldwin, General Electric, Pennsylvania Railroad>
AAR Type: 2-C-C-2
Dates Built: 1934 - 1943
Number Built: 139
Horsepower: 4,800 continuous, 6,000 short-term
Pick-up: overhead catenary, 11000 Volts AC

Prototype History

The Pennsylvania Railroad first began their electrification with the construction of the Hudson River Tunnels and Penn Station. Successful operation here proved the concept and the railroad pushed its electrified rails south from New York to Philadelphia, then on to Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Harrisburg. Much of this work was completed through the Great Depression.

Looking for a new locomotive for passenger trains, the railroad began testing locomotives from the New Haven and then built two test engines in 1934. The first was classified R-1 and wore No. 4800. The second was the first GG-1, originally nubered 4899.

After extensive testing, the GG-1 was chosen as the preferred design and orders were placed for 138 additional units. These were built by a combination of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, General Electric and the Pennsylvania itself in its own Juniata Shops.

For the production units, the PRR commissioned industrial designer Raymond Loewy to refine the look of the locomotives which would become the public face of the company in what whas the busiest rail corridor in the world. Loewy suggested a smooth, welded carbody which was rare at the time and created what quickly became one of the most recognizable and popular paint schemes of all time.

The railroad found that the locomotives were cabable of far more than just hauling heavy passenger trains at high speed. Unlike steam locomotives which were built for specific tasks, the GG-1s excelled at a variety of roles. Express and commuter passenger trains, priority and even general and drag freights were all aptly handled. Passenger locomotives were geared for 100 mph. Freight-assigned GG-1s were geard "down" to 90 mph.

The last production locomotives hit the rails in 1943. For the next 40 years, GG-1's could be found all across the Pennsy's electrified lines hauling everything from iron ore to the Broadway Limited. The locomotives outlived the Pennsylvania itself, going on to serve successor Penn Central and then subsequently Amtrak, Conrail and New Jersey Transit. 16 have been preserved, none in operating condition, and can be found in museums as far away from home rails as Wisconsin and Texas.

Paint Schemes

Although it only ran on one railroad and its successors, the GG-1 wore many paint schemes over the years. All of these have been reproduced in model form in at least one of the scales at some time.

The first paint scheme was applied by the Pennsylvania Railroad prior to Loewy's streamlining. It was worn only by the prototype as both No. 4899 and 4800.

The most famous, by far, of the locomotives' faces came from Loewy's original design which used the PRR dark green locomotive color (often called Brunswick Green) and five gold leaf pinstripes which ran the length of the locomotive and tapered like "catwiskers" at the noses. The PENNSYLVANIA lettering was stretched out across nearly the entire length of the locomotive. It was originally done in Futura font, but later changed to Railroad Roman.

The next most common variation was a substitution of Tuscan Red for the green. A common misconception is that passenger units were red and freight green. In fact, many of the passenger-assigned locomotives were also green. The five red units were used primarily on the Congressional, Senator and trains which continued south of Washington.

To reduce costs, the five pinstripes were replaced by a single wide stripe and a large keystone. Most were green, two were red, and one received silver paint to match the stainless steel cars but this proved difficult to maintain.

Penn Central brought a variety of patched paint jobs. Some retained the gold stripe, others were solid green (not black) with the large "mating worms" PC logo on the side.

Amtrak kept many locomotives in a simple black paint, but some got the new company colors with silver sides, a blue stripe and red high on the noses. One unit, No. 4935, was returned to full PRR paint while still in service.

Nearly all of Conrail's locomotives remained in their PC paint. One, No. 4800, was painted for the American Bicentenial in 1976 and then repainted into Conrail blue.

NJ Transit also kept most locomotives in a basic scheme but did return No. 4877 to PRR red paint, which it wore until it dropped the pentograph of a GG-1 for the last time.

There were also two other one-off paint schemes, one with a Buy Savings Bonds logo and one for the America's Railroads special celebrating the centennial of the Golden Spike in 1969.

Operating Railroads

  • Pennsylvania
  • Penn Central
  • Amtrak
  • Conrai
  • New Jersey Transit


The list of models below includes all known models of the GG-1 made up to this time. The models listed below are all more or less "scale" models of the GG-1. Some of the O Gauge manufacturers have also made shortened O-27 versions in addition to scale-proportioned models.

In addition to these, there have been some GG-1-like models produced in several scales. These had a streamlined body and paint schemes based on the famous Loewy design, but ran on different trucks or had other extreme differences from the prototype. These were marketed mainly as toys or for the entry-level market.

Limited run brass imports have also been produced repeatedly over the years in many scales.

Some models have options for operation via the pentographs and working overhead catenary or through the rails. More recent models feature better detailing, sound and DCC.

Z Scale: Marklin
N Scale: Arnold / Riverossi, Kato
HO Scale: AHM / IHC / Mehano / Riverossi (same tooling), Broadway Limited,MTH, Trix
S Scale: American Models, Imfeld
O Gauge: Lionel ("Scale" and O-27 versions), MTH (Premier and Rail King), Williams (now Bachmann)
G Gauge: USA Trains

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