State Belt Railroad #23

This 1,000 horsepower workhorse was built for the State Belt Railroad of California. The State Belt Railroad at one time operated a fleet of six of these diesels, numbered 20-25, purchased new between 1943 and 1945. The 23 (along with sister 22) was delivered new in March 1944 while the 25 was delivered new in July 1945 along with her sister 24. The 23 has the less common horizontal shutters on the front of the engine. Most S-2's were delivered with vertical shutters. The American Locomotive Company's Schenectady, NY plant built both units. General Electric manufactured the unit's electrical components.

Each of the units produces 69,000 pounds of tractive effort and weighs approximately 230,000 pounds. When built and delivered to the State Belt Railroad, these 6 diesels replaced 12 oil-fired steam locomotives.

The new State Belt diesels were a big help in World War II. The war generated a large amount of trans-Pacific traffic, and the State Belt contributed greatly to the movement of materials. The State Belt also delivered trainloads of fresh troops to debarkation points, and picked up hospital trains and returning troops. The railroad moved 156 troop trains and 265 hospital trains in 1945 alone.

Operations continued during the 50's and 60's but slowly wound down as shipping moved across the Bay to Oakland. In 1969, with the State wanting to get out of the port business, San Francisco voters approved a bond issue to buy the Port of San Francisco. The State Belt R.R. thus became the San Francisco Belt Railroad. Later in 1973, the City offered to sell the railroad to any operator for $1. Total trackage had fallen from 67 miles in 1950 to 58 miles in 1973.

The end of the railroad came in 1993. By then, most trackage north of the Ferry building was gone or inactive. The only activity took place at Pier 96, a newly built container facility near Hunter's Point. ALCO S-2 #23 was chosen to serve the facility. The 23 was spruced up and was completed with the new number 49 and a new paint job in 49er colors.

Text by Roy Wullich and Thomas Beutel