MRL 127 is a former Great Northern GP9.
It was built in May 1954 as the GN 680 and delivered in the classic orange and green. It and the GN 679 were delivered with steam generators and assigned to the Mesabi Division and kept near Superior for passenger train service on the Gopher or Badger when their consists required additional power. Water for the steam generator was carried in tanks between the trucks and fuel tank so the air reservoirs were moved up to the roof. In photos I have seen the headlight on the long hood, front for GN GP9's, was set lower than normal as a single red warning light was mounted just above it. Later the 680 was painted in the simplified orange and green and then Big Sky Blue.
At the BN merger in 1970 the 680 was assigned BN number 1832 and had the short hood chopped and made the front end. I first saw the BN 1832 at Billings, MT 7-4-82 on an eastbound BN freight train on the ex-NP.
In a bit more than 5 years it would be sold to MRL at start up 10/87 and given number 103. Here is a photo of the 103 at Bonner, MT 6-6-89 in MRL blue, still with the air reservoirs on the roof.
The 103 would be renumbered again 1/91 to the MRL 127. Here is the 127 heading up a work train westbound near Woodlin, MT 8-16-91 running the way GN intended. The lower mounted headlight can easily be seen.
On a trip east of Billings I photographed the MRL 127 on a westbound BN freight at Forsyth, MT 7-13-95 along with F45 390.
Note in the photo at Forsyth the smooth roofline. The GP9 was delivered without dynamic brakes. On a recent trip to Montana this summer I ran across the 127 again on the Paradise Local. I did not notice it at the time but now you can see it has dynamic brakes and the air tanks are mounted between the fuel tank and rear trucks. This photo was taken at Paradise on 7-14-08, 13 years after the Forsyth photo was taken.
And lastly here is a rear end photo taken at Woodlin, MT the same day 7-14-08. You can see the lower rear headlight is unchanged.
Considering only two GN GP9's were built for passenger service it is interesting that one of the two is still in service on the MRL today. Makes me wonder if it has ever pulled an MRL passenger train?
The MRL 127 had an air conditioning unit added in 2013 and was repainted into the newer MRL scheme in September of 2013. It is currently operating on the Paradise Local where I photographed it on 12-02-13 leaving Paradise, MT.
In May 2014 I photographed the 127 again at Paradise, WA late in the afternoon of 5-29-14 still looking great in fresh paint.
It appears as if the 127 is going to be around for awhile. Nice to see this former Great Northern GP9 still working main line locals on the MRL