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BN 720

In September of 1949 Northern Pacific placed an order for six A-B-B-A sets of F7's numbered 6007-6012. The 6010A was built as part of this order and delivered 2/50 and initially assigned to NP's Yellowstone Division before moving west to the Rocky Mountain Division.

I first noted the NP 6010A idling in the yard at Auburn, WA 11-15-69 along with other F7's and GP9's. Next time I saw the 6010A was right after the BN merger on 3-28-70, again at Auburn and it was sitting in the shop area by itself.

It was eventually renumbered to BN 720 and first time I saw it was on 12-30-70 as a westbound off Stampede Pass arrived at Auburn, WA with 752/720/706/1879/1855/1863 and NP caboose 10126. All were in ex-NP colors but BN numbers.

The 1972 BN Annual shows the BN 720 assigned to Auburn, WA which would explain why it could be seen on many trains out of the ex-NP yard.

The 720 was still in NP paint when I photographed it 5-12-75 at South Seattle, WA.

It continued to wear its NP paint up to the last time I saw it on 6-11-76 in those colors.

Next time I would see the BN 720 would be 8-22-76 in a coat of fresh BN green heading out of Auburn towards Stampede Pass on an extra east at 1:08 PM led by the 730/9740/9732/738/1631/1783/720 (F7A/F7A/F7A/F7A/GP7/GP9/F7A) and it should be noted the 9740 and 9732 were in tattered GN Sky Blue and the 738 in NP colors that late after the merger.

My first photo of the 720 in green came on 2-14-77 at Argo, WA leading the Everett Turn with F7A's 720/738/724.

On 10-8-77 it escaped disaster when as trailing unit of southbound #143 (with units 730/1630/707/720) the train running as a cab hop ran head on into train #138 at South Seattle. The 730 and 1630 were destroyed. Had #143 had a full sized train behind it instead of just a caboose you'd have to think the 720 would not have come out of it so well.

After getting a new 35mm camera in late 1978 I managed to photograph the BN 720 many times. Here it is Jan 5, 1979 leading the Snoqualmie Turn into Renton, WA and meeting an eastbound Milwaukee train led by SD40-2 23. Note the ex-NP caboose (BN 10298) behind the power which was F7A's 720/724 that day.

On 5-6-80 I caught the BN 720 with 6 other F-units awaiting assignment at Auburn's ex-NP shop area.

Here are a few rosters of the BN 720. First at Auburn on 9-16-80.

It looks to have kept its original NP horn over the cab on this side.

Exactly one month later on 10-16-80 it was at Interbay and you can see a 3 chime horn on the opposite side.

Here the 720 is leading the North Bend Turn westbound along the Maple Valley Highway towards Renton on 3-17-81. The train today has 3 ex-NP units up front, 720/1843/1860 (F7A/GP9/GP9).

My last photo of the BN 720 was taken on 6-24-81 at Black River, WA again leading the North Bend Turn and again heading an all ex-NP power set of 720/837/1850 (F7A/F9B/GP9).

I would see other F-units leading BN trains for a few months longer but the 720 would not be one of them. It was retired 11/81 and sold to Railcar 12/81. From what I understand it languished until 1/91 until being sold to Pielet and there has been no more information on the 720 since. But chances are it has been scrapped.