Trains, Boats & Planes | 10 March 2017Napa Valley Wine Train Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The history of railroading in North America is a long and colorful one. Today’s train buffs yearn for all the gritty details regarding their favorite railways and the locomotives that pulled freight and carried passengers across the country. From North American Locomotives: A Railroad-by-Railroad Photo History is a history of the very unique Napa Valley Wine Train, one of the 75-plus lines profiled in this new book. For 23 years, these classic Montreal-built diesels have plied the rails in California’s Napa Valley. In recent years, Napa Valley’s FPA-4s have been adapted to burn compressed natural gas instead of traditional diesel oil to reduce greenhouse emissions. (Adam Pizante) Napa Valley Wine Train Since September 1989, Napa Valley Wine Train (NVWT) has provided a neo-retro culinary-based rail-excursion service over portions of the former Southern Pacific branch line through its namesake valley. The train serves as the venue for an experience aimed to capture the spirit of the golden age of railway travel without emulating any specific historic prototype. Most of the cars are Pullman heavy weights built for Northern Pacific and survived into the modern era in service on the Rio Grande Ski Train. A Napa Valley Wine Train engineer boards FPA-4 No. 72 at St. Helena, California, for the return run to Napa. Napa’s four former VIA Rail FPA-4s are painted in a tasteful livery that incorporate wine-inspired shades intended to convey the elegance of classic railway travel, yet has no specific historic connotation. A pair of FPA-4s chortles in low revs while leading the Napa Valley Wine Train afternoon excursion on March 30, 1990. Although similar to the once-common Alco FA, MLW’s FPA-4 was strictly built for the Canadian market. Only in the 1980s, when VIA Rail sold off its fleet, did FPA-4s migrate to new owners south of the border. NVWT’s primary locomotives are four FPA-4s built by Montreal Locomotive Works for Canadian National during 1958 and 1959. Based on Alco’s FA freight model, the FPA series was a passenger model and originally equipped with a steam generator to supply heat. Where the Alco FA/FB freight units were powered by the troubled 244 diesel, the FPA-4 featured Alco’s more reliable 251 engine. Canada’s VIA Rail inherited CN’s FPA-4s in the late 1970s, assigning them to its long-distance services on eastern routes until the mid- to late 1980s, when they were retired in favor of new F40PH-2s. NVWT’s four units are Nos. 70 to 73 and painted in burgundy and gold—wine-inspired hues that match the colors of the excursion train. Between 1999 and 2008, the locomotives were converted to burncompressed natural gas instead of diesel oil as part of an experiment to reduce greenhouse emissions. NVWT also operates an Alco RS-11 road switcher, No. 62, and a GE 65-ton switcher, No. 52. Buy from an Online Retailer Spanning more than one and a half centuries, this treasure trove examines the steam, diesel, and electric locomotives that have have kept North American commerce on the rails since the middle of the nineteenth century. Prolific rail author Brian Solomon takes an encyclopedic approach and describes every major type. And because locomotive-building has long been a made-to-order business, the book is arranged alphabetically by railroads from across the United States and Canada to show the variant technologies that railroads ordered to best suit their specific needs, whether for freight or passenger operations. The 75-plus railroads covered range from the best known historical lines such as Canadian Pacific, Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and Baltimore & Ohio, to today’s giant Class I roads, commuter lines, and selected short lines. The result is a profusely illustrated and beautifully presented reference guide that features more than 400 locomotive gems from throughout the ages, including historic machines such as New York Central’s J3a Hudsons, Pennsylvania Railroad’s GG1 electrics, and EMD’s classic E- and F-Units, to today’s most powerful modern diesels. All the major builders—past and present—are represented, including such heavyweights as Baldwin, Alco, Lima, EMD, GE, and more. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.