Famous Locomotives

The Delaware Hudson Adirondack

As Amtrak went about saving the American passenger train in the 1970s, the corporation instituted significant changes. One that was distinctly two-edged, however, was the standardization of richly varied ancestors into look-alike trains.

One colorful exception was the Adirondack, a day train between New York and Montreal that was funded in part by the State of New York under a provision of the Amtrak Act that allowed states to mandate service by funding a percentage of the cost-two-thirds originally, later one-half.

The Delaware & Hudson was a willing operator of this train between Albany and Montreal-a wonderfully scenic ride, much of it along the shore of Lake Champlain-but on its terms, which were that the equipment used would be its own, refurbished at state expense and painted in a fetching blue, yellow, and gray. The locomotives would be four distinctive Alco PAs, handsome locomotives that D&H had purchased from Santa Fe in 1967 for service on the Laurentian and Montreal Limited.

Because D&H under Carl B. Sterzing, its feisty young president, wanted its identity front and center, Sterzing and Amtrak struck sparks virtually from the time of the train's inauguration on August 5, 1974.

After the leased CP domes were returned, Amtrak provided dome coaches in their stead, which D&H painted in its own colors, outraging Amtrak officials. Amtrak's blue and red promptly returned, and the passenger corporation played its trump card in this identity battle in 1977 by bumping the D&H equipment entirely with Turboliner trainsets.