NN 401 was constructed in August 1952, builder number 16842. She is a type C-C road-switcher, weighs a very attractive 296,000 lbs, and equipped with a 1200 gallon fuel tank. We are proud of the fact that 401 remains the only SD-7 model unit ever purchased brand-new by a shortline railroad. She was particularly well suited for the NN's 60- and 115-pound rail.
For the next 30 years, the 401 would work the Nevada Northern mainline north out of Ely, delivering blister copper to the transcontinental connections at Shafter and Cobre. The loads would be interchanged there for shipment to refineries that would eventually finish the process to create nearly pure copper. For the return trip she would usually have freight with supplies, equipment, and parts for the mine and general goods for the Ely and the surrounding region . The Nevada Northern Railway was active in TOFL (Trailer-on-Flatcar) service, so 401 saw piggy-back service as well.
Yes, 401 was a very busy lady back in those days, tirelessly running the full-day round-trip up to the transcendental connection points as well as regularly working the mine-to-smelter shuttles day-in and day-out. Then came the sad day in 1983 when the railroad closed its doors seemingly for good. It was 401 that had the heavy, sad duty to haul the last revenue freight service on the Nevada Northern. She departed East Ely for Cobre for one last time on the morning of June 20, 1983. She returned back to Ely the next day, and returned to the engine house. An era had ended. Due to this last and final service she earned the title of The Last Empress of Ely.
The line north of McGill Junction was eventually sold to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) for a proposed coal-fired power plant. That power plant was on-again then off-again for the next ten years until plans were finally completely receded. Unfortunately, the sale of the line included Locomotive 401. With the termination of LADWP's project in Nevada the fate of 401 was up in the air. The answer came in 1988 when the 401 moved to the new LADWP power plant in Delta, UT. She was prepped, sent north to the connection at Shafter and pulled into Salt Lake City. She was then pulled to Delta, UT and put back in service there where she remains to this day. (You may be asking yourself what Los Angele's Department of Water and Power is doing with facilities in both Nevada and Utah. It is a long, complex story, but suffice it to say that Los Angeles is a very large city, with lots of thirsty people)
The locomotive has been promised to the museum as part of the agreement to sell the track north of Ely and 401 back to the Nevada Northern Railway Foundation. When the time is right, 401 will be repatriated to her home rails where she will live out her days with no worries of ever seeing the scrapper's torch. In the mean time, LADWP is taking good care of her, has kept her inspections current, and has repainted her in the her original NNRY colors, just as you see in these pictures. We are very grateful to them for that! Thank you, LADWP for taking care of our very special lady.
Stay tuned to this page for news of 401's triumphant return to Ely. We will post updates here as they happen.