Number Eleven
                              One of a Kind Love Affair

     By 1956, the Carolina & North-Western had been running Alco RS-2 and RS-3 locomotives for eight years. The shop and General Foreman in Hickory had developed a strong working relationship with the American Locomotive Company. With the approval of Southern Railway Vice President H.M. Ramsey, a deal was entered into that allowed the C&NW, and by default, the SR, to test Alco's newest entry into the high-horsepower diesel locomotive market.
     This would be an interesting test for both the manufacturer and the railroad, as strong competition to Alco and its line of diesels was the GP-9, a product of General Motors Electro-Motive-Division. The new Alco RS-11 proved to be a worthy competitor on paper to its 1750-horsepower rival.

Number 11 arrived to the C&N-W with Sylvan Green paint, imitation aluminum striping, yellow lettering and yellow and trim.

  Sporting a high hood on standard AAR Type B trucks, the brawny locomotive sported a 251B 12-cylinder diesel that provided 1800 HP.  This raw power and high hood distinguished it immediately from its earlier predecessors.
    The Carolina & N-W's new Alco was numbered "11", maintaining a sequential order of the other Alco diesels on the roster of the railroad. Built in late March of 1956, on Alco sales order S-3252, she arrived in the Hickory switchyard on March 30 at 8:00pm. She was painted in Sylvan green, with imitation aluminum striping, and yellow lettering. Pure Southern Railway style but with C&N-W lettering. By 8:00 the next morning, she had been delivered to the Hickory shops, accompanied by two high-ranking Alco officials who were supposed to demonstrate the engine to Southern officials the following Monday.

Barely a month old in May, 1956, #11 was the muscle behind the grand celebration that surrounded ET&WNC #12's return to North Carolina and her re-building at the Hickory shops.

This was to be a very important meeting, as it would provide a first impression to the movers and shakers that would help determine the Southern Railway's future locomotive needs, and as general foreman Frank Coffey noted, "the Spencer boys [of the Southern] weren't too damn fond of Alcos as it was!"
      As fate would have it, trouble immediately reared its head on the new engine.  Frank Coffey's diary on Saturday, March 31 mentioned that he "checked the engine and started it up. Control system trouble." Coffey, his best men, and the Alco officials worked diligently all weekend to find and repair the problem, but by Monday morning, they were no further along than square one. Another Alco official was hastily dispatched from Atlanta, but before he arrived, shop-worker Bob Pope found a broken wire on a transformer in the lead truck. Bob recalled that the wire was  "no bigger than a hair on your head," and that he probably could have found the problem days earlier if "all the people who didn't know anything had kept their hands out the way."  With the problem identified, the broken wire was hastily soldered and repaired. Finally, with the problem solved, Number 11 made her maiden voyage by traveling light to Lenoir and back on Tuesday, April 3, 1956.
     Unfortunately for Alco, the damage was done, and the engine's first impressions must have been lasting ones in the minds of the Southern men. Ultimately, Number 11 would be the only RS-11 on the entire SR system, while the rival GP7 and GP9's would reach a  total of 125 units. Nevertheless, the Carolina & N-W men remember the lone gal with fondness, and without a doubt, she earned her keep and the respect of those who ran her.


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