Every year on July 4th, we here in the United States celebrate the birth of our nation. But in 1976, upon the 200th Anniversary, we threw one heck of big a party. For the US Bicentennial every one in the nation was getting into the spirit. Everything, and we do mean everything, was getting a patriotic Red, White, and Blue treatment. The US railroads were no exception. Railroads across the US were painting locomotives and other equipment in celebration of our country’s 200th birthday. Our Canadian railroad neighbors even got into the spirit. The result of all this stars and stripes hoopla was some of the most interesting and colorful railroad equipment ever seen in North America.
As we all know, model railroad hobbyists, even us LEGO® variety, gravitate toward modeling the interesting and rare. The Bicentennial RR locomotives and rolling stock has been a popular modeling subject ever since that great celebration in 1976. So today, on this July 4th, we’re going to take a look at some Bicentennial models created in LEGO
Swoofty: The man, the myth, the LEGO Bicentennial King
Swoofty, or as he is sometimes known, Dara Norman, is a legendary 6 wide builder who has probably been the most prolific builder of Bicentennial LEGO trains. With at least 5 locomotives, and one caboose from various railroads, Swoofty has done more than anyone. Here’s a rundown of the Swoofty fleet.
Norfolk & Western Bicentennial Set by Cale Leiphart
Swoofty may have the most Bicentennial train models, but I can at least lay claim to the most from one railroad.
For the Bicentennial, the Norfolk & Western Railway wasn’t content with painting just a locomotive, and maybe a caboose, like some railroads. The N&W went the extra mile and painted an SD45, a H-12 class hopper, a 40ft semi trailer, and a C18 class caboose. Of all the Bicentennial trains, this N&W’s effort has to be my favorite. The paint scheme is bold, yet not gaudy. It has a timeless quality to it, and was a welcome splash of color in the Norfolk & Western’s sea of black and white.
The EMD SD-45 was built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1965, and 1971. Power was provided by an EMD 645E3 twenty-cylinder engine which generated 3,600 HP. Norfolk & Western painted engine #1776 in a special red, white, and blue scheme in 1974 to tour the Norfolk and Western system as a tribute to the United States 200th birthday in 1976. Today #1776 is preserved at the Virginia Transportation Museum.
Without a doubt the most colorful hopper on the Norfolk & Western was H-12 class no. 1776, with it’s American Bicentennial paint scheme. Originally built as no. 138699 in July 1975, it was repainted and renumbered to 1776 that same year to commemorate the United States 200th birthday.
Norfolk & Western renumbered this 40ft, 1969 Fruehauf trailer to NWZ 1776 and painted it in a special red, white, and blue scheme to tour the Norfolk and Western system as a tribute to the United States 200th birthday. Today this trailer is preserved at the Virginia Transportation Museum.
In 1964 the Norfolk & Western acquired a new fleet of cabooses courtesy of the Wabash RR. Built by the Wabash from 1941 through 1946, they became N&W’s class C-18 when the Wabash merged with the Norfolk in 1964. Caboose no. 562786 was chosen by the N&W to be renumbered 1776 and painted in a special red, white, and blue scheme in 1974 to tour the Norfolk and Western system as a tribute to the United States 200th birthday.
The American Freedom Train, toured the United States from 1975 through 1976 to commemorate the United States Bicentennial. This 26-car train was powered by three newly restored steam locomotives. The first to pull the train was former Reading Company T-1 class 4-8-4 2101. The second was former Southern Pacific 4449, a large 4-8-4 steam locomotive that is still operating in special excursion service today. The third was former Texas & Pacific 2-10-4 610, which pulled the train in Texas.
Anthony Sava has beautifully modeled the Texas & Pacific 610 in it’s Freedom Train livery.
Know of any more Bicentennial LEGO models? We would love to see them.