Model Railroad News Extra Board

Athearn Imagines a World Without Burlington Northern

What if Burlington Northern never happened? Athearn can take your pike to this world without BN with four interesting and well done efforts. The models show the roads that formed the BN in 1970 with motive power options from the 1980s and later. For those who may scoff at non-prototypical releases such as this, be aware these offerings largely sold out as quickly as they arrived. The Dash 9-44CWs saw release only as non-sound standard DC models in the Athearn Roundhouse line. The Northern Pacific SD50 model is from the Athearn Ready To Roll line with non-sound DC models (MSRP: $134.98) and DCC-sound (MSRP: $194.98).

Athearn Imagines a World Without Burlington Northern

HO ScaleThere’s no Cascade Green in sight in Athearn’s collection of models showing an alternate universe where the famous “Hill Lines” roads stayed apart through at least the mid-1990s without merging into Burlington Northern.

These imaginative HO-scale models present Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Great Northern; Northern Pacific; and Spokane, Portland & Seattle as owners of General Electric’s Dash 9-44CW and Electro-Motive Division’s SD50. The SD50 saw production from 1980 to 1987, while GE’s Dash 9-44CW construction years began in 1993 and concluded in 2004. The formation of BN was made official in March 1970, a decade before the SD50’s introdution and nearly a quarter century before the Dash 9-44CW hit the rails.


If you’re looking to assemble the complete set, three of the roads (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Great Northern; and Spokane, Portland & Seattle) are represented as Athearn Roundhouse Dash 9-44CW diesel locomotive models. The Northern Pacific SD50 diesel model is an Athearn Ready To Roll release. 

Athearn’s miniature peek into this other world includes another couple variations from reality. In the mid-1960s, both Burlington and Great Northern adopted new liveries. The CB&Q began applying a Cascade Green image that was similar, but not the same as the actual BN paint scheme. Great Northern moved from its simplified Empire Builder dress of Omaha Orange and Pullman Green to “Big Sky Blue.” The models depict CB&Q and GN paint schemes from before the mid-1960s. Visit Athearn’s website for more information on these recently delivered releases.


Athearn provided its Santa Fe prototype “gull wing” cab version the General Electric Dash 9-44CW diesel locomotive tooling for this new collection of fantasy Burlington Northern family road names. The fully assembled HO-scale Dash 9-44CWs retail for $129.98 and appear in the Athearn Roundhouse line.

Athearn Trains
1600 Forbes Way
Suite 120
Long Beach, CA 90810

April 2019This article appeared in the April 2019 issue of Model Railroad News

This article was posted on: April 23, 2019