by Tony Cook
Illinois Terminal (IT) was a railfan favorite among Midwestern short lines and regionals. The railroad’s diesel roster was largely populated by Alco and some Electro-Motive Division (EMD) switchers, along with a collection of GP7s. In the late 1960s, the road updated it fleet with the arrival of a half dozen SD39s and SW1500 (also produced by Athearn in the past for the hobby company’s Ready To Roll series). The last all-new motive power added to IT’s roster came in mid-1977 with the arrival of Phase II GP38-2s. The collection of four examples (2001-2004) served the road through its acquisition into Norfolk & Western (N&W) in the early 1980s. Those GP38-2s went on to work N&W and Norfolk Southern.
ABOVE: The road’s green differed between units and the application of lettering and striping on the variety of power operating during the time of the GP38-2s was a mix of examples. The sun faded IT’s green into various hues that were not representative of the like-new appearance, as offered on this Athearn Genesis HO-scale model.
Athearn’s 2020 release of HO-scale Genesis-series GP38-2s decorated for Illinois Terminal included all four road numbers (2001-2004). The models accurately depict Phase II appearance with narrow-spaced radiator fans and corrugated radiator grilles on the back of the long hood, twin flush exhaust ports and no dynamic brake blister, with angled filter box behind the air intake just behind the cab. The model’s, like IT’s prototypes, feature 88-inch nose with ratchet brake, with Leslie S-3L-R air horn on the cab roof and bell mounted on the fireman’s side long hood. The release comes equipped with Blomberg M-type truck sideframes and correct 2,600-gallon fuel tank. Athearn produced its HO-scale Genesis GP38-2 in standard DC version and in offerings featuring factory-installed Digital Command Control and SoundTraxx Tsunami2 audio output.
ABOVE: This is what railfanning Illinois Terminal looked like in the late 1970s. This view at the road’s Springfield, Ill., yard shows a mix of motive power from a big six-axle SD39 to a first-generation GP7, an SW1500 switcher, to the road’s newest EMD roster member, a GP38-2. -Daniel M. Schroeder photo, Kevin EuDaly collection
Central Illinois native and regular Model Railroad News contributor Ryan Crawford will review this Athearn Genesis Illinois Terminal GP38-2. Watch for Ryan’s review in early 2021. Keep up the latest from Athearn by watching “Athearn Train Tuesday” presented live weekly on Facebook and YouTube.
HO-scale Athearn Genesis
GP38-2 Diesel Locomotive
1600 Forbes Way, Suite 120
Long Beach, CA 90810
The Illinois Traction Society and its publication The Flyer are excellent resources to learn more about Illinois Terminal (both as a traction road and steam, electric, and later diesel operation).