Chicago Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific. The Milwaukee Road's full name described its route perfectly - from the Midwest to the Northwest with not much in between. After Chicago and the Twin Cities, a passenger on the road's Olympian saw virtually nothing but farms, ranches, and mountains for 1500 miles. But in 1919, this sparsely traveled mountainous route seemed the ideal place for the General Electric Company and the Milwaukee Road to prove a point: electric power was the Future of American Railroading. And the five EP-2 Bi-Polars were going to be the engines to do it.
Officially called Bi-Polar Gearless Types, they were vastly superior to the steam locomotives of their day. With 3,200 continuous horsepower, an EP-2 could pull 13 Pullmans up a 2.2% grade, an incredibly steep hill in real-life railroading. When the Bi-Polars were young, their owners and builders delighted in staging pulling contests such as a 1924 "Battle of the Giants," in which a Bi-Polar easily won a tug-of-war against a pair of steam locomotives, a 2-8-0 and a 2-6-6-2.
Unfortunately, the source of the Bi-Polar's advantages was also their chief drawback: that darn overhead wire, which was incredibly expensive to put up. The Milwaukee Road's original plan was to electrify 870 miles of track from central Montana to Puget Sound. But a 1923 bankruptcy left the road without funds to string wire over the middle part of the route. As a result, the Bi-Polars spent most of their lives on the 214-mile Coast Division, hauling passengers between the farming town of Othello and the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.
With prototypical rule 17 lighting, remotely controlled, directionally activated operating pantographs, and the excitement of Proto-Sound 3.0, our die-cast model of this iconic locomotive is certain to make a prized addition to any collection.