Behind the photo - The Norfolk & Western 521
I had visited the Virginia Museum of Transportation before, but somehow I had overlooked this locomotive until my most recent visit due to some of the more famous attractions there.
The 521 story.
The GP9 was acquired in 1958 to replace the famous J-Class steam engines . The 521 was the last of the class of 21 purchased from EMD. These locomotives were equipped with steam generators and featured a maroon paint scheme which complimented the Norfolk & Western's passenger fleet.
The 521 now resides at the Virginia Museum of Transportation along with the J-Class 611 which it replaced on the railroad 50 plus years ago.
The museum's website talks about the steam to diesel transition:
The railway lines found that a reduction in the size of the crew was a particularly attractive benefit of diesel versus steam. There was no fire, of course, eliminating the need for a fireman. Fueling stops were much less frequent and crews could travel further. However, they did not realize the benefits right away. The powerful railroad unions fought the elimination of the fireman. They also fought the extension of the 100 mile track regions to the 200 or 300 miles that the railways wanted. It took years to win the changes. Today, the diesels typically have two people in each cab, primarily for safety reasons.(A)
Both of these locomotives are great examples of the N&W in the late 1950s which many consider the "Golden Age of Railroading" in America.
More about the 521: http://vmt.org/Loops-Collections/Diesel-Locomotive-Loop/Diesel-Locomotive-EMD-GP-9-521.html