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The DRGW paint scheme information below has not been updated since 2000.  If you spot missing, inaccurate data, have model suggestion or a picture for any we'd love to see & hear about it.   Contact the RGM&HS webmaster at: rgmhswebmaster@rgmhs.org.

Code Year Introduced Main Color Second Color Third Color Lettering Stripes
1a 1941 Black Imitation Gold Duco (yellow)   Rio Grande End Stripes
1b 1956?/1962 Black Orange Duco (Aspen Gold)   Rio Grande End Stripes
2 1942 Black Imitation Gold Dulux (Ochre)   Rio Grande 3/1 Stripes
3a 1946 Black Imitation Gold Duco (yellow)   Rio Grande 3/1 Stripes
3b 1956 Black Orange Duco (Aspen Gold)   Rio Grande 3/1 Stripes
4 1949 Aluminum Duco Orange Duco (Aspen Gold) Black Rio Grande Gold nose
5 1950 Orange Duco (Aspen Gold) Aluminum Duco Black Rio Grande 4 Stripes
6a 1961 Orange Duco (Aspen Gold) Aluminum Duco Black Rio Grande 1 Stripe
6b 1984 "Anschutz" Orange Aluminum Duco Black Rio Grande 1 Stripe
7a 1968 Black Orange Duco (Aspen Gold)   Rio Grande (Large) End Stripes
7b 1984 Black "Anschutz" Orange   Rio Grande End Stripes
7c 1984 Black "KC" Orange   Rio Grande End Stripes

Loco/Equipment 1a 1b 2 3a 3b 4 5 6a 6b 7a 7b 7c
30T   Repaint                    
44T New                      
F3       New     Repaint Repaint        
F5       New     Repaint Repaint        
F7       New     New Repaint        
F9             New Repaint        
FT     New Repaint     Repaint Repaint        
GP30   New               Repaint    
GP35   New               Repaint    
GP40   New               New, Repaint    
GP40 (ex-Conrail)                       Repaint
GP40-2                   New    
GP60                     New  
GP7   Repaint   New Repaint?         Repaint    
GP9   Repaint   New New, Repaint?         Repaint    
H10-44 New Repaint                    
H15-44  New Repaint                    
KM               New        
NW2 New Repaint                    
PA       New   Repaint Repaint  Repaint        
RS3    Repaint   New Repaint              
S2 New Repaint                    
SD40T-2                   New    
SD45   New               Repaint    
SD50                     New  
SD7   Repaint   New Repaint?              
SD9   Repaint     New              
SW1000   New                    
SW1200   New                    
VO-660 New Repaint                    
Steam Generator PB                 Repaint      
Heavyweight Pass. Cars       Repaint   Repaint            
Lightweight Pass. Cars            
Ski Train Equip.             Repaint Repaint Repaint      

Scheme #1b

Known by some as the "switcher" scheme because it was first used on the early switchers, this later scheme used Aspen Gold to replace the yellow end stripes of the earlier switcher scheme, with the addition of Aspen Gold side sills and end plates. In 1962, this switcher scheme was adopted as the standard for road switcher locomotives, with the GP30s wearing the new colors when they were delivered in April 1962. Examination of photos reveals that although the color name, Aspen Gold, remained the same, the actual color may have been a slightly darker shade of orange, compared to the previous shade of Aspen Gold used on the earlier four-black-stripe scheme on the carbody units.

All subsequent new units were delivered in this scheme. Units repainted during and after 1962 also received the new paint scheme, with GP7 5101 being one of the first units repainted, in mid 1962. Other repainted units include VO-660s 72 and 73, S-2 112, H10-44 122, and RS-3 5204 (the only RS-3 to receive this paint scheme). A feature of the first generation units (GP7s, GP9s, SD7s, and SD9s) was the flying Rio Grande in black, on the units' Aspen Gold ends.

Most of the GP7s and GP9s were completed by 1964-1965, but some of the SD9s remained in their previous scheme as late as 1967.

38, RG Trackside, p. 20
72, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p. 54
73, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p. 90
112, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p. 32
122, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p. 11
5101, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p. 23
5204, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p. 24

Scheme #2

This mid-1940s Otto Roach view of FT 550 illustrates the Black and Dulux Gold of paint scheme No.2 that the Rio Grande's FTs were delivered in. The color is a rich yellow ochre. The scheme was derived from the one worn by EMD's demo set.

(EMD FT Units)

First used in 1942 as the original scheme applied to the FTs. The ochre yellow color (Dulux Gold) and striping pattern was the same as that used on the FT units for Boston & Maine (maroon with gold stripes) and Lehigh Valley (Cornell red with black stripes). By 1944, the road decided to add their new and distinctive flying Rio Grande on each side of the nose signal light, interrupting the upper yellow stripe. Three of the four A-B-B-A sets of FTs in the third order (548-551) were delivered in 1944 with the new flying Rio Grande lettering on their noses, and all of the earlier units soon had the lettering added. For unknown reasons, the Rio Grande lettering used on 549 was much smaller than what was used on the others.

548, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p.71
549, Mainline Modeler, 9/81, p.34
550, RG Diesels, Vol. 1, p.71
551, Rails to the Rockies, p. 60

Scheme #3a and 3b

This slide of Geeps 5933/5941/5923/510X at Pueblo in 1958 clearly illustrates the difference between the two versions of the Rio Grande's early road switcher scheme. The first two GP9s (built in 1956) clearly have Aspen Gold striping of the No.3b scheme, while the the third GP9 (built in 1955) and the GP7 (built in 1952) have Duco Imitation Gold stripes of the No.3a scheme. Note that the bright yellow has bleached/chalked to a creamy yellow. Jim Parker photo.

Similar to the original 1942 scheme, but with a new shade of yellow (Duco Imitation Gold), with an added yellow nose, pilot, and windshield area for improved visibility to motorists at grade crossings. First used on the F3s delivered in November 1946; the early F7s, and the Alco PA and PB passenger units were also delivered with this scheme between 1948 and 1950. The FT units were repainted to this scheme. Some units received yellow over their roofs above the cab area.

"The earliest dated picture that I could find of a Rio Grande FT with the full yellow nose is number 541 on page 58 of "The Revolutionary Diesel, EMC's FT", and is dated March 20, 1947. That is five months after the first F-3, and two months after the first PA-1 were built using variations of the black with yellow nose scheme." (Steven Seguine, December 30, 2007 email to D&RGW Yahoo group)

(In a related subject, Steven also notes that at the same time that the FT units received their version of the solid yellow nose paint scheme, they also received the revised number boards and classification lights that were unique to D&RGW's FTs.)

According to Rio Grande Diesels Vol 1, only the FTs wore the black paint/yellow stripes but no wide yellow patch across the nose. The F3s and most of the F7s were delivered with the modified version adding yellow across the top and front of the nose for better visibility at grade crossings (according to captions). The last group of F7s, the 5700 series were delivered with the Grande Gold/silver, 4 black stripes, in 1952. (Jim Fitch, December 30, 2007 email to D&RGW Yahoo group)

On EMD cab and booster units, the original 1942 version of the multiple yellow stripes scheme had two-inch yellow stripe below the side grilles. This 1946 version added a second two-inch yellow stripe above the side grilles. Both the 1942 version and the 1946 version included three stripes on the lower carbody side, with a single stripe along the bottom edge of the locomotive's side, a total of four stripes. The Alco PA and PB passenger units were delivered without the side grille stripes. The two lower stripes in the upper group of three stripes on the Alco units were narrower that those used on the EMD units, and the stripe along the carbody bottom edge was wider. This later yellow color, used on both EMD and Alco units, tended to lighten ("chalk") over time from both oxidation and sun bleaching, fading from its original bright hue to a much creamier yellow hue.

The Alco passenger units retained this scheme for just two years, from their delivery in early 1947 until they were repainted into the California Zephyr-inspired solid aluminum and Aspen Gold scheme in mid 1949, following the CZ's March 1949 inaugural run.

EMD units retained this scheme until they were repainted to the Aspen Gold, aluminum, and four black stripes scheme first used in 1951.

Scheme #4

Pictured here is a PA set on the front of the California Zephyr.  Once the California Zephyr (CZ) had been in service a few months it was suggested that the railroad that its PA diesels sets which were delivered new in paint scheme No. 3b be brought more nearly into line with the colors appearing on the locomotives of the other partner railroads (CB&Q and WP). Both of those roads made use of much more silver paint and stainless-steel side panels on their assigned CZ diesel sets. In late in the summer of 1949 both DRGW PA sets were repainted into silver with an orange around the nose of the paint scheme No. 4.
Often referred to as the “aspen leaf” scheme it was an impressive short-lived paint scheme, although it didn't wear well with both oxidation and tunnel soot along the DRGW portion of the CZ route. By 1952 the silver years were over and the PA set were repainted into scheme no.5

Also known as the Aspen Leaf scheme. Applied to the Alco PA and PB units by August 1949, following the inaugural run of the California Zephyr in March 1949. Both of the Alco passenger A-B-A sets were repainted to Aspen Gold, aluminum, and four black stripes in 1952 after one set was replaced on the Zephyr by passenger-equipped F3s (the other set remained on the CZ as late as 1958). The photo, with the latest documented date, of the aluminum-colored PA/PB units is one taken by Otto Perry on September 22, 1951 (Otto Perry DPL OP-10997), showing D&RGW 6011 in the earlier paint scheme, and one of the PB unit in the newer Aspen Gold with four black stripes Prospector scheme.

Aspen Gold was also used in late May or early June 1949 to paint D&RGW narrow gauge C-16 class 2-8-0 number 268, and its accompanying passenger cars for display from June to October 1949 during the second season of the Chicago Railroad Fair. (The display also included a half-size mock-up of the east portal of the Moffat Tunnel, and may have been the first use of the famous "Main Line Through the Rockies" logo.)

Scheme #5Known by some as the Prospector scheme, from its first use in March 1950 on the new lightweight passenger equipment for the overnight Prospector train when it was combined with The Royal Gorge west of Grand Junction.

For diesel units, this "Prospector" scheme included a 1-5/8 inch black stripe along the edge of the roof, to separate the roof's aluminum color from the body's Aspen Gold. When seen directly from above, the black line separating the aluminum color and the Aspen Gold color on the roof was oval or elliptical in shape, with the Aspen Gold being toward the front of each unit's roof.

The first known use of the new Aspen Gold, aluminum, and four black stripes paint scheme on a diesel locomotive was on FTA 5481 in March 1951. The unit had been wrecked in early December 1950 and sent to EMD for repairs, returning to Rio Grande home rails as the first unit to wear this much more visible scheme. The other cab unit (5484) and the two booster units (5482, 5483) of this four-unit FT set were repainted to match the 5481 at about the same time, between December 1950 and March 1951. The earliest available EMD styling and painting diagram, number 8174189, is dated March 5, 1951. This EMD drawing makes reference to D&RGW drawing 21741-5-203, which likely predates the EMD drawing.

(The earlier paint scheme used on the Prospector passenger train, re-introduced in October 1945, and repainted to the all-black with yellow (Duco Imitation Gold) stripes by 1947, matching the 1946 version of the black with yellow stripes scheme used on diesel cab units. This early prospector scheme was changed in 1950 to the above scheme.)

Between March and December 1951, motive power assigned to passenger service was repainted into this new scheme; this included the A-B-B-A set of passenger F3s assigned to the California Zephyr, 5521, 5522, 5523, 5524, and the Alco PA and PB units. In June 1952, D&RGW received five A-B-B-A sets and two A-B-A sets of F7s (14 A-units and 12 B-units) painted in the new scheme.

For underframe color, a painting diagram dated January 1952 shows black as only being used on the trucks. Generally, silver trucks were used on units assigned to passenger service and black was used on freight units. In later years, even passenger units received black trucks. In June 1955, the fuel tank sides were changed from aluminum to black. The two steam generator cars (250 and 251) were completed in this scheme when they were converted in 1953 from retired steam locomotive tenders.

Included in the list of units repainted during 1952 and 1953 were F3A 5531 and the F7s 5571-5574. The F7s received the new four-stripe paint following repairs following a wreck in Pueblo, Colorado, in May 1952. F3A 5531 had apparently received the new scheme by the time of its wreck damage in November 1953, and along with F7A 5571, returned from wreck repairs at EMD in February and April 1954 with the new scheme. In September 1955, the two F9As and four F9Bs were delivered wearing the new scheme.

February 24, 1957
"Repainting Boxcars" (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 24, 1957)

During 1956, the Rio Grande initiated a program which will result in eventual repainting of all boxcars belonging to the road. A new paint design, featuring the railroad's distinctive colors of Grande gold, silver and black, was adopted for use on all new and old box cars. New equipment is being painted as it rolls off the assembly lines of manufacturers and old cars are scheduled to receive their "new look" when they come into the home shops for general overhaul.

The brightly painted cars provide a vivid contrast to the traditional red of the nation's box car fleet. They also heighten the safety factor considerably and serve to publicize the home railroad of Colorado and Utah all over the country.

In addition to boxcars, Rio Grande cabooses also are being repainted in the new colors. The caboose paint scheme was designed to match that of Rio Grande road locomotives, giveing the railroad distinctive head end and rear end identification on all its trains.

The first D&RGW caboose in the gold and silver with four black stripes paint scheme was D&RGW 01402, completed in June 1956. At the same time, it received sealed windows using rubber frames with rounded corners. The cupola side windows retained their original wood frames.

5524, Steinheimer photo, Dec 1951
5571, Cox card
5571, Andrews photo, Sep 1953
5531, Andrews photo, Jun 1952
Caboose 01408, RG Trackside, p. 68

Scheme #6

The use of a single black, seven-inch stripe was first used on locomotives in 1961. The first units with this scheme, the A-B-B-A set of passenger F3s (D&RGW 5521, 5522, 5523, 5524) assigned to the California Zephyr, were completed in mid-April 1961. Alco PA passenger unit 6001 was also painted during April 1961. The only new units delivered with the Aspen Gold and aluminum with single black stripe were the Krauss-Maffei diesel hydraulic units, built in Germany in June 1961 and delivered to Rio Grande in November 1961.

According to Joseph Strapac in his "Rio Grande Diesels", Volume 1, page 109, only nine F7s (of 38 total units) did not receive the single stripe scheme, including D&RGW 5601, 5604, 5611, 5614, 5624, 5631, 5651, 5661, 5701.

Ed Fulcomer points out that the quantity is actually eight units. Mr. Fulcomer had taken two photos of D&RGW 5624 with the single stripe scheme in September 1966. One was used on page 97 of Mr. Strapac's Rio Grande Diesels, Volume 1 book, and another view showing D&RGW 5624 with the later single stripe scheme was used on page 39 of the Diesel Era article about D&RGW F units, in Diesel Era, Volume 10, Number 4, July/August 1999. (email from Ed Fulcomer, March 30, 2004)

Of the 36 F7 booster units (42 if you include the six very similar F5 booster units), photo research has found that all except the following 10 units received the single-stripe scheme: D&RGW 5602, 5603, 5612, 5613, 5623, 5632, 5633, 5652, 5683, 5692. (email from Ed Fulcomer, December 28, 2007)

For freight cars, as shown in the 1956 corporate annual report, a similar paint scheme without the black roof, was used on several 40-foot boxcars that were repainted in August 1956. This same 1956 annual report shows the first known use of the earlier four-stripe scheme on a caboose.

Also in August 1956, Rio Grande received 100 50-foot sliding single-door boxcars from ACF. These 100 cars carried D&RGW 64000-64099 reporting marks and numbers, and were the first examples of freight equipment delivered in the new single-stripe scheme. In 1957, Rio Grande leased from General American (GARX), 100 50-foot, plug-door RBL boxcars that were delivered in the new scheme, with GARX 50900-59999 reporting marks and numbers.

Many cabooses also received this new single-stripe scheme. The first D&RGW steel cabooses with the single black stripe scheme were the 11 cabooses in the 01480-01490 number series, built by D&RGW in their Burnham shops in July 1959. Fifteen wide-vision cabooses (01500-1514) were delivered in 1966, also in this single-stripe scheme.

(In later years, the caboose fleet concurrently carried a great variety of paint schemes, including the earliest all-black scheme, the all-black scheme with twin yellow stripes that denoted radio equipment, the Aspen Gold and aluminum with four black stripe scheme, the Aspen Gold and aluminum with single black stripe scheme, and the final (after 1975) all-orange scheme. This final all-orange scheme used an orange that was darker than Aspen Orange, but not as dark as the later Kansas City Orange.)

In the case of passenger cars, the first examples were likely the former Northern Pacific cars acquired in 1960, refurbished and repainted by D&RGW and placed in Ski Train service very soon after. These cars may have been the first passenger cars to receive the single black stripe scheme.

F3s, RG in Color, Vol. 1, p. 11 (Aug 1961)
50-foot boxcars, RG Equipment, p. 39

Scheme #7b & 7c

Beginning in 1968, on either new units or on most repainted units, the Rio Grande lettering was made larger, with the Rio made 24 inches high, and Grande made 60 inches high. This later scheme included a black rectangle on the nose of the unit, with a flying Rio Grande lettered in Aspen Gold on the black rectangle. (D&RGW 5333 was reversed, with black Rio Grande on an Aspen Gold background.)

A total of 24 units are known to have been repainted with large lettering, including: GP7 5103; five GP9s (5902, 5903, 5904, 5911, 5954); four GP30s (3001, 3002, 3014, 3027); GP35 3048; and 13 SD45s, including 5315, 5322, 5326, 5327, 5328, 5329, 5331, 5333, 5334, 5336, 5337, 5338, 5340.

D&RGW SD45s 5336 and 5337 were the first units completed with large lettering, in August 1968. Four other SD45s, D&RGW 5326, 5328, 5331, and 5338, were completed in February 1969 to support Rio Grande's new image for new unit coal trains from Carbondale and Somerset, Colorado, and from Sunnyside, Utah, to Kaiser Steel's steel plant at Fontana, California. SD45 5331 was completed with new image large lettering in June 1969. Steam generator car 252 received the new image in July 1969. SD45s 5329 and 5333 received large lettering after wreck repairs completed by EMD at LaGrange in September 1969. In October 1969, GP30s 3014 and 3027 received the new image after wreck repairs completed by EMD at LaGrange. All four units (3014, 3027, 5329, and 5333) had been wrecked on Christmas Day 1968 in Colorado. For unknown reasons, GP9s 5942 and 5943 did not receive large lettering after being wrecked in September 1969, repaired by EMD and returned in May 1970.

GP30 3002 received the new image following wreck repairs by D&RGW at Denver in November 1970, following a wreck in Colorado in September 1970. GP35 3048 received the new image following wreck repairs by EMD at LaGrange in June 1971, after a wreck in Colorado in September 1970.

The repainting of units stopped for over two years, beginning again in October 1974 with the completion of GP9 5902 in the early part of the month, and SD45 5315 in the late part, both with large lettering.

After the change to large lettering in 1968, all new units were received in the new image, beginning with 13 GP40s put into operation as D&RGW 3081-3093 in 1969 and 1971. In 1972, 1974, and 1983, all 37 GP40-2s, numbered as 3094-3130, were delivered with large lettering. The 73 SD40T-2s received in 1974 to 1980 had the new lettering, and the 23 former Conrail GP40s received in 1983, numbered as 3131-3153, also received large lettering as they were painted during 1984 and early 1985, albeit with a much darker orange color known as Kansas City Orange. The last two groups of new units delivered to D&RGW also came with large lettering, and included the 17 SD50s in 1984 and the three GP60s in 1990. These last two groups used the later shade of Aspen Gold, known as Anschutz Orange, which is just a bit deeper in color tone than the previous version, although not as dark as the former Conrail repaints.

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