A Program by Preston Cook


A History of the INSIDE EMD

Plant Tour Slide and PowerPoint Programs

INSIDE EMD is a plant tour slide lecture program that emulated the Wednesday afternoon plant tours conducted by the instructors in the EMD Training Center in the 1970s. In its longest version the program took just about two hours, the same length of time as the typical walking tour of the EMD Plant in La Grange, Illinois.

The program was developed in the period of 1997-2002 by former EMD Training Instructor Preston Cook. This was the time period when the original EMD Plant One had been closed and slated for demolition. With the help of a half dozen EMD retirees who generously provided access to their personal collections, it was possible to identify and assemble color slides and images that provided a reasonable facsimile of the Training Center's Wednesday afternoon walking tour of the plant. The EMD Public Relations Department provided additional information and images to help bring the program to completion.


The introduction slide from the 35mm slide show was also used as the introduction to the PowerPoint version of INSIDE EMD.


The INSIDE EMD program was initially shown as a 240-image color slide presentation, in three magazines of eighty slides each. It grew to five magazines, 400 slides, got unmanageable to carry, and was subsequently scanned and assembled in PowerPoint for digital projection. A music introduction and closing were included in the program in its longest version. Three versions were eventually developed:

1. A 400 slide two-hour program with a short halfway intermission for use as a "double clinic" or for museum special events. It was originally intended that this would be the least used version, but it eventually ended up being the most frequently requested program.

2. The shorter 240-image 90-minute program that was basically a duplicate of the original 35mm slide program and was intended for use at monthly meetings of railroad historical groups.

3. A 160-image 50-minute program with enhanced coverage of the manufacture of the EMD engine only. This program was intended for showing to marine engine interested groups, to classes at technical schools, colleges and universities, and to professional societies interested in the construction of the EMD engine product line.

In its longest version (1, above), the organization of the program was:

1. Introduction with captioned photos of EMD history.

2. Narrated Introduction to the plant tour and review of products.

3. Building the EMD 645 and 710 Engines.

4. Building the Electrical Rotating Equipment and Cabinets.

5. Construction of Locomotive Underframes.

6. Assenbly of Locomotive Cabs and Hoods.

7. Decking of the Locomotives.

8. Final Assembly, Painting and Testing.

9. Review of Unusual Products and Engineering Projects.

10. Decline and Closing of the Original Plant.

11. Demolition of Plant One.

12. Closing segment with EMD Employees Photo Gallery.


This Color Page of images from the INSIDE EMD program was distributed to groups interested in hosting showings of the program.


The first showings of INSIDE EMD were done in 2002 and the program went on to a useful five year life. It was eventually shown over 100 times, from Maine to California and from Illinois to Louisiana. It had been anticipated that most of the requests for the program would come from Railroad Historical Societies, but the groups that eventually made the most requests were Model Railroad Clubs and the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA). INSIDE EMD was shown at regional NMRA events, and was also shown several times at the organization's National Convention.

In the course of its life the program also "jumped the fence" into the public arena, and was eventually shown at Public Libraries, Educational Institutions, Churches and to Civic Groups, as an example of US industry at the height of its success in the world markets. INSIDE EMD was "first" retired in 2007 to allow work on other projects. It was subsequently brought back for an encore showing at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Members Day in 2016. INSIDE EMD is being published as a series of magazine articles in 2018-2019 in R&LHS RAILROAD HISTORY Magazine. Time and age have taken their toll of the author, and when the series is done the program will join him in retirement.

If this program "proved" anything in its long and successful series of showings, it was that a tour of a major equipment builder is almost universally of interest across the spectrum of historical groups and with the general public.

INSIDE EMD is being published by the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society in their magazine RAILROAD HISTORY as a series starting in issue 218, beginning Spring 2018. Information on R&LHS is available at their website:

Then click the tab for "membership" if you would like to join the organization and receive the series automatically, or click "publications" and then RAILROAD HISTORY Magazine if you would like instructions on how to purchase the individual issues that have parts of the series.

NOTE: Please do not e-mail TES for information on this article series, this is a retired website, there is nobody left watching the e-mail, and it will not be answered.



EMD/GM images from the Public Relations Department and the collections of EMD retirees.



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