The Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad on Tuesday rolled out a 262,000-pound locomotive in support of Wichita State University.
Dubbed “Wooo Shock” by the Wichita-based shortline railroad, the GP-40-2 diesel locomotive sports the WuShock logo on its front, sides and back.
Railroad officials showed off the locomotive by powering it down the tracks in southwest Wichita to a crowd of about 100 Shocker supporters and railroad employees and WSU president John Bardo.
“Wow! That’s a big Shocker,” Bardo said after locomotive No. 4001 came to a stop on the tracks near 800 W. Walker.
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“We appreciate the K&O railroad doing this and honoring our university,” he said.
Jimmy Patterson, the railroad’s general manager, said in an interview following the dedication that his company wanted to do something to show its support for WSU and the city.
The honor comes a few days after the WSU’s men’s basketball team wound up its regular season and conference tournament undefeated, with a 34-0 record.
“We just wanted to show pride in our local community,” Patterson said. “We decided to make this Wooo Shock and let it run across Kansas.”
The decorating of the locomotive consisted of gaining permission from WSU for use of the WuShock and Go Shocks logos, hiring a local firm to produce large decals of the logos and applying the decals to the recently painted black-and-yellow, 3,000-horsepower locomotive, which was manufactured in 1974. Patterson said application of the logos took workers about a day.
“We had our crew up till midnight last night” making sure the locomotive was ready, he said.
He said the locomotive’s black and yellow were not part of the makeover. All of the railroad’s locomotives, as well as many of the others operated by its parent company, Watco Cos., have the same color scheme.
The railroad, which employs 91 people, had once before discussed decorating one of its locomotives to honor the Shockers.
“We had talked about doing it three or four years ago,” Patterson said. “Once they (the men’s basketball team) got on their run this year, we decided now’s the time to do it.”
He said Watco has done similar dedications, including for Pittsburg State University. Watco is based in Pittsburg, Kan. The Kansas and Oklahoma is one of 31 railroads Watco owns and operates in 21 states and western Australia.
The Kansas and Oklahoma originates more than 800 miles of track from Wichita to Conway Springs to the south, Pratt to the west and Corinth to the north. In 2001, Watco acquired the railroad, previously known as Central Kansas Railway, from Denver-based OmniTrax.