Display of SD40 #7534 Is Proud Moment for Huntington Shop and C&O Heritage
A “new” locomotive on display at the C&O Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Va., is officially designated C&O SD40 #7534. But this particular locomotive is much more than a number.
SD40 #7534 represents an important era in CSX history as well as the ongoing pride of workmanship that has carried across generations of employees at the CSX Huntington Locomotive Shop. CSX donated SD40 #7534 to the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society after workers at the Huntington, W.Va., shop meticulously restored its interior and exterior to the condition and colors borne by the locomotive when it arrived on the C&O Railway in 1971.
The locomotive passed through the shop many times during its 40 years of active service, making the restoration at Huntington “poetically appropriate,” according to the historical society that preserves and celebrates the heritage of the iconic C&O Railway that has become part of the CSX system.
“I am beyond pleased to see this journey come to this positive conclusion,” said Mark Totten, President of Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society “We are tremendously grateful to CSX, and we hope we can find all appropriate ways to express our thanks surrounding this historic showpiece.”
The C&O museum’s newest addition represents a bridge in the history of diesel locomotives. The first diesels on the C&O, purchased in the 1950s, were primarily General Motors Electro-motive Division (EMD) GP7 and GP9 models. But when the C&O needed higher-horsepower diesels for its coal trains and fast-freight service, it purchased 56 3,000-horsepower SD40 units from EMD between 1966 and 1971.
SD40 #7534 was one of the last of its type to arrive on the C&O in the color scheme of the era — an “enchantment blue” body with “federal yellow” lettering and trim. Eventually, it was repainted with the CSX colors.
From the standpoint of power, the SD40s were ultimately eclipsed by even higher horsepower units, but they are credited with providing an important transition.
“As a teaching tool, this generation of locomotive power is a bridge from the lower-powered first-generation diesels of the 1950s to the high-horsepower units that arrived in the 1990s,” Totten noted. “Having such a wonderful example of this link helps tell the railway’s important story to the visiting public.”
The C&O Railway Heritage Center is currently closed to the public because of coronavirus restrictions, but it hopes to open as soon as possible with the latest addition to its exhibits.