Still Some Orange Tunnel Motors on the B&LE

The classic image at Conneaut of a train coming out of the yard along Conneaut Creek now features Illinois Central SD70 locomotives.

The classic image at Conneaut of a train coming out of the yard along Conneaut Creek now features Illinois Central SD70 locomotives.

My “orange” streak on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie remains intact. By that I mean that I’ve yet to see a train on the Bessemer Subdivision of Canadian National that did not have at least one orange B&LE locomotive.

It also means that the days of all orange B&LE locomotive consists are probably past.

In late March, CN began assigning Illinois Central SD70 locomotives to its Bessemer Sub. Since then, the IC units have been the lead unit on many of the trains on the B&LE.

Online reports indicate that two of the 900 series SD40Ts still on the Bessemer Sub have been removed from service and are slated to be sent west for rehabilitation. Speculation is rampant that all of the tunnels motors will soon be gone.

But during a visit to the Bessemer last Saturday, I found a southbound train with two tunnel motors, Nos. 907 and 905, albeit in the trailing position.

I followed the train of empty coal hoppers from Conneaut to KO road near Osgood, Pa. Here is a sample of what I was able to get.

When the train departed Conneaut at 11 a.m., there were a dozen or so railfans lining the banks of Conneaut Creek or standing on the Old Main Street bridge.

There may a lot of discontent with the disappearance of the orange B&LE locomotives in favor of black IC units, but fans have been turning out in large numbers to document this transition period on the Bessemer.

At each photo stop I made, there were five or more other fans also on hand with license plates from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Obstruction on the rails.

Obstruction on the rails.

Slowing to pick up a crew member at Old Main Street in Conneaut as well as to do a roll by inspection.

Slowing to pick up a crew member at Old Main Street in Conneaut as well as to do a roll by inspection.

Picking up speed at Pond Road just inside of Pennsylvania.

Picking up speed at Pond Road just inside of Pennsylvania.

Passing RX in Albion, Pa. By now it had become quite cloudy.

Passing RX in Albion, Pa. By now it had become quite cloudy.

On the north side of Conneautville, Pa. This was a new photo location for me.

On the north side of Conneautville, Pa. This was a new photo location for me.

Rolling past the wetlands and into Hartstown, Pa. The view is from the U.S. 322/Pennsylvania Route 18 bridge.

Rolling past the wetlands and into Hartstown, Pa. The view is from the U.S. 322/Pennsylvania Route 18 bridge.

Passing over the detector at Hartstown, Pa.

Passing over the detector at Hartstown, Pa.

Through the signal bridge at KO. It sure could use a new coat of paint.

Through the signal bridge at KO. It sure could use a new coat of paint.

About to cross KO Road near Osgood, Pa. With this image I headed back north, my chasing of the B&LE being done for the day.

About to cross KO Road near Osgood, Pa. With this image I headed back north, my chasing of the B&LE being done for the day.

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