The Quest for Fallen Flags

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The popularity of the heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern can be explained by a number of factors, but chief among them is that they represent something that can’t be seen anymore and, in some instances, has never been seen by some.

Railroads that no longer exist under their original corporate identity are known as fallen flags because their “flag” has been folded and relegated to history.

Typically, for a few years after a railroad is acquired or loses its identity in a merger, rolling stock bearing the fallen flag’s name, logo and markings can be seen out on the line.

Repainting locomotives and freight cars can get expensive so it’s more economical to let the old look linger a while longer until a car or locomotive is due to go into the shop or is retired from the roster.

In the past couple years, I’ve been on the lookout for freight cars still bearing the long-since vanished identity of a previous owner.

Finding fallen flag cars takes patience and vigilance. Many fans tend to stop watching a train closely once the motive power has passed.

But if you keep observing, you might be rewarded if you have your camera ready and spring into action at a second’s notice.  That is not as easy as it might seem.

I present here a gallery of fallen flags that I found within the past couple of years.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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