Bringing Back That Chess-C Look

I missed the Chessie System era so I took a great interest in the news that the Lake Shore Railway Museum was getting a locomotive wearing Chessie colors. Of course I wanted to photograph it.

Although I was around during the Chessie era, for much of that time I wasn’t into photographing railroad operations and lived in places not served by the Chessie.

I have just two image of the Chessie’s yellow, vermilion and blue Chess-C locomotive livery that was introduced in 1972 and lasted into the early CSX years.

One of those images is a poorly exposed photograph made in Mitchell, Indiana, while the other was a Chessie GP40 (Baltimore & Ohio) locomotive leading Amtrak’s eastbound Capitol Limited east of Pittsburgh in early November 1981.

I was a passenger on the latter train and photographed the freight unit from a window as the train twisted and turned en route to Washington.

I had another reason for wanting to see Chesapeake & Ohio No. 8272.

Jim Mastrommateo’s program at the May Akron Railroad Club meeting featured a number of locomotives still wearing the Chessie livery.

At one point, Pete Poremba tapped me on the shoulder and showed a photograph of C&O 8272 on his tablet that he got off the Internet that showed the unit somewhere in Ohio en route to North East, Pennsylvania.

The top and underframe of the 8272 had a noticeable bluish cast to it whereas in photos that Jim showed those areas appeared to have been painted black.

The dark areas at the top of the locomotives shown in Jim’s program and in photographs that I subsequently reviewed in my book Akron Railroads appear to be much deeper than that of the 8272.

Was the 8272 painted in an authentic Chess-C livery? It didn’t appear to be so.

But I did see some photographs online of Chessie locomotives in which the “black” areas had a bluish cast to them.

It could be that over time the blue paint on Chessie locomotives faded.

News reports about the painting of No. 8272 indicated that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore provided paint records to personnel at the CSX Huntington locomotive shop where No. 8272 was repainted into the Chessie livery.

Presumably, that meant that the shop forces had the correct blueprint for how the Chess-C livery was applied.

No. 8272 is a GE-built locomotive and all of the images I’ve seen of locomotives wearing the Chess-C livery have been EMD products. Perhaps that is a factor here.

There are railfans who make it their business to “police” whether heritage locomotives are authentic.

There is a guy who lives in Maryland who has posted more than once his view that FPA-4 No. 800 on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is not an authentic B&O livery because it lacks the wrong shade of blue.

All of that matters little to me, though. Heritage units are as close as I’m going to get to making photographs of locomotive liveries that has long since passed into history.

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