Matched Set

Posted by George Hamlin
on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Considerable history is on view here, and at least in one case, is not entirely “out of the game” even now.  The facts behind this October 3, 1971 photo (“historic”, in and of itself) at Louisville, Kentucky are that this is a westbound train departing the Kentucky and Indiana Terminal’s Youngtown Yard and heading west on the Southern Railway’s line that ended up in East St. Louis, Illinois.  The K&IT provided yard capacity and terminal switching in Louisville for its tenants: the B&O; Monon; and Southern. 

The train is climbing upgrade out of the yard towards the K&I bridge, which will take it across the Ohio River into New Albany, Indiana, where the K&IT’s trackage ended, feeding into the B&O and Monon to the north, and the Southern heading west across Indiana.  At that time this bridge also accommodated vehicular traffic, via a relatively unusual arrangement:  the lanes for motor vehicles were directional, and on opposite sides of the bridge, with the rail lines between them in the central part of the structure.

The bright paint scheme on the locomotives was not that of the train’s operating carrier at this point, the Southern, but rather, the “Chinese Red” of the Burlington Route.  The Burlington and Southern had established a through train between Louisville and the “Q’s” major yard at Galesburg, Illinois, to expedite traffic between the regions served by the carriers, and adopted the practice of “run-through” power to keep things moving through the interchange point between the two roads, at Centralia, Illinois.  The first two boxcars in the train provide a hint of the service-area possibilities provided by this service.

The CB&Q had, of course, been merged into the Burlington Northern in the spring of 1970, but fortunately, from my perspective, all four units seen here were still adorned in the classic Burlington scheme, albeit with newly-assigned BN numbers.  All four were EMD SD24s, the first turbocharged diesel locomotives produced by General Motors. 

This set represented a quarter of the CB&Q’s 16 unit SD24 fleet; none of the other future BN merger partners (GN; NP; SP&S) acquired this model.  The Southern’s fleet of 48 was considerably larger, and often seen in Kentucky on the CNO&TP’s route between Cincinnati and Chattanooga, Tennessee, via the famous “Rathole” second district between Danville, Kentucky and Oakdale, Tennessee.

While I would have guessed that all of the equipment pictured here was long-gone by now, that’s not the case.  The trailing locomotive, BN 6244, now restored to its original number (504), paint scheme, and road name, is at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois.  According to the Museum’s website, while still in its BN livery and number, the unit appeared in the popular film Groundhog Day.

And last, but not least, there is another matched set in the photo, in the form of the brace of upper-quadrant semaphore signals.  Enjoy the view on this fine early-fall morning; I certainly did, and am glad that it was preserved on Kodachrome so that it can be shared here.

 Photo: George W. Hamlin

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