Former Glamor Girl

Posted by George Hamlin
on Tuesday, June 1, 2021


When they were new, GG1s arguably were elegant, even those in freight service.  By early 1976, now in service for the Penn Central, however, words like elegance and glamor were hard to conjure up, to say the least.  

Many, if not most had traded what remained of their previous “Brunswick Green” livery for Penn Central Black although, in fairness, discerning the difference in these two ‘colors’ in the field, particularly under a heavy coating of road grime, was difficult, at best.   I recall a railroad modeling magazine’s directions for Brunswick Green as “add a drop of green paint to a bottle of black, and mix well.”

Other “decoration” associated with this scheme on the Gs consisted of a large rendition of the PC’s “two worms in love” logo and the Penn Central name in stark white on the center of the carbody, with the road numbers, also in white, towards both ends.

Thus, when I saw the 4850 in the engine facility at Meadows Yard, in Kearny, New Jersey on February 29, 1976, still possessing its single yellow stripe from the late days of the Pennsylvania Railroad, it needed to be recorded on film for posterity.  After all, at this date, only the month of March remained for the Penn Central itself, prior to being subsumed into what would become Conrail, on April 1, 1976. 

In the run-up to Conrail, I’d been doing a fair amount of photography of the PC electrics at Meadows knowing that Conrail was not that far away.  I don’t recall seeing any other GG1s that still retained their full-length stripe, however, making this an even better find with only a month to go.  It was interesting to wonder why this vestige of the PRR remained on the 4850; perhaps it simply was easier (and cheaper) to leave it in place and add the PC emblem; no road name, either previous or current was present, however. 

The 4850 had been in service for over 40 years, at this point, having arrived in 1935, when it would have been wearing the five pinstripe paint scheme. The single yellow stripe livery began being applied in the mid-1950s, and had become ubiquitous by the time the PRR merged with the New York Central to form the Penn Central in 1968.  There is no evidence here of the large red keystone decal, with PRR initials in white, that had been part of this paint scheme (along with the full road name), although I recall seeing the 4874 in passenger service on the former New Haven still bearing its complete Pennsylvania visual identity as of July 1970. 

While the glamor may have been long gone, the thrill of seeing this, and being able to take a photo of something that had become rare, and maybe even unique at this relatively late point in time (in multiple ways) was definitely present, however.

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