Monday, November 13, 2017

Heritage loco a CSX gift to Santa Train

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Staff at CSX's Huntington Shops pose with restored Clinchfield 800 locomotive. Staff at CSX's Huntington Shops pose with restored Clinchfield 800 locomotive. Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum via Facebook

While CSX this year has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, it gave the railroad industry a surprise gift for the holidays, rolling out a heritage locomotive to lead its annual Santa Train.

Clinchfield 800, a later-phase F3 that had been working in excursion service, was cosmetically restored by the CSX Huntington, W.Va., shops to the paint scheme it wore when delivered to the coal hauler by GM’s Electro-Motive Division in 1948. The cab unit was later upgraded to F7 specifications, and eventually dressed in Clinchfield’s low-maintenance black and yellow. Amid mergers, 800 moved to the Family Lines roster, then to CSX Transportation, and rolled off its last revenue miles for MARC in commuter service before being stored in 1993. Donated to the C&O Historical Society, it sat on display and pulled excursions out of Clifton Forge, Va., as C&O 8016.

The Santa Train, now in its 75th year, on Nov. 18 runs over the former Clinchfield route from Shelby, Ky., to Kingsport, Tenn.

Helping 800 to power the Santa Train is Clinchfield 3632, a former Seaboard Coast Line EMD SD45 restored by East Tennessee Rail Car and volunteers with the Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

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