In railroad circles, information about the original railroad is referred to as "prototype" information. The prototype information shown here is presented to inform members and non-members about the history of the actual railroad during the Chessie Era (1972-1986). Any information about modeling the Chessie System is on the "Modeling Information" page. Any information about surviving equipment is on the "Preserved Equipment" and "Preservation Projects" pages.
The Chessie System was a holding company that owned the stock of three railroads, the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O), the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) and the Western Maryland (WM). Each of the three predecessor railroads had rich histories of their own. The B&O was the first common carrier railroad company in the US, founded in 1827. The C&O was the most financially sound of the three. It had made a strong name for itself as a premier coal-hauling railroad. The WM was the smallest, but probably the proudest. The WM had a reputation for being a first class operation right to the end. They tended to have the oldest equipment, but it was in such good shape, some referred to the WM as a working museum.
To make things confusing, before the Chessie System, the WM was controlled by the B&O, who in turn was in a "partnership" with the C&O. These relationships began in the 50's but didn't operate under a unified image until the Chessie System paint jobs were created. The first locomotives, 1977cs-b&o and GM50cs-b&o, were displayed in 1972, officially kicking off the Chessie Era. Starting in 1972 the Chessie paint scheme was applied to all new locomotives, most of the older locomotives, most of the freight cars, and numerous other vehicles.
It is important to note that throughout the Chessie Era each railroad operated as separate railroads, but shared equipment. There were never any "Chessie" reporting marks, since the Chessie System company didn't own any of their own equipment. The parent roads kept ownership of them. Any equipment that was purchased by Chessie was assigned to a specific railroad and carried that railroad's reporting marks. Each old locomotive or freight car painted with the Chessie logo retained its original owners reporting marks, ex: B&O, C&O, WM. Eventually the companies worked more and more together. They eventually combined the B&O and WM seniority rosters, routed trains over each others railroads to get more efficient routes and abandoned duplicate trackage. Today under CSX, they are all one company.
CSX, standing for Chessie(C), Seaboard(S), and More(X), is another holding company that owns the elements of Chessie and the Seaboard family. Seaboard is made up of Seaboard Coast Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Louisville & Nashville, and others. CSX equipment will not be shown on this site, except if it still wears the Chessie logo or paint scheme. Those pictures are shown as an example of what is out there today riding the rails.
The first CSX painted locomotive rolled out in 1986, therefore closing the book on the Chessie Era.Â Don't dismay though, as of this writing, there are still hundreds of freight cars rolling across CSX. Unfortunately the last Chessie locomotive working for CSX was retired in 2003. There are however Chessie painted locomotives working for shortlines in West Virginia, Georgia, and Indiana.
Additionally, railroads are not quick in painting their equipment into the latest corporate image. 28 years have passed since the inception of Chessie, and there is still one locomotive and some freight cars painted in C&O and B&O paint (pre-1972)!
Next time you see a train rolling, look for that famous Chessie logo. It is still out there.
The logo created for the Chessie System was a stylized version of a 1933 lithograph depicting a sleeping kitten. The C&O railroad was nicknamed the "Chessie" line, short for "Chesapeake". Since "Chessie" is also a type of cat, the use of the sleeping kitten was appropriate to market the high quality passenger service. "Sleep like a Kitten" was the motto used by the C&O through the 30's. In the 40's, "Chessie" advertisements even showed her husband, "Peake". "Chessie" and "Peake" even had some unnamed kittens in the ads.
When the new holding company was looking for a name and logo, the "Chessie System" title won out and the motto was adjusted to "Purr-fect Transporation".
The "Ches-C" logo took the original image of the sleeping kitten and put it inside the letter C. This logo was put on all Chessie painted equipment. It also depicts the front of any locomotive.
Rosters of locomotives can change daily on a real railroad. Purchases, accidents and retirements put the list of available locomotives in constant flux. Generally speaking the Chessie System roster was about 2,100 locomotives. Approximately 1,000 C&O, 1,000 B&O and 100 WM.
Multi-purpose or road locomotives were about 1,900 of the 2,100. The remaining 200 were switching locomotives used in yard service.
About 1,900 were four axle units and 300 were six axle units. This is a marked change from locomotive fleets of today, that are dominated by six axle power.
Chessie's rosters are also dominated by General Motors (EMD) locomotives. Of the 2,100, about 2,000 were EMD and 100 were General Electric (GE) locomotives. The Chessie System also rostered about 10 American Locomotive (ALCO) switchers.
Freight car rosters also changed daily on a real railroad. As a snap shot in time, Chessie owned 115,701 freight cars. They were broken down as follows:
69,227 Open Hoppers
3,773 Plain Boxcars
13,689 Equipped Boxcars
10,581 Plain Gondolas
3,136 Equipped Gondolas
8,027 Covered Hoppers
977 Flat Cars
3,787 Trailers (these are semi-trailers that are counted in the total)
Cabooses were used on almost all trains at the start of the Chessie Era (1972) and were phased out of most trains by the end (1986). Cabooses are still used on trains that require long backward moves. The WM had only one class of caboose (C-13A). This is considered a Northeast style caboose. Their 105 or so cabooses were all the same type. The B&O rostered mostly bay window cabooses (C-24, 26, 26A, 27, 27A), but also rostered steel cupola and wagon top. The C&O rostered steel cupola and wide visions mostly, but did have some ex-WM Northeasts and some C27A bay windows.
Chessie was unique in that they had several uniquely painted cabooses used as safety slogan rolling billboards. Each had its own slogan and came in colors such as purple, brown, light blue, red, orange, yellow, green, royal blue, navy blue, white, chartruse, etc. They also painted six cabooses in a Careful Car Handling orange paint job to promote better switching practices. There was also one green caboose at Cumberland for local displays on safety.
As any Class I railroad there was a full collection of Maintenance of Way equipment including Big Hook Cranes, Difco Side Dump Hoppers and Jordan Spreaders. Much of this equipment was in the old C&O standard of painting MofW equipment green with yellow markings.
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