2024: An SD45 Icon by Gabe Passmore
In 1968, Seaboard Coast Line Railroad placed its first order with EMD for new SD45s, with more to follow in 1971. The second order of locomotives varied slightly from the first order, of which SCL #2024 was a member.
Now preserved at the Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum (SARM) of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, #2024 features the “Pulling For You” slogan which was applied in the mid-70s when the railroad adopted the new marketing phrase to emphasize the company’s strong and focused customer service model.
After we announced first group of SD45 roadnames, we learned the current day #2024 has different details than the as-delivered model we’re offering. Because of this, we decided to remove the “Pulling for You” slogan. We’ll likely offer the SARM version on a future production run.
Road numbers 2024, 2028, 2031, 2034 are “as delivered” without the slogan. Road numbers 2037 and 2040 feature the “Pulling For You” slogan to represent the series as they appeared in the mid-to-late 1970s/early 1980s.
Gabe Passmore, Media Director at the Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum, covered the story of Seaboard Coast Line SD45 #2024 for this week’s “Time to Model” spotlight.
With a long history of pulling trains all over the United States on both Class I railroads and shortlines, #2024 has a storied and prestigious career, with its most recent feat being that it was disguised as a Clinchfield Railroad SD45 for the 75th anniversary of the CSX Santa Train.
Learn all about the locomotive, along with information about the museum that maintains and operates the #2024, in this exciting feature article.
2024: An SD45 Icon by Gabe Passmore
The 1960s were a time of change for railroads in the United States as many railroads such as the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Erie Lackawanna, and others would be lost to time, now gone through mergers or through bankruptcy. Things were changing everywhere, including in the south, where on July 1st, 1967 the Seaboard Air Line and the Atlantic Coast Line would merge to become the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company. Spanning as far west as Birmingham Alabama, as far south as Homestead Florida, and as far north as Richmond VA, the SCL was a giant of the south operating 9,809 miles of track. With the now newly formed super road, modernization was needed and SCL looked to both GE and EMD for the newest in locomotive technology.
At the time GE and EMD both produced a 3,600HP six axle locomotive. GE’s being the U33C and EMD’s SD45. Having already ordered ten SD45s before the merger, which were delivered in SCL Black and Yellow paint lettered for the ACL, SCL would go on to order thirty-five more straight SD45s from EMD. Most would find a new home with the Family Lines System, which in 1982, was merged to form the Seaboard System, and finally, in 1986, merged with Chessie System to form CSX Transportation. It was at CSX, with the SD45s growing age and a recurring issue with crankshafts, the SCL SD45s were retired, being spread to shortlines, regionals, and leasing companies across the United States.
One SD45, CSX #8924, would be one of the lucky ones. Being sold to Rail Link Incorporated in the mid-80s, #8924 would call the I&M Rail Link Railroad home operating there until 2004 when the locomotive was transferred to Montana Rail Link. While at MRL, the locomotive was upgraded to produce a whopping 4,200 horsepower for pusher service over the steep grades of the railroad’s former Northern Pacific trackage. In 2007, the locomotive’s fate was changed again with MRL purchasing more modern power to supplement their needs. Because of this, #8924 became obsolete and was stored.
Thankfully, in 2008 the locomotive escaped the scrapper’s torch (unlike many other SD45s at MRL) by changing hands once again to the Northern Illinois & Wisconsin Railway where the locomotive would operate until at least 2012. In 2015, #8924 finally received a well-deserved retirement after 44 years when the locomotive was purchased by Ed Bowers of Vintage Locomotive Incorporated with the goal of restoring the unit to its as-delivered road number and Seaboard Coast Line lettering as part of the Tennessee based Southern Appalachia Railway Museum’s Collection of vintage rolling stock from the southern United States.
In 2015, #8924 received a fresh coat of black with the famous SCL yellow stripes and was sent to Oak Ridge, TN to the Museum. Once in Oak Ridge, SARM’s volunteers worked to get #8924 in tip-top shape mechanically to insure the locomotive was ready for service once again, and finally on February 5th, 2016 SARM volunteers lettered #8924 back to its as-delivered Road Number of #2024. The locomotive would then be broken in on freight trains on the Heritage Railroad at Oak Ridge, the current home of the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum, with the goal of having the locomotive in excursion service on the Museum’s Secret City Scenic excursion train later in 2016.
However, in 2016 a new operating agreement for the Excursion train could not be reached and #2024 got to pull its one and only day of public excursions at the Museum on the farewell trips on May 28th, 2016. It was a sad time at the museum but SARM pushed on still storing and restring equipment in Oak Ridge just without operating trains.
One year later, the future would again look bright for #2024, with 2017 being the 75th anniversary of CSX’s annual Santa Train along the former Clinchfield Railroad mainline through Kentucky, Virginia, and into Tennessee. CSX wanted to make the 75th train extra special and asked SARM if they could use #2024 on the famous train. Work soon began to get #2024 ready for its big mainline show, re-lettering and re-numbering #2024 to #3632. This was done so that the locomotive would resemble several SCL SD45s that were traded to the Clinchfield for U36Cs.
#3632 wouldn’t be the only star of the show, however. In private working with CSX, SARM shipped a true piece of Clinchfield railroad history to CSX’s Huntington Locomotive shops the then lettered C&O #8016. Acquired via trade deal by VLIX in 2017, C&O #8016 was the first diesel locomotive purchased new by the Clinchfield and is now known as the world-famous Clinchfield #800. Arriving in Huntington in the faux C&O scheme, #8016 was stripped, had bodywork performed, and was painted and restored to look just as good the day it rolled out of the factory.
Clinchfield #800 was once again ready to shine in its beautiful gray and yellow paint on the 75th CSX Santa Train with #3632 being second out. Thanks to CSX, both SARM pieces pulled the train down the mainline with Santa himself and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs on the rear, who were passing out gifts to families in need along the way.
After the Santa Train, #3632 and #800 temporarily parted ways with the #800 being leased to a heritage operation in Florida in December of 2017. It would later pull C&O Steam locomotive #2716 across Kentucky on CSX and RJ Corman trackage in 2019 and later that year, would lead the Ohio Rail Experience’s excursion to Michigan over the former DT&I mainline.
While #800 was out on excursion service, #3632 returned to Oak Ridge to be used once again in freight service before being stored, awaiting its next call for service. Today, the locomotive still wears its Clinchfield lettering and will one day return to Seaboard Coast Line lettering. In early 2020, the locomotive was reunited with #800 which was finally home after 3 years of traveling the eastern United States. Although #2024 may not be used in passenger service currently at SARM, we are sure it will still remain to be “Pulling for You” will into the future.
You can learn more about the model in this product spotlight video which features an interview with Scott Lindsey of the Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum.