Featured Photo: Norfolk Southern’s Southern Railway Heritage Unit, #8099, poses next to the Southeastern Railway Museum’s E8 #6901, built to haul the Southern’s hotshot passenger trains. This was part of the festivities during the official gifting of the Pullman Office Car “Marco Polo,” the car that FDR used on his travels before the Ferdinand Magellan was made into the official presidential car in 1942. The car was donated to the museum by Norfolk Southern on 11/14/2020. Photo by Joseph Randall.
An Article by Drayton Blackgrove
In 2012, Norfolk Southern Corp. celebrated its 30th Anniversary in a big way. Under the direction of then-CEO Wick Moorman, NS painted a total of twenty (20) Heritage Units with each wearing a special scheme commemorating a predecessor railroad. Ten (10) brand new GE ES44ACs were selected to be part of the heritage fleet. Five (5) were painted at Juniata Shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania while the other five were painted in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the former Southern Railway paint shop. #8099 was painted in Chattanooga and received a coat of Virginia Apple Green, Imitation Aluminum, and Dulux Gold. Designed by artist Andy Fletcher, the paint scheme was based on Southern Railway’s original Crescent scheme which was applied to E and F units in the 1940s and 50s.
The locomotive was decorated with a Southern Railway monogram logo on the short hood nose and even included a computer check code, the letter K, as a nod to the fallen flag. The monogram applied to the nose originally read “The Southern Serves The South” and included a lower bar that read “Look Ahead – Look South.” While the original Southern Railway monogram read: “The Southern Serves The South” in the 1940s and 50s, the lower bar was not included in the company’s logo design until the late 1960s – under the direction of then-company President W. Graham Claytor.
In July of 2012, Norfolk Southern gathered all twenty (20) Heritage Units for a railfan event at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. There, the locomotives were positioned around the turntable at the former Southern Railway roundhouse for an iconic company photo. After the event, which was attended by over 2,000 railroad enthusiasts, the locomotives were placed back into revenue freight service across Norfolk Southern’s 19,500-mile, 22-state network.
Beginning in 2016, Norfolk Southern started adding Positive Train Control (or “PTC”) antenna arrays to its heritage fleet. Per the Federal Railroad Administration, PTC systems are designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and movements of trains through switches left in the wrong position. On December 29, 2020, FRA announced that PTC technology is in operation on all 57,536 required freight and passenger railroad route miles, prior to the December 31, 2020, statutory deadline set forth by congress. Today, all ten (10) of the heritage ES44AC wear roof-mounted JEM Communications PTC antenna farms with a single large Sinclair antenna. Southern #8099 received PTC in 2017 and continues in revenue freight service today.
In 2016, while #8099 was working with Norfolk & Western #611 at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, the road numbers on the side of the cab were touched up to refurbish the original faded vinyl lettering. In April of that year, the ES44AC Heritage Unit accompanied the famous J-Class steam locomotive on a weekend excursion train from Salisbury, NC to Asheville and back. It was accompanied by Southern Railway EMD FP7A no. 6133 which also wore matching Virginia Apple Green paint.
On November 14, 2020, Norfolk Southern donated a private passenger car named “Marco Polo” to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Georgia. The heavyweight car was used by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt to travel between Washington D.C. and Warm Springs, Georgia. Since the mid-90s, the car had been on static display at Washington Union Station. Upon announcing the donation, the car was ferried from Washinton D.C. to Duluth for a special ceremony at the museum. Accompanying the car to Southeastern was Southern Railway #8099. Prior to the train’s arrival at the museum, Norfolk Southern employees at Atlanta’s Inman Yard added new nose monograms to the locomotive as a special touch for the event. They also refurbished the lettering on each side of the locomotive.
Since the locomotive had been hauling revenue freight for nearly a decade, the employees thought replacing the original monogram – which was chipped and faded from the elements – with updated logos was a good gesture for the event at the museum. Throughout the last 12 years of Southern Railway’s existence, the company added logos to both ends of its locomotives. The new monograms follow that tradition and read: “Southern Railway Serves The South.” They also include the lower bar which is the final iteration of the company’s logo.
Today, #8099 can still be found pulling revenue freight for Norfolk Southern. Its new monograms are a welcomed sight among railfans who enjoy seeing history in motion. The ScaleTrains.com Rivet Counter model of the Southern Railway Heritage Unit also includes the new nose monograms and PTC array – a first in HO Scale. We worked closely with NS employee Casey Thomason, among others, on accurately replicating the new monograms in 1:87th Scale. Our version of #8099, along with three other NS Heritage Units (INT, PRR, and Original NS), is available for preorder now. Early 2022 is the current ETA.
Did you know? #8099 Was Not the First Southern Heritage Unit!
In 1994, Norfolk Southern dedicated GP59 #4610 to commemorate Southern Railway’s 100th Anniversary by painting the locomotive green. #4610 was chosen by the Chattanooga Paint Shop specifically so that the “original” Heritage Unit could reach all corners of the former Southern Railway System – including branch lines. The four-axle unit was used in revenue freight service in the classic paint scheme for nearly two decades but was repainted in January of 2012 into Norfolk Southern’s Operation Lifesaver scheme. In 2016, the locomotive was rebuilt as GP59ECO #4663 where it continues in service today, albeit in standard NS Horsehead livery.