Appalachia museum proud to add SCL engine to roster

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Former Seaboard Coast Line SD45 No. 2024 is being readied for its trip to a new home in Tennessee.
Southern Appalachia Railway Museum
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – A classic symbol of American railroading in the 1970s is heading for a railroad museum in Tennessee in the latest attempt to save and restore second generation diesel locomotives. Seaboard Coast Line SD45 No. 2024 was built in 1971 and was recently restored by Railway Service Contractors in Missouri for display and operation at the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum.
The locomotive is one of six SD45s that have been preserved in recent years and represents the growing trend of saving locomotives built in the post-steam era. Charlie Poling, museum director, tells Trains News Wire that the museum has long wanted to preserve an SD45 of "southeastern pedigree." Poling also notes that non-rebuilt, 20 cylinder locomotives are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. The museum had looked at saving former Southern and Clinchfield locomotives in the past but those efforts always faltered. When the opportunity to save No. 2024 arrived, they jumped on it.

"When the SCL unit proved attainable, all involved agreed that it would meet the criteria and be a nice change up from our usual Southern Railway and Louisville & Nashville focus," Poling says. "In looking out at the preservation landscape it also become apparent that SCL had a huge sphere of influence in the south (but) that examples of their diesels in preservation are pretty much non-existent."

After working for both the SCL and later CSX, the locomotive was sold and eventually joined the ranks of Montana Rail Link's growing fleet of SD45s. In June 2007, the locomotive, by then numbered 8924, was sold to the Northern Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad and leased to the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad. In 2012 the engine was sold to Todd Havens of Western Rail Inc. The engine is now privately owned and is on a long-term loan to the museum. The locomotive was recently repainted into SCL's black and yellow paint scheme at Railway Service Contractors in Grandview, Mo., and is expected to arrive at the museum this month. When it does, volunteers will apply the final details, including lettering.

Poling says the engine will primarily be used as a display at the museum and may be operated during special events. He says the engine exceeds the horsepower requirements for the museum's Secret City Scenic excursions. It is also possible that it could be pushed into freight service on the nearby Heritage Railroad.
The effort to save and restore the locomotive would have been impossible without the help of a number of individuals and organizations, Poling says.

No. 2024 is one of a half-dozen SD45s preserved in the United States. Great Northern No. 400, the "Hustle Muscle," was the first 3,600-hp, 20-cylinder locomotive built by EMD and is owned by the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. It can be seen at the Minnesota Transportation Museum. Nearby, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth has preserved a former Northern Pacific SD45. The Illinois Railway Museum has a former Wisconsin Central SD45. The Virginia Museum of Transportation has saved a high-hood SD45 from the Norfolk & Western. Southern Pacific No. 8800 is currently on static display in Ogden, Utah. And the St. Louis Museum of Transportation has restored a former Erie Lackawanna SD45 to its original appearance.

The SD45s, however, represent just the tip of the iceburg of second generation diesels that have been preserved in recent years. From Washington to New Jersey, locomotives built in the 1960s, 1970s,  and 1980s are getting a new lease on life as more and more museums see the need to preserve more modern equipment.

UPDATE: 11:57 a.m., Central Time, Sept. 10: Corrected location of SP No. 8800.

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