Restored Conrail switcher makes debut

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SW7 No. 8905, restored to its Conrail paint scheme, made its debut this weekend at the B&O Railroad Museum.
Courtesy of Rudy Garbely

BALTIMORE — The first operational locomotive restored to its Conrail appearance made its public debut this weekend at the B&O Railroad Museum.

SW7 No. 8905 was restored to Conrail blue thanks to a partnership between the B&O Railroad Museum and the Conrail Historical Society.

The end-cab switcher was built in 1950 for New York Central subsidiary Peoria & Eastern Railway. The locomotive eventually ended up on Penn Central and later Conrail. In 1989, Conrail sold the switcher to the Blue Mountain & Reading Railroad, where it remained until 2004, when it was purchased by the B&O Railroad Museum. The locomotive was painted into a unique red paint scheme and used as the museum’s primary motive power for short excursions on the oldest rail line in America.

In 2017, the locomotive was due for a new coat of paint and so the museum approached the CRHS about getting proper paint diagrams to restore the locomotive to its Conrail appearance. What started out as a request for help turned into a partnership to jointly raise the $6,000 needed to repaint the locomotive. According to CRHS President Rudy Garbely, Conrail Shared Assets also made a significant contribution to the restoration. The restoration was completed in October 2019.

On Nov. 2, the CRHS hosted a special celebration at the B&O Railroad Museum to welcome No. 8905 back into regular service.

Garbely says the restoration of No 8905 is notable for those interested in preserving more recent history.

“Too often, history is regarded as something so ancient that nobody is left to remember it,” Garbely tells Trains News Wire. “As this is the first restored operational Conrail locomotive, we hope that its exhibition and continued use at one of the most prestigious railroad museums in North America will bring back fond memories for visitors who remember Conrail’s operations from their careers or childhood experiences.”

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