Chessie System

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Chessie System
HeadquartersCleveland, Ohio
Reporting markB&O
New Jersey
New York
Washington, D. C.
West Virginia
Dates of operation1972–1986
SuccessorCSX Transportation
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

Chessie System, Inc. was a holding company that owned the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O), the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O), the Western Maryland Railway (WM), and several smaller carriers.

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the Chessie System was the creation of Cyrus S. Eaton and his protégé Hays T. Watkins, Jr., then president and chief executive officer of the C&O. A chief source of revenue for the Chessie System was coal mined in West Virginia. Another was the transport of auto parts and finished motor vehicles.

The signature symbol of the Chessie System was its "Ches-C", a large emblem incorporating the outline of the C&O's famous "Chessie" the kitten logo. C&O had been popularly known as "Chessie System" since the 1930s, and a version of the image of the "Chessie" mascot kitten used in advertising earlier in the C & O's history. The Ches-C was emblazoned on the front of all Chessie System locomotives, and also served as the "C" in "Chessie System" on the locomotive's flanks, and on other rolling stock.


Chessie System was incorporated in Virginia on February 26, 1973, and it acquired the C&O (which controlled the other companies) on June 15. The three railroads had been closely related since the 1960s. C&O had acquired controlling interest in B&O in 1962, and the two had jointly controlled WM since 1967.

On November 1, 1980, Chessie System merged with Seaboard Coast Line Industries to form CSX Corporation. However, the Chessie image continued to be applied to new and re-painted equipment until mid-1986, when CSX introduced its own paint scheme.

The former SCL railroads were merged into the Seaboard System Railroad in 1982, but the three Chessie System railroads continued to operate separately until 1983, when the WM was merged into the B&O. In April 1987, the B&O was merged into the C&O. In August 1987, C&O merged into CSX Transportation, a 1986 renaming of the Seaboard System Railroad, and the Chessie System name was retired.

Chessie System SD50 locomotive in Connellsville, Pennsylvania

List of railroad subsidiaries[edit]

The Chessie System itself did not own any locomotives or other rolling stock; rather, equipment would be placed on the roster of one of the three component railroads. While all three companies shared a common paint scheme of yellow, vermillion, and blue, actual ownership of the equipment was denoted by the reporting marks C&O, B&O, or WM.

Famous locomotives[edit]

Chessie had four famous diesel-electric locomotives in its fleet:

  • B&O 1977 (EMD GP40-2) was meant to celebrate the B&O's 150th anniversary (this locomotive became B&O 4100 and B&O 4163; for a short time there were two B&O locomotives numbered 1977)
  • B&O GM50 (EMD GP40-2) was painted gold to celebrate GM-EMD's 50th anniversary as a diesel locomotive manufacturer (GM50 got repainted in 1984 and became B&O 4164)
  • B&O #3802: EMD GP38 named the All American Locomotive by Trains in 1982 (now restored at the B&O Museum)
  • B&O 4444 (third to last GP40-2 owned by Chessie, last unit was B&O 4447) was the locomotive that pulled Ronald Reagan's 1984 presidential train through Ohio.
The former Reading 2101 leading the "Chessie Steam Special" into Plymouth, Michigan in 1977.

The Chessie System operated and exhibited a former Reading Company T-1 class 4-8-4 2101 on a national tour as the "Chessie Steam Special," beginning in 1977 in celebration of the B&O's 150th anniversary. The 4-8-4 had previously been used as one of three locomotives pulling the American Freedom Train. The train was painted in the Chessie System motif and consisted of the locomotive, two tenders, and eighteen to twenty passenger and baggage cars. The locomotive was severely damaged in a fire in March 1979 while stored in a Chessie System roundhouse. It has since been cosmetically restored to its American Freedom Train paint scheme, and is on static display at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, although has been exposed to the elements for a majority of its time there.

Recently, the Lake Shore Railway Historical Society acquired C&O 8272, a GE B30-7, in 2017 and it has been restored in the Chessie System paint scheme and currently resides at the Lake Shore Railway Museum.

Heritage Unit[edit]

In 2015, CSX recognized its heritage and gave a handful of locomotives predecessor logo decals. CSX AC4400CW 366 and C40-8W 7765 both received Chessie System Decals. 366's decal is the "Chess-C" and 7765 has the "B&O" logo. However, 366's decal was removed due to fire damage.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ori, Dave (2006). Chessie System. MBI Railroad Color History (1st ed.). Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-2339-7.

External links[edit]