Driving A Diesel Locomotive

A new addition to Norfolk Southern's "heritage fleet": Southern Railway SD40 #3170 was built in April of 1971 and served for Southern and Norfolk Southern until being retired in 2008. It was recently saved from the back lot and rebuilt into operating condition at NS's Juniata Shop in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and repainted into its original Southern colors at NS's paint shop at Debutts Yard in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 3170 will go back into revenue service, primarily assigned to yard and local service along the Piedmont Division.

Somewhere back in the late 80’s while working at Imperial Printing in Charlotte, North Carolina, I happened to mention to a fellow worker (Calvin) that I had a nice Model Railroad in my apartment.

As the conversation went on, Calvin told me he also worked at the Norfolk Southern rail yards and to drop by some night for a tour of some cool stuff.

Of course I took him up on the offer and when I arrived he proceeded to take me onto a GM Electric Diesel locomotive, actually there were two of them connected to each other. He showed me into the generators and drive train compartments and then into the cab where the big beast was driven from. After explaining the “dead mans pedal” to me, he told me to have a seat.

Before I knew it, Calvin had the thing started up and let me drive the engines forward about 100 yards and then reverseĀ it back and complete a coupling of a line of boxcars waiting to be moved to a new location.

That was definitely one of life’s adventures I will truly never forget.