CR5457 at Clinton, MIchigan

CR 5457 and caboose CR 19834 at Clinton, MI on 15 February 1981 (Edward Hodges photo)

Throughout the first half of the 1970s, standard motive power on the Clinton Branch was a black EMD SW-7/8/9 switcher, leading the Clinton Local down and back the 13.5 miles between Clinton and Lenawee Junction, Michigan. With the arrival of Conrail in 1976, things began to change—GP-7s, still in Penn Central black but with “CR” initials, began making an appearance on the local.

The revolution came in 1979, when Conrail GP-8 #5457 was assigned to the Clinton Local. Replacing long-time regular PC #5778, #5457 was something new. It wore fresh Conrail blue paint that shone. Not only the outside has been refreshed—this Geep was one of 39 GP-7s rebuilt into GP-8s in 1978 as Conrail struggled obtain reliable motive power. #5457 was rebuilt at the Illinois Central Gulf’s Paducah shops, a fact proudly attested to by an ICG plate under the cab.

The locomotive also carried a star under its number, indicating it was used as a special maintenance test unit.

CR #5457 was a newcomer to this line. It was not of Penn Central heritage, but rather built in October of 1950 for the Erie Railroad as their #1204, later serving the Erie Lackawanna before hitting a Conrail dead line. Work at Paducah included mechanical and electrical overhauls, setup for long-hood forward operation, and removal of the dynamic brakes (although the “blister” remained).

In this snowy scene, captured by Edward Hodges, CR #5457 and regular caboose CR #19834 sit out the weekend behind the Budd Company Plant in Clinton on Sunday, 15 February 1981. #5457 would serve as the regular locomotive on the Clinton Local from 1979 until 1981.


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