The Chessie System was a holding company that owned three railroads, the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O), the Chesepeake & Ohio (C&O) and the Western Maryland (WM). Each of the three predecessor railroads had rich histories of their own. The B&O was the first railroad company in the US, founded in 1827. The C&O was the most financially sound of the three. It had made a strong name for itself as a premier coal-hauling railroad. The WM was the smallest, but probably the proudest. The WM had a reputation for being a first class operation right to the end. They tended to have the oldest equipment, but it was in such good shape, some referred to the WM as a working museum.
To make things confusing, before the Chessie System, the WM was controlled by the B&O, who in turn was in a "partnership" with the C&O since the 50's. The Chessie System company and paint jobs were created to show a unifed corporate image that better reflected how the three railroads were already working together. The first locomotives, 1977cs-b&o and GM50cs-b&o, were displayed in 1972, officially kicking off the Chessie Era. Starting in 1972 the Chessie paint scheme was applied to all new locomotives, most of the older locomotives, most of the freight cars, and numerous other vehicles.
It is important to note that throughout the Chessie Era each railroad operated like seperate companies, but shared equipment. There were never any "Chessie" reporting marks, since the Chessie System company didn't own any of their own equipment. The parent roads kept ownership of them. Any equipment that was purchased by Chessie was assigned to a specific railroad and carried that railroad's reporting marks. Each old locomotive or freight car painted with the Chessie logo retained its original owners reporting marks, ex: B&O, C&O, WM. Eventually the companies worked more and more together, and today under CSX, they are one company.
CSX, standing for Chessie(C), Seaboard(S), and More(X), is another holding company, that owns the elements of Chessie and the Seaboard family. Seaboard is made up of Seaboard Coast Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Louisville & Nashville, and more. CSX equipment will not be shown on this site, except if it still wears the Chessie logo or paint scheme. Those pictures are shown as an example of what is out there today riding the rails.
The first CSX painted locomotive rolled out in 1986, therefore closing the book on the Chessie Era. Don't dismay though, as of this writing, there are still hundreds of freight cars rolling across CSX. Unfortunately the last Chessie locomotive working for CSX was retired in 2003. There are however Chessie painted locomotives working for shortlines in West Virginia (SVBR), Georgia, and Indiana.
Railroads are not quick in painting their equipment into the latest corporate image. 28 years have passed since the inception of Chessie, and there is still one locomotive and some freight cars painted in C&O and B&O paint (pre-1972)!
Next time you see a train
look for that famous Chessie logo. It is still out there.
is a pic of one of those surviving units on Dec 15, 2000 in
It is a John Whitmore photo.
Look below for a chart of the Chessie
(Originally Carrol & (Founded in 1827. C&O \
Fredrick RR, renamed gained control in 1962.) \
WM in 1862. B&O gained \
full control in 1967) \
/ (Incorporated in 1973 and
/ became parent company to
/ C&O, B&O, and WM RRs.
(Created in 1868 with consolidation of Virginia Central
and Covington & Ohio. Acquired Hocking Valley RR in 1911.
Aquired Pere Marquette RR in 1947. Gained control of B&O