The History of Conrail GP8 #5460

Delaware Lackawanna Shops: Breck Street, Scranton, PA


When Conrail took the throttle from the hands of the Penn Central in 1976, there were hundreds of locomotives lined up in the graveyards of places like Altoona and elsewhere on its system. The big blue, in immediate need of reliable locomotive power began a rebuilding program for its EMD Geeps.

Both the Conrail GP8 and GP10 fleet was part of that program and both originally began their lives as EMD GP7 and GP9‘s that were built for its predecessor railroads in the early 1950s.

The units were rebuilt at the Illinois Central Gulf RR’s Paducah, KY shop and received new low noses, new control stands for short hood forward operation and overhauled prime movers. Nine GP8 units and sixteen GP10s were turned out during the third quarter of 1976 wearing new CR paint.

In 1978, Conrail continued the rebuild program with other GP7s and GP9s. This time around, the rebuilding was not as extensive as the original rebuilding program was with locos only getting mechanical and electrical work. The dynamic brakes were removed, and the control stand remained setup for the long hood forward operation. And along with the Paducah shops, the work was split between the Rock Island‘s shops in Silvis, IL, Morrison Knudsen’s shop in Boise, ID and Precision National Corporation in Mount Vernon, IL.. The GP7 units returned to Conrail in 1978 with 5400 series CR road numbers.

Lackawanna Railroad GP7 959 was built by EMD in April 1952, and was among 15 dynamic-brake-equipped GP7s that pulled freight alongside steam power on the Road of Anthracite until the last fires were dropped in Scranton during the summer of 1953. After the EL merger of 1960, the 959 was renumbered to 1278. It became Conrail GP7 5993 and was later rebuilt by Morrison-Knudson as the GP8 5460 you see here before you.

The GP8’s lasted well into the 1990’s until April 11, 1991 when the entire engine class was retired.

Conrail then traded the 5460 in on new power which landed it in the Pielet Brothers scrap yard. A fortunate set of circumstances resulted in the locomotive being set aside which led to it becoming the Pielet Brothers shop switcher.

Around 2001 the 5460 was sold to Vulcan Materials (Lehigh Stone) in Kankakee, making it only the second locomotive to leave the Pielet Brothers scrap yard in running condition. This particular unit wore three different EL paint variations; DL&W black with EL number, EL black, and EL stripes.

Once restored, it’ll probably see use on home rails in the Scranton area and be made available to Steamtown when it needs diesels and also for special occasions.

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Author:Railfan AC

AC is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a long haul trucker, a transportation enthusiast and a lifelong lover of trains. AC's mission is to travel America documenting American railroading in the 21st century while educating those who want to know about the importance the railroads play in our daily lives including, but not limited to, the movement of goods, services and more.

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