Monthly Archives: August 2012

C&O at Russell, KY

Two SD-18s with wide vision caboose going over the hump used for classifying merchandise freight that was separate from that used for humping coal. The hills of southern Ohio are in the background.

Russell, KY was the home of C&O’s largest yard for classifying coal and possibly the largest yard in the nation set aside for this purpose that existed in the 1960’s and into the 70’s. The yard extended for almost 3.5 miles which included the Raceland car shops. Maximum width of Russell Yard was nearly 1,700 feet around the area of the coal hump. The above picture shows the expanse of the yard.

I first became familiar with Russell as a young boy. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I would spend time with my paternal grandparents in Huntington. On a few occasions my grandparents would take me to Russell to visit my grandmother’s brother and his wife. My great uncle had a dream house as far as I was concerned. It was located in a section east of the town called River View. From his house not only could you see the Ohio River but the mainline of the C&O came right in front of the house. On a really clear day you could also see trains of the Norfolk and Western Railway across the Ohio River.

I remember on several occasions my great uncle or his son (my dad’s first cousin) taking me down to Russell Yard. They ran a coal forwarding agency for a number of years. Their office was located I believe near or in the coal hump tower. I can’t begin to tell you how interesting it was to see all of those loaded coal hoppers, and locomotives standing by the servicing area getting ready for their next run. It was quite a site.

The next 14 photos were taken with a Polaroid camera that my grandmother had. Polaroid had just come out with color film in the 1960’s. As you can see the photos have deteriorated over the years and because of that and the fact that the photos were not as sharp and clear as I like for this post, I still wanted to share them. The last two photos of this group are of steam locomotives that had been stored at Russell since the end of the steam era. From what I have been able to determine, the two locomotives pictured have been saved thankfully for display.


Eastbound manifest probably Train #92 passing under signal bridge at RU Cabin. Note the unusual location for the semaphore train order signal on the bridge. At most locations the train order signal was mounted on a pole next to the cabin.

GP-30 #3030 coupled to several other units at the diesel facility. The GP-30’s were the last units ordered from EMD with Chesapeake and Ohio spelled out on the hoods.

GP-7 #5766 going through the washer. I’m sure it will look cleaner in a little bit.

GE U25B #8118 (formerly #2518) sandwiched between EMDs. The U25Bs were the first non-EMD road units ordered by the C&O. 

GP-38 #3870 along with SD-35 #7420 the U25B and GP-9 #5993 as shown in photo above.


 GP-7  #5766 along with sister units between assignments.

Alco S2s #9168 (formerly #5168) and #5110 still in use.

 GP unit is situated between B&O F-7s #7033 (ex C&O same number) and #4567.

 Same units from other end. The F units are on borrowed time and it shows.

Coaling tower used during the steam era but is now just a monument to days long gone.

SD-18s #7317 and #7318 passing by RU tower.

GP-35 #3523 leading westbound freight into yard. This is a crew change point and it looks like the crew is getting ready to climb off so another crew can take over.  

C&O steam locomotive Class J-3 (4-8-4) #611 in storage near the diesel facility.

C&O Class K-4 (2-8-4) #2705. Locomotives of this class were known as Kanawha’s because of the river that the C&O followed between St. Albans and Gauley Bridge, WV. 

I just wanted to close with a photo of an NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) special that was run from Huntington to Russell in November 1968. In the background is the Raceland car shop. GP-7 #5858 is leading E8 #4027 and sister E unit in the new simplified C&O paint scheme through the yard. The rear car is the Emerald Waters that was owned by the Collis P. Huntington Chapter of the NRHS. Yours truly hung the markers on the rear of the Emerald Waters.