Watercolor… CONRAIL (CR) was formed in 1976 from a collection of suddenly vanquished railroads. In its first years of operation, the power on CONRAIL trains was assembled from whatever merger locomotives it had acquired, that were available for any given job. Although many rail-fans, lamented the demise of their distinctively painted, favorite railroad, it was an interesting period to find foreign power, mixed together on once was exclusive home track. These early days were called the “Rainbow Years”, when it was not unusual to see a former Reading (RDG), Lehigh Valley (LVR), Erie Lackawanna (EL), Penn Central (PC), Central New Jersey (CNJ), or any other of CONRAIL’s new family members, lashed together at the head of a train. The first locomotive in CONRAIL’s Premiere Blue paint appeared on a GP40 in 1976, but years later, many of these now, CR marked locomotives still in their old heritage colors, roamed the rails, re-numbered and re-lettered over the patched out logos of their fallen flags. Illustrated… a colorful lash up of CONRAIL, Reading and Erie Lackawanna, pounding their way north, circa late Seventies, through the cut, out of the former RDG’s, 2,125 foot long Perkasie Tunnel, dragging a heavy ore train over the Bethlehem Branch to “The Steel”.
CONRAIL EMD GP30 #2233 is preserved and on display at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, located in Strasburg, PA. Reading Railroad EMD GP35 #3640 is preserved and on display at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum, located in Hamburg, PA. I think that Erie Lackawanna EMD SD45-2 #6078 was scrapped, years ago. And the cuts, bookending the tunnel… I hiked to the north portal a few weeks before this painting… completely over grown and closed in with vegetation now… see intermittent, shortline, East Penn Railroad (ESPN) traffic, terminating above Quakertown.