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Death of the High Hoods

Above: Norfolk Southern #5168 still retains its high-short hood at Bryan, Ohio. All photos © 2016 by Drayton Blackgrove.

In early August of 2016, Norfolk Southern Corp. announced an auction to sell off un-wanted, older EMD locomotives from their roster. The list of locomotives on Black Mountain’s website included fifty former Southern Railway high hood GP38-2 diesels. It’s absolutely heartbreaking for most railfans to see the majority of the class disappearing from the mainline… But, the writing was on the wall.

Since 2014, Norfolk Southern has actively been rebuilding their fleet of non-RC equipped high hood four axels, in an effort to increase visibility and the longevity of their lifespan. Much like the Spartan Cab SD40-2 rebuilds, these four axels have received similar cabs, but with much shorter noses. “Stubbed nosed” is what the crews are calling them. These days, it seems that as long as a locomotive has air-conditioning, crews are happy with whatever they get in the yard.

Below: Norfolk Southern #5074, a former Southern Railway High Hood GP38-2 at Jackson, MI.


Though the locomotives Norfolk Southern is disposing of in this August 18th auction are high hoods, most of them had been recently shopped by Altoona or Chattanooga – with fresh, Horsehead paint and upgraded electrical systems. It makes you wonder why some of these units aren’t being considered for the rebuild program.

A few months ago, we filmed Norfolk Southern #5096 in Bryan, Ohio. We chased the locomotive and a short local freight from Bryan to Waterloo, Indiana on a chilly winter day. Though this engine is not on the list of the locomotives to be auctioned off by the Class I, it was still great to see an old Southern locomotive still earning her keep on the mainline. Since these locomotives will soon become extinct and resemble virtually every other Class I’s yard power, try to catch them while you can. You can watch the video of #5096 below:

About Delay In Block Productions

Delay in Block productions is a video production company company specialized in high-definition railroad photos and videos.


  • Great video! Good to see the old NYC depot still stands in Bryan, where I spent 36 straight hours in the 80’s watching trains. As I recall there were 4 to 5 per hour most of the time…

  • Chuck Fluty says:

    High hoods were good and bad….it blocked the view from the engineers seat, but it was easier to access the tool room, and to use the latrine. Also if you hit something, it offered a measure of protection, that the glass didnt……chuck fluty…ns railroad, retired engineer.

  • Nick Sattler says:

    It’s been a lot of fun watching these over the years. I’m just glad I could enjoy the ol high pitch southern horn when I could.

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