In the early 1980s during the recession-fueled downturn in business, Burlington Northern (BN) began retiring older units from its roster. As business increased in the mid-1980s, the road filled needs with new power purchases and secondhand buys and lease agreements. Among BN acquisitions of the era, a group of 35 Electro-Motive Divsion (EMD) GP38s joined the roster.
The units were built (EMD builder numbers 36441–36483) in mid-1970 and sold to Penn Central (7825–7867). They came with dynamic brakes, box-type paper air filter on the roof head of the brake area, standard twin vertical lights mounted between the number boards up front and back on the unit, and a 2,600-gallon fuel tank.
The only big spotting feature to denote these GP38s with their owner was the signal control box parked on the side of the nose on the engineer’s side of the unit. In 1976, the group became Conrail motive power. Some examples received full blue repaint with white Conrail lettering, and others wore patching over black Penn Central livery…
ABOVE: Penn Central 7832 sits on the point of a string of brand-new GP38s in May 1970. In 1976, this group joined the Conrail roster and about a decade later were sold to Burlington Northern. —Jim Boyd photo/Kevin EuDaly collection
ABOVE: A view of patched Conrail GP38 lettered as BN 2185. This shot at Billings, Mont., on October 25, 1985, is a long way from Conrail territory. —D.L. Zeutscher photo/Kevin EuDaly collection
ABOVE: BN 2176 presents a somewhat uncommon sight of a consist of four-axle Geeps working a mixed freight in the mountainous region of western Montana, at Tobin (near Helena). —Kevin EuDaly collection