Today's Train of Thought is a celebration of things that still look pretty damn good at the half-century mark- Which in turn is a completely gratuitous opportunity for me to post some accompanying images of actress/professional poker player Jennifer Tilly. To start off with, railpictures.net contributor Christopher Blaszczyk caught this image of Winchester & Western GP9 #811 cautiously making it's way through central Millville, NJ with a local on a brilliant August day while a somewhat newer John Deere tractor waits at one of the grade crossings.
As it turns out, Winchester and Western #811 came into the world around the same time as Jennifer Tilly did. The last time I actually saw her was in movies like Bound and The Getaway. Ever hear an entertainers name mentioned and say 'Oh yeah- whatever happened to so-and-so?'...I was aware of her recurring role as one of the neighborhood wives on Family Guy, but wondered whatever became of her after the show went on hiatus. A fairly quick internet search turned up images like these- apparently taken after her 50th birthday (and when she wasn't on the World Series of Poker circuit). Looks like she's also reprised her role now that Family Guy is back. To say that she's looking pretty good would be the understatement of this fairly new 21st century.
As for the #811, it actually started out life on the Nickel Plate railroad before becoming Norfolk & Western property after the 1964 merger w/Nickel Plate. Although not as famous as some of the streamliner diesels of the era, locomotive manufacturer Electro Motive Division (EMD for short) began production of their General Purpose line of roadswitchers in 1949, starting with the 1500 HP GP7. Some five years later, production began on the 1750 HP GP9. The General Purpose series of diesels could serve in a variety of functions- passenger, local freight, yard switcher. These made them much more practical and versatile than the iconic streamliners of the day. In fact, some railways- like the Norfolk & Western- didn't even bother with the streamlined diesels and replaced their steam locomotives (such as the ones famously documented by O Winston Link) with GP7s and GP9s. In this instance, the #811 retains it's as-manufactured high hood, but there are plenty of examples of a 'chopped' shorter hood being applied to both the GP7 and GP9 to improve visibility from the cab.
So here's to classic lines (and curves) that have withstood the test of time!