January, 2020
This advertisement appeared in January, 1935. It paid tribute to Chessie and how in just a year she had made C&O the talk of the railroading world, and the darling of the ad men. (C&OHS Collection, AD-64)


This month's E-Newsletter primarily deals with Chessie, the Railroad Kitten, and her long, interesting, unexpected, and unique story as she became the best-known railroad herald/image of all time. Not only is she a legend in railroad advertising and public relations, but is equal to some of the most famous images in American business advertising. The Wall Street Journal called her the "Kitten of Destiny" because of her success in the advertising field.

Chessie's final service was that she became the railroad! Chessie System used her image and name when it was created in 1972.

The story in this newsletter reproduces some interesting advertising from her long and varied career and introduces her and the "fifth of her nine lives." -Tom Dixon

Remember, that if you signed up for the 2019 books, your subscription for 2020 books will be automatically renewed unless you call and tell us not to do so.


We hope that everyone has been watching our ads about our new "Coffee Club" giving program. I am personally appealing to you to reach our goal of 400 people pledging a dollar a day to help the C&OHS begin its second half-century of service to its members and public at large. If you have any questions, consult recent issues of this newsletter, or our print magazine flyers. Telephone 540-862-2210 if you have further questions or to pledge. You may also pledge online at chessieshop.com/donations.


2020 George Washington Train Show 
When: February 15th & 16th 
Where: C&O Railway Heritage Center & The Clifton Forge Armory in Clifton Forge Virginia
For more information or questions - please call Brandy Monday - Friday 9AM-5PM at 540-862-2210

We continue to invite submissions of articles for possible publication in this e-newsletter medium and more importantly in our print magazine. If you want to do this and don't know how to start, contact Tom Dixon at 434-610-8959 or tdixon@cohs.org .
Finding More Photos

Any of the images shown can be purchased as glossy prints sized to your specification, or as high resolution digital downloads at $8.95 each, or glossy photo prints at $8.95 each plus shipping and handling. For larger sizes call 540-862-2210 for quote.
In these color albums each month we try to give you a look at some of the images in the C&OHS collection. If you want to look at more, go to the cohs.org web site. Once there, click the large SEARCH THE ARCHIVES button on the homepage. This will give you a space for KEYWORD. Put in here words that you think might have been used to caption the images for which you are looking. Color images all have the word COLOR in their caption.
Let's try an example: Say you want to look at box cars:

Enter the word BOX and that should produce for you a listing of every caption with that word. Now, you will get some that aren't cars (for example "smokebox"); just ignore them as you scroll through the listing. But suppose you wanted only color photos; then enter COLOR BOX and click the "ALL WORDS" box below the KEYWORD box. You can try all types of variations because entries were made over decades by many different people, so no uniform standard prevails.

For example: some EMD units are cited with a dash and some without. Therefore, search twice, one with dash and one without. Example: GP-40, then a second search using GP40. This sounds a bit complicated, but after you use it and play around with variations, you can usually find what you want if we have it. Geographical locations are usually straight forward. Enter HINTON and you'll get all or photos taken at Hinton, and so on. Don't put in things that could complicate the search, for example DO NOT use Hinton, WV or Hinton, W. Va. or Hinton W.Va. etc. You can't presently search by division or subdivision and expect to get a reasonable result. Geographical searches should be made by station name. If you do not know all the station names on the C&O, you can purchase our 1948 "Station Book," (actual title C&O List of Officers, Agents, Etc.) catalog number DS-8-142 , or click here
Here's another example: Suppose you want to see Cushion Underframe Box Cars, just put in the word CUSHION.
Remember that the thumbnail images shown are low- resolution. When you order prints or digital downloads from us you will get the best high-resolution image we can make for you.

If you have any problems when searching, please telephone us at 540-862-2210 weekdays 9-4 and ask for Michael. I will help you. Be on your computer, at the site, to take instructions.
-Michael Dixon 
 E-Newsletter Coordinator
C&O Historical Society
312 E. Ridgeway St.
Clifton Forge, VA 24422



Michael Dixon
Publication Design & Composition, Archives Manager

Brandy Dudley
Customer Services

Wendy Montgomery
Shipping & Customer Service


Heritage Center

Andy Bostic

Tom Hefner

Kathy Morris
Visitor Services

Leo Wright
Facilities Management Coordinator
Board of Directors
J. C. Watson

E. S. (Tod) Hanger, Jr.

Mark L. Totten

Clifford L. Clements

William F.
Michie, III

Kerry Worsham

Philip L. Hatchett
Legal Counsel

Robert E. Jackson
Engineering Committee

K. Bostic

James (Jim)

Thomas W. Dixon, Jr.

Jeremy Ferrell

Charles F.
(Rick) Gartrell

C. Bryan Kidd
Please e-mail cohs@cohs.org to get in touch with any of the board members.
Notice of Board of Directors Meeting
Your Board of Directors will meet in the Hays T. Watkins Archives Building, 312 E. Ridgeway St., Clifton Forge, Va. Meeting will convene at 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 22, and 8 a.m. – Noon EST Sunday, Feb. 23. All members are invited to observe.

JC Watson
You may make your reservations one of two ways:

You may call the hotel's reservation phone number at 800-228-9290 and say "C&O Historical Society" to get the Society rate for the conference


Click here to go to the hotel's reservations page online.
Chessie's Fifth Life
This year C&OHS enters its second half century of service to the public in preserving C&O and railway history.
At the same time, we are postulating that Chessie, C&O’s incomparable advertising symbol, is entering the fifth of her nine lives. Chessie’s first life was in advertising C&O’s great fleet of passenger trains. As passenger service declined, she began her second life selling C&O’s (and then C&O/B&O’s) “Pur-r-r-fect" freight transportation. In her third life she became the railroad! Yes, Chessie System was named for her and her image became its. Her fourth life began as CSX turned her over to C&O Historical Society to produce the official Chessie calendar with the 1992 edition. CSX CEO Hays Watkins said at the time that she was just ending her third life.
For the past 18 years we have used Chessie’s image to produce railroadiana items, models, calendars, and other publications. We have resurrected original art and commissioned new art featuring her. And other companies have done the same. It seems that Chessie’s image is alive and well.
However, we have seldom told the history, or illustrated the marvelous story of her as an advertising symbol nonpareil. Only one major article about her work as C&O’s “sales-cat” has appeared in our magazine in its 51 years of publication. But, of course, we have lavished great attention on the calendar each year, using much-loved art from past decades and discovering new ad material not published before. We have issued scores, no hundreds, of railroadiana items featuring her. However, we have not really delved into her history as a service mark (trademark), and the many ramifications of that. We propose to do more of that this year and start her out on yet a fifth life. With this, we hope that we can revive some of the old charm of the 1930s and use her again to attract non-railfans to her and to use her to get young people interested in railroads again.
As a start, we have just published a children’s storybook about her entitled Chessie Takes a Train Trip ( click here to order ). This isn’t exactly a new idea because two books for children featured her written by Ruth Carroll in 1935 and 1937. But nothing since. We hope this will began to attract people from outside the railfan and modeling community to Chessie, the C&O, and railroading, as well as to us. We hope it can lead to them to the bigger story of railroading’s history and how it was one of the deciding factors in creating the modern technological world in which we live.
This brief article contains some of her past “work” advertising the C&O in the long-ago days when railroading was the backbone of society, the engine of change, the help meet of industry, and the vehicle of politics.
The story of Chessie is unique. She is the kitten that became a railroad in the most unlikely story in advertising and railroad history.
The Chessie Family : Chessie in her never-changing classic pose, Peake in his usual male stance, and the look-alike kittens “Nip” and “Tuck.” This ad from Newsweek magazine featured the whole family on Sept. 15, 1941. Chessie, of course, arrived thanks to C&O’s top publicity expert of the time, L. C. Probert, and was used first in Fortune magazine’s September, 1933 issue. The kittens were used starting in 1934, and Peake finally showed up as “Chessie’s Old Man,” on Fathers’ Day, 1937. (C&OHS Collection, AD-111)
Perhaps one of the best family photos shows the group in their comfortable C&O Pullman “lower berth.” Over the years the ad illustrators always showed her in “Lower 9.” This is from Time magazine in December, 1939.
(C&OHS Collection, AD 68
This advertised the availability of the 1941 Chessie calendar, distributed free by C&O to anyone who wrote in and requested one. We have come to call it “Starlight Chessie.” The wonderful image of Chessie in a clear night sky as The George Washington rolls across a darkened landscape below is striking. We have used it on our best-selling Afghan, calendars, and a dozen other items. This ad appeared in Time magazine on Dec.12, 1940 and was used for the year 1941 calendar. (C&OHS Collection AD 104)
Peake was featured during the World War II years as he served the country overseas while Chessie kept C&O’s trains on schedule back home. This ad is from Time’s Dec. 27, 1943 issue. It is called “His Pin-Up Girl,” and struck a chord with soldiers and civilians of the era. (C&OHS Collection, AD 109)
This, from Time’s Dec. 1, 1947 issue, has the whole family together for the last time. Peake is saying to Chessie “Look, Chessie, There goes your train.” The allusion was to the new steam-turbine-electric on the much-ballyhooed ultra-luxury train called THE CHESSIE that C&O planned to inaugurate in 1948. It was to be the beginning of a new age in passenger comfort, but alas, it was not to be as the train never ran. Peake disappears from ads after this time as the kittens with a few exceptions. (C&OHS Collection, AD 114)
As time marched on C&O began using Chessie in most of its ads about freight service, and in this one about the C&O-B&O “affiliation.” This one again from Time  in its Jan. 13, 1961 issue. (C&OHS Collection AD 202)
A small image of Chessie continued to be used on almost all C&O advertising from the 50s through to the 70s. This Time ad from Jan. 18, 1960 tells readers about C&O's innovated flash annual reports and uses not only the Chessie symbol but a stylized version of George Washington the Surveyor. (C&OHS Collection, AD 282)
When C&O was the first railroad to install the UNIVAC-I computer (in 1955) (“electronic brain” in the terminology of the era) Chessie’s family was right there. We don’t know if this was a rare full-body portrayal of Chessie, or if this is one of her kittens at the controls of the new machine. It was the threshold of a new world. (C&OHS Collection, AD-281)
Chessie’s last and greatest triumph as a railroad advertising emblem was as she became the name of the C&O/B&O system in August, 1972. Hays Watkins, new leader of the combined railroads decreed a new name, and Chessie was it. Her name and the outline of her classic image became the new herald and logo. It was an inspired move that catapulted the C&O/B&O into the public consciousness as surely as the first use of Chessie back in 1933-34. (C&OHS Collection, LOGO 52)
Chessie System on the Road
The new Chessie System paint scheme was showed off to the public at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. on Nov. 15, 1972. The first unit to wear the new livery was B&O GP40-2 No. 1977 (so numbered to coincide with B&O’s 150 th anniversary). It was on display as General Motors executives held their triennial convention at The Greenbrier Hotel. (T. W. Dixon, Jr. photo, C&OHS Collection, COHS 46249)
The Chessie System livery of bright yellow set off with blue and vermillion was a complete departure for eastern railroads. It broke with the past in a purposeful statement that C&O/B&O were still in the transportation business at a time when the public was more of the opinion that railroads were on their last legs after Penn Central. This scene is of GP40-2 No. 4185 and companion units under the coaling station at Hinton, W. Va. in April, 1982. (T. W. Dixon, Jr. photo, C&OHS 21796)
Chessie System locomotives looked good from any angle, or at least attention-getting. Here is the rear of B30-7 No. 8294 at Hinton in October, 1981.
(Jim Moseley photo, C&OHS Collection, COHS 21804)
The Chessie System paint scheme was only a year old when this photo was taken of U30B No. 89210 at Parsons yard, Columbus, Ohio in February, 1973.
(C&OHS Collection, COHS 24754)
The good old GP9s that dieselized the C&O in the mid-1950s were still in use when the Chessie System came along. Here No. 6067 sports a new paint job at Russell, Ky. in 1980. (Gene Huddleston photo, C&OHS Collection, COHS 29549)
Not just locomotives, but most freight cars, looked great in the Chessie System era. Here is a striking yellow covered hopper new at ACF in April, 1979.
(C&OHS Collection, COHS 34824)
This unusual “panned” photo is of GP40-2 No. 4282 at speed along the Cincinnati Division mainline near Greenup, Ky. in July, 1978.
(T. W. Dixon, Jr. photo, C&OHS Collection, COHS 36974)
The below article is a reprint from the Nov./Dec., 2019 issue of our magazine.
Erie 400 Arrives in Clifton Forge!
Late last year, Mr. John Hankins of Huntington, W. Va. donated his car Erie 400 to the C&OHS. This car was originally built in 1924 for J. P. Morgan, Jr., became C&O business car No. 2 in 1937, and was then sold to Mr. Hankins in 1971. A full article about the car appears in the Sept./Oct., 2019 issue of our magazine. Click here to view the article.

The car moved from Huntington, W. Va., where it had been parked for many years, and moved to Russell, Ky. via CSX train on Christmas Eve. The day after Christmas, it was moved on the rear of CSX freight train No. H750 and arrived at Clifton Forge later that day. We expect it to move to our Heritage Center facility soon.

The following links are to videos showing movement of Erie 400 across West Virginia:

Erie 400 passing RU Cabin on Christmas Eve, December 24th.
(Jeremy Ferrell photo)
Our car passing Cotton Hill, W. Va. The old station building is still standing used by company forces. (Jamason Conn photo)
What a difference 60 years makes! C&O No. 6 passing Cotton Hill in 1960.
(Gene Huddleston photo, C&OHS Collection, COHS 20539)
The car passing White Sulphur Springs station. (Todd Fenstermacher photo)
2019 Membership Drive Highly Successful!
Throughout most of 2019, we have been able to reverse the decline in membership and acquired 242 new members through a special offer of four free books to people who signed up for the first time. This photo shows Gabrielle Cooper standing near some of the new member packets being sent recently. If you are NOT a COHS member, click here to view information about joining.

COHS is the largest and most active single-railroad organization in the country, join today!
George Washington Train Show


Presented By:



ADMISSION: $5.00 per person and includes admission to 
the C&O Railway Heritage Center/Museum

The George Washington Train Show will be a fun filled weekend. 
The show will include: model layouts, model train vendors, 
railroad memorabilia, a visit to the museum, food and so much more!

If you would like information or a vendor registration form - please email Brandy@cohs.org.

Attention Modelers!
We, the members of the COHS are organizing an N-scale modelers and operators group. We will operate using the T-Trak standard system which uses two Kato main tracks on modules of 1, 2, 3 and 4 feet in length. You model the scenery you are interested in. Your module will connect to other member’s modules to form a group layout. We already have folks working on their module(s). If you are interested in being a member of this group contact me at dperry2021@gmail.com . For further information on T-Trak, see the website - http://www.t-trak.org/index.html . We are planning a meeting at the COHS Heritage Center for information and discussions about the group, date to be determined. Come join us.

COHS Member
Dale Perry

Special C&OHS Announcement
Attention - Virginia Motorists
The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society is pleased to announce an initiative in the Commonwealth of Virginia to formally establish a special interest license plate with the Department of Motor Vehicles for our non-profit historical society. Our proposed plate represents the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s contribution to Virginia’s railway heritage and was designed by Ken Miller, the artist who designed the Virginia license plate with the Norfolk & Western Railway’s iconic Class J steam locomotive No. 611. Our proposed special interest license plate for the C&OHS features two of the C&O Railway’s most recognizable brands—an E8 diesel locomotive pulling a tricolor passenger train and Chessie, the railroad kitten and mascot of the C&O, featured in the center background. Both are beautifully represented in historically-accurate detail.

In order for the C&O Historical Society’s Virginia license plate to become a reality, we must secure 450 paid preorders from Virginia motorists. To process your preorder, please complete and return our pre-filled VSA 10D form from ChessieShop.com and payment of $25 to:

Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society
Attn: VA license plate
312 E. Ridgeway St.
Clifton Forge, VA 24422

Payments can be made by check or money order (made payable to C&O Historical Society) and included with your mailed VSA 10D, or online by checking out with this item in your cart. If payment is made online through ChessieShop.com, the C&OHS must still receive your completed VSA 10D to keep on file until the required number of preorders have been received.

Required to preorder: VSA 10D + PAYMENT

When 1,000 Virginia motorists have proudly ordered the C&O Railway license plate, a portion of each subsequent plate sold will directly benefit the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society in Clifton Forge. This support from Virginians will help the C&OHS continue its mission of historical preservation and interpretation by funding progress such as restoration initiatives at our Heritage Center museum and future publications memorializing the history of the C&O Railway.

Our special thanks goes to Virginia Delegate Terry Austin, who will introduce legislation to the Virginia General Assembly authorizing the formal establishment of this special interest license plate for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and benefiting the C&O Historical Society.

If you are a supporter outside the Commonwealth of Virginia and cannot order this special interest license plate for your vehicle, don't worry--the C&OHS plans to expand into other states' DMV catalogs following the success of our license plate in Virginia. Thanks for your patience as we take the C&O brand to the roads nationally!

Updates in the goal to receive 450 preorders will be provided through email and social media. Please help us continue our mission that began in 1969 and fill the roads throughout the Commonwealth with this beautiful image promoting the C&O Railway and Virginia’s rail heritage.
Click the button below to print out your VSA 10D Form. Please do not delay in signing up - we need your help to make this happen!
Fun and easy ways to contribute to the C&OHS!
Do you shop on Amazon?
Sign up for AmazonSmile and Choose the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society as your organization to support! 

Support the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society by shopping at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate to the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, Inc. Support us every time you shop!.

Do you shop at Kroger?
For those of you who did not see the ad in the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society's magazine, the Kroger Community Rewards Program is a way for non-profits and charitable organizations to make fundraising easy ...all you have to do is sign up, shop at Kroger and swipe your Plus Card!
To sign up, you must have an email and a Kroger Plus Card. If you need a Kroger Plus Card, you can ask someone at the service desk at any Kroger store. Next go to https://www.kroger.com/communityrewards , sign in and register. (You may have to click the SIGN UP TODAY button.) Enter your zip code, favorite stores(s), email address and create a password. You should get an email message back; click the link within the body of the email. At the next location, click on MY ACCOUNT and enter zip and email address. Click on EDIT KROGER COMMUNITY AWARDS INFORMATION and put in your Kroger Plus Card number. Then enter NPO Number: (JH657) (This represents the C&OHS.)
Are you an avid eBay shopper? Next time you purchase to consider donating to us at eBay Checkout. The smallest donation could help us and our mission of interpreting the American Railway experience using C&O Railway’s history through drawings, documents, and artifacts which the Society collects, preserves, and makes available to as broad an audience as possible.
Since its program launch in 2003, eBay buyers and sellers have donated over $725 million through the eBay for Charity program to social causes around the world. To help us, we invite our community to participate in the eBay for Charity program.

Start now with these easy steps:
 Add The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, Inc. as your favorite charity on eBay today!

As your favorite charity on eBay, you can now directly donate to The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, Inc. at checkout when you purchase any item.
 You can shop for any items on eBay in which the proceeds are donated to our charity. Check out The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, Inc.'s charity shop here:

You can sell your own items on eBay and donate a percentage of the sale price to benefit The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, Inc.
All of these efforts allow you to easily support our cause. Your donations are tax-deductible and as a charitable seller, eBay rewards your support by offering you a fee credit based on your donation percentage to The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, Inc..

Your generosity makes you an example of why the The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, Inc. community is so special and shows the impact we can have together through individual acts of kindness.