The Lightning Stripes

The D&H "twins" 7303 & 7304 at Montcalm's Landing in Ticonderoga, NY lead the CP Fort Edward local D13 South on a trip from the International Paper's Ticonderoga Mill on February  4, 2016.
The Lightning Stripes or the "twins" (as I affectionately refer to them as) are the last two Delaware and Hudson locomotives still working on the D&H in their classic Lightning Stripe paint scheme.

These forty year old locomotives have a fascinating history, as all railroad equipment gathers over therir generally long service lives.

Specifically they are CP 7303 & CP 7304, GM Electro Motive Division GP38-2's, handmade by American worker's in 1972 to for the Lehigh Valley. Their career for the LV was short lived as the railroad decimation of the 60's and 70's took its toll and the LV found itself under Conrail's nurturing wing on April 1, 1976.
D&H 7304 leading a small train off the former Plattsburgh Air Force base on May 12, 2016

Thinking the LV's small fleet of relatively new GP38-2's could help out the still viable "Bridge Line to New England and Canada" the D&H acquired the new power in 1976.

These hard working locomotives served the D&H running freight and racking up mileage through the rocky Guilford years. During the bankruptcy in the late 1980's and when the railroad was managed by the New York Susquehanna and Western the 7307, 7309 & 7312 received Lightning Stripe paint.

All the ex-LV GP38-2's would soon be serving a different road again. They would be working for a new company when the D&H became part of Canadian Pacific in 1992.

At that point some of the D&H GP38-2 fleet saw new paintwork. The 7303 & 7304 among those that got D&H style paintwork, the iconic "Lightning Stripe" style introduced by the D&H in the 1960's. While the NYS&W paintwork was done by Morisson Knudsen, and done to proper specifications, the CP repaints were done in house and now legendary when the 7303 was painted what should have been blue lettering on her broadside was erroneously done in yellow, making it hard to see. When the 7304 was painted this mistake was corrected and she came out of the shop looking like she was fresh from the D&H shops at Colonie.

The other D&H "geeps" were either painted for the CP system or the short lived St. Lawrence & Hudson.

In the ensuing 24 years, the Guilford/NYSW era Lightning Stripes have been repainted into CP red. The 7306 and 7308 lost there StL&H paint, making it technically a fallen flag of sorts.

Even the 7312 which had been designated the D&H heritage unit and named in honor of long time D&H engineer and legendary railroader Bernie O'Brien saw new red paint shortly after his 2013 passing.

While they are still plying these well trodden rails, that leaves the 7303 & 7304 the final survivors of Delaware & Hudson heritage that dates back to 1823. 

And yet their paint is cracking and peeling, and rust spots dot the once pristine handiwork of Canadian Pacific painters.

Like the 7307, 7309 & 7312 these are destined for an eventual trip to a shop where they will be overhauled, and their worn out and tired parts will be replaced and fixed, and more than likely the "twins" will come out in bright shiny red, ready for a million more miles like the day they rolled out of La Grange, IL.

But while mechanically they will be improved, a little piece of history will be left behind, and a heritage that will rest among other "fallen flags"
Like an old workhorse the 7303 switches cars at Plattsburgh's Georgia Pacific mill, not missing a beat after forty years of continuous service on February 23, 2016