The EMD E8 was one of the final models in the series the builder
produced. Manufactured during the late 1940s through the mid-1950s the
E8 was the one of the most successful in the series (selling nearly 500
examples), which was largely due to EMD's lofty status as the premier
locomotive manufacturer of the era. As with the E7, many Class I
railroads purchased the E8 for use in passenger service and their
reliability saw them remain in use all of the way through the early days
of Amtrak. Interestingly, after all of the previous models since the
E3 had carried 2,000 horsepower EMD decided to bump up this rating in
the E8. Today, the E8 is the most well preserved designs of the series
with 58 either in operation or on static display around the country.
The most famous of these is Bennett Levin's two former Pennsylvania
Railroad E8s, #5711A and #5809A. They have been beautifully restored to
their original livery and numbers and now tour the country hosting
excursion trips at various times throughout the year.
Chicago & North Western E8A #5024-B hurries a commuter run along the North Line through Evanston, Illinois during a bright summer day in 1973. These E units spent their final years at the North Western in this service.
The EMD E8 began production in the late summer of 1949 as an upgrade to
the earlier E7 design. This latest model looked almost identical
externally to the E7 save for the grill running the length of the
carbody and the addition of four port holes. The E8 also featured the
classic "bull dog" nose (which first featured on the E7) and came
equipped with two GM-built model 567B prime movers,
which combined allowed it to produce 2,250 horsepower, the first
upgrade in power since the E3 model. Once again EMD used an A1A-A1A
truck setup (whereby the center axle was unpowered) on the E8 to provide
extra traction although they equipped it with a new traction motor, the model D37 (it's continuous tractive effort, however, remained at 31,000 pounds continuous and 56,500 pounds starting).
EMD's latest passenger locomotive was a bit shorter than previous designs. This began with the E7 where the builder
had shaved a foot from the overall length making the locomotive just 70
feet in length. Of course, visually, one could hardly notice the
difference in size. The weight, however, remained the same at 157.5
tons (for the A units, Bs were slightly less). Railroads again liked
EMD's latest E series model (the extra horsepower was a great addition
allowing the E8 to pull heavier loads) with numerous Class Is purchasing
the E8 for use on their flagship passenger trains (interestingly,
however, just one Canadian line went on to purchase the locomotive,
Canadian Pacific bought three for use in the United States).
Chesapeake & Ohio E8A #4002 awaits to depart the B&O's Curtis Bay Yard in Baltimore with E8A #1454 during January of 1969.
time production had ended on the locomotive in early 1954, EMD had sold
449 A units and another 46 B units with the Pennsylvania Railroad
picking up the most, 74.
Railroads who went on to purchase the E8 included the Santa Fe, Atlantic
Coast Line, Boston & Maine, Baltimore & Ohio, Burlington,
Central of Georgia, Chicago & North Western, Rock Island, Chesapeake
& Ohio, Lackawanna, Erie, Fort Worth & Denver (CB&Q),
GM&O, Illinois Central, Kansas City Southern, Louisville &
Nashville, Katy, Missouri Pacific, New York Central, Pennsylvania,
RF&P, Seaboard Air Line, Frisco, Southern, Texas & Pacific,
Union Pacific, and Wabash.
Burlington E8A #9938B and a pair of E7As hustle the "California Zephyr" through Downers Grove, Illinois on August 16, 1965.
The E8 would all but end the market for
passenger model locomotives, at least in regards to wide-scale sales. As the locomotive ended production in 1954 rail travel was fast losing interest with the general
public and railroads, naturally, began devoting fewer and fewer
resources to the service. As such, the E9 cataloged from 1954 through
1964 sold less than 150 examples.
Ironically, while the E7 and E8 both saw roughly the same
number of sales, just one example of the former survives while the
latter is one of the best preserved EMD models with dozens still in
existence, a few of which remain operational (this was caused by many roads trading in their E7s for newer E8s, thereby reducing the cost).