So, in 1923 it acquired two massive new 2-8-8-2 Mallets (also known be their nickname, Chesapeakes) from the American Locomotive Company (Alco); #20-21. These beasts could produce 101,465 pounds of tractive effort and were beloved by management. In 1937 the IRR complemented these with three former N&W 2-6-6-2s, #22-24. Overall, the five Mallets were easily the largest locomotives ever operated on the Interstate and remained in regular service until the early 1950s when diesels began to replace them. Alco was always a favorite product of railroad's officials and so it approached the builder when it came to dieselizing. In November, 1953 it began receiving RS3s, the first of which was former Alco demonstrator #1607 clad in blue paint. While the unit was repainted into Interstate's cream, orange, and grey livery and renumbered 37 it was always referred to be crews as the "Blue Goose".
In all, the IRR would roster ten RS3s, #30-39, which all arrived
in the late fall of 1953. The railroad did offer passenger services
during its early years although the remote nature of its location saw
these disappear before 1930. During peak services it dispatched two
passenger trains per day, which was usually handled by its lone 4-4-2
Atlantic, #9 (when needed a 2-8-0 would pull these duties). A typical
consist included three wooden cars; a combine, baggage, and a standard
coach. Sometimes, the railroad would even offer an excursion if there
was enough local interest. In
any event, by the late 1920s there was no longer need for two trains per
day, and the one which remained carried so few passengers after 1928
that the crew outnumbered paying customers! Because of this, the
railroad ended passenger service in 1929 after receiving ICC approval.
After World War II the IRR grew to fleet more
than 600 hoppers to serve its 10 coal docks and nine tipples. However,
its hopper fleet was becoming outdated by the late 1950s and management
did not feel it had the resources available to acquire a large enough
equipment roster to keep up with growing demand. So, the IRR was put up
for sale with both the L&N and Southern showing interest. However,
it was the latter that came out with the highest bid, taking over the
Interstate in October, 1960. Until 1965 the railroad remained
relatively unchanged until the Southern shifted the RS3s to work other
areas of the south and closed the Appalachia yard.
(A big thanks to H. Reid's article, "Whistle In The Valley" from the August, 1953 issue of Trains as a primary reference for this page.)
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|2-8-2 #14 is in storage at the yard in Andover, Virginia on June 18, 1954.|
Following the creation of Norfolk Southern during 1982 the IRR disappeared officially on October 31, 1985 as the new company began
consolidating its subsidiaries.
In March of 2012 NS announced
that it would be painting nineteen new diesel locomotives, GE ES44ACs
and EMD SD70ACes, into historic liveries as part of a new heritage
fleet. Surprisingly, despite the IRR being one of the smallest aspects
of the entire NS network it was one of the predecessors chosen as part
of the fleet. To learn more about the history of the IRR please click here to visit a website
dedicated to the company's operations from its earliest beginnings to
final years under Southern.
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