N&W Blue

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Mar 16 11:28:13 EDT 2011

Bill is absolutely right. Since it all happened 45 years ago (and was little
noted) a lot of fans are not aware of the unified paint scheme and numbering
system that anticipated an N&W/C&O merger. The cabooses were the most complete
example (stripes and all). I am sure that Pevler did not mind seeing blue
replace black, but replacing red on cabooses was hardly a Wabash idea. One
exception, however: before blue became the new standard, Roanoke was painting
"Redbirds" blue for use on the ex-Wabash passenger trains. My (late) Uncle
Campbell Scott reported seeing them go west by Tug Tower in the summer of 1965
(before blue became standard).

Jim Nichols

From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
To: nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org; nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sent: Tue, March 15, 2011 5:58:18 PM
Subject: N&W Blue

While we have come to identify the transition to the blue paint scheme with the
period of Herman Pevler's leadership, and hence have called it "Pevler Blue",
with the implicit assumption that it came from the Wabash. I believe we give him
too much credit.

When the C&O-B&O sought control of the Western Maryland in 1964, the N&W opposed
the move and the lead N&W person was John Fishwick, then in N&W's law
department. In "discussions" with C&O over the WM proposal, Mr. Fishwick
proposed an alternative, that N&W and C&O-B&O combine (N&W would have been the
surviving entity). The N&W-C&O merger discussions began in early 1965 and the
parties were so certain of approval that they adopted a common blue paint scheme
(and numbering system), blue being the Chessie color, which first appeared on
new N&W diesels later in 1965. Alas, the Penn-Central disaster scuttled any
further discussion of two strong coal roads combining and merger discussions
ended. The blue scheme remained until Mr. Fishwick changed it back to black in
1971 after he became CEO.

So perhaps in truth we have a "Fishwick Blue" and a "Fishwick Black". ;)

As a postscript, the Pevler years left N&W in very difficult financial
straights, which Mr. Fishwick set about correcting when he became CEO.

Bill McClure
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