Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chessie: Graphic Renditions

Rush Loving, Jr., recent author of the work; The Men Who Loved Trains recently donated to the B&O Railroad Museum three graphic renditions of Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and, later, Chessie System Railroad’s  iconic “Chessie.” Seems there was an attempt to resurrect the beloved railroad mascot in the 1980’s. Here is Mr. Loving’s letter to me and the images that he contributed to the museum’s collection.
Courtney B. Wilson
Executive Director

January 4, 2012

Dear Courtney,

Three mounted logos of Chessie that I gave the museum have an interesting background.

Back in the early 1980’s when the Chessie and SCL merged Chessie the cat was dropped as a corporate logo. It had been the C&O’s emblem since the 1930’s, and as you know it was one of the most venerable and best-loved corporate symbols in America.

Around 1990, Thomas E.  Hoppin, who was CSX’s vice president for corporate communications, kept musing about the loss of Chessie. The company had an extremely strong logo it was not using. I was Hoppin’s consultant, so he had me get together with Irv Gravatt of Beatley and Gravatt, CSX’s ad agency, and work with him on some ideas for an updated  logo.  Irv and I met periodically over two or three months. We’d discuss concepts and he would go back and have one of his designers develop them. 

Finally we had about a dozen different versions of the logo and of Chessie. Tom had instructed us to consider making Chessie tougher. Some of the railroaders down in Jacksonville had criticized the cat as too warm and fuzzy.  Something not so close to the family hearth might be what we needed, Tom suggested. 

Our versions ranged from the traditional Chessie to one that was tough like a tom cat and one at the far end of the spectrum that looked like an alley cat. Irv and I figured the railroaders were bound to accept one of them.

But we were wrong.

Tom narrowed the group to the three finalists that I gave the museum. As you can see, they cover every personality Chessie might have.  But Jacksonville turned them all down.  We never knew precisely why, but the railroad was being forced to cut costs down there while trying to get enough money to maintain and modernize some of the railroad.  Printing new stationery and painting new logos on locomotives to them might be an unnecessary expense.

When the three designs were sent back to Tom I asked him if I could have them, and he graciously agreed. 


scott davidson said...

Do some Sydneysiders look like these guys after dark? I believe it. Rene Magritte is indulging in something surrealistic here as well: http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-5ZKELZ, at wahooart.com.

Steve Plattner said...

It's actually Irv Beatley, not Gravitt.

Harold Sims said...

WHERE CAN i obtain a copy of the FEBRUARY 1942 Copy of The Rail Magazine



Harold Simscatman2.org said...

Where can I buy the CSX logo with the real cat.