Conrail purchased a total of 22 C39-8's in 1986. The 3,900hp beasts were built between June and August of 1986 and were assigned to series 6000 - 6021. The C39-8, often referred to as "camelbacks" due to the large equipment blower and dynamic brake box located directly behind the cab, is almost identical to the earlier produced C32-8. The C39-8 was the last in the Dash 8 line to utilize two radiator exhaust fans.

The original factory-installed, small single grab iron on the nose of the unit, also found on the B40-8 model, was intended for use when crossing between locomotives. They were replaced however, sometime in 1991 when Conrail opted for the upside down "L" grabs due to safety concerns and difficulty boarding the locomotives from the ground, account the higher walkway.

In 1999, the fleet was divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX. Those assigned to NS were renumbered into the 8200-8212 series, while CSX allocated units became 7480-7498.
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