Intensive Mountain Freight and Urban Passenger Railroading
June 30th-July 19th, 2000

Don Winter

Introduction

The proximate cause of this trip was the 2000 NRHS Convention in Stamford Connecticut. After looking at the dates of the convention, it became clear that we could have a full additional week’s trip, the week before the Convention, for only three extra vacation days, so we added the week in the Pennsylvania mountains to the plans. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak.

The Journey East (6/30-7/3)

Friday, June 30th, 2000

This evening, we started our journey by taking the shuttle van from home to Los Angeles Union Station. Because it was a Friday, and the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend, the shuttle picked us up about 4:40pm (for our 7:15pm departure from LAUS). In the event, we ran into little traffic before getting to downtown LA, and with a diversion through the downtown streets, we were at the station with plenty of time to check the large suitcase through to Altoona and then wait for the train. Of course, the stock for the latter was late arriving in the platform, and thus we were late departing LA.  

Consist:

P42                  41

P42                  9

P42                  35

P42                  93

MHV                1446

Baggage          1212

Transition        39012

Sleeper            32105 (Oregon)

Sleeper            32040

Dining Car      38058

Lunge              33038

Coach (smoker)  31530

Coach              34022

Coach              34136

Coach              34117

Box cars          71173

                        71097

                        70005

Roadrailers      410113

                        410115

                        410014

                        410088

                        410164

                        410067

                        410077

                        410101

                        460006

                        460139

                        410122

                        410083

                        410112

Train 4, 6-30-2000

Schedule

Actual

Los Angeles

7:05 pm

7:35 pm

Fullerton

8:04 pm

8:41 pm

San Bernardino

9:04

9:54 pm

7-1-2000

 

 

Needles

1:30 am

2:21 am

Williams Jct.

4:35

5:44

Flagstaff

5:17
5:22

6:20
6:29

Winslow           PT

6:21

7:30
7:54

Gallup              MT

9:25

10:33
10:45

Albuquerque

12:35 pm
1:00 pm

1:17 pm
1:57

Lamy

2:05

3:04

Las Vegas

3:42

5:10

Raton

5:27

6:53
7:10

Trinidad

6:25

8:16

La Junta           MT

8:13
8:33

9:20
9:27

7-2-2000

   

Topeka                     CT

5:01 am

6:35 am
6:40

Lawrence

5:32

7:11

Kansas City

8:07
8:17

8:26
9:37

La Plata

10:29

12:00

Fort Madison

11:33

1:14 pm
1:24

Galesburg

12:27 pm
12:30

2:22
2:26

Princeton

1;23

3:14

Mendota

1:45

3:32
3:40

Naperville

2:39

4:24
4:31

Chicago

4:15

5:23

Southwest Chief Route Description

The box cars and roadrailers were added after the departure from Los Angeles, but before the train had left the station area. Adding the boxcars and roadrailers in LA required the following moves after departure: Stop 7:38; Backup 7:40: Stop 7:43; Forward 7:57 pm. The last two roadrailers were added at Winslow. The lead locomotive was removed at La Junta. Between Winslow and La Junta the total number of axles was 114.

Following a number of years in which the only food offered (outside the snack car) on departure from LA was “get acquainted” snacks, it is nice to have dinner aboard the train this evening. We go to bed as soon as dinner is done, and are asleep before we get to the top of Cajon Pass.

Saturday, July 1st, 2000

In the middle of the night, just West of Needles and in an area with no artificial light whatsoever, I see more stars that I’ve been able to see in many years, with the milky way prominent as a swathe across the sky. We awake at the Williams Junction stop, so we eat breakfast while passing through the Arizona Forest, before Flagstaff. Picking-up the two additional roadrailers in Winslow took from 7;32 to 7:54 am.

We eat lunch with a woman who thinks “Congress should appropriate money to fix the tracks so that trains can go faster and not lose time.” We explain (a) that we’re traveling at 80 mph, and have been doing 90 mph, and (b) that the tracks are privately-owned by the freight railroads, not publicly by Amtrak. Between the Arizona Forest and the train’s turn off the BNSF main line towards Albuquerque (the main line continuing east to Belen), the overwhelming impression is of intermodal freight operations, both in terms of the total number of double-stacks going the other way (WB) and of the EBs we catch up and pass in sidings. This line is close to its ‘two main tracks’ capacity.

We passed our counterpart, Train #3, at Ojeda, on the East side of Glorieta Pass. This required a stop to throw the switch entering the siding from 4:37 to 4:41 pm, passing the other train at 4:43, and stopping to close the switch on leaving the siding from 4:44 to 4:53 pm. At Raton, a large number of Boy Scouts, who had been at the nearby Scout camp, boarded the train, along with some of their counselors. For once, the entire eastbound trip over Raton Pass was in sufficient daylight to see the magnificent scenery. We eat dinner on the high plains, and are asleep before Lamar.

Sunday, July 2nd, 2000

We awake in eastern Kansas, and eat breakfast before reaching Kansas City. From 7:45 to 8:00 am, the train stops on the fuel pad at Argentine, KS to refuel, and then stopped again at Santa Fe Junction from 8:09 to 8:18. The long delay in Kansas City is due to the necessity of repairing the radio in the lead locomotive (Amtrak 9). At MP 420.5, we pass a freight train with a derailed rear car over on the other track. The derailed car had damaged about 2 miles of that track. Lunch is in eastern Missouri.

On the way into Chicago, the train turns South at the 14th Street wye, stops from 4;58 to 5:09 pm to remove the box cars and roadrailers, pulls forward to 16th Street, where it stops to reverse from 5_10 to 5:12, and then slowly backs into Union Station.

With our late arrival, we have about three hours to spend in Chicago, including getting dinner. Since this was the Fourth of July weekend, the Taste of Chicago Festival was on in Grant Park, along the lakeshore, so we walk across Jackson Boulevard to the park across Michigan Avenue, where we purchase the necessary number of festival tickets for our meal, eat stretched out on the grass, and then walk back to the station by way of the Chicago River and Wacker Drive. Even in mid evening, the air is still hot and humid and we’re both overheated by the time we get back to Chicago Union Station. Since the air conditioning in the station as a whole, and the first class lounge in particular, seemed not to be able to deal with the prevailing conditions, it was actually more comfortable to sit outside, along the Chicago River, until it was time to board our train.

Train 40, 7-2-2000

Schedule

Actual

Chicago

9:20 pm

9:36 pm

Hammond        CT

10:14

 

7-3-00

 

 

Akron              ET

4:50 am

5:10 am

Youngstown

5:50

6:20

Pittsburgh

8:23
8:38

8:28
8:49

Greensburg, PA

9:22

9:30

Latrobe

9:32

9:42

Johnstown

10:14

10:21
10:34

Altoona

11:20

11:20 arr

Consist:

P40                  809

P40                  ??

MHVs              (8 total)

Baggage          1244

Baggage          1004

Sleeper             2446 Cypress Grove

Dinette             53508

Amfleet Coach 25085

Amfleet Coach 25048

Horizon Coach54067

Roadrailer       460006

                        460159

                        530217

                        410081

                        460212

                        460094

                        460148

                        460090

                        ?

                        530155

                        ?

                        466708

                        530358

                        466784

100 total axles.

Three Rivers Route Description

From 9:40 to 9:55 pm, the train stopped to add the roadrailers at 14th Street in Chicago

Monday, July 3rd, 2000

We awake alongside the Ohio River. At 7:45 am, the train stops at West Conway because the New Brighton, PA, detector has failed and the train has to be inspected. Soon afterwards, we’re in Pittsburgh, passing Three Rivers Stadium and crossing the Allegheny River into the station..

We leave Pittsburgh on the uphill side of the Braddock steelworks, then later pass through Johnstown, climb the West Slope, and descend through Horseshoe Curve into Altoona, where we detrain.

Railroad Activity on the West Slope of the Alleghenies
(NS, ex-CR, ex-PRR)

Chris and I have been talking about visiting the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Horseshoe Curve, for some time. We have also seen references to the Station Inn in Cresson, PA, in both magazines and videos covering the area. So, we booked a room at the Station Inn for the first week in July, and reserved a rental car in Altoona, PA, for the duration.

I had thought about digging out the issues of Railpace that covered the area, before leaving home, but had not done so. However, Tom Davis, owner of the Station Inn, helpfully provided loan copies of these issues, enabling us to plan on which locations we wanted to visit, and then use the marked up topographical maps in these issues to find our way to those places. Together with the Railpace Guide to Horseshoe Curve (which covers that line from Altoona to Cresson), and our Conrail Employee Timetable for the Harrisburg Division (that includes Altoona to Conemaugh), and our railroad radio scanner, we were well set-up with the necessary resources for observing current activity on the railroad’s crossing of the Alleghenies.

Monday, July 3rd, 2000 (cont.)

On arrival in Altoona, we retrieved our checked bag and took a taxi to the Hertz facility. The latter proved to be somewhat further away from the station than we had been told, and Hertz didn’t actually reimburse taxi fare, but no matter, those weren’t factors in our choice. This facility is a disaster area on a holiday weekend, and renting our car took over an hour. (Returning it a week later only took five minutes, with the regular staff rather than holiday staff, but Tom suggested to us during our stay that future rentals should be made in Johnstown rather than Altoona.)

After a belated lunch, we visited the Altoona Railroaders’ Memorial Museum. There is a combination ticket that covers both this museum, and access to Horseshoe Curve within a 24-hour period, but since it was raining, and we were told we could upgrade later, we chose to take just the tickets for the Altoona museum. This museum does a very good job of covering the history of the PRR in the Altoona area (along with its predecessor the Allegheny Portage Railroad), along with railroad activities and traffic in the Altoona area during the PRR, particularly steam-powered, era. However, it was somewhat smaller than I had expected. Before leaving, we purchased the Railpace Guide to Horseshoe Curve, which included maps that would do a better job of getting us around than the Altoona area maps I had printed from the Street Maps CD-ROM.

Once I had belatedly realized that the railroad we needed to be Northwest of was the Hollidaysburg branch, and not the main line, we found our way our of Altoona and along to Horseshoe Curve. Since it was still raining, we chose not to stop and continued along to Gallitzin/Tunnelhill and Cresson, choosing also not to stop at the tunnels at this point. At the Station Inn, we met Tom, took temporary possession of the loaner materials, and were shown to the PRR room/suite. (All of the accommodations at the Station Inn have railroad names, and are decorated in terms of the classic color schemes of those railroads. Thus, the PRR room is decorated in a Tuscan Red theme.) Our rooms turned out to have a nice corner position, with the end window giving a good view along the line westward (geographically SSW), with the front windows providing views of the trains as they passed right in front of the Inn. Because of this, we spent most of our local viewing time in the room, rather than on the porch which gives good passing view, but poorer views along the track. (Light levels for reading our books were also better in the room.)

After unpacking, we drove around the immediate area, including Gallitzin and new Portage tunnels, the Cresson viewing platform (great for photographs, but no seating on the platform itself), and around to the engine terminal directly across the tracks from the viewing platform, where the helper locomotive sets on both West and East Slopes are based. During this drive, we also located the “MO” control point (where there used to be a tower), the junctions and reversing loop just West of Gallitzin (“AR” and “UN”), and the fact that there were four tracks (with an additional lightly-used track numbered “0”) between MO and UN/AR, with only three tracks to the East and West of those points. Our Conrail ETT shows the numbering of those tracks to be from “1” on the South to “3” on the North, with (as we found out) most eastbound traffic on Track 1, most Westbound traffic on Track 3, and the Amtrak and some higher-speed freight either direction on Track 2.

After locating the places where Tom had told us we could buy coffee, sodas, and fast food (which would be our lunch and dinner for most of the next week), we spent the rest of the day observing trains from both room and porch. WE see both evening Amtrak trains as well as several freights of varying kinds. (Amtrak runs two pairs of trains across this line, which happen to provide one of each pair crossing just east of Altoona in late morning, and again in early/mid evening. The trains thus pass Cresson in two groups, 40 & 43 in late morning/noonish and 44 & 41 in the evening, within 90 minute spans, with the evening trains generally before the light has completely gone, here in the first week of July.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2000

We had expected that railroad activity would be light than usual on the Fourth, but from the number of trains going by and the comments on them at breakfast, it became clear that this wasn’t going to be the case. In fact, as we later realized from the train logs we kept (starting, unfortunately, only on the 5th—our activity records for the 4th comprise photographs only), what was important for railroad activity levels was not the actual day of operations, but the days of business for the offered traffic, especially the kinds of package traffic that fill the trailers and containers on the high-priority intermodal trains. Since Monday was a normal workday for many businesses, the traffic on Tuesday, the actual holiday, was relatively normal on both Norfolk Southern intermodal freights and Amtrak MHVs, box cars, and Roadrailers, whereas the traffic in those areas on Wednesday (all day) and Thursday (morning) was much lighter than what is apparently normal in this area.

Today was sunny, so we went down to Horseshoe Curve, via the old road along the South side of the tracks from Tunnelhill past Bennington and then around to the same road up to the curve as the previous day, before our 24-hour upgrade possibility expired. Not many people must purchase tickets at the Altoona Museum, and upgrade at the Curve, since the staff at the Curve didn’t know how to handle to upgrade. (Of course, this might just be the result of holiday staffing.) There is a funicular railway up to trackside, so we didn’t have to climb the 350ft. The vegetation at trackside has grown to the point that the historical views of trains approaching and receding (and even spanning the curve) are no longer possible, with the residual effect being little different from any road crossing along the railway. However, it does have the “atmosphere” of being at Horseshoe Curve, and we were glad we had made the visit. Although we stayed long enough the photograph the westbound Amtrak Pennsylvanian (Train 43), we found actual train observation and photography to be more rewarding elsewhere.

Because we still weren’t fully convinced that traffic levels warranted being trackside at photogenic locations on the holiday, we spent the rest of the day observing and photographing from our room windows. During this time period, it occurred to me that I should capture some of the train details, including what I heard on the scanner, but didn’t actually start to do so until Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 5th, 2000

Today’s activities started at the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historical Site, located at the crest of the series of inclined planes, just east of Cresson and south of Gallitzin/Tunnelhill. The APR dates from the “canal period” of US transportation history, and was built to connect between water transport on the Juniata river system to the east (at Hollidaysburg) and Conemaugh river system to the west. The APR comprised a pair of tracks that alternated between relatively level sections, where cars were pulled by horses, and inclined planes, which were rope-worked using stationary steam engines at the top of each incline. The cars carried segments of barges that traveled on the water on the canal segments, were disassembled to run on the APR, and then reassembled at the other side.

Naturally, as soon as technology permitted, this cumbersome system was replaced by a continuous railroad built with sufficiently low grades to permit adhesion running with locomotives and cars over the entire distance.

During our visit to the APR MHS, we went around the museum, walked down to the reproduction engine house located exactly at the tope of the ridge where the original had been (and exposing the remains of the original, and walked down a path alongside the highest eastern inclined plane to the location of the skew bridge (which still exists) that carried the original highway over the APR. This walk, especially back uphill, really gave us a feel for the length and grade of the inclined plane.

After leaving the APR NHS, we started on our investigation of the photogenic sties on the West Slope (below Cresson, that is, having already been to those above Cresson). Carney’s crossing was accessible, but looked even more like “a crossing in Ohio” (Tom’s words for Horseshoe’s current condition) than did Horseshoe itself. A couple of locations in Lilly were also accessible, but not interesting enough to sit at for any period of time. The overlook at Cassandra looked very promising, including picnic tables and benches (provided by “the mayor”, whom I met and who has visitors sign his visitors book each day they’re there), but we needed to find somewhere for lunch and the light would be wrong by the time we’d had lunch. After lunch in Portage, we proceeded on westward on highway 53 through Summerhill to South Fork, then over the hill to the southwest into Johnstown. From Johnstown we came back past Conemaugh yard and various mills (where I photographed some mill ‘critters’), over the hills to the north, down to the railroad again at Mineral Point, then back up on the hills again to South Fork. Many of the places shown as photogenic were certainly so, but the train traffic was so light that we didn’t wait around at any of them for a train to pass.

At this point, we decided to return to the Inn, where I started the operations log as we watched, logged, and photographed the trains passing Cresson for the rest of the day. In very short order, we found it hard for one person to both photograph the front and rear locos and log/count the entire train. So, I took the photographs and wrote down the details, while Chris called out the locomotive numbers, counted the cars, and noted the types of cars. After dark, we took no photographs and both of us tried capturing the loco. numbers, not always with complete success. Throughout the entire process, we had both a Norfolk Southern locomotive roster and a Conrail Employee Timetable, covering the area around Cresson, close at hand.

Thursday, July 6th, 2000

This morning, we returned to Cassandra to spend several hours at the overlook. Again, the mayor was there and this time Chris signed his book. Traffic was higher than Wednesday, but not yet back to Tuesday’s standard. As the good light moved away from Cassandra, we moved on to look at the are by the hotbox detector in Portage, which was interesting but not a place to just sit and wait. Instead, we head for Gallitzin, where we try to find the east end of the tunnels, following Tom’s oral instructions. We apparently find the right dirt road, but there’s a mud puddle in which we get stuck until Chris gets out and helps push the car backward until it breaks free. I had tried to steer the rear wheels to the dry patches, only to discover that this car has front wheel drive! L I choose not to try again, and we return to the paved road, get some lunch at a grocery store, and eat it at the picnic tables at the Railroad Park (where the caboose is) in Gallitzin. A maintenance window is just ending on one of the tracks in, or to the east of, the Gallitzin tunnel, so we don’t see any trains (except a helper set), but do see several pieces of MoW equipment exiting the tunnel on Track 3.

After a visit to the caboose at the Gallitzin Railroad Park, we returned to the Station Inn to wash the car L, and watch, log, and photograph traffic. Doing this, during this week, we found we were able to hear both the Portage detector at MP 258.9 and the closer one at MP 253.1 (Cresson is at 251.1), as well as crews calling various signals as Eastbound trains approached. It took us somewhat longer to catch on to the signs of approaching Westbounds, but eventually we found that we could hear the crews calling signals at MO (about half a mile east of us). This wasn’t as useful as it might have been, since about half the trains stopped at MO to remove the helpers from the rear of the train (the other took the helpers through to Conemaugh), making the time from hearing the signal called until the train passed us more than somewhat variable. It also took us a while to recognize that some horn sounds were helpers moving around the terminal across the tracks (but out of our sight) that were not presaging the passage of a westbound train.

At one point, it took over 20 minutes for a train approaching from the West to cover the two miles from the MP 253.1 detector. This proved to be “just two pushers lollygagging their way up the hill”, as Chris put it.

When I removed the scanner from house power at the end of the evening, it stopped working completely, and this time no amount of jiggling the power input socket would restore it, as it had several previous times since we got to Cresson. Thus, we would need to buy a new scanner on Friday.

Friday, July 7th, 2000 (after the WMSR and Sand Patch)

We get back to the Inn just before dark, but in time to see the two evening Amtrak trains and a number of freights. Chris is tired, and goes to bed early, while I program the new scanner so that it more or less matches the channels we had had programmed into the old one. I also log the passing trains (but not their car counts) until bedtime.

Saturday, July 8th, 2000  (after the EBT.)

On the way back to the Inn, we decide to drive by the Altoona NS (née-PRR) locomotive works, just to say we did so. This was interesting, but resulted in no photographs. We found our way back out of Altoona with no trouble, this time. We’re back at the Inn by late afternoon, and again spend the evening watching and logging passing trains. I notice that I can now hear train crews calling signals in the are of the Portage detector, which I hadn’t noticed before, and that I can hear train crews calling UN to the east of us which I’m pretty sure hadn’t happened before. Is the new scanner that much more sensitive, or do I just have the squelch (signal threshold) set differently? I don’t know.

Sunday, July 9th, 2000

This was our last full day in Cresson. Although we chose not to leave the immediate area, we did go up and take a look around at the Route 53 overcrossing, where there are 4/5 tracks, and take another look at the Cresson engine terminal from the viewing platform. Some of the locomotives on view this day were the Conrail “milk mustache” SD80MACs. In addition, we repack the suitcases and log the passing trains until bedtime.

Traffic Analysis for July 5th to July 9th, 2000

Analysis of the traffic patterns we’ve seen and logged shows, in summary, that the number of trains per hour was low on Wednesday, increased as the week went by, but decreased again on Sunday. (Without the data to hand, it seemed to us that the number of trains on Tuesday was quite a bit higher than on Wednesday.)

Wednesday, July 5th

18 trains in 7.5 hours

2.4 trains per hour

Thursday, July 6th (morning)

10trains in 35 hours

2.9 trains per hour

Thursday, July 6th (evening)

18 trains in 6 hours

3.0 trains per hour

Friday, July 7th

13 trains in 2  hours

6.5 trains per hour[1]

Saturday, July 8th

23 trains in 6 hours

3.9 trains per hour

Sunday, July 9th

37 trains in 12.5 hours

3.0 trains per hour

Of the symboled trains that we recorded twice (all westbound), three of them were much longer on Saturday or Sunday than they had been on Wednesday, while one was shorter on Sunday than it had been on Thursday. 

Train 11K

88 on Wed.

107 on Sun.

Train 13W

88 on Wed.

159 on Sun.

Train 21C

35 on Wed.

71 on Sat.

Train 22W

55 on Thurs.

43 on Sun.

The traffic log itself is in an Appendix, along with details of the locomotives and symboled trains observed and charts analyzing the data in additional ways.

Visits to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, CSX’s ex B&O Sand Patch Grade, and the East Broad Top Railroad

Friday, July 7th, 2000

In addition to Horseshoe Curve, one of our primary reasons for spending some time in the Alleghenies was to visit the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s steam-powered tourist line from Cumberland to Frostburg, Maryland. Accordingly, this morning finds us headed won the Bud Shuster highway, south from the Cresson area to Cumberland. After an hour on this totally unnecessary controlled-access highway, we pass under the Pennsylvania Turnpike. South of the Turnpike, the road to Cumberland becomes a standard two-lane country road! Entering Cumberland, the road becomes two one-way streets, and drops down off the hills into town. We cross over the ex-B&O at Baltimore Street, turn East and after a few blocks see the old Western Maryland depot on our right. We park, go in, and buy our tickets for the round-trip to Frostburg, then patronize the souvenir store.

We have some time to spend before the train will be ready to board, so we go outside onto the platforms. There are some cars and diesels here, as static exhibits, which occupy some time, but what we’ve really come for is the train ride. soon we hear the steam locomotive and its train approaching from the yard across the Potomac river. The train pulls into the platform, and we board along with the rest of the near sellout crowd. At the appointed time, the train departs for Frostburg.

WM Scenic Route Description

Scenic points are described by the on-board commentator until the train reaches its destination. In Frostburg, we watch the locomotive being turned on the turntable, then climb up the long sloping roadway into town, where we have Chinese food for lunch. Returning to the station area, we patronize the curio shops, buying some cat-related items for Chris. The return journey is over the same route as the outward, with the difference that it is all downhill!

Once we get back to Cumberland, it’s time to look for a Radio Shack, and a gas station. The directions we’re given to a shopping center take us too far out of town (almost to Frostburg), but eventually we find the shopping center (and the Radio Shack). Equipped with our new scanner, we get gas and a cold drink, and program in the needed CSX channels (I’ll do the proper programming back at the Station Inn), then head through the narrows and north to Hyndman to start our visit to the Sand Patch grade.

Sand Patch Route Description

I’ve brought some computer-generated maps of the area, which help us to turn West at Hyndman and find our way to trackside (almost) along Will’s Creek, East of Fairhope. After watching a train climbing the hill here, we carry on the Fairhope, then turn away from the paved highway (our computerized maps don’t tell us which roads are paved!) and head over the hill to Foley Narrows, where we photograph the same train again (from on high), then come back down to the tracks, cross over them, and make our way to Mance. Along the way, we see a 4-wheel drive SUV with all the railfan trimmings (including 3 antennae) that seems to be unwilling to drive the same dirt roads that we’re driving in our standard rental sedan. At Mance, we find the farmer’s crossing, but give up on it when it appears the freight has passed. We return when we hear Amtrak 30(!) on the radio, greeting the freight. At Mance, we again see the WB freight train (which thus had met an eight-hour late Amtrak 30 (EB Capitol Limited) to the East of here). Heading off West again, we’re soon at Sand Patch summit, in time to see the same freight cutting off its helpers and departing westward. We follow it down to Meyersdale, then turn North for our return to Cresson, since darkness is rapidly falling. The road North follows the tracks down the broadening Casselman river valley for awhile, then diverges and we see it no more. The limited-access highway (US 219) northward is another road of doubtful value.

Saturday, July 8th, 2000

At breakfast, today, we discover that Tom Davis has been unaware of the dirt roads leading from Fairhope up to the Foley Narrows overlook and down again to the track further West. We show him the computerized maps, so that he can check this out for himself when he has the time.

Another of our primary reasons for visiting this area was to go to the East Broad Top railroad, both in its current manifestation as a tourist train north from Rockhill Furnace, PA, but also in the historical artifacts remaining in the workshops area at Rockhill and the coal-mining town of Robertsdale, almost on the top of Broad Top Mountain. Today, we head east through Hollidaysburg (past the old PRR, now NS car shops), Huntingdon, and Mount Union, to Orbisonia and Rockhill. At Mount Union, we turn away from the ex-Pennsylvania main line and start to follow the 3-foot gauge East Broad Top line up the Aughwick Creek valley. In Orbisonia, we turn off the main road, cross a subsidiary creek into Rockhill Furnace, and arrive at the EBT’s Orbisonia station.

The time is approaching 11 am, time for the first train of the day, and steam locomotive #17 is already making up its train. By the time we have our tickets, the train is at the platform, and we board at the only set of steps available. The coach these lead to turns out to be full—an arriving bus load of tourists has taken up just about all of the available space. So, we hang on to the handrails while the locomotive sets the stock back across the crossing, adds another couple of cars to the front, and pulls back across the crossing into the platform. At this point, we get down and transfer to the open car, two cars forward. As soon as everyone is seated, the train departs.

EBT Route Description

 The train is turned and then stops at the Colgate Grove picnic ground for about 15 minutes, then sets off for the return journey to Orbisonia, which retraces our steps. At Orbisonia, the train passes the station and turns east on the wye track by the old shops. The stub of the wye is near the shops of  the Rockhill Trolley Museum, and some of the track has three rails covering both narrow and standard gauges.

Our train reverses around the south leg of the wye, which takes us back through the EBT shops, past lines of coal hoppers and shop buildings, most of which have remained untouched since the railroad closed in April, 1956. (The current operations have been run by the family that bought the assets of the railroad, ostensibly to scrap it, since 1960.) Adjacent to the still operable (and in use for coaling the locomotives) coaling facilities, the train again reverses direction and pulls forward into the station.

The public is free to wander around the shop facilities, which we do. In addition to the operable turntable, roundhouse, and coaling facilities, there are machine shops, other repair shops, spare wheelsets and tires, and lines of freight cars, all pretty much as they were in 1956. The machine shop still has a complete set of locomotive repair facilities, including wheel lathe, cylinder boring lathe, axle lathe and wheel press (among other more conventional machines of the era), all driven by belts from overhead wheels and pulleys from a steam-driven central drive. None of this has operated since 1956.

After visiting all of the EBT facilities, we take a look at the adjacent shops and “museum” dedicated to standard gauge trolleys. The folks at the Rockhill Trolley Museum don’t seem very interested in us, at least while today’s operating trolley is out on its five mile excursion, so even though the trolley returns before we leave, we pass up the trolley ride in favor of a visit to Robertsdale, further up the mountain. After a couple of missteps and wrong turns, we enter Robertsdale from a different direction from the one we had intended, which is fortunate since this brings us to the Coal Mining Museum that we otherwise would not have encountered. This museum is in an old cinema, which still has to old projection equipment, screen, and some of the seats in place, as well as museum items around the auditorium and in a newly-constructed balcony (that would prevent the water-cooled projectors from ever again imaging on the screen).

Based on some exhibits in the museum, we set out on foot behind the museum, across the new footbridge across the creek, to look at the remains of the facilities of the Robertsdale Iron and Coal Company. This company closed down in April 1956, also, directly leading to the demise of the railroad whose only purpose was to bring its products down off Broad Top mountain to the mainline railroad at Mt. Union.

There is still track among the trees, along with visible piles of coal where the loading facilities used to be. We walk through the old yards, now deeply wooded, until we come out of the woods adjacent to a building that just has to be the EBT Depot. Sure enough, there are a couple of the “Friends of the EBT” at work there, one of whom takes us back into the woods to show us the old engine house trackage, including inspection pits. Another one-time EBT building houses the local Post Office, but the EBT Company Store has now been demolished. (An exhibit in the Coal Mining Museum shows the demolition as it took place, as well as the parlous state of the building before demolition.) We’re also shown around the “Friends”’ museum in the Depot building.

By now, it’s mid-afternoon, and we haven’t had lunch. We stop at Millie’s Diner in the next town north over the Broad Top Mountain, based on a listing I’d seen at the Coal Mining Museum, then head North along the West side of the mountain and cross over the next ridge to the West, back into Hollidaysburg and Altoona (see above).

Transition from the Mountains to the Shore

Monday, July 10th, 2000

This is departure day from the Station Inn, so we move our belongings out of the PRR room and into our rental car, get the requisite amount of fuel in the tank, and head for Altoona, where we return the car and take a taxi down to the station. There’s still over an hour before our train is due, so Chris settles down in the waiting area to read, and I go over the footbridge from the adjacent bus terminal to sit on a bench up on the other side of the tracks and watch the trains go by. I return in time for the station staff to open their footbridge, to the platform, and we go out onto the platform to await the train. It’s along shortly, about 15 minutes late. We board and find our room. (I should note that Trains 40 and 41 have “heritage” sleepers—the old 10 roomette, 6 bedroom cars that served Amtrak for over 25 years, and their original owners for 25-30 years before that.) We settle in for the five hour trip to Philadelphia; the conductor comes by to collect our tickets, and then Chris goes to the café car to get our complimentary lunch.

Consist:

P42                  48

P40                  821

P42                  102

8 MHVs

Baggage

Sleeper                        2466

Café

3 Coaches

12 roadrailers

The roadrailers (and MHVs?) were removed in Harrisburg

Train 40, 7-10-2000

Schedule

Actual

Altoona

11:20 am

11:36 am

Huntingdon

12:06 pm

12:31 pm
12:33 pm

Lewistown

12:47 pm

1:12 pm
1:15 pm

Harrisburg

2:16 pm
2:31 pm

2:26 pm
2:44 pm

Lancaster

3:24 pm

3:21 pm
3:23 pm

Paoli

4:13 pm

4:11 pm
4:14 pm

Philadelphia      arr.

4:52 pm

4:43 pm

As we arrived in Philadelphia, we could see both an Acela Express trainset and some of the new locomotives for Acela Regional service in the yard just North of 30th Street station. During the layover in Philadelphia, I had thought to venture outside of 30th Street Station, but it only took two steps outside (at 5:30pm) to show that the atmosphere was very hot and very humid in Philadelphia that day. It later transpired that there had been a deadly 3-day heat-wave along the whole Northeast coast. Thankfully, the heat had abated by Tuesday morning, and remained in abeyance throughout our stay in Stamford. Our Northeast Corridor (NEC) train is along on time, and we take our seats in the Business Class car at the rear of the train.

Consist:

AEM-7             912

Coach              21149

Coach              82506

Coach              82062

Coach              21658

Coach              44183

Café/Business  20140

Private Car     800712 Silver Quail
(from NYC)

Train 178, 7-10-2000

Schedule

Actual

Philadelphia

7:35 pm
7:49 pm

7:35 pm
7:49 pm

Trenton

8:17 pm

8:22 pm

Metropark

8:41 pm

8:47 pm

Newark

8:57 pm

9:00 pm
9:03 pm

New York City

9:15 pm
9:40 pm

9:16 pm
9:42 pm

Stamford

10:25 pm

10:28 pm

Northeast Corridor and New Haven to Springfield Route Description

We’re served our complimentary dinner and settle down for the quick run up the NEC. It’s dark, now, so there’s not much to see once we get through urban Philadelphia and across the Delaware into Trenton. Soon enough, we go through Newark, cross the New Jersey meadowlands and dive into the Hudson River tunnel. There’s a long stop in Pennsylvania Station, New York City, during which I walk the train and note the consist. (The 82xxx numbers denote cars that have been refurbished for the Acela Regional electric service to Boston.) During the NYC stop, private car Silver Quail, once part of the original California Zephyr train between Chicago and Oakland, is added to the rear of the train. Then we’re off, out of the East River tunnel onto Long Island, then over Hell Gate Bridge onto the mainland again. At New Rochelle, we pin the original New Haven route from Grand Central, pass through several stations served only by Metro-North stoppers, and arrive in Stamford.

One of the features of summer 2000 Stamford was revealed, at least in part, during our taxi ride over the three block from the station to the Marriott hotel—life-size, colorfully-painted plastic cows, each differently painted and adorned with embellishments.

Connecticut Passenger Railroading and the NRHS Convention

Tuesday, July 11th, 2000

This morning, we visit the Convention Registration desk, where we get our event tickets and goodie bag. The latter includes schedules for the Metro-North Railroad’s various lines, as well as a map of the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority’s subway and commuter lines (which includes Metro-North, but not the Long Island or New Jersey lines except for those running into New York State west of the Hudson).

Since the first convention event doesn’t start until 3pm, we use the intervening time to go into Manhattan to see the refurbished Grand Central Terminal. This means that we eat lunch at GCT, and discover how expensive even fast food is in Manhattan. At first, we think this might simply be due to the location in GCT, but as the week goes on it transpires that fast food is similarly priced in the mall across the street from the hotel in Stamford. L  The refurbishments at GCT have restored the inside of the terminal building to its original state, removing dirt and paint or plaster covering the ceiling decoration in both the main concourse and the dining concourse, then retouching the details in their original color schemes. The result is quite beautiful. In addition, the Kodak exhibit booth, that had been on one of the end balconies since the 1950s, has been removed and both balconies are now clear of artifacts and fully accessible.

“1551”, 7-11-2000

Schedule

Actual

Stamford

10:56 AM

10:56 AM

125th Street

11:33 AM

11:33 AM

Grand Central

11:44 AM

11:44 AM

“1530”, 7-11-2000

Schedule

Actual

Grand Central

1:07 PM

1:08 PM

125th Street

1:17 PM

1:18 PM

Stamford

1:51 PM

1:50 PM

Metro North Route Descriptions

The train rides into and out of GCT provide our first exposure to the trains and operations of Metro-North. The timetable on the New Haven Line, where Stamford is located, provides for both Express and Local Service, which in the off-peak operates on an hourly pattern, with some half-hourly services. In each iteration, Stamford is an interchange point between services to/from New Haven that run express between Stamford and Manhattan (125th St. and GCT), and local services that start at Stamford and serve every station into GCT. Inbound, the express precedes the local at the same platform. Outbound, the terminating local precedes the continuing express. Additionally, there is an hourly shuttle on the New Canaan branch that originates in Stamford. (In the peak period, there is both much more services on the mainline and the branch trains run all the way to/from GCT.)

All of the stations on the New Haven line have four tracks running through them, but only two platforms on the outermost tracks. The provision of four tracks makes it possible for the express services to overtake slower local stopping services, permitting the latter to stop at all stations without impeding the progress of the expresses. This is even more important during the rush period than it is during the off-peak period when we traveled. One problem with this arrangement is that express trains must switch from center to outer tracks to stop at Stamford and other stations at which interchange takes place, and that the locals have to wait outside Stamford (etc.) for late running expresses to arrive and use the same platform the local must use. It also prevents a two-way interchange of passengers. Congestion at Stamford is increased by the need to accommodate Amtrak trains at that same pair of platforms.

The solution to this is to have platforms at all four tracks, in stations such as Stamford. Modifications to permit this are underway in Stamford, which is intended to have “dual island platforms” that will permit the expresses and locals to be in the platforms simultaneously, and for two-way interchange of passengers to occur. Making these changes in an operating station with the current level of traffic is obviously a difficult operation. So far, the changes are further along on the inbound (more northerly) platform, which is close to having two platform faces as well as a bay at the eastern end for the New Canaan shuttles, while the outbound side has a new (temporary?) platform nearly complete, set further back from the tracks than the current (equally temporary?) platform. Moving the active track to the platform further back will permit construction of a new outbound island platform where the current outbound platform and local track are located. This is probably the best that can be done at Stamford to improve capacity.

The New Haven line of Metro-North has a number of branches, two of which we will cover in NRHS excursions this week, and the third of which (to New Canaan) we will cover by ourselves, but in the company of other NRHS conventioneers, at the end of one of the week’s excursions. (The shortness of the branch makes this a viable proposition.) Naturally, as the junctions with each of the branches are reached, the remaining peak period traffic on the main line thins out and traffic capacity becomes less of a problem.

On our return to Stamford, I find I’m in an impromptu photo line with Alex Mayes, and further up the platform we run into Whayne McGinniss and Wes Ross. One of the delights of NRHS Conventions is catching up with old friends; year after year we spend time with the same people in completely different settings. (Later in the day, we’ll find that Bob & Diane Heavenrich and Alex & Teresa are setting next to us on the upper deck of the river cruise boat, with Whayne, his wife Margie and grandson Eric also on that deck.)

Mid-afternoon, we board buses for the road trip to Essex, Connecticut, where our first excursion train awaits. Essex is the home of the Valley Railroad, which operates a steam excursion service on a former New Haven branchline. The road trip up the Connecticut turnpike (no longer a tollroad) is slow, due to the usual heavy traffic in later afternoon, but this had been built into the schedule. We arrive at Essex with plenty of time to patronize the souvenir shop before its time for our train. In fact, the train isn’t back from its regular afternoon excursion, when we arrive. There’s plenty of static rolling stock to examine while we wait, and when we hear the train approaching, a number of us position ourselves on the sunny side of the tracks to capture its arrival for posterity. We stay on the sunny side while the locomotive runs around the train, then cross the track and board. (Those who had remained on the platform are already on the train.)

Valley Railroad Route Description

The train moves off at the appointed time. Several hundred yards along (less than a mile), there is an open meadow on the left. Here, we’ll be doing our photo runby for the day, since the meadow is on the sunny side of the train. The photographers detrain (on the opposite side of the train, since that’s the only side the doors will open on), then cross the track after the train has backed up. The photo line forms along a line of trees at an appropriate angle, and the train comes charging through the scene. While we’re taking our pictures, a number of us notice that there’s a large wild turkey in the middle of the meadow, watching us!

Valley Railroad, 7-11-2000

Actual

Essex

6:01 PM

“The Meadow”

6:04 PM
6:24 PM

Goodspeed

6:55 PM

Riverboat Landing

7:21 PM

Riverboat cruise

7:35 PM
9:40 PM

Riverboat Landing

9;50 PM

Essex

10:05 PM

We reboard and travel to the very end of the track controlled by the Valley Railroad, then reverse to the platform used by those taking the train/cruise option, as we’re doing tonight. Our buffet dinner is aboard the river boat docked at the adjacent landing stage. When everyone is aboard the boat, it pulls out and heads upstream, past Gillette’s “castle”, built by an actor in the first half of the 20th century, and the adjacent cross-river ferry, and up to a road bridge that prevents further passage upstream. Then we head downstream, well beyond our starting point, all the while eating dinner and engaging in good conversation with friends we haven’t seen since last year’s convention. When we return to the landing stage, it’s completely dark, so our train ride back to Essex is uninterrupted by further photography, and the bus ride back to Stamford is quicker than the ride out, even though we’re delayed by bridge-widening work along the turnpike. On our return to the hotel, we’re soon asleep.

Wednesday, July 12th, 2000

Today, the mileage collectors who don’t otherwise attend NRHS are out in force. We sit near Rich Copeland and John Harmon, in part to hear what they have to say to each other, and to Ed Graham and Dave Ingles, who are both (separately) nearby. The trainset on both Wednesday and Thursday is from Metro-North, and thus has no facilities for brewing coffee (since the loco-hauled stock has no bar car). Since we’re also given only three minutes in the busy timetable at Stamford to board and load the train, only a limited quantity of cold drinks and snacks can be loaded.

Consist:

FL-9    CDoT 2027

FL-9    CDoT 2016

Metro-North Coaches

U25B   NYNH&H 2525 on rear, at museum

Runbys:

RS-3     NYNH&H 529

GP-9   B&M 1732

NRHS, 7-12-2000

Actual

Stamford

10:05 AM

Devon Jct.

10:36 AM

Waterbury

11:19 AM
11:30 AM

Thomaston

12:10 PM
12:12 PM

Torrington

12:50 PM
1:11 PM

Thomaston

1:51 PM
2:54 PM

Chase Bridge

3:10 PM
4:07 PM

Waterbury switch

4:28/30 PM

Stamford

6:03 PM

Today, we’re traveling over the Metro-North (ex-New Haven) Waterbury branch. This branch is not electrified, so our train comprises a set of Metro-North locomotive-hauled cars (including a cab-car for push-pull working), led by two Metro-North FL-9 electro-diesels. This trainset has worked an early morning service into Grand Central, so we must await its return. It’s later than expected, and will arrive after a Metro-North express and an Amtrak train for Boston (one of the two Acela Regional workings). All of these trains are using the express tracks, so cannot pass one another. Regular passengers for the other two trains are somewhat confused by the presence of so many people on the outbound platform.

The assembled excursionists cheer when we see that our FL-9s are those painted in the New Haven color scheme from the 1960s. We board and set off with some urgency. Inbound rush hour is now over, so we are routed along the northernmost of the two express tracks, the one normally used for NYC-bound expresses. Somewhere along the way through Norwalk, we pass the Metro-North outbound train, now stopping at some intermediate stations. Chris heads off to the car in which Mia Mather and Carl Jensen are handling the snack operation, and returns with soft drinks, reporting the bad news about the inability to provide coffee on the train. I note that I will take appropriate precautions (getting coffee in the Stamford station) for Thursday. We pass the junction with the Danbury branch, where we will be going on Thursday, and turn off onto the Waterbury branch at Devon Junction. Train speed on the branch is much slower than on the mainline, especially since there’s track work being done. We see a Waterbury shuttle (two cars plus an FL-9) going the other way. Approaching Waterbury, we see the freight yard that is still served by a Guilford (Springfield Terminal) freight service from Hartford, and then come to a stop at the Waterbury Metro-North station.

Waterbury used to be the brass capital of the USA. On hearing this, one of the mileage collectors suggests that this must be where one of the other mileage collectors “got his”. He wasn’t referring to mileage! Today, while there are one or two brass factories remaining, the town is mostly run-down. In fact, the station is clearly in a very bad part of town, to judge by all the razor wire around it.

Naugatuck Railroad Route Description

The track north of here belongs to the Naugatuck Railroad, which is associated with the Naugatuck Railroad Museum, our destination for today. But first, after obtaining permission to enter the track, we proceed all the way to the end of the track at Torrington. This is the track that the mileage collectors are here for! Our box lunches (having been loaded at a brief stop at the museum’s site at Thomaston) are served and eaten along this section of track, part of which cross the face of a dam. At Torrington, a museum locomotive (a New-Haven painted GE U-boat) hooks on the rear of our train, and hauls us back to the site of the actual museum, which is at Thomaston, a former station site along the line. The depot building is nicely restored and contains a few interesting artifacts, but what we’ve come to see are the restored locomotives and cars.

The locomotive attached to our train is painted in the same New Haven scheme as the Metro-North FL-9s. It is placed for static photographs, then reversed to the North and does a photo runby. After it has gone past towards the South, someone asks about photographing the FL-9s, so the same trainset does a runby to the North. The museum’s passenger train is then brought out, led by an Alco RS-3 in New Haven colors, with some restored New Haven heavyweight cars behind it. Again, we take static shots and then have a runby. Next, the same sequence is followed with the museum’s demonstration freight train, a Geep in Boston & Maine colors with several restored freight cars and a B&M-painted caboose behind it.

Our excursion train is brought back into the platform, we board and the train moves several miles south to a very scenic location where the track crosses a river (Chase Bridge). Here, we get out and take positions along the river bank, facing the bridge, and again we have runbys from the museum’s passenger and freight trains (composed exactly as before). While this is happening, the excursion train is to the South of us. After all of the museum equipment has moved back to the North, our train returns, we board, and head off southward, this time being driven from the cab car (with the FL-9s pushing). All of the activities at the museum have been very well executed. Our thanks go to the museum volunteers for their efforts in providing us with these runbys, and for the beautifully-restored equipment.

Approaching Waterbury, we have to wait while the Guilford freight turn clears the track before we can enter Metro-North territory. When we do so, we see the Guilford freight in the yard. The return to Stamford is at track speed, we’re admonished to exit the train within the same three minute time span that we boarded it, we do so, and Chris & I walk back to the hotel (as we had walked over in the morning and the previous day). After checking the prices at the hotel coffee shop, we elect to eat at a fast-food operation in the enclosed mall across the street.

Thursday, July 13th, 2000

Today we will first travel up the Danbury branch, visit the Danbury Railroad Museum, and then travel in reverse over the ex-New Haven Maybrook branch as far West as it sill exists, dropping down to the ex-New York Central’s Hudson River line, where our train reverses again and returns to Stamford via the Hudson line, a connecting track at the junction with the New Haven line beside the Harlem River, and then along the New Haven line itself.

Consist:

FL-9    CDoT 2027

FL-9    CDoT 2016

Metro-North Coaches

NRHS, 7-13-2000

Actual

Stamford

9:55 AM

Brook Tower

10:08 AM

Norwalk (Commerce St.)

10:13 AM
10:16 AM

Branchville

10:32 AM
11:06 AM

Danbury

11:25 AM
12:35 AM

Hopewell Junction

2:29 PM
3:00 PM

Beacon

3:45 PM
4:19 PM

Mott Haven

5:34 PM
5:52 PM

Woodlawn Junction

6:01/03 PM

(WB along track 1)

6:32/40 PM

Stamford

6:43 PM

Our start this morning has exactly the same arrangements as the previous day, but this time our trainset is on time, ahead of the Acela Regional at Stamford. We board quickly, and the train is soon moving.. Again, we switch over to the (normally) inbound express track, and this time we turn North on the Danbury branch at brook Tower. While this branchline isn’t quite as slow as the Waterbury line, it is still slower than the main New Haven line. At Commerce Street, we are delayed by a vehicle fouling the crossing. At Branchville, we wait in Hill siding for a Southbound Metro-North train to go by.

This time, we’re sitting in the car adjacent to the one with the snack operation. I observe that one reason the trains are going well, so far in this convention, is that Carl Jensen is actively involved in running them. Joe Williams, Convention Chair this year, will later confirm this in his remarks at the Annual Banquet on Friday evening. At Danbury, we pass through the Metro-North minimal station and stop at the old Danbury depot, at the junction of the Danbury branch and the Maybrook line that is now the railroad museum building.

The Danbury Railroad Museum covers a much larger area, and has a much large collection than does the Naugatuck, but very little of the rolling stick has been restored to operating condition, none of it to the high level of quality seen at the other museum the previous day. Here, we have plenty of time to walk the grounds, looking at all of the equipment stored in the open, unprotected against the elements (and the elements in Connecticut are much more brutal than those in Southern California), observing a locomotive being turned on the operating turntable, and so on. While walking among the lines of cars, I meet Gary Kazin, from New Jersey, whose name I know from the Railroad e-mail list.

While the conventioneers are visiting the museum’s artifacts, our train has pulled forward from the Danbury branch onto the Maybrook Line and is awaiting departure time to reverse into the Maybrook Line platform at the museum/depot. (It can’t simply wait in the platform, because it would block a street crossing if it did so. In fact, a police cruiser is present at the crossing when the train does come in for loading.) When the train is loaded, it pulls East to clear the switch again, then reverses West towards Hopewell Junction. Box lunches are distributed and eaten.

At Hopewell Junction we do photo runbys, and then head down what was originally a branch, but now is the only way forward, that drops down the hill until it reaches the Hudson Line at river level, In Beacon, NY. Before joining the ex-NYC line, we have to wait for a couple of Metro-North and Amtrak trains to pass, then we pull out northward and stop in a station platform to reverse once again. Then we have to wait while another Metro-North train and two southbound Amtrak trains (one a late Lakeshore Limited) pass us. Once we do get started, we have a fast run down the Hudson, under the Bear Mountain bridge, past the Metro-North shops at Croton-Harmon, past Spuyten-Duyvil, where the Amtrak trains diverge for Penn Station, along the Harlem River past Yankee Stadium to Mott Haven junction with the New Haven and Harlem lines. Here, and at Woodlawn Junction where the Harlem line diverges, we wait some time for peak period outbound traffic to have some breathing room, then enter the New Haven line for the dash to Stamford. We arrive in Stamford at the same platform we left this morning.

“1770”, 7-11-2000

Schedule

Actual

Stamford

6:51 PM
6:56 PM

6:51 PM
6:56 PM

New Canaan

7:13 PM

7:13 PM

“1787”, 7-11-2000

Schedule

Actual

New Canaan

7:30 PM

7:30 PM

Stamford

7:46 PM

7:47 PM

On our return to Stamford, a number of us take the opportunity to take the short ride up to New Canaan and back. The train we take from Stamford has come directly from GCT (it’s the main rush hour train to New Canaan), which has a bar car at the rear. This has been serving on the way out from GCT, but does not do so on our way back to Stamford, even though everyone in the small NRHS group sits in that car and converses with the engineer on the return trip. The branch to New Canaan is quite short, and we’re in the terminus just long enough to admire the restored stone depot building. Back in Stamford, we have fast food in the mall for dinner, again.

Friday, July 14th, 2000

Today is the day for seminars, board and annual meetings, and the annual banquet. No all day excursions have been permitted on banquet day since an excursion at the New Jersey Convention failed to return until after the banquet meal service was long over. However, half day excursions are permitted. Our preferred trip to see behind the scenes at GCT was unavailable (which is why we went to GCT on Tuesday), so we agree to go to the Shoreline Trolley Museum in Branford, just east of New Haven, instead. In retrospect, this was not a good idea, but we had no way to tell from the convention brochure that that would be the case.

That brochure told us there were two groups taking this trip, one leaving at 7:30 am, returning in time for the Board Meeting at 1pm., the second leaving at 8:30 am. We had no need to be at the Board Meeting, so we left it up to the convention folks which one to put us on. They picked the second group. Well, the second group grew to be more than a single busload, which was then set to depart at 9am or later, and thus be back to the hotel even later. No-one informed us of this fact, so when we walk down expecting to get on the second bus at 8:30, we’re perturbed to find it already full and no other bus in sight! When it finally does show up, we’re even more perturbed to hear that the bus captain (who was the bus manager for the entire convention) has decided that this bus will stop at a fast food joint on the way back, rather than returning directly to the hotel. The result of this is that we get back to the hotel too late to attend the Annual Meeting, at 3 pm, much less any part of the Board Meeting!

The trolleys? Yes, the museum has a nice setup, with some interesting cars that differ from those available at museums we have been to before. The train ahead of our first run down the line is having difficulties reattaching its trolley pole to the overhead, so we carry a long ladder along with us that permits the correction of the problem. We ride on car 629, from the Third Avenue Railway, and car 357 from the Johnstown Traction Company. However, we have traveled the length of the line (twice) and seen all the cars in the carbarns by 11 am.

It is quite annoying to have to wait as long as we do, and to have to stop off at a restaurant of someone else’s choosing, to come back on this unadvertised third section of the schedule. The bus captain? Well, he gave us no satisfaction (then), because he was too busy attending to his sister and her children, whom he had invited along on this third bus. (He did come up to me with apologies, the following day, however.)

We do manage to get to the railroadiana show, which is a real bust. There are only three or four stands, with nothing of interest to either of us.

At the banquet, we sit at the same table as Frances and Mike Mohr (at her request). This is Mike’s birthday, so Frances has arranged for a special cake to be served as dessert at our table. When it arrives, it is announced to the assembled company, much to Mike’s embarrassment. The featured speaker is from Metro-North and talks about the challenges of running a high-traffic commuter railroad. The Convention Chair, Joe Williams, acknowledges the help he had from Carl Jensen, and the Metro-North operations manager says that he knew he was in trouble, regarding these excursions, when Carl Jensen walked into his office!

Saturday, July 15th, 2000

Today’s excursion is going well beyond Metro-North territory, so the train, locomotives, and operations are provided by Amtrak. This does, at least, mean that there is coffee available, all day long. (In fact, we coincidentally sit in the café car, so it is conveniently available.) Unlike the previous several days, however, the weather is heavily overcast, and threatens all day long. While we never actually get wet, there is heavy rainfall all around us, especially while we’re changing engines in New Haven on the way back, and in Stamford while we are on the way back late in the afternoon, that has just about stopped before we get there.

Consist:

AEM-7   926 (Stamford – New Haven)

F40PH              245 (New Haven – New Haven)

AEM-7   947 (New Haven – Stamford)

Business           48986

Business           48978

Coach              21273

Coach              82042

Coach              21176

Café                20053

Café                20050

Coach              21140

Coach              21045

Pullman           Dover Harbor

After leaving Stamford, we stop for signals at Bridgeport. Amtrak is treating this as a standard New England service, so the Amfleet trainset has an AEM-7 electric locomotive from Stamford to New Haven, two F40 diesels from New Haven back to New Haven, and an AEM-7 again from New Haven to Stamford on the return. Many people watch and photograph the engine change in the platform at New Haven, in the morning. We then stop for signals at Airline Junction. On the outbound leg, we take the Springfield line from New Haven, North through Hartford to Springfield, Mass. From there, we head East on the old Boston & Albany line (lately Conrail, but now the CSX Boston line), through Palmer, to Worcester. We’ll be back along this stretch in the opposite direction, tomorrow afternoon (where the route will be described).

“854/855”, 7-15-2000

Actual

Stamford

8:12 AM

Bridgeport

8:39 AM
8:45 AM

New Haven

9:07 AM
9:24 AM

Airline Junction

9:28/9 AM

Hartford

10:14 AM

Springfield

10:52 AM

Palmer

11:12 AM

Worcester (pickup pilot crew)

12:07 PM

            Shove back onto P&W

12:12 PM

            Stop to throw switch

12:23 PM

            Shove back further

12:25 PM

            Pull forward

12;30 PM

            Stop to throw switch

12:35 PM
12:39 PM

Putnam

1;30 PM
2:14 PM

Groton (drop pilot crew)

3:55/6 PM

            Wait for permission

3:59 PM
4:04 PM

New London

4:11 PM

Old Saybrook

4:32 PM

W. New Haven

5:02/3 PM

New Haven

5:07 PM
5:19 PM

Bridgeport

5:40 PM

Stamford

6:06 PM

At Worcester, we pick up a pilot crew and traverse a complex backwards move through interconnecting tracks until we’re facing southward on the Providence and Worcester’s ex-New Haven line to Groton, Conn.

Worcester to Groton Route Description

The original plans were for this excursion to take a different line South, passing through Willimantic, Conn., and stopping there at the Eastern Connecticut Railroad Museum. For reasons never clearly explained, that museum is unable to receive us, but their staff still provides the planned lunch for the excursionists, albeit on board the train on a different segment of line. We have a runby at Putnam, where the lunches are loaded under threatening skies, so maybe it’s just as well we’re not anticipating an al fresco meal.

As we approach Groton alongside the Thames River, John Williams, from OZ, observes that “all the factories in New England are closed.” It’s hard to disagree, since so many of the old factories we’ve passed have seemed to be closed down.

At New London, after entering the Amtrak Boston line at Groton, we pass by the “tall ships” festival. There had been plans for us to stop here, and spend some time viewing the ships, but the train would have to wait in some place that is unacceptable to Amtrak operations, on the day (perhaps due to the high volume of traffic on its shuttles from New Haven), so we merely pass by very slowly, in low light due to the heavy clouds.  The heavens open as we reach New Haven, so no-one gets out to watch the engine change this time.

Back in Stamford, we hurry back to the hotel, then across to the mall, where we find that many of the fast food places close early on Saturday. We do find one place open, however, so we don’t have to resort to the expense of eating at the hotel. After eating, we pack, and get more cash through the ATM at the hotel. This latter proves a challenge, as the process of validating our identity with our bank times-out the first time, but a quick resubmission works just fine. (I had learned this trick in England and Wales, the previous October.) We have to be up early to catch our train on Sunday, so we’re soon in bed.

The Journey West (7/16-7/19)

Sunday, July 16th, 2000

This is the day we start the return journey, so we’re up early to catch the first train in the morning to Boston’s South Station, where we will transfer to the Lakeshore Limited to head West. We’re going the long way round because, when I booked the trip there was no sleeper space available on Train 49 for this date, but there was space available on Train 449. So, we’re up early to go to Boston, rather than several hours later to go via New York City. (If the Acela Express trainsets had been accepted by this date, there would have been an NRHS excursion from Stamford to Boston and back, which we would have ridden on and left at Boston, so this routing made sense in that regard, also.) We take a taxi over to the same platform at Stamford station that we arrived at, and from which all of the NRHS excursions have left. I manage to photograph our train as it arrives, and we board our Business Class car, which is (as always) at the very rear of the train.

Northeast Corridor (North) Route Description

This isn’t one of the two daily Acela Regionals that are already running all-electric to Boston, so we change from electric to diesel traction at New Haven. I walk up to the front to watch and take photos. The train arrives in Boston’s South Station, the platforms of which are now in darkness, covered by an air-rights building that has been constructed since we were last here in 1990, and the concourse of which is now rife with upscale boutiques and food stands. In Boston, we have about an hour until the Lakeshore Limited leaves. The Metropolitan Lounge in South Station is still “under construction”, so we must sit in the crowded concourse with all of the other Sunday travelers

Consist:

AEM-7             952 (to New Haven)

AEM-7             915 (to New Haven)

F40PH                226 (New Haven – Springfield)

Baggage          1755 (to Springfield)

Coach              21263 (to Springfield)

Coach              21618 (to Springfield)

F40PH               273 (from New Haven to Boston)

F40PH               291 (from New Haven to Boston)

Coach              44234

Coach              44669

Coach              44023

Coach              44028

Coach              82500

Café/Business  48159

Train 12, 7-16-2000

Schedule

Actual

Stamford

7:48 AM

7:50 AM

            signals

 

8:30/2 AM

New Haven

8:35 AM
9:02 AM

8:36 AM
9:07 AM

Old Saybrook

9:38 AM

9:38 AM

New London

10:00 AM

10:02 AM

Mystic

10:14 AM

10:15 AM

Westerley

10:24 AM

10:25 AM

Kingston

10:41 AM

10:41 AM

Providence

11:12 AM

11:04 AM
11:12 AM

Route 128

11:48 AM

11:40 AM

Back Bay

12:04 PM

11;50 AM

Boston (South Sta.)

12:10 PM

11:55 AM

When I see a redcap (porter) taking some other people and their luggage out to the sleeping car on the Lakeshore Limited, I follow with my bags, but Chris is stopped by an officious woman who insists that she wait until the coach passengers are allowed on the platform. I use the time remaining until departure to collect the consist of the Boston section, and take a few photographs. Upon departure, Chris heads for the café car to collect our complimentary lunch selections.

Consist:

P40        816

F40PH              402

P32        703    (NYC to Albany)

Baggage 1211             (from NYC)

Dorm   2507                (from NYC)

Sleeper            62013 Harvest View (from NYC)

Sleeper            62034 Sea View (from NYC)

Diner   8524                (from NYC)

Lounge 28019             (from NYC)

Coach  25116              (from NYC)

Coach  25043              (from NYC)

Coach  25105              (from NYC)

Café    20036              (Boston to Albany)

Coach  25091

Coach  25024

Sleeper            62018 Meadow View

Baggage 1251

MHV    1445

MHV    1446

Train 449, 7-16-2000

Schedule

Actual

Boston (South Sta.)

1:00 PM

1:01 PM

Back Bay

1:05 PM

1:07 PM

Framingham

1:31 PM

1:51 PM

Worcester

2:00 PM

2:23 PM

Palmer

 

3:18/29

Springfield

3:21 PM
3:25 PM

4:03 PM
4:24 PM

Pittsfield

4:50 PM

5:53 PM

Albany

6:15 PM
7:55 PM

7:06 PM
8:15/9:02

Schenectady

8:35 PM

9:24 PM

Train 49, 7-17-2000

 

 

Elyria

5:35 AM

7:29 AM

Sandusky

6:09 AM

8:01 AM

Toledo

7:04 AM
7:24 AM

8:53 AM
9:10 AM

Bryan               ET

8:16 AM

10:07 AM

Waterloo          CT

7:44 AM

9:32 AM

Elkhart

8:34 AM

10:26/29

South Bend

9:01 AM

10:52 AM

Hammond

10:08 AM

12:09 PM

Chicago

11:15 AM

12:50 PM

Lakeshore Limited Route Description

We stop at Palmer, MA, from 3:18 to 3;29 PM, waiting for Amtrak 56 (F40 287) to get out of the way onto the New England Central. At Springfield, we wait for our opposite number, Amtrak 448, headed by P42s 32 and 65, to clear a single track section adjacent to trackwork. There are several brief stops on the last stretch of track into Albany. There were two roadrailers added at Springfield and removed at Albany, and 9 roadrailers and 1 box car on the rear from Albany to Chicago. It is unknown if the two roadrailers from Springfield where among the nine to Chicago.

Some 20 or 30 minutes after we arrive in Albany-Rensselaer, the New York City section of the Lakeshore Limited arrives, and is parked ahead of us on an extension of the normal platform (which the Boston section is occupying. We walk along the train to collect the consist information, and spy several people who had been at the NRHS Convention who must have come via New York City, rather than Boston. (There were others who came the same way we did.)  The electro-diesels that brought the New York section in cut off, and are replaced by the diesels that brought our Boston section in. Once all passengers are (back) on board, the two sections are connected together, and move forward a few hundred yards, so that the mail and express cars can be added. On departure from Albany, we eat dinner during the extended time period (47 Minutes) that the mail and express cars are added, alongside the motive power facilities just outside the station.

Monday, July 17th, 2000

We’re up as the train passes Sandusky Harbor. I use the Toledo stop to check on the mail and express cars that were added to the rear of the train outside Albany, and to photograph the local switcher leased from Larry’s Truck and Electric. There were several brief stops along the way between Hammond and Chicago, including one at CP513. On arrival in Chicago, we walk East on Adams to the Berghoff, our favorite German restaurant, for lunch. We have a leisurely walk back to Union Station on the Jackson Street side, then wait in the Metropolitan Lounge for our train to Los Angeles to be ready for boarding.

The last leg of the trip is one that shows how a train can get very late, beyond the help of any of the recovery time (padding) included in the schedule, not because of any one incident, but because the time lost in a number of relatively unimportant incidents eventually adds up to something significant. To begin with, a car was ‘bad-ordered’ in Amtrak’s 14th Street Coach Yard, and had to be swapped out for another. (This turns out to be our sleeper!) This delay causes the Southwest Chief to depart after the California Zephyr, rather than before. (When both trains are on time, the CZ departs Union Station after the SW Chief, but runs ahead of it down the triple track to Aurora and through to the route divergence at Galesburg. This is possible, because the SWC stops at 14th Street to add its rear-end express cars, whereas the CZ apparently does not.) Additional time is lost adding those rear-end MHVs and Roadrailers at 14th Street, so we are an hour late by the time we turn West on the triple track. Later, we lose more time adding, and then removing, an additional locomotive at La Junta, and as a result of track slow orders due to torrential rains in the Glorieta Pass area and a medical emergency at Lamy.. The result is a four-hour late arrival in Los Angeles. The benefit is a daylight traversal of the Mojave Desert, all the way from Needles.

On departing from Chicago at 3:39 pm, we stop to add the mail cars from 3:43 pm to 4;03 pm. Then we depart down the ex-Burlington triple-track speedway, amid the early-peak service of the Metra “dinky” commuter trains for Aurora.

Consist:

P42                  19

P42                  52

P42                  41

Baggage          1250

Transition        39039

Sleeper                        32046

Sleeper                        32059

Diner               38040

Coach              33044

Coach/Smoker            31503

Coach              34028

Coach              34001

Coach/Bagg.   31006

4 MHVs

9 Roadrailers   (11 after KC)

90 total axles  (Chicago-KC)

96 total axles  (W. of KC)

Train 3, 7-17-2000

Schedule

Actual

Chicago

3:20 PM

3:39 PM

Naperville

4:17 PM

4;40 PM

Mendota

5:07 PM

5:30 PM

Princeton

5:20 PM

5:50 PM

Galesburg

6:18/24

6:48/56

Fort Madison

7:25 PM

8:04 PM

La Plata

8:28 PM

9:07 PM

7-18-2000

 

 

Dodge City

6:01 AM

7:02/08

Garden City      CT

6:47 AM

7:52 AM

Lamar              MT

7:07 AM

8:09 AM

La Junta

8:30 AM
8:50 AM

8:55 AM
10:40 AM

Trinidad

10:04 AM

11:52/55

Raton

11:05 AM

1:00 PM

Las Vegas (NM)

12:40 PM

2:51 PM

            Rowe

 

4:00/44

            Fox

 

5:06/14

Lamy

2:33 PM

5:44 PM
6:45 PM

            MP860.8

 

7:08/12

            MP876

 

7:31/38

            Bernalillo

 

7:41/58

Albuquerque     MT

4:20 PM
4:50 PM

8:23 PM
8:56 PM

7-19-2000

 

 

Needles            PT

12:52 AM

 

            Java

 

5:48 AM

            E. Barstow

 

 

Barstow

4;24 AM

 

Victorville

5:00 AM

 

San Bernardino

6:07 AM

 

            Prado Dam

 

 

Fullerton

7:26 AM

 

Los Angeles

8:40 AM

 

East of Galesburg, the train stops for signals from 6:38 to 6:45 pm. At Galesburg, a double spot is made for the sleepers and then the coaches. We eat dinner starting east of the Mississippi and ending west of Fort Madison (probably after entering Missouri). We go to bed after La Plata, and are asleep before we reach Kansas City. At La Plata, we’re less than 40 minutes late, so there’s hope that the schedule padding might have us on time by morning.

Tuesday, July 18th, 2000

This morning, I awake with the train still to the east of Dodge City. We get up and eat breakfast, with the train still in Kansas. Mid-morning, we arrive in La Junta, 25 minutes late (after the padding in the schedule going into la Junta has been consumed), for what proves to be an extended stay.

Operationally, the Southwest Chief has been running with four of the P42 locomotives to the west of La Junta, but only three of them to the east of there. (Shades of Santa Fe’s steam days, when 4-6-4 Hudsons were used from Chicago to La Junta, but 4-8-4 Northerns from La Junta to Los Angeles.) Each evening, eastbound Train 4 drops its lead P42 off at La Junta, where it is turned and services and added to the front of the next morning’s Train 3. This is such a routine activity that the new engine crew (La Junta is a crew change point for the train crew, but not the on-board services crew which works through from Chicago to LA) doesn’t check for specific instructions before adding the locomotive (P42 97) which is waiting in the usual place. After moving it onto the front of the train, and coupling up, the crew is unable to get all of the needed locomotive functions to work. On finally checking with the motive power controllers, they discover that this locomotive had been “bad-ordered” earlier, and was not supposed to have been added to today’s train. It has to be removed, again, to restore our train to operability, so it is. To add to the difficulties, there is a steady carrier on the radio channel the outbound crew is supposed to use (said to result from a big storm the previous night (July 17th), making it impossible to use that channel to talk either to the dispatcher or the mechanical forces. The crew is using an alternate channel to talk to each other, and using the ‘landline’ (telephone) to talk to the dispatcher in Fort Worth, and Amtrak mechanical in Philadelphia. Rather than gaining time, due to the pad in the schedule coming in to La Junta, we’ve lost time, and are now later (almost two hours) than we were at Dodge City.

We eat lunch crossing Raton Pass. Between Raton and Las Vegas, New Mexico, we stop at MP 728 to restore the Head-End Power and restart the second locomotive. (Because the locomotives are arranged ‘elephant-style’, the crew can’t walk from one to the other while the train is moving, but must get down on the ground from one and climb up into the other.)

By the time we get to Las Vegas, the formerly bright and sunny skies have changed to leaden (as we’ve been seeing off over the mountains to the West eve since Raton). Although it’s not currently raining here, apparently these has been torrential rain over this section, especially over Glorieta Pass. Because the rains may have weakened the roadbed, and because no track inspector has been out to check over the track, we’re restricted in the speed we’re permitted to travel at (to 40 mph.), until we clear the heavy rain and potential flash flood area (which will be almost into Albuquerque). Not only does this slow our progress, but also that of our opposite number, train 4, so that it is early evening by the time we cross Glorieta Pass. Train 4, at Rowe, has P40s 842 and 800, plus an F40PH. We’ve experienced some hail, but seen little actual effect of the earlier torrential rains. Still, better late than derailed at 90 mph due to a washout. At the East end of Fox, we have to stop to flag a signal that is not operating, probably due to the storm.

As we approach Lamy, the conductor asks the engine crew to radio for paramedics to meet the train at Lamy. It transpires that the diabetic man with whom we had eaten lunch is experiencing some sort of difficulties. The train sits at Lamy while the paramedics examine the man (on the train), and decide he needs to be hospitalized. This means more waiting, while his and his daughter’s possessions are removed from their room, and their luggage is located in the baggage car and brought to them. Even though this is high summer, it will be completely dark by the time the train reaches Albuquerque. We stop twice between Lamy and Bernalillo to get new track warrants, and at Bernalillo to get the new crew that had been waiting at Albuquerque, since our existing crew will reach its twelve hours maximum service before we could get to Albuquerque.

We have to wait to eat dinner, since the dining car has run out of water (which is normally replenished at Albuquerque, well before the second day dinnertime). On leaving Albuquerque, the last of the dinner reservations are called in, and we eat. We go to bed not long after the train regains the BNSF dual track (“two main tracks”) mainline and heads westward.

Wednesday, July 19th, 2000

I awake as we’re leaving Needles, in full daylight. We seem not to have picked up any time in the course of the night. This level of lateness at least means that we will see the whole of the line from Needles to Daggett and Barstow in the light, bridging those portions of the line we have previously been on in daylight and extending our daylight coverage of this line all the way from Los Angeles to Hutchinson, Kansas. Once again, daylight travel on the BNSF mainline presents us with many opportunities to view passing intermodal trains on the other track. We now have only 86 axles, meaning we have dropped off five or six roadrailers at Winslow, during the night. It’s hot out here in the desert, already 92F at 6:22 am, 103F at 6:55 am, according to the hot-box detectors along the way.

The westward trip across the Mojave starts from the banks of the Colorado Rive at Needles and climbs the stiff grade northwestward towards Goffs. At Goffs, the line turns southwestward and descend to Essex and Cadiz, where the junction with the Arizona and California is made. Then, the track climbs Ash Hill (with the dual main tracks separated for ease of grades), reaches Ludlow and heads due West for Barstow. All of this is across rolling terrain, populated only by scrub and desert animals, between numerous ranges of treeless mountains. At Daggett, the Union Pacific line from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, formerly used by the Desert Wind before that train’s cancellation in 1995, joins from the right. From here to Los Angeles, we’re on familiar territory.

After descending Cajon Pass and stopping at San Bernardino, we stop for five minutes on the triple track in Santa Ana Canyon, due to maintenance of Way activities, plus trains occupying each of the other two tracks. The rest of our approach to Los Angeles is uneventful, and we arrive just over four hours late (five hours, if the effect of the schedule padding going into LA is included). After taking the shuttle home, we eat lunch and I’m in at work by mid afternoon.

Norfolk Southern Motive Power types in the Traffic Summary

Number Series

Builder

Model

Horsepower

1580-1624

EMD

SD40

3,000

1625-1652

EMD

SD40-2

3,000

2557-2580

EMD/CR

SD70

4,000

2881-2884

EMD

GP38AC

2,000

2885-2957

EMD

GP38

2,000

3000-3072

EMD

GP40-2

3,000

3170-3200

EMD

SD40

3,000

3329-3447

EMD

SD40-2

3,000

4024-4099

GE

B23-7

2,250

4100-4159

EMD

GP38AC

2,000

4800-4817

GE

B40-8

4,000

5000-5393

EMD

GP38-2

2,000

5400-5477

EMD

SD50

3,600

6073-6206

EMD

SD40-2

3,000

6550-6716

EMD

SD60

3,800

6717-6762

EMD/CR

SD60I

3,800

6763-6806

EMD

SD60M

3,800

7100-7150

EMD

GP60

3,800

7200-7216

EMD/CR

SD80MAC

5,000

8003-8062

GE

C30-7

3,000

8063-8111

GE

C30-7A

3,000

8200-8212

GE

C39-8

3,900

8300-8313

GE

C40-8

4,000

8314-8451

GE

C40-8W

4,000

8460-8542

GE

C36-7

3,600

8550-8665

GE

C39-8

3,900

8689-8888

GE

Dash 8-40C

4,000

8889-9534

GE

Dash 9-40CW

4,000

Helper Pairing on the West Slope in July, 2000

3329, 3336

3330, 3344

3333, 3364

3334, 3376

3335, 3339

3338, 3348

3340, 3345

3341, 3367

3342, 3373

3344, 3350

3346, 3368

3347, 3362

3351, 3352

3357, 3363

3359, 3375

3374, 3425

Train Symbols in the Traffic Summary

 

Train no.

ex-Conrail

Origin

Destination

NS General Manifests

126

ROPI

Roanoke, VA

Conway, PA

10E

NLPI

Sydney, IL (UP)

Conway, PA

10G

PILA

Conway, PA

Dillerville, PA

11A

REPI

Reading, PA

Conway, PA

11G

LAPI

Dillerville, PA

Conway, PA

11K

ALPI

Allentown, PA

Conway, PA

13A

BAPI

Baltimore, MD

Conway, PA

13J

ML-423

Port Wilmington, DE

Gibson, IN

13W

BUPI B

Buffalo, NY

Conway, PA

19G

OIPI-A

Oak Island, NJ

Conway, PA

NS Double Stack, COFC and TOFC

20A

Mail-44

St. Louis, MO

Elizabethport, NJ

20E

Mail-8M

Chicago 47th St.

Morrisville, PA

20F

 

 

 

21C

 

 

 

21M

TVLA

Croxton, NJ

Corwith, IL (BNSF)

21W

Mail-0H

Bethlehem, PA

Chicago 47th St.

22K

Mail-8

Chicago 47th St.

Croxton, NJ

22W

TV-2H

Chicago 47th St.

Harrisburg, PA

24M

TV-22

Chicago 47th St.

Baltimore, MD

27M

VADO

Vance, AL

Doremus Ave, NJ

NS Coal Trains

501

NS501

Eddystone, PA

Shire Oaks, PA

509

NS509

Portland, PA

Shire Oaks, PA

515

NS515

Chase, MD

Shire Oaks, PA

539

NS539

York Haven, PA

Shire Oaks, PA

CSX Q Series Trains (Sand Patch, not West Slope)

Q.375

PGLO

Philadelphia, PA

Louisville, KY

Traffic on the West Slope, July 5th to 10th, 2000

Time

Track and Direction

Train Symbol

Head-end locos

Number of cars

Types of cars

Helper locos

Notes

7/5/00, Cresson (Station Inn), MP 251, 3pm - 10:30 pm

 

 

 

 

3:11 PM

W, Track 3

NS 509

9215, 9279

68

Empty Coal Gondolas

 

 

3:25 PM

E, Track 2

 

3362, 3347, LMS 736, 7147, 3027

108

Covered hoppers, tank cars, empty gons and flat cars

3345, 3340

 

3:37 PM

E, Track 2

10E

7678, 8706

85

Auto carriers

3338, 3348

We also saw this train at Johnstown

3:38 PM

W, Track 3

 

3373, 3342

 

Helpers only

 

 

3:50 PM

W, Track 3

13W

8401, 8302, 5422, CSX 2467, 5468, 9462, 3278

88

Covered hoppers, box cars, lumber cars (henceforth, "Manifest")

 

Went into emergency after passing detector @ MP 253.1 @ 3:57 PM. Restarted @ 5:25 pm

3:52 PM

E, Track 1

 

6767, 8366, 6553, NYS&W 4006, 4004 & 4002

??

Container & TOFC

 

Same time as previous train, thus no count

4:17 PM

W, Track 2

21C

8467, 3103, 9003, ?

35

TOFC

 

 

4:42 PM

E, Track 1

 

8318, 6773

35

General manifest

 

 

5:28 PM

E, Track 2

 

9394, 8937, 4094

125

General manifest

3342, 3373

 

6:05 PM

E, Track 1

20F

9132, 8573

123

Double-stack, TOFC

 

 

6:34 PM

W, Track 3

11K

3367, 3341, 8483, 9336, 8312

88

General manifest

 

8483 has troubles with bell & whistle at MO Tower in Cresson, locos go to Cresson MPD for repairs which failed. The power can't be turned, because the cab signals are out on the only loco facing the other way, so a set of helpers was added to the front. This took from 4:00 to 6:30 PM, occupying Track 3 at MO Tower for the whole time

6:42 PM

W, Track 3

 

3374, 3425

 

Helpers only

 

The original helpers for 11K

6:56 PM

E, Track 2

Amtrak 44

Amtrak 5, ?? and 88

15

1 bagg, 1 MHV, 4 pass, 2 MHV, 13 roadrailers

 

 

7:14 PM

E, Track 1

 

9375, 9228, 9409

132

Double stack, TOFC

 

 

9:09 PM

W, Track 2

Amtrak 41

Amtrak ?? and ??

29

5 pass, 2 bagg, 8 MHV, 14 roadrailers

 

9:10 PM

E, Track 1

 

5431, 8803, 5471

95

General manifest

3425, 3374

 

9:41 PM

E, Track 1

 

3351, 3352

 

Helpers only

 

 

10:19 PM

E, Track 1

20 East

6724, ?, ?

94

TOFC, COFC

 

 

7/6/00, Cassandra Overlook, 9:30 am - 1 pm

 

 

 

 

10:15 AM

E, Track 1

 

3362, 3347

 

Helpers only

 

 

10:30 AM

W, Track 3

 

9258, 9426

53

Auto carriers, box & tank

 

 

10:49 AM

E, Track 1

"CCA211"

High-rail Truck

 

 

 

 

10:53 AM

W, Track 3

515

8309, 8393

126

Empty Coal "Top Gons"

3333, 3364

 

11:38 AM

E, Track 1

Amtrak 40

Amtrak 24, Amtrak 9

21

5 pass, 9 box, 7 rr

 

A train is stopped @ MP 244 on track 2

12:04 PM

E, Track 1

22W

9378, 2568, 9311

55

Trailer cars (73 trailers)

 

 

12:11 PM

E, Track 1

 

5285, 3357

12

Covered hoppers, box cars

 

 

12:15 PM

W, Track 3

 

9261, 8362

75

Steel slab gondolas

 

 

12:40 PM

W, Track 2

Amtrak 43

Amtrak 70, Amtrak ??

22

4 pass, 11 rr, 7 MHVs

 

 

12:52 PM

E, Track 1

 

3335, 3339, 8098, ?

134

Manifest

 

 

12:54 PM

W, Track 3

 

6768, 8706

103

Manifest

3364, 3333

 

7/6/00, Portage Detector (MP 258.9)

 

 

 

 

 

1:18 PM

W, Track 3

 

9172

??

Mixed freight

 

 

1:25 PM

W, Track 3

 

3350, 3344

 

Helpers only

 

 

7/6/00, Gallitzin (UN Tower)

At least 2 trains were missed

1:55 PM

W, Track 3

 

5285, 3287

??

TOFC

 

 

7/6/00, Gallitzin (Tunnels) 2:25 pm - 3:02 pm

 

 

 

 

2:33 PM

W, Track 3

 

3333, 3364

 

Helpers only

 

 

2:41 PM

W, Track 4

 

2 pieces MoW (separately)

 

 

 

 

3:02 PM

W, Track 3

 

3404, ??

??

TOFC, COFC

 

 

7/6/00, Cresson (Station Inn), 3:10 pm - 10:30 pm

 

 

 

 

3:21 PM

E, Track 1

 

9332, 9410, 8883

142

Double stack

 

After this train passed, a stack of old ties was seem smoldering, until the fire alarm was raised at 4:30 pm

4:58 PM

E, Track 1

 

8461, 6633, 8302

108

General manifest

3348, 3338

 

5:04 PM

W, Track 3

 

8426, 9400

76

TOFC, COFC

 

 

5:17 PM

E, Track 2

 

9380, 6740

100

Triple Crown Roadrailers

 

 

5:30 PM

W, Track 3

21 West

8407, 8377

107

TOFC, Double Stacks

3347, 3362

 

6:18 PM

E, Track 2

257

9159, 9499

82

TOFC, Double Stacks

 

 

6:26 PM

E, Track 2

 

9495, 6752

48

TOFC, COFC

 

 

6:38 PM

E, Track 1

12

9194, 8300

96

General manifest

3342, 3373

 

6:47 PM

E, Track 2

 

9348, 9187

96

Double stack

 

 

6:58 PM

E, Track 1

 

3344, 3330

 

Helpers only

 

 

7:07 PM

E, Track 2

Amtrak 44

Amtrak 73, Amtrak 89

14

2 MHV, 4 pass, 2 MHV, 6 rr

 

 

7:36 PM

W, Track 3

 

??, ??

??

TOFC, COFC

 

 

8:10 PM

E, Track 1

 

??, ??

??

TOFC, COFC

 

 

8:20 PM

E, Track 1

 

3362, 3347

 

Helpers only

 

 

8:24 PM

W, Track 3

126

4051, 3097, 8770, 6755, 6714

110

General manifest

3368, 3346

8:28 - 8:35 pm, stop to remove helpers

8:45 PM

W, Track 2

Amtrak 41

Amtrak 19, Amtrak 5

28

5 pass, 1 bagg, 8 MHV, 14rr

 

 

9:52 PM

W, Track 3

 

??, ??

??

General manifest

 

Had been stopped to remove helpers

10:00 PM

E, Track 1

 

LMS 736, ??

 

TOFC (short)

 

 

10:04 PM

W, Track 3

 

3359, 3375, ??, ??, ??, ??

 

Helpers only

 

 

7/7/00, Sand Patch Grade

 

5:07 PM

W

Q.375

CSX 7337, CSX 6820, CSX 9012

130

General manifest

CSX 8607, CSX 8524

At Will's Creek. Also at Foley Narrows, 6:15-6:28 pm at Mance, 6:40 pm at Sand Patch (without helpers)

6:15 PM

E

Amtrak 30

 

 

 

 

Passes Mance, 8 hours late

7:00 PM

E

 

 

 

TOFC

 

Meyersdale

7/7/00, Cresson (Station Inn), 8:30 pm - 10:40 pm

 

 

 

 

8:35 PM

E, Track 1

 

9234, 9406, 9014

??

Double stacks

 

 

8:40 PM

E, Track 2

Amtrak 44

Amtrak 36, Amtrak 97

??

4 pass, MHVs, rr

 

 

8:50 PM

E, Track 1

 

7205, 7209, 5412, 5303, 7213

 

Locomotives only

 

 

9:12 PM

W, Track 3

 

8461, 8457

??

General manifest

3374, 3425

) Passing

9:13 PM

E, Track 1

 

2561, 8355

??

Double stacks

 

) simultaneously

9:28 PM

E, Track 1

 

??, ??

??

Auto carriers

??, ??

 

9:41 PM

W, Track 3

 

7428, 6 more units

??

General manifest

3359, 3375

Helpers cut off at MO Tower

9:46 PM

E, Track 1

22K

9271, 9368

??

Double stacks, Containers

 

Stopped @ MO, 9:48 - 9:52 PM

9:50 PM

W, Track 2

 

??, ??

??

Bare table

 

 

10:10 PM

E, Track 1

 

9290, ??, 8374

??

TOFC

 

 

10:12 PM

W, Track 3

19G

9409, ??

??

General manifest

 

Helpers cut off at MO Tower

10:20 PM

E, Track 2

 

9163, 9293

??

TOFC (short)

 

 

10:40 PM

W, Track 3

 

??, ??

??

Empty coal hoppers

 

 

78/00, Cresson (Station Inn), 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm

 

 

 

 

5:11 PM

W, Track 3

11G

5471, 4337, 4137, 3069, UP 9517

146

General manifest

3346, 3368

Removed helpers E of MO, 5:12 - 5:20 PM

5:21 PM

E, Track 1

24M

9235, 8648

84

Double stacks

 

Told to stop and wait at AR Tower; restarted 5:40 PM

5:24 PM

W, Track 2

 

9303, 9476

77

TOFC

 

 

5:37 PM

W, Track 3

 

8409, 9242, 6188

52

TOFC, Double Stacks

 

 

5:49 PM

W, Track 2

 

9335, 9337

6

NS Passenger cars, incl. Track inspection car

 

Dispatchers were keeping EB trains stopped while this went past

6:06 PM

E, Track 1

 

6709, 9229

125

Triple Crown Roadrailers

 

 

6:39 PM

W, Track 3

21C

9485, 9333

71

Double stacks

 

 

7:02 PM

W, Track 3

11A

9437, 8483, 5402

95

Loaded ballast (46) + manifest

3352, 3351

NS 539 left track 5W with the empty coal hoppers that had been there since Tuesday evening, somewhere after 7 PM

7:08 PM

E, Track 1

 

2558, 6730, 3210

109

Double stacks

 

 

7:19 PM

E, Track 1

 

9247, 8729

50

TOFC, COFC

 

 

7:26 PM

E, Track 1

124

3419, 9395

41

Empty hoppers

 

 

7:54 PM

E, Track 1

Amtrak 44

Amtrak 80, Amtrak 83

17

4 pass, 5 MHV, 8 rr

 

 

8:29 PM

W, Track 2

Amtrak 41

Amtrak 36, Amtrak 1

28

5 pass, 9 MHV, 14 rr

 

 

8:37 PM

E, Track 1

 

3363, 3357, 8401, 6801

58

General manifest

3345, 3340

 

8:49 PM

W, Track 3

 

4811, 5024, 8520

154

General manifest

3344, 3350

Helpers removed at MO Tower

9:10 PM

W, Track 3

 

3376, 3334, ??, 8803

139

General manifest

3333, 3364

 

9:24 PM

W, Track 3

501

9418, 9239

64+

Empty coal hoppers

 

) Passing

9:25 PM

E, Track 1

 

6790, 9420

53

Auto carriers

 

) simultaneously

9:36 PM

E, Track 1

 

3351, 3352

 

Helpers only

 

 

10:27 PM

W, Track 3

 

6771, 6799

125

General manifest

3336, 3329

Helpers removed at MO Tower

10:47 PM

E, Track 1

 

9240, 3178, ??

96

TOFC, COFC

 

) Passing

10:48 PM

W, Track 3

 

9238, ??

??

Auto carriers

 

) simultaneously

11:00 PM

E, Track 1

20A

??, 9446

??

TOFC, COFC

 

 

7/9/00, Cresson (Station Inn), 10:30 am - 11:10 pm

 

 

 

A new set of empty Top Gons was brought in from the West this morning, wyed at Cresson, then parked on 5W.

11:19 AM

E, Track 1

25

2567, 8125, 1635, 6183, 1614

98

Covered hoppers

3329, 3336

 

12:09 PM

E, Track 2

Amtrak 40

Amtrak 74, Amtrak 46

24

7 MHVs, 5 pass, 12 rr

 

"04T" is its NS Symbol

12:12 PM

W, Track 3

Amtrak 43

Amtrak 5, Amtrak 22

16

2 MHVs, 4 pass, 4 MHVs, 6 rr

 

"06T"

12:29 PM

W, Track 3

 

9276, 9381

33

Double stacks

 

 

12:43 PM

W, Track 3

 

3381, 8380, 8444, 8681, 6220

 

Locomotives only

 

 

1:20 PM

E, Track 2

22W

3404, 8518, 8795

43

TOFC

 

 

1:25 PM

E, Track 1

10G

3438, 3374, 8959, 5466, 4043, 8201, 5328

102

General manifest

3351, 3352

Added 3340, 3345 helpers @ MO, 1:25 PM - 1:55 PM

1:28 PM

E, Track 2

 

9266, 9161

46

Double stacks

 

Passed while previous train was stopped

2:09 PM

W, Track 3

 

8372, 8340, 9260, 8097, 6733

153

Double stacks

 

 

2:21 PM

W, Track 3

 

3336, 3329

 

Helpers only

 

 

2:37 PM

W, Track 3

11K

9387, 9384

107

General manifest

3373, 3342

Removed helpers@ MO

3:01 PM

W, Track 2

 

??, ??

??

Double stacks

 

 

3:27 PM

E, Track 1

 

9185, 9225

71

General manifest

 

 

3:56 PM

E, Track 1

 

9218, 2519

82

Double stacks

 

 

4:02 PM

E, Track 1

 

7210, 8095

 

Locomotives only

 

 

4:23 PM

W, Track 3

 

9138, 8695

64

Steel slab gondolas

3352, 3351, 3346, 3368

4:32 PM

E, Track 1

 

9224, 3200, 8975

97

Double stacks

 

 

4:35 PM

E, Track 2

 

5407, 6788

98

Triple Crown Roadrailers

 

 

5:11 PM

W, Track 3

13W

9292, 8673, 9165, 9451

159

General manifest

3345, 3340

Removed helpers@ MO, 5:05 - 5:11 pm

5:16 PM

E, Track 1

 

9441, 9502

66

TOFC, COFC

 

 

5:22 PM

W, Track 2

 

6773, 8082, 8318, 8332, 6632, 9477

101

TOFC, COFC

 

 

5:34 PM

W, Track 2

 

3330, 3344

 

Helpers only

 

 

5:39 PM

W, Track 3

21M

9472, 9448

49

TOFC, COFC

 

 

6:47 PM

W, Track 3

 

9209, 6639, 6787, 8385

166

TOFC

 

 

6:48 PM

E, Track 1

M27

8361, 8596, 8875

88

General manifest

3329, 3336

Stopped @ MO, 6:51-52; all by us, 6:58 PM

6:58 PM

W, Track 3

13J

9343, 9404

114

General manifest

3338, 3348

 

7:05 PM

E, Track 1

 

9132, 8573

25

TOFC

 

 

7:22 PM

E, Track 1

__W

5471, 5472, 2884, 3054, 8354

104

General manifest

 

 

7:47 PM

E, Track 2

Amtrak 44

Amtrak 71, Amtrak 91

24

4 pass, 10 MHVs, 10 rr

 

"07T"

7:56 PM

E, Track 1

 

9400, 8426

70

TOFC, COFC, Double stack

 

 

8:42 PM

E, Track 1

 

9437, 8469, 4502, 8158, 8139, 2949

95

General manifest

3368, 3346

 

8:49 PM

E, Track 1

 

3375, 3359

 

Helpers only

 

 

9:03 PM

W, Track 2

Amtrak 41

Amtrak 83, Amtrak 80

18

5 pass, 6 MHVs, 7 rr

 

"05T"

9:53 PM

E, Track 1

 

7212, 7207

104

Coal gondolas

3344, 3330

 

10:05 PM

E, Track 1

 

6710, 6583, 8366

73

TOFC

 

 

10:13 PM

W, Track 3

13A

9531, 9026, 2301

114

General manifest

 

First car was a private passenger car

10:18 PM

E, Track 1

 

3417, 9338

48

TOFC, COFC

 

 

7/10/00, Altoona

 

 

 

 

 

 

9:15 AM

E, Track 2

 

2562, ??

??

Coal gondolas

 

 

10:00 AM

W, Track 2

 

High-rail truck

 

 

 

 

10:40 AM

E, Track 2

 

9521, 6718

78

TOFC, COFC

 

Mostly bare table

11:05 AM

E, Track 1

TC9653

High-rail truck

 

 

 

 

11:08 AM

W, Track 2

 

6736, 8826

102

Empty Coal Gondolas

 

Helper set left @ Alto, to W., 11;23 am

11:30 AM

E, Track 4

Amtrak 40

Amtrak 48, Amtrak 821, Amtrak 102

26

8 MHVs, 1 bagg, 5 pass, 12 rr

 

 


Track Layout in the Cresson-Gallitzin Area

 



 



 



[1] This observation period was quite short, so the average may be anomalously high.