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NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/21/24 12:54 p.m.

Over the weekend, CNJ #113 ran from Minersville, PA north to the New St. Nicholas coal breaker, which is an R&N customer, as part of the first Minersville Community Days. Pretty rare mileage trip, since most #113 trips go south to Schuylkill Haven, and they ran six trips on May 18th. I had no intentions of going down, and I had an autocross that weekend anyways. When I was down to the R&N for the RDC trip, I was talking to Pete Swanson about that and he mentioned how he had discussed with his son going to get photos and his son pointed out that that's basically a 1.5 mile trip, one-way, with no grade crossings to a private business with no public access, and he was like "Oh, uh, yeah, not wasting a trip down here for that." A couple people did get a few photos though. The #113, with two coaches, led north and then GP38-2 #2013 towed them back south. Still, neat to see the big #113 getting out and about through their partnership with R&N.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UberDork
5/22/24 12:16 p.m.

RBM&N had a pedestrian fatality last night. Woman wearing headphones coupled to her phone walking down the tracks....

Recon1342
Recon1342 UltraDork
5/22/24 12:54 p.m.
TurnerX19 said:

RBM&N had a pedestrian fatality last night. Woman wearing headphones coupled to her phone walking down the tracks....

These kind of incidents always piss me off. The crew involved gets to live with this for the rest of their lives, all because some dipE36 M3 was careless and got themselves killed. Meanwhile, the decedent's family will be screaming bloody murder that the railroad should have done something to prevent the incident, because poor (insert name of idiot here) would have never done something so stupid, and therefore the railroad is at fault. 

 

Stupid motherberkeleying dumb-E36 M3 darwin nominees...

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/22/24 2:11 p.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Yeah, up near White Haven, on the Lehigh Main. And that's a pretty busy section of track, so it's not like she was walking the tracks to Shenandoah where they don't ever run, that is active trackage. Unfortunate, but if she lived in the area, she should've known better.

I nearly saw a pedestrian get hit by an R&N train last fall, and prevented it from happening. I was down there for the fall trips with #2102 and the F-Units, and while they were laying over at Jim Thorpe, I had gone up into the Lehigh Gorge State Park and got set up to take some photos near the rock cut at Glen Onoko. Now, that time of year, that line is busy, because you have Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway running every 45 minutes, plus JTPI heading back to Pittston in the afternoon, and I was hoping to catch some of them coming up through the rock cut, especially since the new 40th anniversary GP38-2 was assigned to JTPI.

Now, the R&N operates the old Lehigh Valley line from just over the river at Jim Thorpe all the way to Pittston (which, under the LV was the main from Oak Island to Buffalo) and right next to that was the old CNJ line from Allentown to Scranton, which paralleled the LV line the whole way. Literally, they ran right next to each other with little to no grade separation. When LV ended up with CNJ's Pennsylvania operations in '72, they consolidated a lot of the lines and they yanked up the CNJ line through the gorge, and then years later it was converted to a hiking trail. So you have trains at grade level, with no fence keeping you away from the tracks, just some signs that they're active and to stay off or face trespassing charges from R&N and NS (NS shares the line).

The whole time I'm waiting there, there's people going up and down the trail, and before JTPI came through, I decided to move about 250 feet north to be able to get a shot of the side of #2023, since from the front it looks like the rest of the green and yellow GP38-2s. I get set up and this group of people goes by me, about 3 or 4 women in their mid-twenties and 2 of their boyfriends or husbands or brothers or whatever, walking north. Now, with the curve into the rock cut, you can't see down the tracks south past that curve, and there's another curve about 250 feet further north as well, plus you're right alongside the Lehigh River, so you really can't hear the engine noise of an approaching train, and the last time they'll have honked the horn is about 2 miles south when they left Jim Thorpe. It's really only when the flanges start to squeal and they come around that curve, moving fairly quick, that you have any "warning" of an approaching train.

Still waiting for JTPI to head north, and the group of people I mentioned is now walking south and as they go by me, the one woman is straggling behind and walking on the railhead. As she goes by, I give her a "Hey, you don't want to be on those tracks. These are active, and they're busy." She looks at me and goes "Really?" gets off the tracks and starts walking along the trail, and she gets about 50 feet south, and JTPI comes screaming out of the rock cut and around that curve with no real warning at all. That's her in the tan jacket in the group off to the left, and she had been beside me about one or two minutes earlier. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/22/24 4:07 p.m.

Reading & Northern has announced that, in addition to the #2102-powered trip from Nesquehoning to Tunkhannock on June 22nd, they will be running an additional two trips on the same route, albeit diesel-powered, on July 27th and September 7th. It seems that R&N is going to try and develop Tunkhannock into a destination as well. It make sense, since Pittston really isn't a destination and the yard is in a rough part of town, plus the line from Pittston to Tunkhannock has been upgraded in recent years to handle the big frac sand trains. And I imagine the new Nesquehoning Campus is also key to this. Before, they would have had to have departed from Jim Thorpe, where parking is already at a premium (I can't imagine Jim Thorpe would be happy about the railroad tying up all their parking just for people to be whisked off to another city and not spend a dime in Jim Thorpe), or Tamaqua, which would make the trips a little too long for the average rider.

There's already people going "What about Reading to Tunkhannock?" but I imagine that the distance and travel time would be the issue. While it would be great for a railfan to get to ride the entirety of the mainline, and then some, the problem is that you'd be looking at a pretty long travel time, with little to no layover at Tunkhannock. The average rider would likely be alienated, and it wouldn't bring any tourism dollars into Tunkhannock. Who knows though, the railroad's 50th anniversary is in 9 years, maybe we'll see a trip like that as a special event?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/23/24 4:42 p.m.

Some news came out this week that I honestly had never expected to hear.

Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern, the central New York subsidiary of Genesee Valley Transportation, dropped a press release warning those who live along the tracks of the Northern Division to beware at crossings, because there will be increased traffic from Carthage to Newton Falls.

The MA&N is honestly a very strange railroad, operating in 3 disjointed sections. Their yard and enginehouse is at Utica, NY, and they own the old Utica & Black River line that runs from Utica to Remsen and then branches northwest to Lyons Falls (the Adirondack Railroad shares Utica yard, and the tracks from Utica to Remsen, then heads northeast to Tupper Lake). Then, there's the small segment in Rome to service American Alloys and the Sovena olive oil plant, and that line is accessed by using CSX trackage rights over the old NYC Chicago Main between Utica and Rome, giving rise to MA&N's boast of "Fastest Alcos in the Western Hemisphere". The Utica and Rome tracks make up the Southern Division.

Then, the Northern Division is completely disconnected from the rest of the MA&N segment. It interchanges with CSX at Carthage and has one line that comes down 15.6 miles southeast  from Carthage to Lowville. Once upon a time the northern end of the Southern Division (Lyons Falls) was connected to the southern end of the Northern Division (Lowville) as the New York Central St. Lawrence Division, but NYC yanked up the 14 miles of track between Lowville and Lyons Falls in 1964.  The line from Carthage to Lowville has been out of service for quite a while, since it lost the only customer in Lowville, and it connects to the Lowville & Beaver River, also owned by GVT, which heads east from Lowville to Croghan. The L&BR is also out of service, due to several embargoed bridges, very light rail, and lack of customers. Last I heard, the Carthage-Lowville and L&BR were slated to be abandoned and converted to trail by Lewis County. The only real traffic on this is service to Slack Chemical in West Carthage and car storage down to Lowville.

Now, the other part of the Northern Division is 46 miles of track from Carthage to Newton Falls, which was also part of the old Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg, and later the New York Central St. Lawrence Division. The big customer here was Benson Mines at Star Lake, which was founded in 1890, and mined iron ore. NYC train BP-1 was the hot train out of Benson Mines, and was the single-most profitable train on the entire NYC according to John Taibi's research. Big 10,000 ton iron ore trains regularly rolled out of Star Lake, with tons of horsepower on the head end, and were run down to be handed off to the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie. There was also a pretty big paper mill at the end of the line in Newton Falls, which was really important because it was the only industrially-zoned property in the Adirondack park.

Benson Mines closed in '78, and really took the wind out of Star Lake's economy, and the paper mill shut down in 2000. The paper mill was reopened by former employees in 2007, and was the only real customer on the Carthage-Newtons Falls line. By that point, the line was in pretty rough shape and was down to 5mph territory, but the paper mill was interested in shipping by rail. New York and Lewis County decided to throw in a bunch of money to start rehabilitating the line to get it up to 30mph, only for the paper mill to announce they were closing again in 2011. The track work was continued though, in hopes that the improved rail service, and the fact that it was the only industrially-zoned land in the Adirondacks, would entice a new customer. That never materialized and the line has sat dormant since 2011.

Earlier this year, I saw that the state gave MA&N a bunch of grants to improve their facilities and there were a bunch for the Carthage-Newton Falls line, which kind of baffled me, since that line was dead. But I thought maybe it was part of the state's continued efforts to entice a new business, or like the state's continual funding of the also-dormant NYS&W Sangerfield-Chenango Forks. Well, it seems that the line is actually going to be reactivating, as Benson Mines is now planning to move construction aggregates out of the old Star Lake mine and wants to ship it by rail.

Yesterday they did a test run of the line using the two big Alcos stored up at Carthage, #2454, another one of the ex-Erie-Lackawanna/BCRail C425s that is still in BCRail green, and #2403, a well-traveled C424 originally built for Spokane, Portland & Seattle that once did service in the region on the Adirondack Railroad as their #4243 before being bought by GVT and moved down to Scranton for paint and renumbering.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/24/24 9:23 a.m.

Delaware-Lackawanna #2403 back in her Adirondack Railroad days. She had been all over at that point; built for the SP&S as their #303, she was passed on to Burlington Northern, then sold off fairly shortly afterwards to the Kyle Railroad. When the Kyle Railroad retired her, the Arkansas & Missouri bought it, and a bunch of the other Kyle Railroad Alcos, but never actually ran it. It was then sold to the Massachusetts Central, where it received a black and orange paint scheme, then was sold to Thomas Carver Leasing who leased it to the Adirondack Railroad. It ran there briefly in the black and orange scheme, then had the orange painted over with green and some added yellow striping, becoming the first unit to wear the Adirondack Railroad's new green, black and yellow livery after years of an NYC-inspired paint scheme. The #4243 ran on both the Utica-Thendara and Lake Placid-Saranac Lake segments of the line, and is said to have been a really great locomotive, but when Carver wanted to get out of leasing, the Adirondack was outbid by Genesee Valley Transportation, who took it south to Scranton and eventually repainted it and renumbered it according to their numbering system (24 for the 2400hp, and 03 for it's original number of #303)

The #4243 is believed to be the last locomotive to use the wye at Tupper Lake. When it arrived it was facing northbound, but when they decided to move it up to the northern end in '03 or '04, they wanted to turn it and the only wye was one at Tupper Lake that hadn't seen use in decades. The wye, even at that point was a complete wreck, and the MoW guys went up and put a ton of gauge rods in the wye, those who were there joked there were more gauge rods that ties, and with locomotive owner Thomas Carver at the controls they eased it out around the wye, and still ended up putting a couple wheels on the ground and having to rerail it. It wasn't used after that, since it was in such bad shape, and when I went up to Tupper Lake a year and a half ago for the inaugural Utica-Tupper Lake trip, I spotted that wye, and it certainly hasn't gotten any better in the 20 years since. I believe the plan is to eventually put it back in service.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/24/24 12:23 p.m.

Canadian Pacific has announced that they will be running a public excursion June 29 on the Iowa Interstate Railroad, making a round trip on the IAIS main line between RRHMA’s Silvis Shop facility and Bureau Junction, Illinois. This will be the only public trip being operated during #2816’s current North American tour and #2816’s first public excursion in over a decade, and its hopefully a sign that the #2816 isn't just going to get shoved back in the shop once the Final Spike Tour is done. They'll be running over the former Rock Island main line and it will feature a mix of streamlined ex-Union Pacific air conditioned coaches from the RRHMA fleet and open-window heavyweight former Pennsylvania Railroad P-70 coaches owned by Iowa Interstate. Fares are $149 for adults and $89 for children in the streamlined cars, and $129 for adults and $79 for children in the open window cars.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/24/24 12:46 p.m.

It is very cool to see CP #2816 out and running, especially with Keith Creel still at the helm. He was one of Hunter Harrison's golden boys and as such was very anti-steam/anti-excursion, and it was figured that as long as he was in charge, the #2816 would stay stashed away at Calgary. It's odd that CPKC and CSX, which were long the two more difficult Class Is to work with, have seemingly become the cool Class Is in recent years.

It is worth pointing out that the #2816 is equipped with full PTC, allowing it to truly operate independently. Apparently, CPKC wanted to install the LeaPTC system, which piggybacks off a trailing diesel, but found it incompatible with the PTC systems installed on the trailing EMD FP9s, and so they went the full independent PTC system. Why is it running with the diesels then? Operational flexibility, maintenance reduction (both on the steam locomotive and the passenger cars), range extension, and basic steam railroading on the mainline in the 21st century.  On the subject of range extension, they apparently have cuts of tank cars, full of treated water, prepositioned along the old KCS de Mexico south of the border, on account of Mexico's notoriously poor water quality.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/24/24 12:52 p.m.

I'm really just hoping that at some point they bring the #2816 east to the old D&H and run it from Rouses Point down to Albany or Mechanicville.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/24/24 3:41 p.m.

UP announced yesterday that the #4014 has also been upgraded to fully independent PTC. Again, don't expect it to be out and running by itself, for the same reasons as the #2816. The main advantage is that currently, SD70M #4015 is the only locomotive set up to be paired with a LeaPTC-equipped locomotive, so anytime they go out for an excursion, they have to round up the #4015, wherever it's gotten off to. Now, the #4014 will be able to just have any old diesel locomotive hooked in behind it.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
5/25/24 7:17 a.m.
NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/25/24 8:43 a.m.

In reply to 914Driver :

How quintessentially British! Boiling tea on the backhead of a steam locomotive.

I've heard of guys cleaning a coal scoop and putting eggs and bacon on it and then resting it inside the firebox door to cook it as well.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
5/25/24 9:08 a.m.

Steak comes rare, medium or well done.  Ever heard of Pittsburgh? 

Finishing dinner with a date, a couple take the table next to us, they order; "And how would your like your steak Ma'am?"  Pittsburgh.  "Yes ma'am",   You know what that is right?  "Yes ma'am".  If it's not I don't mind sending it back.  "Yes. ma'am".

Alright, we gotta see this, get yourself a glass of wine.

Waiter arrives with two plates.  Lady got a wicked blackened steak, she cut into it and medium near the outside to rare and the center looked cold and blue!

That's perfect!!

 

The story: 

Steel workers in the factories would put a steak in their lunch box, lunch time they's flop the meat on to a hot ingot rolling by, flip, flip, done!

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/28/24 10:27 a.m.

CSX has rolled their next heritage unit out of the Waycross, GA shops, the #1967, which commemorates the 1967 merger of Seaboard Air Line and Atlantic Coast Line to form Seaboard Coast Line. Seems borderline superfluous, considering they already have a unit for Family Lines (the 1972-1982 name for SCL and their control of L&N, Clinchfield, Georgia Railroad, Atlanta & West Point, and Western Railway of Alabama) and Seaboard Systems (the 1982-1986 name for SCL and the same railroads, all consolidated to one name)

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/28/24 10:58 a.m.

Meanwhile, the Cedartown, GA "paint shop" has turned out another unofficial heritage unit CSX #2625, an ex-L&N GP38-2, that someone snuck in and repainted the nose of in L&N colors. This is the third of these weird vandalism jobs, where a unit has been repainted overnight into heritage colors at Cedartown, with one being repainted to Chessie System colors and another repainted into RF&P colors.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it's either an employee doing these, or the employees know that it's going on and are allowing it. I remember quite a few years back, CSX was running the Santa Train, a tradition started by Clinchfield and carried on by CSX, and the morning of, someone somehow in broad daylight "vandalized" the lead power with a Clinchfield logo on the nose, and it was assumed that the employees were in on it.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/28/24 11:25 a.m.

Saw this list last week and trying to re-find it today discovered that there are a lot of Best Scenic Railroads articles. smiley

Yahoo.com: USA Today: Colorado train ride voted most scenic in US

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/28/24 2:14 p.m.

Some more good news for fans of the L&N is that Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum has acquired an SD40 that was originally L&N #1230. It's been passed around over the years, from Seaboard to part of MKRail's leasing fleet, to Utah Railway and eventually ended up working for First Energy at their now closed Stratton, OH plant. It came up for auction a month or so ago, and there was a lot of wringing of hands over what would happen to it, but it is now official that it is going to TVRM. It's a good, complete, running locomotive, so the plan is for TVRM to use it over at their Tyner Terminal Railway in revenue freight use until funds can be raised to restore it to L&N appearance (aside from the paint, it's missing the trademark L&N headlights in the short hood, and it's had those ugly AC units added to the cab roof). It joins TVRM's impressive collection of southern railroad-owned second-generation EMDs, that already includes a Southern GP30, Southern's first GP38, a Southern SD40-2, and a Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia GP38, which was the first high-hood GP38 built.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/28/24 4:32 p.m.

The livery that the #9010/#1230 will likely be restored to eventually. It never wore the Family Lines/Seaboard Systems liveries, still wearing L&N gray and yellow right up until it was sold off to MPI and leased out.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/28/24 6:41 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

My earliest railroading memories are of that L&N paint scheme. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/29/24 8:27 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

It's not a bad livery, but light grey and yellow was a bad choice for a railroad that hauled as much coal as the L&N did. It got pretty grungy pretty quick.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/29/24 9:23 a.m.

So, I had a classmate friend who was an engineer for the BN Railway. Back in I think the 80s or 90s his train was passing a parked work train which had a crawler backhoe (excavator) sitting on a flatbed rail car. My friend's train had the right of way but just as they where passing the parked train, the backhoe swung around and it's counterweight was hit by the engine my friend was driving. The impact spun the backhoe around and the bucket arm hit the seating area of the cab for the conductor, ripping it completely off of the engine and killing the conductor instantly. I think... it's been a long time.

I have spent a few hours trying to find any news articles about that accident but can't find any reference to it. I would also assume it happened either in North Dakota, Montana, or Minnesota, but it could have happened anywhere on the BN tracks or for that matter after searching, anywhere in the US. The accident did make our local news.

I would think that something like that incident would be easy to find, but... I guess not.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/29/24 9:50 a.m.

In reply to VolvoHeretic :

If you knew the year and/or location, you might be able to find an FRA incident report.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/29/24 10:04 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

I don't know either unfortunately. Maybe my classmate will show up for our 50th (high school) class reunion next month and I can ask him.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
5/29/24 11:55 a.m.

Another "new" diesel preservation opportunity has arisen, and I'm curious if anyone will take advantage of it. Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad, the freight-hauling side of the New Hope & Ivyland, has their big ex-Conrail GE C39-8, #8212, up for sale on Ozark Mountain Railcar for $95k. The C39-8 was kind of a weird beast, an early version of the Dash-8 that kind of transitioned between the Dash-7s and Dash-8s (as did the C32-8) and one of the visually distinguishing features was the use of the old Dash-7 long hood and rounded cab roof, but with a boxy dynamic brake and clean air compartment at the front of the long hood, which jutted above the cab roofline. This gave them a hunchbacked appearance, earning them the nickname "Camels".

Conrail ended up with 22 of the C39-8s and NS went in for 114 of the C39-8s, followed by another 25 C39-8Es (E for Enhanced) for Norfolk Southern. The C39-8E was introduced late in the life of the C39-8 right before it was replaced with the C40-8, and featured the angular cab that would be used on later Dash-8s, like the C40-8, which had a higher roof that matched the dynamic brake and clean air enclosure and made them slightly-less gawky looking.

When NS and CSX split Conrail in '99, 9 of the C39-8s went to CSX, where they didn't hang around too long due to being oddball units on the CSX roster, while the other 13 went to NS and joined their fleet of 139 CR39-8/C39-8Es. Over the years, the NS fleet was whittled down, retired for newer Dash-9s and ES-series GEs, with a bunch of them heading south of the border to Peru. NS sold two of them, both ex-Conrail and one still in Conrail paint, to Penn Northeastern in 2010 and the pair were used in freight service fairly regularly. The #8211, which was in patched NS paint, fell out of use in 2018 and was used as a parts donor for the #8212 before being scrapped a couple years ago when NH&I/PN purged a bunch of GEs they had, including a C30-7 and two B36-7s. The #8212 made headlines a couple years back as only one of two surviving C39-8/C39-8Es in the US, and the only one in actual service still. The other, a C39-8E, is used by NS at Altoona as a fuel tender for emissions testing on rebuilt engine.

Well, now it seems that maybe the reaper's gaze has turned in the #8212's direction. It's last day of operation was back in 2022, by which point it had been mostly replaced by a pair of SD60s purchased from CSX, and the ad lists that while it's still able to be started to undergo inspection, the main bearing on the generator is shot and it has a bunch of other issues that make it unable to be used, which makes the $95k price seem a bit steep, especially considering what CN was selling operational C40-8s for a couple years back. But, it is the last C39-8 and Dash-8s are practically non-existent in preservation. There are some who are nudging the Conrail Historical Society to try and buy the #8212, since they failed to secure an SD80MAC "Conrail Cadillac" a few years back when they all were being scrapped, and the Conrail-exclusive C32-8s have also all passed into oblivion. We'll see, but I have a suspicion that too many museums will go "That's too new" and turn their nose up at it and let another breed go extinct while they run around trying to save every single last F-unit, GP7 and GP9 instead.

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