Norfolk Southern to End Steam Program
Norfolk Southern announced on October 28 that it will discontinue its steam excursion program after the conclusion of its 1994 season. The company said in a press release that it is ending the program -- begun 28 years ago by the Southern Railway -- because it "can no longer justify the program in terms of the physical, financial and human resources that it demands." The steam trips began in 1966 following the repurchase by Southern of its former 2-8-2 Mikado 4501 from the Kentucky & Tennessee, a short line that had used the locomotive as its number 12. Renumbered once again as 4501, the locomotive began excursion service that August in Louisville, and then on Labor Day weekend it was used at the NRHS convention in Richmond. In later years the program expanded with trips from many locations beginning in the spring and continuing through the fall. The 4501 was eventually joined by other engines, including 2-8-4 ex-C&O Kanawha 2716, 4-8-4 N&W J-class 611, 2-6-6-4 N&W class-A 1218, and others. For a number of years a set of Southern FP7 diesel units augmented the program on certain trips. Much credit for the longevity of the program is given to the late Claytor brothers - Graham and Robert - presidents respectively of Southern and N&W. Both were railfans noted for their love of the historical import of steam locomotives. The program was marred somewhat by an unfortunate accident in May of 1985 when a steam special carrying company employees and their families derailed on a line running through the Dismal Swamp of Virginia. There were no fatalities, but some people were injured. Then, on September 28 of this year, a yard switching accident in Lynchburg resulted in damage to several of the special's coaches. The train was not occupied at the time.
Maryland MTA Picks Site for Suburban Frederick Commuter Station
The Maryland MTA has announced the site of Frederick's suburban commuter station. It will be located along state route 355 near the Francis Scott Key Mall. There will also be a station downtown. Service to Washington is planned to begin in about four years.
Vintage Wooden Coach Acquired for Ma & Pa Excursions
A 50-foot wooden clerestory-roof open-vestibule passenger coach has been acquired for use in planned excursion service on the restored Maryland & Pennsylvania right-of-way out of Muddy Creek Forks, Pennsylvania. The service may be running by next summer.
Maryland Midland Considering Additional Common Stock Sale
Maryland Midland is considering the sale of some more of its common stock. In a letter to shareholders last month, president Paul Denton explained the need for up to $1-million in additional capital to upgrade its capability to serve new or expanding customers.
Conrail Opens Intermodal Terminal in Toledo
Conrail has opened the intermodal section of a joint automotive/intermodal terminal on the site of its former Airline Junction yard in Toledo, Ohio. The intermodal portion replaces a facility previously located near Central Union Terminal. The automotive portion should be in operation by the third quarter next year.
Surge in Sales Boosts Auto Shipments on CSXT
A surge in U.S. auto sales has boosted automotive movements through CSXT's network of 30 auto distribution centers, and a monthly transloading record of over 401,000 autos was set in September. The ramp at Annapolis Junction, Maryland, recorded the largest volume for the month with 48,420 vehicles handled.
Amtrak Makes Service Changes
As promised, the Capitol Limited now operates with Superliner equipment. The first run with Superliners prematurely left Chicago on eastbound #30 October 26, arriving Washington the following day. This was due to the late arrival of #29 into Chicago on the 26th, and the Superliners formed a makeup train. But Superliners did not officially begin service until two days later. The last run with Heritage equipment, including a dome, left Washington on #29 on Saturday, the 29th. (Interestingly, #29 of the 29th left that day 29 minutes late!) By October 30, all equipment sets on the Capitol Limited were operating with Superliners, and this is supposedly permanent. Also effective October 30, #29 leaves Washington 4:05 PM, 35 minutes earlier than before, to avoid a weekday conflict with MARC train #275. Eastbound #30 now leaves Chicago at 6:25 PM, one hour and 35 minutes later than before, to afford connection from the eastbound Empire Builder.
Some other changes include . . . The eastbound Empire Builder #8 now leaves Seattle 10 minutes later, and the Portland section (#28) leaves Portland 55 minutes later. The train arrives Chicago 50 minutes later, and no longer connects with the Southwest Chief #3. The southbound Coast Starlight #11 leaves Seattle 30 minutes earlier, and northbound #14 arrives Seattle 30 minutes later. Increase in running time is for switching at West Oakland, additional station time at Emeryville and smoke stop program. Seattle-Portland trains 796/797, the Mount Rainier, have been renumbered 750/751 and extended as 403(b) trains from Portland to Eugene. In addition, the state of Oregon will sponsor two thruway bus round-trips between Portland and Eugene connecting with trains at Portland. Trains 792/793, formerly the Northwest Talgo, then renamed the Mount Hood, have been renamed the Mount Adams. These trains are sponsored by the state of Washington - and Mount Hood is in Oregon. They have new numbers, too (752/753). The Broadway Limited now has full-service dining. It inherits the diner from the Capitol Limited. The Pennsylvanian's running time has been lengthened 30 minutes between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg due to Conrail's clearance program. The eastbound Pennsylvanian leaves Pittsburgh 35 minutes later than before. The Lake Shore Limited no longer stops at Poughkeepsie; instead it stops at Rhinecliff. The Silver Meteor no longer has a Tampa section, but the Palmetto's run has been extended to Tampa. The Silver Meteor's Miami section no longer serves Waldo, Ocala and Wildwood, but the Silver Star now serves those stops. Certain New England Express trains have been extended through to Washington, D.C.
News From the Izaak Walton Inn
The ESSEX-PRESS is a twice-a-year newsletter sent to former guests of this railside hotel in the Montana Rockies, the adventure destination as described in last month's Bull Sheet. In its latest issue, the inn reports on plans (1) to update rooms to all private baths, (2) to make the place accessible to the disabled, and (3) to add some safety features to the building. "Much time has been spent to figure out how to accomplish these changes without changing our historic nature," innkeepers Larry and Lynda Vielleux write. The weekend of November 12 marks the inn's 55th anniversary, with rooms discounted to $55 per night for double occupancy. In other news, bridge decks are stowed near the tracks east of the inn for planned placement as a footbridge to cross the Burlington Northern right-of-way. Currently, guests must walk across the tracks at grade to reach the inn's four guesthouse cabooses and trail network on the other side. The bridge, too, should be a boon to railfans as a place to take overhead photos. With the new schedule change, the Empire Builder now stops in Essex westbound at 8:18 PM, and eastbound at 8:56 AM. It is still listed as a flagstop.
Of Keystone Heritage
[By Richard D. Ballash] . . . The overwhelming speed and uncertainty of our changing rail environment is absolutely amazing. We are witnessing today the greatest technically POSITIVE metamorphosis of our cross-state ex-Pennsylvania Railroad main line since the 4-tracking project nearly 100 years ago. Twenty-five years ago, I remember my dad telling me about how many people believed this line would be converted into a great, limited access trucking route in a few years. Who would have doubted that prediction? Worn-out antique equipment was running on three barely usable "mains" out here, in the center of an unwieldy spiderweb of duplicate route bankrupt railroads. There was no sign of any turnaround from the downward spiral that had lasted for 20 years! Outside of regulation, a then uncrowded, brand-new, free-wheeling interstate highway system beckoned. Today's Conrail has won back much of that truck traffic, and the tables have turned toward rail efficiency, away from a congested, overburdened, and downright worn out system of potholes, construction zones, and one-man-per box (three max) inefficiency. Rail transportation DID always seem logical to most of us. Have they FINALLY found the RIGHT recipe that makes it click? I am a stubborn rail historian who relishes in my own personal memories and favorite sentiments rooted in the "glory days" of the Keystone Road. I do NOT enjoy the changes incurred with this progress. To me, it still is, and always will be, the "red" versus the "green" team... and the only place I have seen the "green" team REALLY lose was in the abandonment of the ex-Big 4 route from Terre Haute to St. Louis (I jumped for joy upon seeing THIS "pathway" in 1987!) A toast to the "boys back home!" In the final analysis and ultimate reality, though, the constant whining of dynamic brakes on Carney Hill, the clatter of the wheels rolling over the switches at "CP Trobe," and the daily toots of Amtrak horns at the Latrobe station are priceless sounds heard from my house that appear to be getting a new lease on life, a future secure. If that takes double stacks and NYC signals, let's do it! How sad the silence on all those "unchosen" main lines through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois! One "interested bystander" moved a cast Pennsy milepost from the now-vacant Panhandle single main grade in rural Eldorado, Ohio, midway between Dayton and Richmond, into his adjacent yard. Gone since 1979 is the daily 79-mph passage of Amtrak's National Limited, and 120 years of the incessant roar and rattle and mighty fleet which preceded it. Today, lonesome summer nights in Eldorado echo only the strains of crickets, mooing cows, an occasional automobile, and the scattered ballast and fading memories OF KEYSTONE HERITAGE.