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April 1999


Norfolk Southern Renumbering Conrail Locomotives

Norfolk Southern has begun renumbering Conrail locomotives into the NS numbering scheme. For the present, they are being assigned PRR reporting marks.


Canadian National's Acquisition of Illinois Central Approved

The Surface Transportation Board has voted its approval of Canadian National's acquisition of Illinois Central and integration of rail operations.


BNSF to Spend $450-Million in Track Projects

Burlington Northern Santa Fe plans to spend $450-million this year in new construction and expansion. Included is a 12-mile double-track project between Guernsey and Grattan, Wyoming; and an 18-mile jointly-funded triple-track project between Bill and Walker, Wyoming, on its line jointly-owned with Union Pacific. BNSF is also planning work in the Lincoln, Nebraska, area to reconfigure portions of the yard and extend siding capacity.


BNSF to Acquire 476 High-Horsepower Locomotives

Burlington Northern Santa Fe plans to acquire 476 high-horsepower locomotives this year for $733-million, the largest single-year total in railroad history. As a result, at the end of 1999, one of every three BNSF road locomotives will be less than four years old, according to a BNSF report.


Franconia-Springfield, Va., to be Intermodal Passenger Stop

Franconia-Springfield, Virginia, is about to host an intermodal passenger station. It is already served by Metro (rail and bus) and Virginia Railway Express. Beginning sometime in May, Amtrak will stop two of its trains there, and Greyhound is making plans to relocate to the facility in June.


Abandonment Order Postponed for Track in Chambersburg, Pa.

The Surface Transportation Board has postponed its order that could authorize CSXT to abandon the 1.9-mile portion of the Lurgan Subdivision in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (see last month's issue), until at least April 12, in response to a $54,570 purchase offer filed by four individuals for the portion between Main Street and South Street (but not including the portion that crosses South Street). The amount offered represents CSXT's estimate of the net liquidation value of the portion involved.


"Acela" to Replace Names for Amtrak's Northeast Service

"Acela" (pronounced "ah-cel-la") is the name Amtrak is planning for its Northeastern train service once new high-speed equipment is introduced later this year. The name Metroliner will be replaced with Acela Express; NortheastDirect, Empire and Keystone service will be replaced with Acela Regional; and Clocker service will be replaced with Acela Commuter. In a press release on March 9, Amtrak stated: "A combination of acceleration and excellence, Acela means high speed and high quality..."


Damon Barnhart Dies

Damon Barnhart, former B&O operator who worked in Brunswick, Maryland, died March 14. He was 77. When he left the railroad about 30 years ago, he had been working in the "UN" office. Earlier he had worked with the Western Union Company.


D Tower in Grafton to Close

CSXT's D Tower in Grafton, West Virginia, is slated to close April 2. Scattered reports that it had already closed were wrong, but duties at the facility have been rather minimal for the past several months. The former B&O tower, located just west of the old Willard Hotel, is somewhat unique in its style, and is noted for its hallmark interior metal spiral staircase.


One More Part of Western Maryland Railway History Destroyed!

Hagerstown Roundhouse Comes Crumbling Down After Lost Lobbying Effort

By Sol Tucker . . .

Eighteen years ago, I first started taking the drive to Hagerstown, Maryland, with my father to see the last of the Western Maryland Railway, and now, in 1999, to me, it's all but gone with the removal of the roundhouse at Hagerstown Yard.

There are no more red, white and black SD40's, or brand new GP40's, and no more BL2's. Now what remains is just an empty lot and the old YD Yard Office sitting all but empty, with just an agent remaining in that modern brick building.

Beside the brick building sat the WM's sprawling roundhouse which basically absorbed one side of Burhans Boulevard. But just this past February that one side of Burhans Boulevard became empty, and over 14 years of lobbying came to an end as the roundhouse began to come crumbling down.

I can't begin to tell you how sad it was to see something like the roundhouse come crumbling down as it seems just like yesterday that the power for Reading 97, the WM's 3798 and 3797, pulled out of the roundhouse for the last time. For those of you who do not know, the WM-3798 (or CSX-6573) was the last WM-painted engine to remain on the CSX.

Now, like the 6573, the roundhouse has been removed from existence and an empty space remains in the middle of Hagerstown. What many people saw as the eyesore of Hagerstown really could have been what the people of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum saw as a museum dedicated to the history of railroading in Hagerstown.

Since the roundhouse has been removed, the Roundhouse Museum now could be the next to leave as the museum director said: "We saw 14 years of hard work and effort to save the roundhouse go to waste. Now that we lost our effort, we will move on and that move will be out of Hagerstown. We will take our steam engine, roundhouse bricks and the turntable and find a better spot to start over."

After spending a Saturday last month gathering some of history, I also had to gather a tissue to wipe away a tear as the sight of another childhood memory came falling down right in front of me.

The following Monday I returned to Hagerstown and saw the construction equipment tearing the steel and knocking out the bricks. If there is one thing positive to say about the roundhouse coming down, it was the fact that it did not come down easy... as it had been built with pride, the pride that it never would have to be disassembled.

Once again, we say good bye to another part of the WM, most of which may be gone in the next 10 years, so go out and take pictures of those endangered buildings.