Back Issues


Main Page

November 1999


Tom Morgan Dies - B&O Tower Operator

Thomas Francis Morgan, retired B&O tower operator, died September 24. At the time of his retirement in the early 1970's, he was the third-shift operator at BA Tower, Bay View, in Baltimore. Earlier he had worked at the tower at Poplar, Maryland. He was 88.


BNSF to Test Video Cameras in Locomotives

Burlington Northern Santa Fe is installing video cameras in six of its locomotives, as a pilot project, to record the behavior of pedestrians and motorists along the line of road. The systems, which incorporate digital and global positioning technologies, will record a view similar to that seen by crews, plus sound. If an accident should occur, the stored information will be of help to determine if warning protection was working properly. If the project is successful, BNSF will consider additional installations.


Union Pacific to Lease 1000 Locomotives

In the "largest order it has ever received," General Motors Corporation's Electro-Motive Division has announced that Union Pacific has agreed to lease 1000 new 4000-horsepower SD70 locomotives. According to press reports, UP will retire about 1500 older locomotives from its fleet to be replaced by the new units over a four-year period. As of the end of last year, UP had over 7000 locomotives with an average age of 14.4 years apiece.


Union Pacific Reports Operating Income Increase

Union Pacific has reported a "strong rebound" in year-over-year operating performance. Income from continuing operations totaled $218-million in the third quarter of 1999 compared to $34-million for the same period last year. Particular strength was seen in intermodal, automobiles, agricultural products, and energy. UP chairman Dick Davidson has expressed optimism for year 2000 performance, noting progress made in capital plans with reduced total capital expenditures from prior years.


Norfolk Southern to Sell Buildings, Property in Atlanta

Norfolk Southern has announced it intends to sell its general office buildings and about 33 acres of land in Atlanta. The sale will not include its right of way, and train operations will not be affected.


CSXT Adopts "Lime-Yellow" for Roadway Engineering Equipment

CSXT's engineering department has begun repainting its roadway equipment with a color called "lime-yellow," which many fire departments use to improve safety. The equipment is being repainted as it is shopped for maintenance and repair.


Owen Stanley Retires

[By Allen Brougham] . . .

For the past seven years, since joining forces as an operator at Miller Tower, it has been my privilege to work on second-shift with a very fine gentleman at the tower at Hancock, West Virginia, the next tower to the west. Owen Winfred Stanley represented the very finest one could expect of a towerman - a true professional in every sense of the word. On October 30, he retired, after 43 years of service.

Owen, who turns 62 this month, began his career in September 1956, just one year out of high school, with the former Western Maryland Railway. He knew the late Vince Donegan, then an operator at Big Pool Junction, Maryland (just across the Potomac River from Miller Tower), who got Owen interested in a career as an agent-operator. His first tour of duty was at the station in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In those days, all WM agents and operators served a dual role as agent-operator working interchangeably in both functions as duties required. For the first couple of months at Gettysburg, on the extra list, Owen worked seven days a week without a day off. He rented a room just down the street from the station. On one occasion he overslept; the man he was to relieve simply went to the window to his room and rattled it for Owen to wake up and come to work.

He went on to work many positions in his early years: Emory Grove, Westminster, Union Bridge, Thurmont, Highfield, Hanover, Porters, York, Glenville, NC Tower and YD Office in Hagerstown, Lurgan, Shippensburg, Williamsport, Big Spring, Big Pool Junction, Hancock (Maryland), Jerome and Old Town. He was on the extra list for about seven years before being awarded his first regular position, third-shift at Williamsport, in 1963. A couple of years later he went to Big Pool Junction where he remained until the office was closed.

He then took a job in the WM stores department in Hagerstown, which he held, off and on, for about eight years, the duties of which included unloading sand and tank cars, and the unloading of supplies from boxcars using a forklift. He also drove the storeroom truck, a duty he especially enjoyed, the longest trip of which was one to Clifton Forge, Virginia, to take delivery of a traction motor and a pair of wheels from the C&O for the WM roundhouse in Hagerstown.

There were brief episodes during this eight-year period when Owen did get back into the stations. He was at Williamsport in 1970, and those fortunate enough to have a copy of Fireballs & Black Diamonds (Roger Cook and Karl Zimmerman, 1981, Howell-North Books) will find mention of Owen and a shot of him perched there in the on-duty (relaxing) position in the book's first chapter.

Later, he worked briefly in the crew callers' office in Hagerstown.

In May 1983 he took a job at Lurgan, Pennsylvania, "just in time to close the door to the place."

By that time the rosters of the WM and B&O had been merged, and Owen took a job with the stores department in Cumberland, which he held until 1984 when there was an opening at HO Tower in Hancock, West Virginia. He remained there until he retired. (His younger brother, Ronald, is also an operator there.)

Owen and his wife, Virginia, live in Hancock, Maryland. They have two sons, two daughters, and four grandchildren. His hobby is antique collecting, and he is especially fond of glassware. In retirement, he and his wife have been making plans with another couple to explore the country in a motor home. Given the opportunity he would do it all over again. "I enjoyed all of it," said he.


The MA & PA Heritage Corridor Trail

[By Allen Brougham] . . .

The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad (known to all as the MA & PA) abandoned its right of way through these parts in 1958. (It still served its original line south from York to Delta for a while longer.) About that time, my father bought me five shares of MA & PA stock. It turned out to be a good investment - but that's a different story.

With such a scenic and loving right of way, it's a small wonder that no effort was made to convert the abandoned line north from Baltimore into a trail. Indeed, much of the property has remained undisturbed. So it was with much excitement that I learned of efforts in Harford County, Maryland, after all these years, to turn a portion of the old line back to life, before it's too late, for use by the public in a rails-to-trails effort.

In fact, too late it actually was for most of the first increment, opened August 28 on a two and one-quarter mile stretch south from Bel Air. Due to the construction since the line's demise of two highways that intersect each other just south of Bel Air, precisely where the MA & PA once ran, only a small portion - about half a mile - of the old MA & PA right of way was still available for the trail. The balance became a twisting, hilly, over-and-under effort to detour around the offending highways to reach the trail's current southern terminus not far from the community of Vale. One afternoon in early October, I ventured to Bel Air to explore the new offering.

I took my bike, which I rode most of the way, but with the number of folks using the trail that day (already, it's become quite popular), and the snaking characteristics of its route, I found that hiking it would have been just as thrilling... "It's rather challenging," admits Catherine Adams, landscape architect for the Harford County Department of Recreation and Parks who serves as the trail's project manager. She said that the first increment, the part that was just completed, was constructed with a crushed-stone base at a cost of $550,000. Two additional increments are currently planned. These, she added, will more closely follow the original right of way, with much gentler grades, and will extend the trail northward to Forest Hill. The second increment, now out for bids, will connect Bynum with Forest Hill, a distance of about two miles; and the third increment will connect the current trail at Bel Air with Bynum. Altogether, the trail will extend to a length of about seven miles when completed, probably in about two years.