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July 2002


BNSF, Ferromex Join to Move Honda Parts

Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Ferromex have announced that they have partnered to move time-sensitive automotive parts between Honda's production complex in Marysville, Ohio, and Guadalajara, Mexico. As part of their agreement with Honda, BNSF and Ferromex have developed a door-to-door intermodal product for automotive parts utilizing BNSF's Mexi-Modal service.


Washington Metro Awards Contract for New Subway Cars

The Washington D.C. Metro system has awarded a contract to Alstrom for the design and manufacture of 62 new subway cars as part of a service extension of the Blue Line to Largo Town Center. The contract also includes an option to purchase an additional 120 cars as part of a service extension of the Orange Line to Tysons Corner, as well as projected service growth on the balance of the system.


CSX Management Trainees Complete Course

Fifty-five management trainees completed a course last month with CSX prior to assignment to various departments. Nearly half of the trainees are being assigned to the Operations Department. "This is the largest management training program we've had in a long time at CSX, perhaps ever," said Steve Frey, assistant vice president- workforce operations and staffing. It was noted that nearly half of the company's current employees will be eligible for retirement by 2010.


CSXT Gets Service Award for Coke Express Car

CSXT has received a service award from the American Coke and Coal Chemicals Institute recognizing the innovation of CSXT's Coke Express car. The car's construction is such that if the coke market were to deteriorate, the top portion of the car can be cut away, transforming it into a standard hopper suitable for coal loading.


Harpers Ferry Station to be Restored

Project in its first stage.. Restoration of building's interlocking tower is proposed.. Park management to hear presentation in August..

[By "Railroad Rob" Brzostowski] . . .

First, some history... It's 1894 and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad has just completed the relocation project of the main line through Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. With this completion comes a brand new interlock tower / train station. Designed by Francis Baldwin, the station complex consists of a baggage/express office, two waiting rooms, a ticket office, and a two-story interlock tower known as "HF." This tower is located on the east end of the station. A pair of semaphores extend from the north side of the tower. HF Tower protects the junction of the "Valley Line" from Winchester, Virginia, and the main line from Baltimore to Cumberland. An interesting feature of the physical plant is a double-slip switch on the eastbound track. Located on the bridge crossing the Potomac River, this switch forms the apex of this simple interlock.

Moving forward... It's now 1931 and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad has just completed its second realignment through Harpers Ferry. With this new alignment, the main line project completed in 1894 has now been downgraded to secondary status. The railroad has decided to keep the earlier alignment as a backup in case there should be a problem. What is about to take place is a big event. As people gathered around, the station is carefully lifted up and slid over to the old double track mainline. The station is then rolled some 600-plus feet west to the general area of its new home. Carefully, the station is moved into its new spot.

As we reach the middle of the 1950's, we watch as the railroad removes the two-story tower, leaving only the bottom half. The functions of the operator are transferred to the ticket office. (The operators' positions were abolished in 1986; functions were moved to Brunswick, Maryland.)

Harpers Ferry as seen from Maryland Heights

Let's move forward to today... Last August, the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park received ownership of the train station and surrounding property from CSX Transportation. Currently, the train station is in its first phase of restoration. Drawings of the current condition are being made by the Historic American Engineering Record (division of the U.S. Department of Interior). The park archeologist is researching the history of the station. At the end of August 2002, the archeologist and the HAER team will hold a presentation to park management.

The park would like to reconstruct the interlock tower and restore the existing station. (No physical changes will be seen for at least another year.)

Drawing by Kris Key, HAER Team, depicting station with rebuilt HF Tower

I have been asked by the Park Service and the HAER to assist in the research and documentation of the train station. In the near future, I will be writing more articles on the station and the progress of its restoration.

It is good to know that this piece of American railroading will be preserved for generations to come.


Biking Through History

[By Allen Brougham] . . .

The Northern Central Railroad Trail is my very favorite biking and hiking haunt. Since the earliest days of its existence, I have faithfully nurtured its presence with frequent pilgrimages along its entire length. The pages of this publication from as far back as 1986 will attest to my love for this local treasure. So it would be almost a non-event to report on yet another adventure upon the trail... except that (for me) this particular episode was sort of a first.

The date was Wednesday, June 19, and the event was an evening park-sponsored bike ride (called "Bike Through History") north from Freeland, Maryland, into Pennsylvania. The program is not new. Organized bike trips have been in the offing for a number of years - they had simply not found their way into my particular schedule. But now retired (a great advantage) I decided to partake of this feature to see if I could learn anything new (I did) and to share in communal fellowship with others who hold dear the virtues of biking as a source of adventure. No preregistration was required (but it was suggested that I call ahead to make sure, if the weather was iffy), and I simply presented myself (and bike) at the designated assembly point for the ride. It was now 6 P.M.; the event would take about two and one-half hours from the time we departed.

Brenda, a naturalist for the Gunpowder Falls State Park, met us at the Freeland parking area. Following introductions, she dutifully checked everyone's tires for proper inflation. (An under-inflated tire can make biking mighty rough.) My tires were OK, but some of the others needed air, which was provided. She then asked everyone if they had a couple of dollars for Italian Ice, to be purchased at our northern destination if desired. Then she gave a brief history lesson on the Northern Central.

Yes, the weather was a little "iffy" that day. The distant sounds of thunder could be heard from the direction we would be going - but they abated as quickly as they appeared, and the skies were mostly clear by the time we were set to leave.

Brenda told us that our first stop would be at the Mason-Dixon Line, an uphill ride of about 12 minutes, and off we went with a group (at that point) of 15 participants (but three had decided to leave earlier, to get a head start), Not everyone kept the same pace, but all 15 of us arrived at the first stop within a of couple minutes of the others. It was here that Brenda gave a brief narrative on the history of the Mason-Dixon Line, complete with pictures of some of the granite stones (imported from England) that punctuate the line along its length. Most folks think of the Mason-Dixon Line as separating Maryland from Pennsylvania (which it does), but the line actually begins at the southwestern corner of Delaware to separate that state from Maryland as well.

On the trail, it is at the Mason-Dixon Line that large signs depict artwork depicting features of Maryland's and Pennsylvania's respective portions (Monkton Station and Sparks Bank Nature Center in Maryland, and New Freedom and Hanover Junction stations in Pennsylvania) along with notices of current events, etc., applying to the trail on both sides of the line. Being a perfectionist, I queried Brenda if indeed the signs are positioned on the exact location of the state line. No, they aren't. The state line is located about 50 feet north of the signs, the precise location being marked by a metal pole from the railroad days.

Our next stop, about ten minutes north of the Mason-Dixon Line, was at a location in New Freedom where there was once an interlocking tower. She had a photo of the tower, too, with proof that this was its location by the presence of houses in the background that are still there today. This had been where steam helper engines would dwell to await their next assignment. The flames from the engine's fire box would cast a flickering light against the houses near the track, and from this phenomenon the nickname "Flickerville" was coined to the neighborhood.

Coincidentally, all of the Liberty Limited Dinner Train equipment has been removed from New Freedom. All that remains now are about four cabin cars. (The Dinner Train ended service in September 2001.)

From Flickerville, we moved on (now it was downgrade) to the town of Railroad, stopping within the park setting of this quaint town adorned with historic buildings. It was here that Brenda told of historical accounts of President Lincoln's travel upon the line en route to deliver his Gettysburg Address (promising to render his speech to us later in the trip), and of the journey of his funeral train a year and a half later.

Next it was on to our final stop at Glen Rock. But to the regret of those who yearned for Italian Ice, it was learned that the eatery's machine was out of service. It seems they recently changed locations, to a spot across the street, and things were not ready to resume serving this reputed delicacy. It was here that we joined up with the three who had biked on ahead of us, and for this one-time occasion we had our full complement of 18 participants.

Following our 25-minute stop (and with some in the party having left early for the return ride) we made our way back up the grade to New Freedom. Brenda had cautioned us earlier that the grade to New Freedom (in both directions) could be a tad bit trying at times, and to this she suggested that the bikers might get solace by saying, "helper engine, helper engine," in rhythm as we pedaled. I tried it. Golly, by saying it in a certain way, it resembles the chugging of a steam engine assaulting the same grade.

The waning rays of sunlight shone against the distant clouds as we assembled on the steps of New Freedom station, and it was here that Brenda recited Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. These time-honored words had been delivered in a speech of a mere two minutes, she noted, and never before or since has such a powerful message been given. Brenda serves the Maryland park system as a naturalist, but her role that evening as historian served the program fittingly.

South of New Freedom (just beyond Flickerville), as the old rail line reached its highest elevation, the trail enters an extremely shaded area with large trees from the sides of a long cut overhanging the trail in a surrealistic, tunnel-like manner. Sunlight is greatly obscured here on the brightest of days, and at this moment, with the sun having already set, the area was dark enough to appreciate having a light. Ten minutes later, by now nearly nine o'clock, we arrived back in Freeland.

Most of the participants were "regulars" to Bike Through History, a Wednesday evening program segmenting the entire length of the trail in Maryland (plus the above portion in Pennsylvania) which will continue until August 7.