New Freedom Station Comes to Life
The rebuilt 1885 train depot at New Freedom, Pennsylvania, will finally have its day. Its grand opening is slated for Saturday, September 20. It has been a long time coming.
New Freedom is located along the former Northern Central Railway (operated in later years by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and then Penn Central), about a mile north of the Mason and Dixon Line. The Northern Central line at one time sported such premier trains as the Liberty Limited, Northern Express, Statesman, and a number of others, as they plied their journey from Washington and Baltimore to Harrisburg, Chicago, St. Louis, or Buffalo.
The final remnant of regular passenger train service through New Freedom ended in 1971. The following year, due to damage from tropical storm Agnes, the rail line through the area was declared out of service. The portion of the line northward to York, Pennsylvania, was eventually repaired and restored to service, but the portion southward from the state line in Maryland was abandoned as a through route.
In the meantime, New Freedom's station retrogressed into a state of disrepair. But as plans were made for development of a biking and hiking trail to run northward from Maryland to York, the old depot became the focus of ideas for it to become a trail visitor center.
Attempts were made to restore the building, but it became apparent that its condition was much too decrepit. Finally, in 1997, it was decided to demolish the structure and start over. Some of the original beams - about 10 percent - were used in its reconstruction; the balance was in the form of new material to replicate the original design. First came the deck, followed by a pavilion-type structure, and finally the completed building - all done in stages as funding permitted.
Several weeks ago the station had a "soft opening." Its waiting room and ticket office are now used as a café (open 8AM to 4PM, Tuesday through Sunday), and the baggage room is a mini-museum complete with a huge mural of a steam locomotive.
New Freedom's station now joins the one at Hanover Junction as the two visitor centers serving the York County's 21-mile Heritage Rail Trail. The station at Hanover Junction (where Mr. Lincoln stopped to change trains en route to Gettysburg) was rededicated in November 2001.
Forgotten Furniture Sign Keeps Unseen Train Vigil
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
The July issue of the Bull Sheet uncovered a long-forgotten railroad sign which had the intention of being seen by motorists traveling along U.S. Route 40 in Frederick County, Maryland. Overgrowth has so obscured that sign that it can now be seen by no one. Still, it is a genuine railroad artifact.
Now comes yet another sign this one of the billboard variety that can also be considered a railroad artifact. But unlike the Route 40 sign, this one had a completely opposite purpose.
It stands in a park located between the boroughs of New Freedom and Railroad, Pennsylvania, advising those who can see it that this is (was) the home of Sieling Modern Furniture.
What is interesting about this sign is that it could only be seen from the railroad. There are some public roads nearby, but the position of the sign makes it virtually impossible to be seen by any motorists.
Passenger trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad operating along the Northern Central line between Baltimore and Harrisburg once passed this location with such intensity that the owners of the furniture company erected the sign exclusively for passengers to read. It was worthy advertising; in the 1940's (when the sign was likely erected), many influential folks routinely used the train to reach their destination.
Then things changed. Folks switched to other modes of travel, and in 1971 passenger service on the line was eliminated altogether. And about the same time (early 1970's), the Sieling Furniture Company went out of business. So, too, went the buildings that had once been the company's home and factory. Yet, the sign remained.
Time has taken a toll on the Sieling billboard sign. It is somewhat weathered, but the words can still be seen with careful observation. Some electric lights that once illuminated the sign for nighttime travelers now droop ominously. Interestingly, though, the lawn surrounding the sign has been kept trimmed. Evidently, the sign is in nobody's way, so it has simply been left alone.
About half a mile from the site stands an active factory with the name of Sieling & Jones. They supply office furniture, such as for boardrooms, etc. But according to Ed Jones III, the firm's owner, his company was never associated with the Sieling Furniture Company. The name Sieling is rather prevalent in the area, he said, and there was likely a family connection. The Jones family bought the Sieling & Jones name in 1965.
Today, the only folks who can normally see the facing on the sign are hikers and bikers using the Heritage Rail Trail. This is how I discovered it. I've even pointed it out to other participants in the Tuesday evening Sunset Scramble bike rides. I'm glad it's still there. It's a piece of railroad history!
Vintage Buses Find a Home
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
I've made this confession before, but here I go again... I like buses.
As a kid, I was enamored by Greyhound's fleet of Silversides coaches. I thought they were neat. (I still do!) But I only got a chance to ride in one of them once. And then came the heralded Scenicruiser, where passengers in the raised rear portion of the coach could look forward through their own windshield as though they were riding in a dome car. But, I never got a chance to ride in one.
Buses that have outlived their usefulness have a way of simply disappearing. Bus companies have typically neither the space nor the resources to maintain a non-performing asset, and unlike an antique car, a bus is not something most folks can keep in their garage or driveway. So it should be no surprise that examples of a number of early bus classes are either nonexistent or in some decrepit shape in a scrap yard.
But not all of them!
To the credit of a handful of history-minded heroes, a few coaches from yesteryear have indeed been saved and restored to mint condition. I got a taste of some of them at a vintage bus display five years ago in Frederick, Maryland, at an event called "A Celebration of Buses." It was arranged by Fred Wengenroth, the manager of the Greyhound depot in that city. On hand for the occasion were seven coaches dating between 1947 and 1960. It was a very nostalgic event. Fred had every intention of making his celebration an annual affair, but he died several months later. The event was not repeated.
It was there at the Celebration of Buses that I learned of the Museum of Bus Transportation to be located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I joined the organization. Its founder, Richard Maguire, who attended the celebration with some of his buses, was a retired president of Capitol Trailways in Harrisburg. With his sense of history for the industry, he had preserved a number of coaches, one from as early as 1927. It was his and the organization's dream to house his collection along with some others at the Hershey museum, then in the planning stage to be housed with the Antique Automobile Club of America. Regrettably, he did not live to see his dream come to reality. He died in 2001.
So it was with much remembrance and appreciation of both Richard Maguire and Fred Wengenroth that I attended the grand opening of the AACA Museum on June 29. Make no mistake about it, the 80 or so antique autos on display at the facility in their pristine, shiny condition are well worth the visit. But it was the buses that I really went there to see. And on the bottom floor, there they were. Seven of them.
The oldest on exhibit was a 1915 White from the Fullington Auto Bus Company. Others included a 1927 Fageol Safety Coach, a 1936 Fitzjohn-Chevrolet, a 1947 Flxible Clipper, and a 1964 Trailways GM-4106, all from the Richard Maguire collection; and a 1951 31-seat Fitzjohn from Wolf's Bus Lines. But amazing (to me), also on display was a 1975 MCI MC8. Golly, I can remember trying to charter one of those when the model was brand new! (We got an MC7 instead.) Now the MC8 is considered an antique! How time flies when you're having fun!
Tom Collins, president of Museum of Bus Transportation, poses at the door of former Trailways GM 4106
The Museum of Bus Transportation is actually a tenant at the AACA Museum. Space for the buses is limited to about eight to ten exhibits, depending on their size. But this in itself is an achievement; until now the buses could only be enjoyed by a limited few. There are plans to cycle some of the buses with others housed in an off-site location, thus avoiding repetition for those who go to the facility, say, about three times a year. In fact, I plan to return in October as part of an Oakleigh Tours group, going there (you guessed it!)... by bus! (If only we could find a Scenicruiser to get there in!)
The AACA Museum is located in South Hanover Township on PA-39, a couple of miles north of Hershey. For further information call 717-566-7100, or go to www.aacamuseum.org. For information on the Museum of Bus Transportation call 717-774-4848, or go to www.busmuseum.org.
Walt McCauley Dies
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
Walter E. McCauley, retired B&O clerk, agent and operator, died on April 6.
My association with Walt McCauley dates back to the very beginning of my career on the railroad in 1970. At the time, he was the clerk for Jack Keefauver, assistant trainmaster, rules examiner and division operator for the Baltimore Division at Camden Station, the official who hired me as a student operator. In fact, it was Walt who conducted the day to day business of assigning operators to their respective positions by managing the extra list and submitting payroll information. His office was on the second floor directly across from the dispatchers' office. "Come and I'll show you where you'll be working," he said, and I was surprised to learn that my initial assignment would not be in an interlocking tower, as I had expected, but training as a sidewire operator just across the hall. I thought then that I may have made a mistake by explaining that I had learned to use a teletype machine while I was in the Navy, and since this was one of the duties of a sidewire operator, I was to work initially in that capacity. In thinking back, however, working in the dispatchers' office was an ideal way to get accustomed to railroad procedures, terminology and logic, and this made my eventual entry into the towers a great deal easier.
I remained on the operators' extra list for nearly five years, and I was in touch with Walt on an almost daily basis to get my assignments. In fact, on several occasions I was even assigned to work Walt's own position while he was on vacation, or to assist him when things were busy or when Jack Keefauver was away or on vacation.
Walt was always calm, cool and collected. I never saw him angry and I never heard him raise his voice. He even took in stride the ordeal of having to be called in the middle of the night, sometimes more than once, to make a decision on a job assignment due to employees marking off from work. Payday weekends were especially hectic.
Walt changed positions in the mid 1970's and became the first-shift sidewire operator. Then, in the late 1970's, I took an extra position as train dispatcher. There were then three dispatching assignments at Camden Station - two "sheet" positions that supervised train movements, and a chief's position. At one point, while working as the chief dispatcher, Walt, who was working sidewire, remarked with favor that he had been my boss for a number of years, but now I was actually his boss. He had long imagined this turnaround in events, he said.
Earlier in his career, Walt had been superintendent of the Curtis Bay Railroad, a B&O subsidiary. He was a veteran of the second World War serving in the Army Air Corps, and a member of the VFW.
At the time of his death he was living in Florida.
Bob Tuck Dies
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
Robert G. Tuck Sr., retired B&O tower operator and train dispatcher, died on May 9 at the age of 84.
Bob was one of the dispatchers in the office where I began my career in 1970. His territory, known as the "terminal" job, included the Baltimore Terminal, the mainline from Baltimore to Washington, and the mainline from Washington to Point of Rocks, Maryland. He had brought with him a wealth of experience having worked for many years in towers, including the one at Point of Rocks, near his home.
In person, he was a very jovial man. But he seemed a completely different individual on the other end of the speaker phone circuit to someone working in a tower. Here it was strictly business. Except for a returned greeting at the beginning of a shift, there were never any pleasantries on the dispatchers' line. He merely gave instructions using what could be described as a pale monotone.
In working with Bob in person, in the dispatchers' office, I found that he delighted in discussions on many topics. One of his hobbies was photography. Another interest of his was antiques, including reproductions.
On one occasion I shared with him a perceived interest of mine in abstract art. It was not really my interest, but I pretended that it was. I then presented him with some modern "artwork" from my "collection" for him to enjoy. In fact, it was a liner sheet from a box of carbon paper with designs created by the storage of the paper. He graciously accepted my gift with compliments upon my taste, but I doubt that he really thought of it as a genuine work of art. It was just a subtle joke between ourselves.
In later years of his career he returned as an operator, working at WB Tower in Brunswick, Maryland. He retired in 1979 following a career spanning more than 42 years.
He lived in New Market, Maryland, known as the Antiques Capital of Maryland. He was a member of the Masons and the Loyal Order of Moose.
Miller Tower Project - An Update
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
This month marks the third anniversary of the closing of Miller Tower.
The tower had served for 90 years at Cherry Run, West Virginia, and it was my appointed honor to be its last operator and the one who locked the door following its final shift.
The structure was subsequently acquired by the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority in Martinsburg. In February 2001, the tower was cut into three pieces, and along with its massive interlocking machine was moved 14 miles in a military truck convoy to the Martinsburg Roundhouse complex located across the tracks from the Martinsburg train station. There the building was placed - still in pieces - for eventual restoration as an interactive educational display. Plans also included relinking its mechanical levers in order to throw switches in front of the tower as part of a planned rail system within the complex.
Initially, it was said that the restoration project would be completed about a year from the date the tower was moved. This was too optimistic - the tower and all its appurtenances are today where they were in 2001 - but the plans for restoration and display remain the same.
As of this writing, placement of the building awaits final determination of the site for its foundation. It is intended that the tower will be located near the entrance to the complex, near a yet-to-be-constructed driveway and parking area to be accessed by way of a yet-to-be-funded overpass to cross Queen Street next to the CSXT main line near milepost BA 100. Once the precise coordinates for the driveway are established, there are electrical and water line issues to be resolved before plans to construct the foundation can proceed.
Funding for the planned overpass may have to wait until next year. While the West Virginia Economic Development Committee recently approved a $2.75-million grant toward construction of an access bridge into the complex, it is understood that this money will be applied to construction of a pedestrian bridge spanning the CSXT tracks from the train station to the roundhouse area, not for the bridge to accommodate the driveway. The city of Martinsburg and the Roundhouse Authority had originally requested $6.8-million as the amount required for construction of both bridges, but only one can be built with the grant that was provided.
In the meantime, access to the complex - when it is open - is through a gate making use of a dusty driveway. The complex is opened to the general public for Rail Days in July, and visitors are bused from satellite parking locations to a site just outside of the entrance. In addition to Rail Days, scheduled tours of the roundhouse are slated to begin in July 2004. Completion of the pedestrian bridge will make it easier for visitors to access the complex from downtown Martinsburg; completion of the yet-to-be-funded driveway bridge would make it easier for motorists as well.
As for restoration of Miller Tower itself, a fund was established in March 2001 - introduced in the Bull Sheet with a number of readers responding with contributions designated to the Miller Tower Project - with $19,173.07 having been collected thus far. Of this amount, the authority has already spent $14,799.05. Most of this expenditure relates to costs associated with the disassembly of the building at the Cherry Run site, plus liability insurance required by the railroad while workers were on the property. The actual selling price of the tower was twenty-five dollars. There was no cost involved in moving the tower by military convoy; it was staged gratis as a training exercise. Similarly, there was no charge to the authority for the State Police escort team. The authority currently has a surplus of $4,374.02 for use toward the tower's restoration. Initially, the entire project was estimated to cost $75,000, with receipts thus far representing about 25.6 percent of that estimate.
The names of those contributing to the Miller Tower Project are listed on the Bull Sheet's website.
In other developments pertaining to the roundhouse, the authority received $2-million in federal funds in June for renovations, and the roundhouse was designated a national historical landmark in July. At the August meeting of the Roundhouse Authority, a presentation was made by the American Travel Service, which plans to move its headquarters from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Martinsburg next year. It would like to be a tenant within the roundhouse complex. There are also tentative plans to make the Martinsburg Roundhouse a satellite facility of the National Army Museum to be headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. There are also plans for a labor union museum and a Civil War museum being considered.
The Roundhouse Authority has been in discussion with CSXT for acquisition of NA Tower, located across from the south end of the complex, which closed in July. It is the intention that the one-story tower would be moved to a site within the complex. The authority has already taken possession of one of the signal masts which CSXT retired when the tower closed.
Freight Car Orders Rise in Second Quarter
Orders and deliveries for new railroad freight cars in North America continued to surge in the second quarter of 2003, according to statistics by the American Railway Car Institute and reported in a press release by the Association of American Railroads. The institute reported that 7,365 new freight cars were delivered in the quarter, compared to 6,614 delivered in the first quarter of 2003 and 4,801 delivered in the fourth quarter of 2002.
Norfolk Southern Adds Bulk Terminal in North Carolina
Norfolk Southern has established a new bulk transfer terminal at Fayetteville, North Carolina, to be operated by the Tidewater Transit Company, a major provider of bulk transportation services in North America. The facility enhances Norfolk Southern's network of 28 bulk transfer terminals in 16 states.
Amtrak Has Best Ridership Month in History
Amtrak carried 2,223,358 passengers in July, making it the best month for ridership in the company's 32-year history. "Slowly but surely we are making improvements, and we are beginning to see results," said Amtrak president David Gunn. Fifteen Amtrak routes posted double-digit ridership gains in July versus the same month last year. The Texas Eagle led the way with a 49.8 percent increase.
CSX Weathers Computer Virus Attack
[CSXT Midweek Report, August 28, 2003]...
August 20 brought a challenge in the form of the MS Blaster D computer virus that struck CSX during a week when many companies in the U.S. and worldwide also suffered the effects of computer virus infestations. The infection resulted in a slowdown of major railroad computer applications, including dispatching and signal systems. As a result, passenger and freight train traffic was halted early in the morning of August 20, with approximately one-third of the railroad stalled for up to five hours.
CSX Technology and CSXT operating teams immediately began aggressive and comprehensive efforts to restore computer systems and service to rail passengers and freight customers. Many key systems had been restored as of midday, allowing for substantial resumption of operations.
CSX's computer systems were compromised as the MS Blaster spread despite protective firewalls and software patches already in place from earlier versions of the virus. After the initial attack, to further protect dispatching and signal systems, network connections between these and other computer systems were disabled until the virus could be isolated. This required faxing of train documents instead of the normal printing of this paperwork. Sporadic incidents of desktop computer, mainframe, printer and fax machine problems caused delays and required manual transactions of paperwork and other functions through Sunday, August 24. Close cooperation with customers by local transportation personnel and network representatives helped keep trains running in a safe, orderly manner.
"Despite formidable obstacles, CSX Technology was able to overcome the virus through the resourcefulness of many CSX employees who selflessly kept at their jobs around the clock to ensure our systems were working and our trains running safely," said Chuck Wodehouse, president CSX Technology. "We thank everyone who made personal sacrifices and maintained their professionalism to get our customers and commuters moving again."
By Monday, August 25, major components of the system were back in working order, with only occasional reports of isolated problems. However, the effects on CSXT's merchandise, auto and coal operations as well as CSX Intermodal lingered and continue to be resolved as crews and locomotive power are positioned to resume their normal service cycle.
CSX Team Tackles Power Outage
[CSXT Midweek Report, August 28, 2003]...
A progressive power outage across the northern tier of the U.S. and parts of Canada struck at about 4:15 p.m. August 14, bringing normal commerce to a halt. For CSXT that outage affected facilities, signals and communications for train service in New York, northern New Jersey, northern Ohio and the Michigan Peninsula. Power returned to the Northeast later that evening, but parts of the Detroit region were left without electricity and water for days. CSXT responded by sending backup generators to Buffalo, Cleveland and Willard. They forward-positioned crews and developed train priority lists to help coordinate movement of trains within the CSXT system and at interchanges with western U.S. carriers.
At the height of the outage, an estimated 75 percent of Canadian National traffic was shut down, and the Canadian Pacific was running but delayed. Both caused severe congestion at CSXT/Canadian interchange points. CSXT auto customers were hard-hit by the outage. "Trucks couldn't keep the assembly plants open," said Rick Barnett, CSXT's director automotive service planning. Drivers with loads of auto parts were unable to fuel their trucks destined for Midwest assembly plants.
CSXT's Automotive Group stayed in close communication with General Motors, Ford and other customers to minimize the extent of plant closures. All in all, production was disrupted at 23 Ford Motor Company plants; 17 General Motors Corporation facilities; and 14 DaimlerChrysler AG facilities in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal.
CSX Intermodal traffic was likewise severely affected, with seven-hour or more delays on eastbound and westbound intermodal fleets Friday [August 15]. Rail traffic resumed at normal levels by Monday morning, August 18, including subways, Amtrak and commuter service in the Northeast.
Gary Bethel Named Great Lakes Division Manager
[CSXT Midweek Report, August 28, 2003]
Gary Bethel has been named division manager of the Great Lakes Division. Bethel recently served as operations regional superintendent in Jacksonville, Florida. "Gary's extensive experience will be an enormous benefit to the Great Lakes Division," said Al Crown, executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We are looking forward to the Great Lakes Division becoming the best it can be under Gary's leadership."
Sunset Limited Makes Surprise Stop
[By Scott Brodie] . . .
Something unusual happened in Milton, Florida, at noontime on June 23, 2003... Amtrak stopped there! Milton is located about 25 miles northeast of Pensacola in northwest Florida. It is on the main east-west line of CSX from Jacksonville to New Orleans. Prior to 1970 the L&N would stop in Milton. The depot, built about 1907, had a ticket office and two (Jim Crow) waiting rooms. Adjacent to this was a very large baggage room. The depot is now owned by the Santa Rosa County Historical Society and is the home of the West Florida Railroad Museum. Alongside and behind the depot are box cars, flat cars, baggage cars and a caboose. There is a model railroad building nearby. Then in the far corner is a one-foot gauge circular track which contains a live steam engine which pulls cars for small children. A dining car is available to the public for parties and special events.
The second weekend in November is called Depot Days and the public is invited to visit the museum and the surrounding grounds. The dining car is open with a wide variety of china and silverware from many different railroads. My contribution to the museum is that of dining car steward. My uniform displays the brass insignia of many railroads. My hat is not worn, of course, as I am in the diner to tell visitors about the bygone delights of enjoying meals in an elegant setting. (The hat does not fit me anyway!)
Depot Days features the model railroad building with its working HO models in high gear, and the flat car outside features the G models. The public can wander through the baggage room, caboose, view the ticket office, and the kiddies can ride the little train.
But who do you suppose is the engineer on that train? He is Richard Long. Richard lives in Jacksonville, and has brought the Amtrak train to Pensacola for many years on the Friday before Depot Days. The following days, Saturday and Sunday, he is the chief engineer on the one-foot gauge train. He then takes the Amtrak train back to Jacksonville on Monday - rather than the regular schedule of Saturday - in order to be our chief engineer.
After 42 years of service with Seaboard and Amtrak, Richard was due to make his last round trip run from Jacksonville to Pensacola and back on Saturday, June 21. But the day before, it was learned that the eastbound Sunset Limited was canceled because a number of loose cars carrying lumber products had derailed and blocked the track. Richard was stranded in Pensacola. Then on Sunday evening he was told by the dispatcher that the train would most likely arrive in Pensacola at the regular time of 6:45 A.M. on Monday, June 23. The word was passed on Sunday evening to his friends to be at the Milton depot at 7 A.M. on Monday to watch Richard pass on his final run.
We all arrived at the depot on Monday morning, but we quickly learned that the train would be late! Everyone asked, "How late?"
After much dickering, we learned that the train would arrive in Pensacola about 11:30 A.M.
Richard called us at the moment he was leaving Pensacola; the train would be in Milton about noon.
So the train went up the west side of Escambia Bay for about five miles and across the three-mile Escambia Bay trestle passing several industries.
Then at noon, the train came in sight... and it stopped! (The stop is not in the schedule!)
Richard appeared on the fireman's side of the engine, reached down and shook hands with Art Tuttle, our treasurer. We all cheered when this happened, and then with the bell ringing and the horn blowing, the train slowly departed.
Back in the middle of the train at the door of one of the coaches was the conductor who was gleefully waving to us. Our banners were waving in the breeze to announce to one and all that our friend Richard Long was on his retirement trip at the throttle of Amtrak.
Many passengers looked out the windows in amazement at the unscheduled stop at this small station with such a joyful crowd of folks waving.