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February 1995


State of Maryland to Buy WM Scenic Right of Way

The state of Maryland plans to purchase the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad's right of way between Cumberland and Frostburg as part of a plan to bolster the line as a tourist attraction.


Clearances Being Increased in Washington Amtrak Tunnels

Work has begun on increasing clearances in the First Street Tunnels south of Washington's Union Station. Amtrak maintenance of way equipment began removing ballast from one of the twin tunnels during the second week of January to increase the height to at least 16 feet 2 inches in order to accommodate bi-level commuter coaches and Superliner cars. Work will be performed one tunnel at a time with catenary and platform work in the station's lower level to follow.


Amtrak Modifies Silver Service Curtailments

Amtrak has modified its plan of service curtailments by retaining the Silver Meteor and Silver Star as daily trains, but eliminating the Palmetto. In addition, the Silver Star will be downgraded with the loss of full-service dining and first-class sleeping cars. It will retain a Slumbercoach to Miami, however.


Auto Train Getting Superliners

The latest report on Amtrak's Auto Train is that it is to be equipped with Superliners on or about March 1.


U.S. Railroads Move Record Tonnage in 1994

U.S. railroads moved 1.2 trillion ton-miles of freight in 1994, the record for the most freight moved in a single year. The record for the most freight moved in a single week was set the week of December 3 with 26.1 billion ton-miles.


CSX Operating Income Up for 4th Quarter

Operating income for CSX Corporation's fourth quarter 1994 rose 21 percent from the same period in 1993.


CSXT Retires Signal System on Mon Subdivision

CSXT has retired the signal system on its (ex-P&LE) Mon Subdivision between McKeesport and Brown, Pennsylvania.


Michael Ruehling Named to CSX State Relations Post

Michael J. Ruehling has been named vice president-state relations for CSX Corporation. He replaces Daniel S. Green who has been named to head the Cumberland Coal Business Unit.


Buffalo & Pittsburgh Petitions for Line Abandonment

The Buffalo & Pittsburgh has petitioned its (ex-CSXT) line between Orchard Park and Ashford Junction, New York, for abandonment. Traffic en route to B&P's Tift Street Yard in Buffalo would be routed over the Rochester & Southern line to Machias Junction and onto a new connection with Conrail's Buffalo line.


Old Dominion Chapter NRHS Buys Land for its Museum

The Old Dominion Chapter NRHS has purchased the land in Richmond where the chapter's Old Dominion Railway Museum is located.


Norfolk Southern Increases Dividend

Norfolk Southern increased its quarterly dividend payable March 10 from 48 cents to 52 cents per share.


Lee Mosco Dies

Lee A. Mosco Jr., veteran B&O/CSXT locomotive engineer, died on January 25.


Amtrak Gets First Deluxe Sleeper

[Reported by Mark Sublette and Tom Kraemer] . . . The first Amtrak Superliner-II deluxe sleeper, #32500 Palm Bay, built 11/23/94, has been delivered. It was in the 16th Street Shops on December 6. Only six of this type car are on order, all for duty on the Auto Train. The lower level is the same as a standard Superliner sleeper, but the upper level has a floorplan of ten deluxe bedrooms. The Auto Train is now slated to be equipped with Superliners in March.


Gator Delays Sunset Limited

Amtrak train number 2, the eastbound Sunset Limited, had its air go into emergency near Akka, about five miles north of Mobile, Alabama, early one morning several weeks ago, the result of an air hose separation after the train struck an alligator. The train was delayed about 50 minutes.


Conrail Historical Society Formed

The Conrail Historical Society, Inc., is a non-profit organization formed recently to "encourage preservation and collection of historical and contemporary material associated with Conrail in particular, and the American Railroad System in general." Memberships in the society are $25 for one year, or $12.50 for the second half of the year after June 1. There is a monthly publication devoted mostly to Conrail, but also to Norfolk Southern, CSXT, CP Rail and others. The editor of the publication is Tim Howerter of Emmaus, Pennsylvania. For memberships or further information write the society, P.O. Box 38, Walnutport, Pennsylvania 18088-0038.


CSXT Crew Saves Two from Drowning

[From CSXT Employee News Service] . . . As their train neared Hamlet, North Carolina, engineer A. P. Johnson and conductor W. J. Rackley saw two men struggling in a nearby pond. They stopped the train and ran back nearly half a mile to lend assistance. They found a man struggling to save his nephew after the nephew suffered a seizure and fell into the water. The quick action by the crew probably saved the lives of both men, who had been struggling in the water for about 20 minutes.


Hartwell Railroad Report

[By Mark Sublette] . . . Two visits to the Hartwell Railroad in October and November 1994 found two units in use on the 9.6 mile line from Hartwell, Georgia, to the Norfolk Southern connection at Bowersville. Former C&O SW9 5093 is in full Chessie scheme except where C&O on cabside has been overpainted and very small Great Walton Rail initials added. (Benny Ray Anderson owns both lines.) Also on the Hartwell is ex-Southern/NS GP30 2594, completely gloss black, albeit weathered, and carrying the ATRX reporting marks of the Atlanta Chapter NRHS/Southeastern Railroad Museum. One unit usually lays over at Air Line, Georgia, and the other at the Bowersville interchange. Still on the property is former NYC/PC/AMTK SW1 No. 7, wearing Penn Central black, and stored out of service at Hartwell. Unit was NYC 599, then PC 8425, then Amtrak 243, and finally Amtrak 730 before its acquisition by the Hartwell during the line's tourist-hauling period in the mid-1980s. Also on the Hartwell are the two former Erie-Lackawanna electric coaches which were operated by the Hartwell Scenic, plus two privately-owned cabooses stored under a shelter roof. They are Central of Georgia X93 and RF&P 933.


Arkadelphia Gets Grant for Depot

[By Allen Brougham] . . . The city of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, has received $140,000 from its state's transportation enhancement program to help renovate the former Missouri Pacific depot at the site of the city's stop of Amtrak's Texas Eagle. Arkadelphia was the destination of my 1991 Amtrak adventure reported upon in the Bull Sheet in May of that year. According to the January 1995 issue of the Arkansas Railroader, monthly publication of the Arkansas Railroad Club, the depot will be developed into a community center with a waiting area for passengers. The Texas Eagle serves Arkadelphia three times a week in each direction. Arkadelphia, a city of about 10,000 and home to two universities, is located about midway between Little Rock and Texarkana. Its depot dates from about 1910, was later enlarged, and is of brick construction with space once used for passengers, offices, express, and maintenance of way. It was vacant, open and cluttered at the time of my visit. In September of 1991 the depot was nominated for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Also according to the Arkansas Railroader, depots at Camden, Hope, Van Buren, and North Little Rock (Argenta), Arkansas, have been the subject of restoration grants recently.


"Treasure or Trash"

[By Rich Ballash] . . . With the ongoing abandonment of the 'ol 35mm still camera, the future of our historical photographic depository is in serious jeopardy. This is no joke, people! The price of video camcorders is now down to that of a good 35mm still camera, and always thrifty ("cheap") Americans are making an ill-informed transition from $10 still film to $2 cartridge video at a dizzying pace. Many of you went through this bit before, folks! Don Ball in his 1978 classic, "America's Colorful Railroads," wrote: " ....'56 and '57 were not such good years. I had forsaken Kodachrome for the slightly faster Ansochrome .... Burlington 0-5's I had paced westward out of Omaha toward Lincoln, now green .... IC 4-8-2's and L&N 2-8-4's now sporting green. Back to Kodachrome. Bless Kodachrome .... " From 1977's Kodak publication, "Storage and Care of Kodak Color Films" .... "No significant dye fading .... on Kodachrome slides for 50 years or longer .... Perceptible fading may be noticed on original Ektachrome slides .... after a period of 10 to 20 years. Color negatives .... are capable of making satisfactory prints for a period of at least 2 to 5 years .... " A recent report indicated that your "thrifty" VHS videotapes will last about 15 years, not to mention existing on a format that is as stable as 8-track audio. And you cannot simply transfer or duplicate them into permanence. Check out a 3rd generation video dupe! Heck! The quality of ORIGINAL amateur video is, at best, merely acceptable! The format you choose will dictate your end product, as follows: Black-and-white prints (permanent) - Professional! Kodachrome - The ONLY choice for COLOR originals. ALL videotape and ALL E-6 Ektachromes and Fujichromes - You'll be sorry in 15 years! (Care to see my batch of ALL-RED slides of Ohio's now-demolished Dayton Union Station from 1983?) ALL color print film - Go buy yourself a couple cases of beer, and use those prints to build a good campfire to drink it around. Have any of those beautiful railroad photo calendars around? Have you ever seen a memorable steam or early diesel-era slide show? Those priceless color photographs and movies from the 40's and 50's .... Care to wager on their original format? Color prints? Videos? As "In Living Color's" Homey-The-Clown used to say, "I don't think so!" If you are a railroad photographer, this is likely to be one of the most critical articles you will ever encounter. If you read it, find yourself disturbed, but ignore it, just continue to revel in defiant bliss. If this article survives, and you pull it out 20 or 30 years from now, give me a call! We'll sob over your faded-away prints and/or pile of worthless plastic videocassettes. Then, I'll come over and console you (or beat you over the head with) a carousel full of brilliant Kodachrome slides.


Video Review

Towers: CSX's Living Relics
Revelation Audio-Visuals
VHS, 68 minutes

[Reviewed by Allen Brougham] . . . . Back in the "Good 'ol Days" of hard work railroading, interlocking towers dotted systems from coast to coast. These living sentinels stood often at five or ten mile intervals (much closer than that in terminals), and the squeal of their mechanical pipelines was as commonplace as the sound of the steam-powered trains that passed them. This was serious, hard core railroading! But the realities of progress eventually saw that these sentinels were not really needed in such abundance, and the towers began to disappear. Then the computer revolution brought mega-dispatching centers into vogue, and to the annals of history went most of the remaining towers. That any towers should remain at all in 1995 is an anomaly; that any clusters of towers should remain is purely a miracle! Such as it is, though, on the former B&O - the route of the Capitol Limited - where no fewer than nine towers still hold fort along one 150-mile stretch from Brunswick, Maryland, to Sand Patch, Pennsylvania. These include four of the old time armstrong-lever towers (Miller, Hancock, Viaduct Junction, and Hyndman), all of which get a visit in Revelation Audio-Visual's new video, Towers: CSX's Living Relics.

The tape strikes home with me in more ways than one. Indeed, one of the "relics" included in it is .... ME! Yes, I make several appearances, including some with speaking parts. (Could I be in line for an Emmy, perhaps?)

Lest anyone be asleep at the start of the tape, it begins with a couple of shocking blasts from the horn at Miller Tower. With all now surely awake, this is followed by the passing of a 128-car train of empty coal hoppers with the tower as a backdrop. (A shorter train would have served the purpose just as well, though.) A little history is then given through some oldie shots at towers the likes of Lackawanna, Erie, Pennsy, and New Haven. There are also some more contemporary scenes of towers, some of which were closed as recently as just a few months ago. We then meet up with the B&O at Carothers Tunnel near Paw Paw, West Virginia, and shortly thereafter move on to Hancock for action at HO Tower. This is one of only about 18 towers remaining in this country that still use armstrong levers. There are worthy scenes of pipelines in motion at this and the other previously noted armstrong towers, but only at Miller does one get inside to see the operator and levers in action.

From Hancock and Miller the scene changes westward to Cumberland, Maryland; Hyndman and Sand Patch, Pennsylvania; and then abruptly eastward to Martinsburg, West Virginia. Viewers not familiar with the territory might find this jumping around somewhat confusing. A crudely-drawn map is included separately with the tape, but a more professionally-made map shown sequentially on the tape itself would have been a much more valuable addition. Of almost comical proportions is the off-camera narration, spoken in a dry monotone reminiscent of a teacher guaranteed to cure insomnia. Railfans are not likely to sleep through this one, but the narration does offer some balance to the wake-up blasts rendered in the beginning.

The final towers shown are two that closed in the Washington, D.C., area six months apart in 1992. QN and JD towers were regressively my last two duty stations before going to Miller, and I have speaking parts at both. The tape concludes with excerpts from the closing ceremony at JD Tower on March 5, 1992. That some key elements of this ceremony were cut from the tape is (to me) disappointing, it is nevertheless fitting that this symbolic event did find some of its way into history through this video production.

As a grade for this tape, I'm giving it a B-minus. All in all, it's a worthy effort, and covers an often overlooked railroading topic. The tape is available for $29, plus $3 postage and handling, from Revelation Audio-Visuals, P.O. Box 129, Tallmadge, Ohio 44278-0129. Phone 216-630-9817. [A.B.]