Mexico Tower Closes
CSXT's Mexico Tower at the east end of the Cumberland, Maryland, yard has closed. Its last official day was July 25 following a cutover period that began July 15. Main track switches are now controlled by the CM train dispatcher in Jacksonville, Florida, but certain yard switches are now controlled by an operator at the West Hump yard office in Cumberland, a position created by the closing of the tower. The operators from Mexico transferred directly to the new position at West Hump.
Named for Mexico Farms, located in the immediate area, the tower was built in the late 1950's as part of an improvement of facilities in Cumberland by the B&O Railroad. Described in an article appearing in the B&O Magazine of March 1960 as "the largest improvement project ever undertaken on the Baltimore and Ohio," the project included new main and yard tracks, an arch bridge over Evitts Creek, a six-story retarder tower and yard office with a pair of two-story wings, and the elimination of a grade crossing. The interlocking tower was placed into service to coincide with the opening of the new main tracks, and preceded most of the other work.
Viaduct Junction Tower at the extreme west end of Cumberland Yard remains in service, but that tower is tentatively slated to close later this year. Both Mexico and Viaduct Junction are on the route of Amtrak's Capitol Limited.
CSXT to Implement Three New Service Lanes
CSXT has announced the formation of three new service lanes. The Jacksonville Service Lane will be implemented November 1, to extend west to Flomaton, Alabama, south to Vitis and Auburndale, Florida, and north and east to Manchester and Savannah, Georgia. The Atlanta Service Lane will be implemented December 1, west to New Orleans, north to Etowah, Tennessee, and east to Abbeville, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia. The Appalachian Service Lane will be implemented January 1, and will extend from Etowah to just south of Cincinnati, including the present Blue Ridge Division.
CSX Intermodal Acquires Property in Georgia for New Terminal
CSX Intermodal has acquired property near Fairburn, 20 miles south of Atlanta, for a new intermodal terminal facility. CSXI will continue to operate its current facility at Hulsey Yard in Atlanta, and the two terminals will more than double capacity in the area, according to a company report.
Amtrak Considers Adding Third Silver-Service Train
Amtrak is reportedly considering the addition of a third Silver-Service train to Florida, to be called the Silver Palm, to begin operating later this year between New York and Miami by way of Tampa.
Notes on the Great Walton Railroad
[By Mark Sublette] . . . On Wednesday, 3 July 1996, the Monroe-Social Circle line of the Great Walton Railroad in Georgia was being operated with ex-B&O GP9 6525 (frame 5519-15) and 6580 (frame 5568-9), wearing B&O lettered Chessie scheme and Southern Rwy-style green, white and yellow, respectively. Also on hand in Social Circle were former Western Maryland GP9 6400 (frame 5344-1) in Chessie scheme with WM lettering, and ex-C&O GP9 6243 (frame 5544-5) in intact blue & yellow "C&O for Progress" scheme. None of these units has builder's plates and 6243 appears to be a parts-supply source. Also stored at Social Circle is retired SCL/SBD M-6 caboose 21121 in faded Family Lines paint, built December 1970, and former Southern Rwy 45-seat modernized heavyweight coach 1065 (built as 83-seat coach 1636 with clerestory by Pullman in 1922, modernized with air conditioning by Hayne Shops in Spartanburg in 1955, had a 10-kw generator replaced with a 25-kw generator as of 24 January 1956).
In Monroe, Georgia, a former Western Maryland cupola caboose 1807 (built November 1936) in Chessie yellow (but no cat logo on sides) sits behind the former Georgia RR station which is now partly occupied by an art gallery/dealer.
The Social Circle Georgia RR depot, erected 1913, is still used as an active CSX agency/crew call point, although the freight house section of the station was recently razed. The Social Circle concrete coaling tower still stands on the mainline, however. Note: GWR locomotives tie up next to a low-income housing project in Social Circle, so lock your car and hide valuables! I found former C&NW GP9R 4537 in Covington, Georgia, on Great Walton's Covington-Machen line, apparently sole power for the line. The locomotive lays over next to the fire department, and wears C&NW green & yellow but no lettering save a very small AA on the cabside. Unit is frame no. 7568-14.