Amtrak Drops Fort Worth-San Antonio Dining Car Service
Amtrak's Texas Eagle no longer offers full dining car service between Fort Worth and San Antonio. The change was implemented due to low patronage and excessive costs. Lounge car service remains between these points, and a number of cafe items have been added.
Elizabeth Port Authority to Expand Cargo Facility
With the Port Authority's ship-to-rail facility at the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal nearing capacity, the agency has announced that it has hired a contractor to design and build a larger, state-of-the-art ExpressRail that will provide shippers with an efficient way to get their goods to market and to allow the port to better handle projected increases in cargo, according to an Association of American Railroads press release. The $20-million facility - to be built by Conti Enterprises Inc. on a 70-acre site that will straddle the reconfigured Maher and APM terminals - will have the ability to handle up to one million containers a year when fully operational. It is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2004 and to replace an existing facility adjacent to the Maher Terminal property.
NS, BNSF Introduce Premium Service Assurance Plan
Norfolk Southern and Burlington Northern Santa Fe have introduced a new coast-to-coast carload service assurance program for temperature-controlled commodities moving from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast. With the program, shippers can purchase service assurance for a $500 premium. For each load of freight that does not reach its destination on time, BNSF and NS will reimburse shippers double their premium.
Canadian Taxes Slight Rails, CPR Chief Says
"Canadians are losing out on economic growth, cleaner air and safer, less congested roads because government taxation and investment policies routinely and consistently discriminate against the country's railways," Robert Ritchie, president and chief executive officer of Canadian Pacific Railway, said in an address in Vancouver, British Columbia, on November 19. Speaking to the Western Transportation Advisory Council, he called it absurd that property taxes on CPR's right-of-way range from $913 per mile of track in one province to $8,802 per mile of track in another province. Similar variations exist in provincial fuel tax, with CPR paying from 1.5 cents per liter to as high as 15 cents per liter on locomotive fuel, a ten-fold difference. He said the discrimination exists because those who ship by truck do not have to pay through their truck rates a single cent of property taxes for using the highways, and the fuel tax truckers pay helps to improve and expand the highways they use. None of the fuel tax paid by railways is put back into the rail network, and some of it actually is poured back into the highways, which are used by the railways' competitors.
Confluence & Oakland - the "Other" C&O
[By Tom Kraemer] . . .
The Confluence and Oakland Railway was a subsidiary of the Baltimore and Ohio that once existed in Southwestern Pennsylvania and a bit in Western Maryland. Though it shared initials, it should not be confused with the "C&O" (Chesapeake & Ohio) that we're familiar with. This C&O (Confluence & Oakland) was one of several branch lines stemming from the B&O main line in that area. These lines, built in the late 1800's, prospered from the logging industry and functioned as common carriers for freight and passenger service as well.
But getting back to the C&O in particular, their 20-or-so mile line broke off the B&O main at Confluence, Pennsylvania, and headed directly south following the Youghiogheny River banks upstream to its terminus at a location called "Kendall" just a few miles south of Friendsville, Maryland. The line was completed and in operation by 1890.
Most historical accounts of this line describe its complete annihilation in the early 1940's as being drowned by the waters of the Youghiogheny River Lake (a result of the creation of the Yough Lake flood control dam just outside Confluence). These accounts are accurate...to a point. Sure, the lake sits on top of probably 90% of the old C&O, and has erased prominent landmarks such as the Buffalo Run bridge from view, but as the backwaters recede at the southern end of the lake, and the Yough takes the form as a swift-flowing river once again, traces of the old right-of-way can still be found.
PART ONE - CONFLUENCE
Confluence today is, of course, host to CSX's active mainline Keystone Subdivision (B&O's east/west mainline via Pittsburgh). Once home to a manned interlocking tower, station, water tower, small yard (all the usuals), Confluence, like most other locations these days, has been cleansed of such accessories save for an old maintenance-of-way building and a Jacksonville-controlled interlocking at nearby Draketown to the west. Confluence still marks the "junction'' of two single track sections of the main line that become the High Line and Low Grade Line as they take their respective routes uphill out of the Yough Valley and head east toward Rockwood and Cumberland. The lines reconnect as "double track" up at Brook, approximately seven miles to the east along the Casselman River.
A wide spot in the right-of-way about half way between Draketown and Confluence proper marks the location of the old wye and few yard tracks that made up what was known as "C&O Junction." It was there that the C&O broke away from the main line to continue to follow the Yough south toward Maryland. Through the years, and apparently as a result of a few ruthless floods of the Yough, the layout of Confluence has been drastically modified and built-up in an ongoing attempt to keep the water and community functioning as separate entities. Flood-control dikes and modification projects have erased any traces of the original C&O bridge over the Yough at that point. On the South bank of the river, however, grading suggests a junction (built at the introduction of the Western Maryland Railway to the scene) between the C&O and the WM main line. It would be interesting to know what arrangements were made between the B&O and Western Maryland in the later years, as it appears that the original C&O bridge could have been removed early on, leaving the WM in control of access to the C&O. It is possible that the B&O was allowed rights to use a section of the WM (from a junction/transfer off the Low Grade Line just above Confluence) to access the C&O and their other branch down to Unamis in the later years of operation.
The old WM through the area, at the present time, has been converted to a bike trail system linking Pittsburgh with Washington, DC. Arriving in Confluence on this trail from the West, a biker with a trained eye will notice at the above mentioned "junction" with the C&O, that the WM main line actually splits off to the right and crosses township road T880, then works its way uphill to swing across the Yough on the north side of Confluence. So basically, for about 3/4 mile, the bike trail follows the original right-of-way of the old Confluence and Oakland before crossing on its own bridge into town, and reconnecting with the Western Maryland main line.
As history suggests, evidence of the C&O is abruptly lost at the foot of the Yough Lake dam. From there on south for approximately 12 miles, the C&O rests at peace under the clear waters of Youghiogheny River Lake, joining in with others belonging to Club Atlantis.
PART TWO - FRIENDSVILLE, MD
An exit off I-68, Friendsville exists as a small, quiet town in the northwest corner of the Old Line State. Swift flowing streams compliment looming wooded mountains as far as scenery is concerned, yet rumbling above the valley it occupies exists Interstate 68. A look at Friendsville's architecture and relative age of buildings quickly identifies the town as having existed long before the interstate cut its way through. The layout of streets and properties easily suggest the presence of a railroad through angled buildings and lots. The depot was probably removed along with the tracks, yet old hotels and mills which still stand with doors and docks lined up to accommodate rail service are quite evident there.
The Youghiogheny, at that elevation, has returned to being the fast-flowing river that feeds the lake to its north. It is joined by Bear Creek, and forms two distinct channels just north of Friendsville as it works its way toward the peaceful waters ahead.
Heading north out of Friendsville, the C&O right of way surfaces as a slight elevation along the western edge of a nicely kept town park. It makes up a space between the park road and the outfield of a ball diamond... residents most likely not to notice the dark cinder ballast under their feet as they head for the bleachers to watch a community game. The line then tucks itself away into the woods north of the park as the road it parallels eventually splits off to access a few cabins further up the valley. About 300 feet from that point it enters the wooded area (almost a mile north of Friendsville), the C&O crossed both channels of the Yough on heavy wooden bridges #711 and #712.
As a memorial to those who constructed them, several cut-stone piers still split the flowing waters of both Yough channels. Though the wooden structures of both bridges have long since gone, the piers have existed for well over 100 years and show no sign of weakening.
Less than 30 yards from the piers of the northernmost bridge exists a well-designed cut-stone culvert over yet another water channel; this channel being diverted to turn the turbines of an old mill located off the right-of-way approximately 1500 feet further downstream. The channel is dry, and all that remains of the mill are the stone foundations and a few metal castings from the control system that once powered the mill.
The area along the right-of-way beyond the old mill is designated by the state as a "Wildlife Habitat Rehabilitation Area" and passes a clean pond with large birdhouses affixed to several of the trees. The actual right-of-way is clear and follows close to the riverbank for approximately two miles through this habitat, and is used by state personnel to access the land by vehicle. For the rest of us, access by foot is the preferred method (I suppose a mountain bike would do the trick as well).
As expected, there comes a point where the "access road" curves unnaturally and abruptly (for a railroad right-of-way) up and away from the water's edge. At this point, the existence of the cinder ballast underfoot is lost as well. It is the point of no return where the dam's backwaters have exceeded the elevation of the old C&O, and roadbed is left to continue underwater toward Confluence.
Access to this lower area can be gained by following Old Morgantown Road to its dead end at the western edge of the lake (across form Selbysport on the east side). Signs of state ownership and a gate mark the trail that will lead to the actual C&O right-of-way and bridge remains further to the south.
PART THREE - THE SOUTH END
At the river's edge on the south side of Friendsville exists what appears to be a stone driveway blocked by a metal gate. There is some sort of sign on this gate, however the paint on it is jumbled and unintelligible. I'm sure it indicates that it is the entrance to the old C&O right-of-way, but it might have said "NO TRESPASSING" - I couldn't be sure, so I proceeded.
Passing under the Interstate, as expected, the cinder ballast had been bulldozed during the construction of the twin highway bridges there, but quite soon after, the right-of-way picks back up as a clear, smooth trail following the east bank of the scenic river. The terrain is rugged. It is easy to assume that three miles of construction of this line through this area was enough to lead engineers to abandon their hopes of actually reaching Oakland, still at least 17 miles further upstream. The area becomes isolated rather quickly as well. It might be noted that Friendsville is the last cross access to the right of way; and the river does not cross paths with another road for at least eight more miles upstream, with parallel roads running on the rim of the valley at least two miles distant in either direction. The trail is smooth, but you might want to bring a friend along for this section!
The C&O was well graded, with evidence of concrete retaining walls in certain known slide areas. At times it occupies a narrow shelf between a cliff and the riverbank with water dripping from mossy layers of rock. By mainline standards, the grade is severe, appearing in places to approach at least 3%. Large trees and plenty of mountain laurel surround the trail as it winds its way through the narrow valley. Characteristics of the river are common for the area: large boulders, plenty of white water and calm, green pools (with probably a fish or two in them). Several times throughout its route, the right-of-way curves inward to "cut-off" a sharper bend in the river, yet it never strays more than a couple hundred feet from the bank.
Nearing the line's remote terminus of Kendall, a wide area could have certainly accommodated a wye track and a couple of sidings. A few old ties, joiner bars cast to hold together almost toy-like light rail sections and the odd spike here and there tell tales of the past physical plant.
A small, clear-flowing run marks the end of the line. It was apparent that no railroad bridge was ever constructed over it (or all traces were lost long ago). A wide area in the right of way, the token coal pile, and a cut-stone ash-pit exist to prove that the location was the terminus of a busy steam road. Evidence of logging roads, rough yet passable, joined together at the spot from areas above the run. Another logging road continued up to follow the river and appeared to almost be a natural continuation of the railroad, however the absence of the cinder ballast and unsteady gradient had the tracks ending certainly at the run.
Operationally, rough-cut lumber would have been dragged in from the surrounding hillsides to this terminal area, loaded onto the railway cars there, then taken on to Confluence to be switched or interchanged appropriately. Friendsville, historically reported to be a rough bar-lined town, most likely was a temporary home to lumberjacks working the area. It was named after a family of "Friends" who settled there - and apparently not after the demeanor of the folks who occupied its boundaries.
Though maps list the terminus of the C&O as "Kendall," suggesting maybe at least a town or depot, the spot most likely did not see many family dwellings in its history. It was a work location, possibly being referred to under pressure to the likes of, "We've gotta get these logs down to Kendall before nightfall or we'll be spending the night up here in the dark!"
All the more reason to get back to Friendsville and belly-up, for tomorrow it would be another full day of sawing and dragging in log country.
So there you have it...hopefully I've filled in some blank spots in the sparsely documented C&O files. The right-of-way, what's still intact, would make a great rail-trail. As it is, it still provides a nice walk along Yough Lake, and the "Upper" Youghiogheny River. If you're ever in the area...
A Report from Mark Sublette
A visit to the Pickens Railroad at Pickets, S.C., on Monday, 21 October 2002, found two newly-arrived C30-7 units, on the premises for one week. Former RMGX 5035 (ex-Burlington Northern 5035), and former RMGX 5046 (ex-BN 5046), had been stored at Moultree, Georgia, before purchase by the Johnson family who operate the Pick. These are probably the largest power ever brought into Pickens, and one of them derailed on the final curve into the rail yard, but was rerailed without damage to the unit.
Also in Pickens was Baldwin VO-660 No. 2, the T. Grady Welborn, originally Singer Manufacturing No. 2, and Plymouth WDT 40-ton AKM-015 (ex-American Kraft Mills, exx-Mead Corporation No. 6 at Harriman, Tennessee), as well as North Carolina Ports F-M H12-44 No. 1802. Off trucks and on blocks as parts sources were H12-44s ex-Yankeetown Dock No. 3 and NCPR, ex-Tennessee Valley Authority 22.
The former Southeast Coal Co./exx-B&O Alco S-2 being rebuilt in Pickens in 2000-2001 went to Willamette Industries at Kingsport, Tennessee (the former Mead Power operation).
I did not determine where the Carolina Eastman SW1500 No. 2104 (c.n. 38463, frame 7352-1) which was at the Pickens Shops in August 2001 has gone. It had been at Eastman Chemical Co. in Columbia, S.C. and was ex-Tennessee Eastman No. 9 at Kingsport, Tennessee, exx-P&LE 1554.
On Tuesday, 22 October 2002, Johnson Railway Service in Cornelia, Georgia, had former Laurinburg & Southern Alco S-2 No. 132 in the early stages of rebuild as JRWX 132. To be finished in a red and shale gray paint scheme, it will go to Carolina Power & Light's Hyco Plant at Roxboro, North Carolina. Hugh Johnson told me that they are working to revive long-dormant Plymouth 16-ton JLB c.n. 5069 (July 1947) formerly of Southern Wood Piedmont to move the S-2 about.
A quick tour of the Hartwell Railroad found HRT SD7 No. 454 sitting on a siding in Lavonia, Georgia, on 22 October 2002. The unit is in its full livery of previous operator Bessemer's orange and brown and carries frame number 5212-4. "HRT" replaces "BESSEMER" on the cabsides.
At Airline, Georgia, was the working powerset of former RF&P GP35 No. 136 (frame 7810-8!!) as Great Walton Railroad 136, Hartwell GP30 No. 3021 (frame 7640-8!!) in full Hartwell paint, and ex-DRG&W GP30 No. 3044 still in full, if weathered, Rio Grande scheme. It is frame 7776-6!! Also at Airline were the cut-up remains of former Georgia Northeastern GP35 No. 372 with only the prime mover not on site. The short hood and port cabside showed collision damage.
Hartwell coach 102 was stored at Airline while coach 101 was stored next to the depot at Hartwell, Georgia. Many DTTX and FTTX rack cars were stored on the original Hartwell line between Bowersville and Hartwell.
An Amtrak Trip Report
The following is a report in letter format of a trip between Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado:
[By Gilbert Elmond] . . .
My dad and I just returned home from Denver. I had a great time railfanning and train riding on Amtrak and the narrow gauge Georgetown Loop just west of Denver.
I would like to tell you guys about my experience riding on Amtrak from Denver to Grand Junction, Colorado. Amtrak # 5 left Denver about 30 minutes late. My dad and I tried to get a seat in the Sightseer Lounge but could not because a bunch of retired people occupied the car for the entire trip to Grand Junction. My dad and I still had fun sitting in the coach car and enjoying the fall scenery. Since # 5 did not get stopped in any sidings along the way, the train made it to Grand Junction 20 minutes early!!!! Hurahhhhhh!!! My dad and I had a great experience riding Amtrak # 5 on October the third.
Now for our trip back to Denver on Amtrak # 6 was not quite as pleasant as it could have been. Well my dad and I did get to sit in the Sightseer Lounge for the entire time since it was quite empty for most of the trip. Hurahhhh!!!! The train was pretty much on time getting into Grand Junction but the train did get held up a lot on the trip to Denver because of slow orders and a very long Union Pacific coal train ahead of us going through Moffat Tunnel. The train arrived into Denver about an hour late. I was not complaining about the train getting into Denver late but my dad and I were not happy with the food service we got in the Diner car.
We had last dinner call at 6:15 p.m. So when the time came, we went to the Diner. We placed our orders and waited for our food to arrive. We waited and waited and dinner just did not arrive in 30 minutes. The food servers were delivering the food to everyone else promptly except our table and the table next to us. That's eight people total. Then we got bad news. Somehow the waiter who filled our orders misplaced them and that is why we had to wait and wait getting ever so upset. So the eight of us had to verbally replace the orders with the waiter. And another 30 minutes would pass before we got our dinners. The other people who got their orders promptly were paying for their meals as the eight of us were just getting our meals over a hour late!!!!!! We were ticked!!!
I ordered a steak Well Done with baked potato, and so did my father. We got the steaks all right, but they were cooked very very rare!!! Mine was so rare even blood was dripping out my steak!!! My dad and I were so hungry we did not complain about it and ate the steaks as is. It still tasted good but they just did not have time to cook them well done. If they had, it probably would have been at least another 15 minutes or so. The servers finally found the lost order tickets over an hour later!!! They apologized somewhat and offered us eight passengers free desserts. We took the offer and paid FULL price for the meals, excluding the free desserts. My dad and I paid $35 total for the steak meals. At this time it was just ten minutes before the train pulled into Denver Union Station. We barely had enough time to finish our meals!!! Nobody complained about having to pay the full price for the meals but I think all eight of us should have gotten the meals for free or at least at a discount. These servers on this Amtrak # 6 on October the 4th give Amtrak a bad name. Poor service = Bad reputation, which leads to less people choosing to ride Amtrak. No wonder why people choose to fly!
My experience flying with United Airlines was way better than riding on Amtrak # 6 on October the 4th. Service was excellent flying to and from Washington D.C. and Denver. BUT... Still I SUPPORT Amtrak all the way despite just one bad experience riding on Amtrak # 6. I would much prefer to take the train when possible over an airplane. Train is the way to SEE the country!!!! There should be more Amtrak trips for me in the future as long as time permits. Believe me, I love trains or else I wouldn't have gone to Denver to ride Amtrak and railfan!!!!
Overall my dad and I had a spectacular time on our vacation to Denver, Colorado!!!
- Have fun guys,
A short note to let you know I thoroughly enjoyed the September 1 Bull Sheet article "Down to the Sea at Halifax" by Doug Koontz. It reminded me of my trips on the Ocean and VIA's discontinued train Atlantic (I think that was the name). The Atlantic left Canada, traveled through Maine and then back into Canada. American Customs and Immigration officials rode the train to inspect passengers getting off in Maine. The exterior doors were wired shut to ensure no one could get on or off except at doors where immigration officials were stationed.
My first railroad trip to the Maritimes was to a Toastmasters International conference in St. John, the stop before Moncton. At that time, Amtrak's Adirondack began in Washington, running "backwards" to New York, where direction was reversed for the balance of the trip. Scheduled arrival in Montreal was about 8 p.m., too late to catch VIA's train, requiring an overnight stay to catch the train the next day.
I enjoyed Canada so much I went back the following year to Moncton and the year after to Halifax. The last two trips were on the Ocean. Amtrak changed the Adirondack's schedule to begin in New York and arrive in Montreal about one hour before the Ocean left. I made the connection both times. I always wondered if the passengers could clear Canadian Immigration at Cantic in time to get to Montreal on time.
I remember the Park car well. VIA did a nice job in refurbishing it, as well as the rest of the fleet. The engines slightly tugged on the train at departure when I left Montreal. My scanner was useless! Not because I didn't know the frequency. Not because it wasn't operating. But because I don't speak FRENCH! The only word I understood was "Highball." The language seemed to change to English the moment the train left Matapedia and pulled into Campbellton and left the province of Quebec. It only takes a few minutes between the stations but you change provinces AND time zones.
The train had four or five sleepers. I finally got smart and asked to be in the sleeper closer to the Park car as I would spend more time there than in the diner. Talking about the diner, the food was delicious!
Thanks for bringing back delightful memories.
- MICHAEL DITKOFF
- Lanham, Maryland
I really enjoyed your story on your visit to Hunt Tower within the pages of the November 2002 Bull Sheet. As I read your article, I thought back to my first visit to Hunt Tower in the early 90's or late 80's. I was railfanning Conrail from Enola to Altoona hitting as many interesting photo locations as possible on a warm, sunny day. I came across Hunt Tower by pure accident. Like your comrade Darren Reynolds, railroad towers have always held a special appeal to me. Luckily for me it was open and the two folks present were quite friendly. The fact that I was such a long way from home in Richmond amazed them. I was given a full tour of the tower and a lecture of its history. Before I forget, during my visit, there was a three-track high iron and some trains still had crummys, or cabin cars as they were called on the Pennsy. I got quite a few good photos from inside the tower of trains roaring by outside as well as trackside with the tower in the foreground and background.
Before I departed, one of the tower keepers noticed my "Keep on Truckin' by Train" bumper sticker on my car as he mowed the grass. He inquired if I had an extra bumper sticker like that, and I informed him I did at home. He offered me an official Hunt Tower baseball style cap on the spot with my promise to send him the sticker, which I did pronto when I returned home several days later. To this day, I still visit Hunt Tower whenever I visit Altoona or the East Broad Top Railroad.
- ROBIN SHAVERS
- Richmond, Virginia