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August 1994


CSXT Rearranges New Jersey-Florida Intermodal Service

CSXT has added trains R173 and R174 for its intermodal service between Kearny, New Jersey, and Jacksonville, Florida. The trains operate from origin daily except Sunday and Monday. Trains R175 and R176 have been cut back to Philadelphia as origin and destination respectively, but L176 departing Jacksonville on Monday operates through to Kearny. The new arrangement is designed to provide more consistent and faster service between the Northeast and Florida. R173/R174 will make connections with R175/R176 and R191/R192 en route.


CSXT F-Units on Lease to Potomac Eagle Tourist Train

CSXT F-units 117 and 118 are on lease to the South Branch Valley Railroad in West Virginia for use on the Potomac Eagle tourist train.


MARC Seeks Bids for Bi-Level Coaches

The Maryland Rail Commuter Service is seeking bids for the manufacture of up to 59 bi-level coaches seating 140 passengers each.


Amtrak Gives On-Board Staff Increased Customer Problem-Solving Authority

Amtrak's on-board service employees have been given greater authority in handling customer problems on the spot. Conductors may now wave penalties for on-board ticket purchases when it is deemed appropriate, and lead service attendants and stewards are permitted to substitute stock items when necessary. In addition, conductors and on-board service chiefs may now issue service vouchers good for future travel to compensate for service deficiencies.


Amtrak Implements Business Units

Three business units being implemented by Amtrak are Northeast Corridor, Western, and Intercity. The NEC unit is slated to begin on October 1 with the other units beginning several months later.


Amtrak Begins Stopping at Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Amtrak's Atlantic City Express trains began serving a new station in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on July 2. The station, which has high-level platforms, is a short walk from the site of the New Jersey State Fair, scheduled for August 5 through 14. Amtrak trains no longer stop at Lindenwold, New Jersey, but through ticketing is available to that location using NJ Transit connections in Philadelphia.


SP to Acquire 200 AC Locomotives

Southern Pacific announced on July 13 that it will acquire 200 AC locomotives from General Electric for 1995 delivery. SP also plans to acquire 900 coal hoppers and will expand and improve terminals in Los Angeles, Dallas, Portland, Chicago, Memphis, San Antonio, El Paso, and Kansas City.


Doug Pearson Elected President of C&O Historical Society

Doug Pearson has been elected president of the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society. He replaces Tom Dixon who was elected chairman after 25 years as president.


Delaware Valley Railway Assumes Octoraro Operations

The Octoraro Railway in Pennsylvania and Delaware ceased operations on June 30, and operations were resumed under the name of the Delaware Valley Railway Company.


East Cabin in Illinois Closes

East Cabin (CCP/IC) in East Dubuque, Illinois, a tower with armstrong levers and pipeline, closed in June.


Flooding Disrupts CSXT Service in the South

More than 170 CSXT trains were rerouted around areas flooded from rains of tropical storm Alberto early last month. More than 30 washouts on the Manchester Subdivision between Atlanta and Manchester, and 35 washouts on the Fitzgerald Subdivision between Waycross, and Manchester halted the normal flow of traffic for several days, according to the CSXT Employee News Service. On the Dothan Subdivision in southeastern Alabama, a locomotive was swept into a gully created by the flooding near Newton. No one was injured, and the rest of the 73-car train remained on the track. Several manifest trains normally routed by way of the Chicago-Nashville corridor were rerouted through Potomac Yard and Cumberland. They included R120 of July 7 through 9, R121 of July 7 through 9, Q647 of July 6 through 10, and Q648 of July 9 and 10. Q648 of July 8 was rerouted through Gladstone and Clifton Forge, Virginia. CSXT chief operating officer Jerry Davis noted at a service review meeting on July 15: "We went through a major natural catastrophe yet lost no bridges, and the railroad was back in service only two or three days after the flood." He commended the railroad's engineering department for its work in promptly restoring the tracks. Meanwhile, more than $74,000 in contributions have been designated to assist CSXT employees who suffered losses in the flood. Most of the donations came from division vending machine profits


A Ministry from the Caboose

By Don Stewart (the "Caboose Man") . . .

Regular readers of the Bull Sheet will recall the article in May of 1993 about my C&O cabooses parked next to the CSX right-of-way in Hyndman, Pennsylvania. It is to them that I frequently go to relax from the everyday grind of urban living. From my perch in the cupola, I'll listen for and salute the parade of trains that pass my window, watch the stars at night, breathe the fresh mountain air, and put my mind into the eighth notch to enjoy life as it was meant to be.

On a number of occasions people stop by. Some are railfans. Those wishing to visit are welcome to stay. I'm always happy to share insights with those whose respect for railroads, their people and history bring them to my peaceful caboose sanctuary. I'm not a traditional railfan myself; there is much more to railroading than numbers, the color of engine noses, and freight schedules. I make this point to everyone: I'm actually a rail "admirer."

Such as it was one quiet Friday this past April when a particular visitor happened by. He was a minister from Upstate New York. It was a perfect spring day, cool and dry, and sitting out on my "porch" was a perfect tonic to both of us. Most of our conversation revolved around the peace and quiet of Hyndman, the difference in lifestyles between College Park (where I live) and Hyndman, the different railroads we had admired as kids, the history of my cabooses, and the revitalizing effect of my caboose restoration project. Although he had a camera, I cannot remember him taking any pictures. He simply enjoyed the physical setting and waving a return salute to the trains as they passed. Later that evening he left. He was staying in Cumberland and would return home the next day.

But early the following morning (Saturday) - unexpectedly - he came back to Hyndman. The "tonic" of sitting on the platform the previous evening was catching, I concluded, and we continued our visit for a while before he headed for home.

Then several days later I learned the real reason for my friend's unexpected return visit. It seems he had just gotten word of his brother's death. So he came back to Hyndman, but without telling me why, to console his inner self in the company of me, his friend. In short, the tables were briefly turned, and I was providing ministry to him. The letter he wrote to me after he got home is quoted below. I'll always cherish this letter for the comfort I unknowingly provided at a time it was needed. His letter tells it all....

The Minister's Letter . . .

Dear Don,

Thank you for your hospitality to me last week in Hyndman. Ministry is my business, but I learned long ago that it is often best done by others and frequently without their even knowing it.

Late Friday - actually 3AM Saturday - I got a call that my only brother died. There wasn't anything I could do. We were as different as two brothers could ever be in life style, religion, education, view point and relationship to our parents. Yet we were very close.

We could always talk about trains - models & real. So it seemed appropriate to go watch a train. As you and I sat on a beautiful morning talking trains, I hoped that he knew the kind of peace at long last that we shared. You talked about Hyndman as a place of peace so different from College Park. I thought of my brother and hope he knows that peace now which he never found here.

I didn't say anything to you because there was nothing you could say - yet without knowing, and by words and hospitality, you said a great deal. I hope that's what ministry is all about and that mine can be like yours was to me. I only tell you now in order to thank you.

God bless,


40th Anniversary of the Last M&P Passenger Train

By C. Stewart Rhine . . .

I grew up in Sparks, Maryland, and my family lived within earshot of the PRR Northern Central Railway. I remember hearing the Pennsy passenger and freight trains as they blew for the Sparks, Glencoe, and Corbett road crossings. You could hear them throttle up for the grade as they passed through Glencoe. For me, the sounds had a magical quality. I loved hearing them drift into my room on a warm summer's night. Sometimes our automobile had to wait at the Monkton crossing for a long freight to pass. These experiences over 30 years ago (along with other factors) gave me a real interest in railroads. I began to like trains so much that each spring my dad would take my brother Steve and me up to Strasburg, Pennsylvania. It was great to ride behind a real steam locomotive.

In 1965 my family did something different. We went to York, Pennsylvania, to ride the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. Dad had heard that George Hart's Rail Tours was operating trips from York to Delta, Pennsylvania. We boarded the train at the M&P station on East Market Street. The trip was behind former Reading 0-6-0 #1251. The flanges squealed constantly; I was hooked! From then on, the "MA&PA" would be my favorite shortline. I have researched the history of the line for the past ten years, and this month has an important anniversary date.

Forty years ago this August 31st, the M&P ran its last passenger train. Let's take a backward glance and see why this operation was so interesting and why it is well remembered. First, a little history...

The M&P was created in 1901 by the combination of two different railroads: the Baltimore & Lehigh in Maryland, and the York Southern in Pennsylvania. To make matters difficult, the south end had to be converted from narrow to standard gauge. Bridges had to be rebuilt and some of the curves were straightened. With the widening of the rails, new motive power and rolling stock had to be obtained. All of this took place early in the 20th century when other Baltimore railroads were buying larger modern engines. The "MA&PA," however, ordered new 4-4-0 American-type passenger engines. This wheel arrangement had been popular during the Civil War. It was outdated, but considered practical for all of the tight curves in Harford and York counties.

At the start there were five Americans on the property. Engines 1, 2 and 3 came from the York Southern which was standard gauged a few years before the merger. Engine 2 was unique, a 2-6-0. She survived until 1927. Engines 4, 5 and 6 were the newer 8-wheelers, and all were constructed in 1901. They went right to work hauling wooden baggage/RPO cars and wooden, open vestibule coaches between Baltimore and York.

Milk was an important commodity before the first World War. The morning train would bring the cans into town from Baltimore and Harford county farms. This created much revenue for the little line. In 1906, the outlook was bright and the officers purchased a new 4-6-0 from Baldwin. She was numbered 27. In 1910 sister engine #28 arrived. These engines were a good investment and they would give their owners over 40 years of service.

The first two decades of the century were kind to the M&P, but things began to change. By the early 1920s roadways around Baltimore were being improved. The milk traffic almost dried up and passenger counts were affected by the new affordable automobile. In 1927 the M&P purchased Motor #61 from EMC. There had been earlier experiments with self-propelled cars but this new "Doodlebug" performed well. In 1928 Motor #62 was added to the stable. The company could now run passenger trains more economically. These would be the last big changes in the passenger fleet until the end of service.

During the long history of the M&P one element was constant in passenger operations: the U.S. MAIL. RPO service was the lifeblood of M&P varnish. The mail contract kept the trains rolling through the Depression in the 1930s. In the 1940s there was an increase in ridership due to the rationing of gasoline during World War II. The company adjusted the schedule and ran special "Sunday Extras" in 1942 and 43. These extras ran from Baltimore to the Maryland School to take parents out for an afternoon visit with their boys. The train would then deadhead to Bel Air and turn on the wye. Following a layover (on the siding to let #51 pass), they would return to pick up their passengers at the Maryland School shelter. The train would run with orders using the locomotive number such as "M&P Extra-6." White flags were displayed on the engine for these moves.

Other operations were changed during the war. In 1942 train #3, the York Mail, was run for a while as a mixed train. The crew would bring one of the M&P 700-series boxcars out to Towson and set it out on the team track. The car carried parts for Bendix Radio. Two employees with a Bendix truck would be waiting to unload the car. Train #32, the southbound freight, would pick up the empty car later that same day. Even wooden truss-rod cars were important in those days. Another important task for the wartime passenger trains was delivering the "V-mail." This kept the postal clerks busy at many stations along the line and let home folks hear from their servicemen in far away lands.

Highway improvements caused passenger revenues to decline steadily as the post war years set in. By 1947, the Sunday only trains #50 and #51 were discontinued, the last trips being on May 4. In 1951 the two daily passenger trains each way were reduced to just one per day, but the U.S. Mail contract kept the remaining trains and their RPO's rolling. The agreement was for $25,000 a year which allowed the varnish to operate in the black even though only 15 to 20 passengers were carried each day.

In June of 1954 the U.S. Postal Service notified the M&P that the contract would not be renewed for the next fiscal year. The existing contract expired on August 31. Without the headend business, trains 1 and 2 would be operating at a deficit. The M&P requested a discontinuance of service for passenger operations, and permission was received. When the word got out, railfans descended en masse. Ridership was way up during the last week and over 200 tickets were sold for the last trips on August 31. The M&P used engine 81 to pull both motor cars with a rented PRR P-54 coach and the RPO. This was the consist of train #1 north. The southbound run, #2, was pulled by engine 70, the SW1. This was one of the few times that 70 pulled passengers. On the way back to Baltimore, the train was stopped for a photo session just north of Baldwin, Maryland. When the consist was tied down in the Baltimore yard that evening, the curtain came down on 53 years of dependable passenger service. Many would miss it.

The crews were friendly and the service informal. Some people would be picked up at their lane if it was closer than the station. The mail trains were a welcomed and familiar sight to folks all along the line. What is interesting is that even into the 1950s, a Maryland and Pennsylvania passenger train might go out of the yard looking like it did at the turn of the century: a 4-4-0 or a ten-wheeler pulling a wooden "gypsy wagon" baggage/RPO and a wooden open-vestibule coach. It was a normal sight when the motor cars were out of service.

The M&P is still busy serving freight customers in York, Spring Grove, and Hanover, Pennsylvania. The company is a survivor. Let it be known that there is a proud record standing. That is a list that very few railroads are on. Not bad for a "backward little shortline."


In Search of Semaphore Signals

By Eric Schmelz . . .

I am a railfan who enjoys almost every facet of the hobby. To address the five W's of journalism, I'll start with the most difficult... Why? During kindergarten, the closest kid living next to my house was Tom Kraemer. It was during these young and impressionable years that Tom's father would take us on railfan expeditions to obscure but interesting areas. In the very beginning, I couldn't care less about trains or operations, but through time a slowly contagious interest caught hold. While looking through old photo collections, I realize how drastically things have changed in 20 years. No longer do towers and semaphore signals routinely guard remote junctions... only automated silver boxes and color-light signals seem to remain today. After dozens of trips, I finally witnessed live "sentinels of steam" on Conrail's "Old Erie" Southern Tier line. These style-S upper-quadrant semaphores dated to the turn of the century and could be found in almost every book chronicling the early history of American railroading. With the collective realization that not all active links to the past have been destroyed, Tom and I decided to actively seek out all that remained in operation. We soon realized that not all semaphore signals were alike. By looking at old photographs, it became apparent that an almost unlimited number of variations existed - including train order signals.

The very first semaphore signal was designed and put into operation at New Cross, England, in 1841, by C. H. Gregory. I will briefly outline the six major types of semaphores that remain in service in this country today, with some history and current status:

(1) Union Switch & Signal Company (USS&S) style-B (base-of-mast mechanism) lower quadrant semaphore (first patent 1897) widely purchased by SP, UP, Lackawanna, Boston & Maine, and others). Southern Pacific is the sole class A railroad to maintain operating examples...

An estimated 200 remain in service; future one to two years.

(2) US&S style-S (base-of-mast mechanism) upper-quadrant semaphore. Railroad usage included the Erie, Wabash, Western Maryland, Jersey Central, and others. The style became popular around 1903. Conrail is the only railroad now operating these signals today, and they are all on the Southern Tier line from Waverly to Endicott, New York. As of June 1994 an estimated seven remain; future bleak, only a few months.

(3) US&S style-T2 (top-of-mast mechanism) upper-quadrant semaphore (1914 patent). Railroads that relied heavily on their service included PRR, C&O, Santa Fe, and others. The Santa Fe maintains the last examples of this signal, most of which were installed in 1925. They can be found on the Topeka Subdivision between mileposts 99.8 and 191 in Kansas, and variously on the main line from Hutchinson to Dodge City and Garden City, Kansas, and Raton, New Mexico. An estimated 70 to 80 remain in service with one to two years before all are likely to be retired.

(4) General Railway Signal Company (GRS) top-of-mast type 2A mechanism upper-quadrant semaphore (1908 first patent). Probably the most widely sold semaphore ever. By November 1, 1918, 24,500 units were sold and sales covered all parts of the globe including Hawaii, Australia, Japan, and Canada. Patron railroads included NYC, B&O, New Haven, Southern, BR&P, Monon, CNW, and many others. CSX and CNW are the only remaining operators of this model semaphore.

An estimated 200 to 300 remain in service, and removal schedule is uncertain.

(5) GRS base-of-mast type 2A mechanism upper-quadrant semaphore (1913 patent). This semaphore was almost exclusively sold to the Northern Pacific Railway. The base-of-mast mechanism was made for safe maintenance in the harsh Montana winters. Montana Rail Link is the only operator of this signal. They appear from Logan to Helena, Superior to Paradise, and one other unknown section of Montana. Approximately 45 remain in service and are expected to last two to three years.

(6) GRS mechanical upper-quadrant semaphore. Almost all mechanical interlocking plants had this type of home signal. Approximately 12 remain at old interlockings in Chicago, with a future of perhaps one year.

The overall gestalt of this review is that only approximately 700 semaphore block signals remain in service in this country. Even by the most conservative estimate, this is less than one percent of peak days of utilization. This residual constituent of American railroading is rapidly disappearing. By the time this list is published, certain portions of the list itself may be history. Thus, if you want photographs, you had better hurry!