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NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/15/21 7:03 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Niiice! It sucks being deep in CSX territory because my odds of seeing a traveling steam locomotive are slim-to-none. Too bad, because it'd be awesome to see something like NKP #765 scorch the ballast on the Water Level Route between Syracuse and Utica.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/15/21 7:27 a.m.

The local newspaper had a historical photo of Illinois Central 2-8-0 #790 in it last night. It was taken in Utica, NY in 1965, which surprised me. According to the article, #790 was purchased by a gentleman named David de Camp who moved it up to Tupper Lake, with plans to run trips on an abandoned three-mile spur from Tupper Lake to Tupper Lake Municipal Park. It had an unexpected layover in Utica when a journal box ran hot and had to be repaired. The plan never came to fruition and after just a couple months of ownership, it was sold to F. Nelson Blount and moved to Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT, and then down to Steamtown's Scranton location. I've seen Illinois Central #790 three or four times but was never aware of the fact that it spent some time in Central New York. 

https://www.uticaod.com/article/20101212/NEWS/312129981

My own photo of Illinois Central #790 at Steamtown last year. Nice looking little engine, other than that damned hideous sand dome that the Illinois Central used on everything. The IC was frequently lambasted by railfans for the cluttered skylines on their steam engines 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/15/21 8:08 a.m.
NickD said:

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Niiice! It sucks being deep in CSX territory because my odds of seeing a traveling steam locomotive are slim-to-none. Too bad, because it'd be awesome to see something like NKP #765 scorch the ballast on the Water Level Route between Syracuse and Utica.

Honestly I'd forgotten that the UP ran to Nola & figured if I ever wanted to see 4014 I'd have to try & time a trip to IL with one of their excursions. This is much more convenient though. 
 

And yeah, seeing #765 hauling the mail would be epic. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/15/21 11:07 a.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:
NickD said:

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Niiice! It sucks being deep in CSX territory because my odds of seeing a traveling steam locomotive are slim-to-none. Too bad, because it'd be awesome to see something like NKP #765 scorch the ballast on the Water Level Route between Syracuse and Utica.

Honestly I'd forgotten that the UP ran to Nola & figured if I ever wanted to see 4014 I'd have to try & time a trip to IL with one of their excursions. This is much more convenient though. 
 

And yeah, seeing #765 hauling the mail would be epic. 

The section from Utica thru Little Falls to Albany would also be a nice trip. The roadbed is flat as a table with long straight sections and follows the Mohawk River valley and I-90 pretty closely. I've unintentionally paced a CSX freight from Little Falls to Utica and it doesn't leave your sight much. Unfortunately, unless there is a major change in philosophy at CSX, it seems highly unlikely. Up until the advent of PTC, and its inherent host of issues with vintage equipment excursions, CSX's stance on excursions was that they were technically okay with hosting them, but they required a liability insurance policy of $250 million, which was literally higher than any company even offered, so they essentially banned them without saying they banned them.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/15/21 3:53 p.m.

Excursions on CSX were done in by a lot of things. As America became more litigious and jury awards increased, insurance demands went up. In the wake of the Staggers Rail Act and deregulation in late 1980, the railroad industry started seeing traffic increases, not long after many of them had begun reducing capacity to curb capital/maintenance costs and taxation. The former three-to-four-track PRR "Broad Way" was reduced in many locations to three and even two tracks; Southern and N&W mains were reduced from two tracks to single-track with many passing sidings. Railroad employment went down, as an attempt to cut costs, resulting in crews stretched thin. An excursion requires a "pilot crew" from the hosting railroad, and when there are paying trains waiting around or being delayed or held up for want of crews, there is no way in hell they are going to yank one of their crews to go ride a steam train through the middle of their traffic jam. There was a lack of equipment up to the job for mainline excursions. New FRA, AAR, and Amtrak standards--or, indeed, the disappearance of passenger car AAR standards, making Amtrak standards a fall-back "default" for lines like CSX, included 480V HEP pass-through and heating. This made maintaining and leasing a passenger car, the weekend activity of so many NRHS chapters, a badly-losing proposition. Refitting cars to these standards, starting just with roller bearings and rebuilt trucks, could run six figures in a heartbeat, and trusty warhorses of old, such as B&O heavyweights and PRR P70s were being put to pasture for more modern cars. Finally, CSX had a nasty wakeup call with Amtrak's Sunset Limited derailment in 1993 at Bayou Canot, when a barge hit the CSX bridge, misaligning it, and causing the Amtrak train to derail and plunge into the water, killing 47 people. Meanwhile, they were also watching the Great Dismal Swamp derailment of 1986 and the 1994 Lynchburg yard incident over at NS and thinking the same thing could happen to them. That was when CSX pulled the plug on most excursions. As late as 2012, they were willing to let C&O #614 run on their rails for the Greenbrier Presidential Express, but lack of  capacity problems on the CSX portion of the route and a lack of passing sidings would make it difficult for eastbound trains to gain headway against the flow of westbound empty coal trains, cancelling the project.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/15/21 6:14 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

I wonder if the Bayou Canot accident might be part of the reason Amtrack is only going eastward from Nola to Mobile, rather than all the way to Jacksonville next year?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/21 8:37 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

I mean, the Sunset Limited derailment was almost 30 years ago. Can't imagine that would cause a change in route now. My guess is either there isn't enough ridership to warrant continuation of the leg to Jacksonville, they can't get crews to handle the leg to Jacksonville, or there isn't enough capacity on the host railroad's line and they can't run a reasonable schedule. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/21 12:05 p.m.

The Southern/Norfolk Southern program died for a lot of the same reasons (lack of capacity, lack of crews, rising insurance) but also some that weren't applicable to the CSX situation. Part of that was due to the fact that CSX never outright owned or maintained any of the locomotives they used, but instead used trusted third parties like Ross Rowland. Southern, and then Norfolk Southern, did own and maintain the equipment that they operated in their excursion program, which added a whole lot of expense. A bit of a timeline is in order to make sense of the events as they happened.

1977 - W. Graham Claytor Jr., president of the Southern and founder of the Southern steam program retires. Under Graham Claytor, the program was used to tie in excursions very closely to local celebrations, holidays, anniversaries, etc, making it work well as a PR tool. After Claytor's retirement, the program shifted towards a product wholesaled to NRHS chapters, which caused it to become disconnected from the general public, and the locomotives were rarely, if ever, used on shipper specials or employee specials, which led to the disconnect with the employee base. One rule of the program was that the train had to be escorted by a local Road Foreman of Engineers, which led to a lot of overwork in a thinly-spread group of employees that weren't really getting any of the benefits of the program and causing a lot of resentment.

1982: Southern and Norfolk Southern merge, creating Norfolk Southern, with Bob Clayor, brother of Graham Claytor, as the president. The steam program gets pared down to Southern #4501 and recently returned Norfolk & Western #611, with C&O #2716 being placed into storage after only a year when attempts to weld the cracked firebox resulted in more cracks.

1985: Jim Bistline, with the position of "general manager — steam", retires. Bistline had been in charge of Southern and NS's steam program, and as an old hand had the connections, respect and personality to keep the program running despite a boardroom that was getting contentious of the steam program. His replacement, Carl Jensen, was competent but lacked the connections and standing of Bistline. Southern #4501 is also retired, being too low-powered and low-speed for the mainline.

1986: The Great Dismal Swamp derailment. N&W #611, with Robert Claytor at the throttle, hits a heat-kinked rail at 60mph and derails. Of the 1000 people aboard, 181 are injured, although there are no fatalities. This results in a 40mph speed limit on all steam excursions. This 40mph speed limit caused a lot of internal issues, because before this the excursions ran at or above track speeds, so dispatchers just really had to find a gap to get them out on and they didn't disturb traffic patterns. With the 40mph limits, the excursions became a rolling roadblock, causing a lot of headaches for dispatchers and continuing the disconnect with employees. It also turned pleasant 8 hour trips into 12 hour death marches that were too much for but the most diehard fans

1987: N&W 2-6-6-4 #1218 is returned to operation after a very expensive restoration. Used for years as a stationary boiler at Union Carbide, then saved at the last second by Nelson Blount, and stored outdoors at Steamtown and then Roanoke, the Class A was supposedly a complete basket case. Also, Arnold McKinnon takes over from Bob Claytor as president and sometime during his 5 year tenure, he strips the NS steam program of subsidies, to force the program to be sustainable. This forced Carl Jensen to have to run more frequent trips, which also drove up long-term maintenance costs, as well as placing more strain on NS crews and dispatchers trying to make sure the trips went off without a hitch.

1991: N&W #1218 goes out of service, per FRA standards. The tubes were due for regular replacement, the firebox was also getting quite thin and required replacement and the rumor is that the engine need a host of other work to return to service. The #1218 was also rumored to be eye-wateringly expensive per mile to operate.

1992: Carl Jensen requests $1 million dollars to renovate some of the NS-owned passenger cars. NS took this money from the fund to overhaul #1218, leading to an even longer overhaul time. Implicit in this money was a "Don't bother us for a while" from the board. NS was also requiring all the leased passenger cars that they were using to be painted in N&W Tuscan Red, which caused some groups to pull their cars out, either due to cost or just not wanting to paint their cars in N&W colors.

1994: The one-two-three punch that killed the program. Graham Claytor passes away in May, his brother Robert having passed away the year before. Even after no longer being in charge of the company, the Claytors had kept a steady presence around the NS steam program and had had a lot of influence in keeping it going. Then, in October of that year, the day before a planned excursion with #611, a switching accident at NS' Lynchburg yard destroys two of the passenger cars and damages five more. This was apparently the incident that really spooked NS. An unnamed source says they were at the NS board meeting after that incident and someone was listing off the list of passenger car "fatalities" and someone spoke up and said "What if people had been aboard them?" and supposedly in the silence that followed, you could hear the coffin shut on the NS steam program. Finally, #611's boiler certificates were set to run out in January of '95, and #1218 wasn't running yet, which would have left them with just #4501 (after retirement in '85, it had been brought back in '90 to go where #611 and #1218's heavier axle loadings could't) The cost of overhauling #611, repairing/replacing 7 passenger cars, and the still-ongoing overhaul of #1218 was just too much. Add that it didn't bring anything to the company bottom line and wasn't loved by employees, president David Goode finally made the decision to throw in the towel.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/21 3:57 p.m.

It is interesting to see how fondly remembered and highly regarded N&W #1218 is, when you consider that it only operated in excursion usage for four years. From 1987-1991, that's it. And it seems unlikely it will operate anytime soon.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/21 3:57 p.m.

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/17/21 6:10 a.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/21 8:50 a.m.

In reply to 914Driver :

Whoops. That's an unsecured load. At least it was in the day time. Could you imagine smashing into that in the dark?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/21 10:25 a.m.

At least N&W #1218 had four years of pretty trouble-free excursions. The perennial hard luck award seems to go to poor C&O #2716. Clincfield began a restoration on it in '78 to replace Clinchfield #1 in corporate excursion use, got it disassembled and then the Clincfield's general manager was fired for appropriating funds and Clinchfield shut down its steam program, so #2716 was shipped back to the Kentucky Railway Museum in pieces. Then, in 1981 Southern ended the lease and shipped Texas & Pacific #610 back to Texas, followed by Southern #4501 cracking a front flue sheet and being knocked out of service. Southern had gotten a taste of what a Superpower engine could do with the #610, so they grabbed #2716, did a quick wrap-up of Clinchfield's aborted restoration, dolled it up as fictional Southern #2716. And then in under 5 months, the firebox began to develop severe cracks. Welding the cracks failed, so NKP #765 stood in for temporary duty, and then after the Norfolk Southern merger went through, N&W #611 filled the spot that C&O #2716 was supposed to. It sat in storage until 1995, then went up to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (the folks who own NKP #765) and had the firebox repaired, as well as returned to the original C&O appearance. It ran for less than a year and then the new FRA regulations hit thanks to the Gettysburg Railroad incident, and the FWRHS would either have to give #2716 brand new flues or completely overhaul NKP #765. They chose to keep the #765, since they'd been running that engine since 1979, so #2716 went back into storage. So all told, three restorations and less than 2 years of running time.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/18/21 2:52 p.m.

Monongahela Railway #1205 and #1216 at Poland, PA with a short cut of cars in '73. Monongahela purchased ten Baldwin RF-16s secondhand from the New York Central. By this point in time, the other eight were out of service and scrapped.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/18/21 2:54 p.m.

#1205 and #1216 were the only two relettered for the Monongahela, while the other eight retained the New York Central lettering. None of them were repainted out of the NYC "cigar band" paint scheme though.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/18/21 2:56 p.m.

Waiting at Brownsville, with old passenger cars and cabooses in MoW  use to the left, and Baldwin switchers to the right.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/18/21 3:03 p.m.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/18/21 6:17 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

I used to find the RF-16 ugly, but they've really grown on me. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/18/21 7:04 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

I love them. But I'm a big fan of Loewy's work

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/19/21 4:58 p.m.

Beautifully restored Bath & Hammondsport caboose at Hammondsport, NY. Yes, "The Champagne Trail" was the official slogan due to their routing through the Finger Lakes winery region. The caboose had Erie trucks and appeared to have been converted from a box car

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/20/21 10:24 a.m.

There is also a surviving B&H steam locomotive, #11. It was built in 1920 for a Cuban sugar plantation, but was never delivered. It ended up on the Narragansett Pier Railroad in '23, then was sold to the Bath & Hammondsport in '37, becoming their last new steam locomotive. The little 55.5-ton Mogul was retired in '49 but had immense sentimental value and was held onto until '55 and stored indoors. It was then purchased by Dr. Stanley Gorman and moved to Sandy Creek, NY for Rail City, the first steam railroad museum in the US. By 1973, Rail City went bankrupt, and #11 went back to Narragansett Pier Railroad for an excursion service that never materialized, then went to the Middletown & New Jersey for another excursion service that never developed. The traveling Mogul then was sold to the Everett Railroad where it was restored to operation

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/21/21 10:56 a.m.

So, I got looking up where the Everett Railroad was, which is Hollidaysburg, PA, and where it was in relationship to Strasburg and home. Its 2.5 hours northwest of Strasburg, over near Altoona, and still the same 5.5 hours away from home. And Everett Railroad is running excursions behind B&H #11 on July 18th, the weekend I'm down in Strasburg to operate N&W #611. You can see where this is going. Did I mention I have trouble with scope creep on my vacations?

So now, my itinerary is, drive down to Strasburg on Thursday night, operate #611 on Friday and watch Strasburg's regular trains, then ride behind and watch #611 on Saturday, then drive up to Altoona on Saturday night, then go to Horseshoe Curve on Sunday morning, ride on the Everett that afternoon and then make the drive all the way back home. Yeah, I'm dumb.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/21/21 12:47 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

That sounds like an awesome trip honestly!

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/21/21 1:19 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

I'm interested to see what Everrett Railroad is like, because I know absolutely nothing about that one. And as a fan of the PRR, I feel like I need to make the pilgrimage to Horseshoe.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/21/21 1:52 p.m.
NickD said:

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

I'm interested to see what Everrett Railroad is like, because I know absolutely nothing about that one. And as a fan of the PRR, I feel like I need to make the pilgrimage to Horseshoe.

Stop at Texas hotdogs and get 1 or 2 with everything.

 

It's not that they are amazing.  It's just a rule when visiting altoona.

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