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NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/8/24 3:42 p.m.

Motor #459 switching at Pettibone Yard, with a fantrip making a photo stop. The body of interurban combine #202 is visible to the far left at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in the Chicago Hardware Foundry property. This was before IERM became IRM and moved to it's modern day facilities in Union, IL.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/8/24 4:03 p.m.

A trio of the North Shore's five regular 50-ton steeplecabs make switch move to one of the sidings at Recruit side of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. These were set up for M.U. operation and often operated in a full trio. Four of these units (#453-#456) were built new, while the fifth (#457) was purchased used from the Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway (seems that interurban equipment changed hands frequently). While the unit built for Arkansas Valley had some advantages over the North Shore units (horns instead of whistles, and blowers for cooling the traction motors) it had one big disadvantage: a big air compressor centrally mounted in the cab. The North Shore units had their slung under the cabs, where they were much less noisy for the crews. So the #457 spent most of it's life basically used as a B-unit, either tucked in between two of the other motors or in a trailing position.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/8/24 4:09 p.m.

Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee interurban car throws up brake shoe smoke as it comes to a quick stop at North Chicago Junction, with some sailors ready to head south into Chicago for liberty.

ShawnG
ShawnG MegaDork
3/10/24 10:48 p.m.

Talks about Sir Sanford Fleming who had a hand in Canada's transcontinental railway, introduced standard time, etc.

Also explains the crazy climb that was replaced by the spiral tunnels at Field, B.C.

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9jYW5hZGFoZWh4LmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz/episode/MjQ3YjQ1YTAtZDUwMC0xMWVlLTk1MTItYzdhYWUyNzNlMTY1?ep=14

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 11:03 a.m.

Former Chicago, Aurora & Elgine motorman Dick Morgan looks back from Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee #775 at Edison Court on January 20th, 1963. It looks like business as usual on the North Shore Lines, but on the next day, the crews would not report, the stations would be empty and no pantographs would reach for the wires, because January 20th, 1963 was the last day of operation for the North Shore. After years of bleeding money, it was finally given permission to abandon, and the "super interurban" would fade into history.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 11:05 a.m.

Battery/electric freight motor #456 is southbound at Edison Court on the last day of official operation. This motor made the last actual move on the North Shore on Friday January 25th, 1963 from Mundelein to Highwood. Removal of empty freight cars from the line continued during the week after the official abandonment. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 11:07 a.m.

One of the two Electroliner sets is flagged down at Edison Court, due to cars coming off the siding north of the depot for a sailor special that had had a problem on January 19th, 1963, the second to last day of regular operations.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 11:10 a.m.

North Shore #256 on a northbound at the Merchandise Mart on January 18th, 1963. Notice the missing headlamp and marker lamps on the #256? In the final days of the North Shore, folks were grabbing headlamps and marker lamps to take home as souvenirs, resulting in a shortage of lamps. Crews were having to grab headlights and markers from incoming trains before outbound trains could depart.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 11:16 a.m.

The #458 at the Pettibone Enginehouse on January 2oth, 1963, waiting for a call to service that will never come.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 11:50 a.m.

Two different shots at two different times of the same Central Electric Railfans Association fantrip at Edison Court on January 13th, 1963. This was the last fantrip hosted by the North Shore, with just one week left until service ceased. I remember reading that the amount of different railfan clubs in the area was often a big problem, especially with the Illini Railroad Club acting like a bit of a bully. A club, like CERA, would schedule a fantrip on the North Shore with interurban cars and then Illini Railroad Club would turn around and schedule a trip the same day over the North Shore with one of the big 8-motor freight units towing trailers, and would try and rob all their attendance. They also waged a rate war that would often drive ticket prices so low that the clubs and railroads were having to run the trips at a loss. I remember reading that this helped contribute to Dick Jensen's downfall; he ran a couple of trips where the trips were well-attended but the ticket price didn't even cover the cost of coal and water and he ended up paying out of his own pocket.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 12:21 p.m.

An Electroliner set and car #774 at Mundelein with some sort of fantrip special.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 12:38 p.m.

Electroliner set #803/#804 at 5th & Harrison in Milwaukee. The Electroliner was, for it's day, a quite impressive piece of machinery. The North Shore was struggling financially in 1940 and it was on the edge of bankruptcy. They hadn't shrugged off the remnants of the Great Depression, it had practically side-by-side competition from the Chicago and North Western Railroad and the Milwaukee Road, and all of its operating equipment had been constructed in the 1920s and exhibited extreme wear. But it offered convenient stops around the Loop on the Chicago 'L'. The North Shore's unionized work force was concerned about job losses if the line closed, so when company management approached them with a proposal to purchase new streamliners to invigorate passenger service, the unions, in a surprisingly forward-thinking moment, agreed to a reduction in pay. The sets were designed by the St Louis Car Company and North Shore's engineering staff. The sets had some difficult design constraints, since they had to operate with the high platforms, sharp curves, and narrow clearances of the Chicago Loop and "the L', but also be able to to run at speeds of 80 miles per hour or more on the North Shore's main line, and to use city streets to the downtown Milwaukee Terminal. The Electroliners were a success, reinvigorating ridership and proving to be extremely popular with riders, and kept the North Shore alive for another 23 years. One of the interesting tales about the Electroliners was that during an early test run they gave the traction motors full field shunt and discovered that the cars would hit at least 110mph. They also discovered that at those speeds, they would enter grade crossings before the gates had even started to come down. They ended up relocating the triggers for gates further back somewhat, but they also still restricted speeds to 90mph

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/24 2:15 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

Those were beautiful trainsets. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/24 2:36 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

It's impressive that both of them still survive too. After the North Shore closed down in '63, the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co,. shipped them east, converted them to third-rail operation and renamed them to Liberty Liners. They ran there until 1978, and then when retired, one went back west to Illinois Railway Museum and has been restored to Electroliner appearance, while the other one stayed in the area at the Rockhill Furnace Trolley Museum. It's still in it's Liberty Liner appearance and is unrestored but operational.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/24 7:21 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

I definitely need to make it to IRM again. It was over 40-years ago when I visited. 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/24 9:34 p.m.

I just found this interview with the new head of Amtrak. It's cool to see he's a total train nerd(and a bass player too, I'm sure he gets all the chicks).

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/24 9:19 a.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

I just found this interview with the new head of Amtrak. It's cool to see he's a total train nerd(and a bass player too, I'm sure he gets all the chicks).

Hopefully he's better than the last guy. Joe Boardman (who actually lived right up the road from me) had done a really good job at Amtrak. He had realized that Amtrak couldn't beat airlines on time, so it needed to provide a better experience. So he'd worked on building up really nice diner menus and a bunch of other changes to provide riders with a nicer trip. Then he retired and the guy who replaced him was an airline exec and dumped the good diner meals for microwaveable TV dinners and introduced airline style pricing and just tried to cheapen the whole experience to try and undercut airlines on price. I remember that post-retirement, Boardman wrote into Trains and was spitting nails about what his successor was up to.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/24 12:33 p.m.

On the subject of management changes, Strasburg has named it's an interim president who is the fifth president since 2018, which is a little bit concerning.

On December of 2018, Linn Moedinger, who had been president of the railroad for 18 years and had worked for Strasburg Railroad for 50 years. Moedinger had chosen his successor, longtime SRC employee Craig Lefever, and groomed him to take over after his retirement, but Lefever passed away from cancer when he was only six months into his term.

Lefever was followed by Tony Gebbia, who was pretty much a disaster. Gebbia had no railroading experience, and was instead a former Walt Disney World event planner who tried to implement some of that organization’s theme-park style at Strasburg. His term was marked by what one former employee described as “heavy-handed personnel policies,” and the elimination of pay raises. Personnel in several departments soon left for Reading & Northern, East Broad Top, Amtrak, and non-railroad employment. Financial and personnel issues also surfaced, along with rumblings of possible personal scandals, and Gebbia departed abruptly last spring.

Gebbia was replaced with Jim Hager, who was pretty much the opposite of Gebbia. Hager was a certified engineer who had worked for Southern Railroad of New Jersey, the Black River & Western and its affiliates (Belvidere & Delaware River, Chesapeake & Delaware, and others), and the Morristown & Erie. While there were some minor snafus during his leadership (the #475 hitting the excavator, for example) he built the employee base back up, stabilized the company's finances, and spearheaded the construction of the new freight yard. On his leaving, he said "I can leave there happy, with my head up. I fixed the place, and I made them money. I loved the job, I love railroads, but it’s not the place I really want to stay with. It’s a really cool place to work.” From what I understand that's code for "It's a cool job but it doesn't pay enough".

The new interim president is Eric Hoerner, and I find his credentials concerning. He is founder, partner, and CEO of "Greenleaf Investment Management LLC, a firm that invests in community banks nationwide" and “turnaround specialist, banking and private investment expert.” None of that sounds like railroading experience, and I've seen plenty of cool businesses fall apart at the hands of finance guys taking over.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/24 4:28 p.m.

A really strange development, one that almost came off as some sort of mistimed April Fool's joke, is that French Lick Scenic Railway, the operating portion of Indiana Railway Museum, has purchased three of the Colorado Railcar dual-level DMU cars, two unpowered trailers and one of the powered cab cars, that were used briefly on Tri-Rail down in Florida. Tri-Rail bought them in 2003, and parked them in 2012, and they've been out of service and in storage ever since. Colorado Railcar itself went out of business in 2009, and while US Railcar took over their business, and also the DMU business, they've received no new orders in those 14 years.

Just a really odd choice for a scenic railroad that is part of a museum. I could see these being used by Grand Canyon Railway or even something like Reading & Northern, but if I went to a museum to ride a train, I'd be expecting classic stainless-steel Budds or open-window, clerestory-roof cars and I would be pretty disappointed about seeing these (and I like RDCs!). It looks like there is a diesel hooked to them, so apparently they're just towing them around as coaches (they were none too reliable when new and these have been stored for 12 years, so I imagine they were either parked for good reason or now need mechanical work from the years of storage). These things also seat 185 people per car, which I can't imagine that French Lick Scenic Railway is having the kind of ridership to require them.

02Pilot
02Pilot PowerDork
3/13/24 8:10 a.m.

This just popped up in my YouTube recommendations. It's of particular interest to me since it's local, but there's some pretty good footage of the NYC in there, along with the NY skyline and harbor. The area in the last portion still looks quite similar, though it's all single track now. I'm guessing it's from somewhere in the 1950s.

 

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/13/24 10:12 a.m.

In reply to 02Pilot :

Okay, this is really interesting, and fairly rare stuff, because this isn't the New York Central Water Level Route, or the Chicago Main as it's sometimes called. This is the West Shore Line. The first giveaway is that it's originating out of Weehawken. The West Shore Line didn't have direct rail access to New York City, so it terminated at Weehawken and used ferries to get across to NYC (it also shared this station with the New York, Ontario & Western, which, as the pre-bankruptcy New York & Oswego Midland, had had a lot of the same investors and financers as the West Shore). The other giveaway is the station names shown; West Norwood, West Nyack, etc. If you continued along the line there would be others; West Haverstraw, West Englewood, West Athens, West Frankfort. When the New York Central took over the West Shore Line, there were spots where the West Shore had a station at the same settlement as the New York Central's own main line. Rather than have two stations in the same town with the same name, all of the West Shore stations at these overlapping locations were given a "West" prefix.

The West Shore was kind of the poor cousin to the NYC, and had even originally had plans to go all the way west to Chicago as the New York, West Shore & Chicago, before it was instead terminated in Buffalo and became the New York, West Shore & Buffalo. It was backed by a lot of the same people as the New York & Oswego Midland and as a result had one of the main issues; missing a lot of key cities on it's route. It bypassed Albany, Rochester and pretty much every other major city west of Rochester, and it only hit Utica on the south side and had to use a kind of jerry-rigged affair there to interchange with the other railroads.

It famously was part of the rate war between the New York Central and the Pennsylvania, where the PRR acquired the West Shore and was using it as leverage against the NYC, which caused the NYC to start building the South Pennsylvania Railroad to fight back against PRR's infringement in "their" state. The whole thing was settled by Jay Gould, who realized this business was bad for everyone, with NYC ending construction of the South Pennsylvania and the PRR selling the West Shore to NYC. The stillborn South Pennsylvania's road bed was used for segments of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and that Laurel Hill Tunnel that Chip Gannassi uses for IndyCar testing was originally part of the South Pennsylvania, although it never saw a single train.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/13/24 11:08 a.m.

Western New York & Pennsylvania announced last week that they were ending service on 70 miles of trackage between Jamestown, NY, and Saegertown, PA (located just north of Meadville), effective immediately. According to the WNY&P, this line had essentially become a bridge line between the Meadville-Oil City segment and the rest of their system, since it had only originated three carloads of traffic over the last year from actual on-line customers. They are simply discontinuing service, not abandoning the line, so the rails will be left in place in case future developments make it feasible to revive that line. Moving forward, traffic that needs to get between the two segments of the WNY&P system will be route around various surrounding railroads.

This is not the first time this line has been idled, so it may come back. Conrail ended service on it in '91, and it sat dormant for 10 years until Livonia, Avon & Lakeville formed the WNY&P to take it over. This was the old Erie/Erie-Lackawanna mainline and "Lack of on-line customers" was pretty much the story of the Erie/Erie-Lackawanna, especially on the western end.

Photographer Alec Durfee caught this photo of one of the final trains on the on this segment on March 12th. The train is passing the restored depot at Cambridge Springs, PA, with ex-SP&S/BN C425 #427 on the lead, as a local youth takes his own video.

02Pilot
02Pilot PowerDork
3/13/24 12:33 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

Yeah, being the West Shore Line is what caught my attention. I'm over on that side of the river fairly frequently, so I wanted to see how much I recognized - basically, the further north you get in the film, the closer things are to how they are now. The segment at the end around Bear Mountain is almost identical, though the large pier where the ship is docking is long gone.

What year would you estimate this was shot?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/13/24 1:06 p.m.

In reply to 02Pilot :

It's pre-1959, because that was when commuter service to Newburgh ended, and also when NYC began rolling out the simplified "cigar band" livery. Everything here is shown in lightning stripes, with no signs of the cigar band.

I think it might be 1956 though. At 10:45 there's some units on the head end of a train headed away from the camera. At first glance I thought they were some early Geeps in cigar band, but that doesn't match the timeline, and also they have yellow handrailing, which that NYC livery doesn't have. Looking at the weird peeked roofline, I think those are GE-Alco MRS-1, which were a weird low-profile military 6-axle version of an RS-3 (1600hp 244 V12). Even weirder, Alco turned down the contract, so these were built by GE with Alco engines, and, to add to the confusion, there were also EMD MRS-1s as well. I've seen a photo of a trio of MRS-1s, maybe this very same train, leading a New York Central freight over the West Shore at Teaneck, NJ, and that photo was taken by Bob Krone in March of 1956. Apparently NYC, DL&W, Erie, the LV and the NYO&W also leased MRS-1's short term, and I found mentions that after Hurricane Diane in 1955, the New Haven had some until the end of 1956. So, this was sometime in 1955-1956 area.

Bob Krone photo of MRS-1s at Teaneck

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/13/24 3:59 p.m.

On the flip side of WNY&P shutting down trackage, yesterday the East Broad Top Foundation staff and Friends of the East Broad Top volunteers paused to celebrate a major milestone in thei rack expansion project. Yesterday morning, crews began installing ties and rail on the south side of Highway 475, officially marking the farthest any work has occurred in that direction since the railroad ceased freight operations 68 years ago in 1956. In conjunction with the celebration, the Friends also announced that they have met their 2024 campaign goal of $220,000. From this, $40,000 was initially set aside for track restoration. However, with several months still to go in their campaign, the FEBT has committed any additional funds to the "March to Saltillo" to help accelerate track expansion efforts.

This section of the East Broad Top, south of Rockhill Furnace/Orbisonia, has not seen a regular train since 1956, when the East Broad Top, as a common carrier, closed down. During the Kovalchik tourist era, they only operated north to the wye at Colgate Grove during, and the 4 miles of track to Mount Union is no longer owned by the EBT Foundation, precluding further expansion in that direction. From what I've read, the last trip over this line was sometime in 1960-1961, which was when the South Huntingdon High School in Three Springs was under construction. The site that the school was being built at had the EBT tracks running along the front of it, and the school wanted the tracks removed. Since this was prior to the designation of the EBT as a National Historic Landmark, the tracks were not protected and could have been removed. The EBT operated motorcar M-1 from Rockhill Furnace to Saltillo to prove the line was not abandoned and still in operation, and therefore couldn't be removed by the school. That was the last known run on this portion of the line, except speeder cars, since the track was already in poor shape and the EBT in the Kovalchik era was always living hand-to-mouth and couldn't afford to rehabilitate tracks in this direction.

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