Monday, February 11, 2019

A bit of Ferroequinology from the 1970's:

Came across the following interesting sight, derailed in the snow in rural PA during the 1980's.
The raillroad sent an engine from a nearby terminal to retrieve the train, which was blocking grade crossings in town This locomotive sat there, engine idling (so it wouldn't freeze up) for a few days, till they could marshal a wreck crew to come put it back on the track and drive it back.

Most likely the cause was ice (more specifically frozen slush) in the grade crossing flangeways at the crossing just behind the locomotive. This occasionally happens in cold weather. It causes the locomotive's wheels to ride up on the ice, instead of staying on the rails. And then they can lead the locomotive wherever they want to take it. In this case, right into the ditch.

A week later all that was left was the tamped-down snow from wreck equipment and footprints in the muck at the site of the derailment. Ice was gone from both the road and the flangeways.

Pictures below refer to the following: with the rumored demise of the New River Train in West Virginia, and perhaps the last steam-powered mainline excursion train (Cheyenne Frontier Days Train from Denver to Cheyenne),  excursions such as these may well be on the way to "passing into oblivion."  So we look to the past for our history.

The following pix were taken in connection with (and from) a double-headed chartered steam excursion on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the late 1970's.  Locomotives were ex-Reading #2102 and ex-Grand Trunk Western #4070.  And these two pictures were taken from one of the open vestibules on the train, as it climbed upgrade at  the Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, PA.

The steam engine "stuffed and mounted" at the curve (PRR 1361) was removed and replaced by a diesel, and repairs were made at the Altoona shops to enable it to Pennsylvania in 1987.  Due to an axle problem, it failed in service in 1988, and hasn't run since.  Right now reports are that it has been returned to Altoona and is being worked on by a small crew of dedicated people.

On those long excursions, it was fun to walk the entire length of the (often 20-25 car) train, and note the varying states of repair of the fleet of "former railroad-owned but now all privately-owned" vintage passenger cars, their varying decors, and in many summertime cases, how many had working air conditioning.   That was sometimes an issue, if the windows were sealed.

I wonder how many of them still exist today?  I'd venture that most have either been donated to museums or are languishing on sidings somewhere...

And lastly, "Old meets New" in Western Pennsylvania...the excursion train on a siding, waiting for an early Amtrak train (the remnant of the old Broadway Limited) to pass:

I was privileged to be able to ride and chase these excursions, and the memory will live with me "always."



  1. From time to time we stumble across the rare old train ride excursion. We have done the Strasburg Railroad as well as the New Hope Railroad. I understand there is a summer line somewhere upstate New York near Lake Placid and another line out in western NY that does a wine tour. My wife likes these old trains and both are on our bucket list.

    1. I think the Lake Placid line is the old NYC (most recently between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake) that carried people to and from the Olympics held there back in the day. I rode that line the season before they got put out of business by the State. I have pix and memories, but the reality is likely gone now.

      Another line in NY was the old D&H line to North Creek. I rode that earlier this decade, not long after it went back in service. Beautiful scenery...but now out of business.

      Sad, isn't it?