Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Big Little Railroad Shop at Mother Seton Train Show

The Big Little Railroad Shop will be at the Train Show at Mother Seton High School, Clark, NJ on Sunday, March 2, 2008. This show is sponsored by the Jersey Central Railway Historical Society (JCRHS). Hours are 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The high school is located just off of Exit 135 of the Garden State Parkway. There is free parking, refreshments will be available, and there will be door prizes. For more information visit the following web site:

Be sure to visit our table where you will find lots of wonderful bargins. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Matawan, NJ station "Stabilization"

Received the following via email.

NJT will be performing structural stabilization on the old Matawan NY&LB station.
The story is here:

Weekly Rail Carloading Report

There is an interesting report available on the web that is "A Weekly Report of North American Rail Freight Traffic by Major Railroad and Commodity." It is currently showing data for week 7 of 2008. Take a look.

Railroads Upgrading

Two weeks ago The Wall Street Journal had a story titled "New Era Dawns for Rail Building." This article talks about the upgrading, expansion, etc. being done by American railroads. If you are not aware of this work, read the article at the following web site.

If you are a regular reader of Trains magazine, then you probably already know about most of what is covered in this article. We do not carry The Wall Street Journal, but we do carry Trains and several other magazines that cover news about railroads. Stop in and check them out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

NJ to Ban Railfanning?

Received the following via email. Read the comments from Jim, then read the article from the Star-Ledger newspaper, and finally, read my comments.

"New Jersey's State Legislature is giving police some pretty broad powers -- trespassing can be defined as what a cop defines it as under this law -- there are NO exceptions for public areas, for example.

And you better check the property deeds down at the recorders office before going out and taking pictures . . . . You never know when that public street is merely an easement."

Jim (

From the Star-Ledger:

A bill to prevent terror attacks on railroads by making a person convicted of trespassing on railroad property guilty of burglary was approved by the Assembly yesterday.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Fred Scalera and Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, the bill (A929) would subject anyone trespassing on railroad property to up to five years in prison and $15,000 in fines.

The maximum penalty would rise to 10 years in jail and $150,000 in fines if the offender purposely, knowingly, or recklessly inflicts, attempts to inflict or threatens to inflict bodily harm.

"Railroads and rail yards, by their very design, are hard to secure and are more vulnerable to criminals and the threat of terrorist attacks than other modes of transportation," said Scalera (D-Essex), the chairman of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.

The Assembly passed the measure 76-0 and now heads to the Senate.

Now my comments.

Go to this web site to read the text of Bill A929. You will find a box to enter this bill number on the right side of the page.

I think the Star-Ledger article did not explain this bill well. The legislators have added text to the NJ state criminal code covering burglary. If you look at the bill on the web site the added text is underlined.

As I see it, they have added a definition of "railroad property," then they shoehorned "trespass in or upon railroad property" into the definition of burglary. Also, it appears to me that they have made this "trespassing" a fourth degree crime as opposed to burglary which could be a second or third degree crime. The more serious burglary crimes have the stiffer penalties which is where the $15,000 and 5 years come in. Finally, they have included an exemption to this law as follows: "a person lawfully using a public or private railroad crossing."

They have not exempted public railroad stations and platforms, so, in theory, a cop could arrest you for "trespassing" while waiting for a train or even for riding in a passenger car; but that doesn't seem likely to me. Here's the reason: burglary is committed if you have the "purpose to commit an offense," i.e. some crime beyond the act of trespassing. If you are waiting for a train or riding a train you probably do not have the purpose to commit an offense.

Bottom line: I don't think this legislation is the best way to address the problem; it will not deter any terrorist, and it probably won't stop the graffitti artist either. It could lead to haressment of railfans, but I doubt there will be any convictions of railfans under this law.

Stourbridge Railroad Railfan Day

Received this info via email. This may seem a little premature, but you need reservations for the night time trip which will be limited to 50 people.

The Stourbridge Railroad will be holding its First Annual Railfan Day on Saturday, September 20th, 2008.

Cost will be $100.00 and will include TWO round trips with a mixed-train from Honesdale, PA to Lackawaxen, PA (one in daylight and one at night) and a box lunch. This will include a special freight consist and the regular passenger consist. We will offer a single roundtrip (either AM or PM for $50.00). All trips will feature multiple Photo Stops and Runbys. The PM trips (limited to 50 participants) will feature Night Lighting at various locations. (Camera capable of shooting on a "B" setting without flash, Tripod, Cable Release, and a flashlight required).

The Stourbridge Railroad rosters one of only 2 operating EMD Model BL-2 Diesel Locomotive. (Ex BAR 54). Our second unit will be an ex MEC GP-7. There may be some other locos available to us.

Tickets are available through the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, 32 Commercial Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
Cash, Check, or Credit Cards are accepted.

For Reservations ONLY, call 570-253-1960 or 800-433-9008

For all other inquiries, PLEASE Write to : Central Pennsylvania Rail Corp, 200 Center Street, Tamaqua, PA 18252.

All sales final, Reservations Required for the PM (Night Photo train), no alcoholic beverages allowed on the train, all excursions are subject to operating conditions and are subject to change without notice.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Conneaut Lake Park's Dreamland Ballroom destroyed in fire

Received note below via email with no date of the event nor credit for the source. However, the links below, which were included in the email, are to local news articles that give the date of the fire as 2/1/08.

Conneaut Lake is located in northwest Pennsylvania, about 7 or 8 miles west of Meadville. You may wonder why this note is posted on this blog; read the article and you will see the connection. As an aside, Meadville was the location of significant yards and shops of the Erie and Erie/Lackawanna railroads. Conrail put an end to that.

The resort opened in 1892 as "Exposition Park". Development was backed with capital from the Meadville, Conneaut Lake and Linesville Rail Road Co., later the Pittsburgh, Shenango and Lake Erie and still later, the Bessemerand Lake Erie RR. The Dreamland Ballroom was built 99 years ago. The B&LE and ERIE/Erie Lackawanna RRs both held annual employee picnics at the park, as did many companies from the region. Trainloads of Bessemer employees and their families were brought in from Pittsburgh and Erie, and the ERIE/EL ran special CLP company picnic trains in from as far away as Chicago and NewYork City, clear into the early Sixties. A lot of shoes that had climbed off of all those trains over the years were just a little more worn when climbing back on, after having 'cut the rug' on the hardwood dance floor of the Dreamland Ballroom...

Conneaut Lake Park's Dreamland Ballroom destroyed in fire

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Amtrak service closure extended

Received the following news article via email with no date nor source of the article. Email was dated 2-2-08.

Amtrak service closure extended

The massive Frazier landslide blocking train tracks east of Oakridge will keep Amtrak’s Coast Starlight off the rails until at least mid-February as Union Pacific crews battle bad weather to clear the line.

Both the northbound and southbound Coast Starlight runs (trains 14 and 11, respectively) that ferry travelers from Seattle to Los Angeles are canceled through Feb. 14, according to an Amtrak news release. Other regional Amtrak trains and buses will continue serving California, Oregon and Washington.

A week of intense precipitation has dumped more than 2 feet of snow at the site of the slide, slowing cleanup and making it impossible to predict just when the tracks will be cleared, Union Pacific spokeswoman Zoe Richmond said.

“We’re at the mercy of the weather, so we’re not putting a date on it,” Richmond said.

Railroad and contract crews with dozens of excavators, dump trucks and other heavy machinery are working to move more than 2.3 million cubic yards of mud and debris, an amount the size of a football field, reaching as high as the 108-story Sears Tower in Chicago, she said.

Workers have recovered about 700,000 board feet of timber, a mix of Douglas fir and cedar trees that Union Pacific loaded onto rail cars to haul away. Some of the downed wood will be put back into streams to create both resting and spawning habitat for salmon and bull trout, Willamette National Forest Service spokeswoman Judy McHugh said. The rest will be available for purchase through a competitive bid process.

Forest Service geologists who have had a look at the area where the slide began doubt that a 1992 clear-cut and logging road caused the land and trees to give way. The slide ripped out soil more than 10 feet deep, well below the root zone of the trees, said Mark Leverton, a Forest Service geologist on the Middle Fork Ranger District.“Once you get to a depth of failure of (more than) 10 feet, then rooting strength is no longer a factor,” he said.

Of the 60-acre slide, about 5 acres began in the harvested area. The slide is comprised of an upper 20 acres where the failure originated and another 40-acre path where trees and debris cascaded down the mountain and covered thousands of feet of track in two locations.

Leverton said tree growth in the area suggests that the slope isn’t prone to sliding. Trees there grow straight without the kinks that suggest previous slides, he said. “When you have a slope fail in a place where there’s not a big history of slope failure, you naturally start looking at what changed,” Leverton said.

It will take a more thorough assessment of the slope in the spring to confirm the initial analysis, Leverton said.

“There’s a lot that we don’t know about it and we may never know,” he said.

The Lost Engines of Roanoke

Here is a link to an interesting web site about the remains of some old steam engines in Roanoke, VA.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Snow Strands Nearly 400 Train Passengers in California Mountains

Received the following news article via email with no notation as to date or source of the article.
Then I found a follow-up article as shown below.

SAN FRANCISCO — Amtrak officials say that nearly 400 people are trapped inside two passenger trains that have been stuck all afternoon in the snowy Northern California mountains.
An Amtrak spokeswoman says the trains were stranded near Donner Pass around 2 p.m. today after a large snow plow being used to clear the tracks fell through a walkway and blocked the trains' path.

No injuries have been reported and both trains have heating and lights.

The spokeswoman says Amtrak is trying to summon buses to nearby towns to evacuate passengers, but have had little luck because many of the vehicles are in Arizona for the Super Bowl.

Officials said at 7 p.m. that they expect it may take another hour or two to clear the tracks and that more snow that has fallen since the accident.

The following article follows-up on the above. It is from the Associated Press (AP) and was posted on the MSNBC web site on 2-2-08.

Trains freed from snowy Calif. mountains

Winter storms on both sides of country make for miserable travel
The Associated Press
updated 4:51 p.m. ET, Sat., Feb. 2, 2008

CHICAGO - A passenger train stuck overnight in the Northern California mountains resumed its journey Saturday after a snow plow that was blocking the tracks was removed, officials said.

Two Amtrak trains with about 400 passengers were initially stranded after the accident Friday. One train was pulled to Reno, Nevada, and its 165 passengers were put up in a hotel, Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero said.

The other train, which was headed from Emeryville to Chicago, remained in the mountains until the tracks were cleared Saturday morning.

About 60 passengers from the second train were taken by bus back to the San Francisco Bay area overnight, while 155 stayed on board to wait for the line to reopen, Romero said.

The train had heating and lights and passengers were given food, Romero said. No injuries were reported.

The train was scheduled to arrive in Chicago Monday morning about 16 hours behind schedule.

A Union Pacific spokeswoman, Zoe Richmond, confirmed that the company's equipment was blocking the tracks but had no other information.

Now that my fingers have thawed out...

I can type this report as to what I observed on Saturday (2/2/08) trackside along the Lehigh Line from Manville. The trains observed passing by my vantage point were as follows:

7:45-CSX Q417: had BNSF 4341 (C44-9W) as the leader coupled to CSX 8543 (SD50). Behind them were fifty-two cars of mixed freight.

7:59-NS 21M: would have NS 2721 (SD70M-2) and NS 9698 (C40-9W) for power.

8:45-NS 24V: power would be NS 9864 (C40-9W), NS 9711 (C40-9W) and NS 6763 (SD60M, ex-CR-5501).

10:20-NS 213: Shades of CR! Two C40-8Ws, PRR 8452 (ex-LMS 712) and PRR 8416 (ex-CR 6225), made me think I had gone back in time to the days of CR.

10:30-CSX 707: taking this short trash train south was CSX 8810 (SD40-2, ex-CR 6386) and CSX 8701 (SD60). It would hold at Port Reading Jct to allow CSX Q300 to come east.

10:41-CSX Q300: finished working Manville yard and headed east with eighty-one cars of mixed freight. Motive power was CSX 7314 (C40-8W, ex-CR 6085), CSX 4768 (SD70MAC) and CSX 504 (AC44CW).

11:00-CSX Q439: would have a very clean CSX 4594 (SD80MAC) and CSX 7765 (C40-8W) to provide the motive power in bringing 117 cars of mixed freight south.

Hope your morning was just as enjoyable, albeit not as cold!

Last(?) Pictures From the WNYP

Pictures below are by Kermit Geary Jr. taken as he finished testing on the Western New York and Pennsylvina (WNYP). Note the yellow Sperry (SRS) truck in the background.