An enterprising solution

In a joint venture with Pan Am Railways, Norfolk Southern has provided capital and track maintenance equipment to rehabilitate Pan Am’s western main line from Mohawk Yard east to Ayer, MA, north of Boston.  The joint venture, dubbed Pan Am Southern, allows Norfolk Southern to compete with CSX’s Boston Line for freight tonnage into post-Conrail New England. With the recent track upgrades, Pan Am’s mainline (the former western end of the Boston & Maine Railroad) now sees 8-10 freight trains per day on average, in addition to multiple “extra” oil, coal, and grain run-through unit trains from the west. The extra traffic has made Pan Am power-short, and they are filling in with leasers and run-through power.  The lead unit on this train, NS 3491 is one of ten six-axle NS locomotives currently on long-term lease to Pan Am – the three trailing units all carry MEC (Maine Central) reporting marks as well as three different paint liveries.  Units 2 and 4 will eventually receive the Pan Am blue and white paint scheme that can be seen on the third unit in this lashup.

The Pan Am globe logo on the third unit is the exact same one that was once used by Pan Am World Airways.  The Pan Am Airways logo was purchased by the railroad’s chief owner/partner Timothy Mellon as part of the airline’s bankruptcy/liquidation proceedings.  (Mr. Mellon is also an airplane enthusiast.) The railroad’s former name, Guilford Rail System was dropped in favor of the current Pan Am moniker, and the former airlines’ corporate logo now lives on, gracing the locomotives of a regional railroad.

In this classic, rural New England photo we see Pan Am eastbound daily manifest freight MOED (MOhawk yard to East Deerfield yard) passing the Church Street grade crossing in Pownal, Vermont.  The train originated in Mohawk Yard (property of CP/ Delaware & Hudson) where Pan Am interchanges with both CP and Norfolk Southern.  (Norfolk Southern uses trackage rights over the D&H from NS’ Southern Tier mainline in Binghampton, NY to get up to Mohawk yard, near Schenectady). In these times of fierce competition, it seems that these two railroads have found an enterprising solution to benefit them both, and their customers, to ensure success in the 21st century.

Image recorded on September 7, 2013 by Bob Krug.

PanAm Railways train MOED Norfolk Southern lease unit in Pownal Vermont

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Winter along the Stony Brook

Railroads have played a considerable role in the history of this country, especially in the Northeast and New England regions of the US, where the railroads initially flourished with over 6,300 miles of rail laid by 1850. One of the early roads was the Stony Brook Railroad, a shortline in Massachusetts, originally built from North Chelmsford to Ayer, which began operations in 1848. This line, which eventually became part of an efficient route designed to bypass the congestion of the Boston area, was absorbed into the Boston & Maine system, and in June of 1983 the B&M was one of the properties incorporated into the new Guilford Rail System. In 2006, Guilford became Pan Am Railways, and the new paint scheme reflects a renaissance of sorts for a once-beleaguered rail system.

In a classic New England winter scene along the ‘Stony Brook Line’ in Westford, we find Pan Am Railways train EDPO (East Deerfield, MA – South Portland, ME), a daily road freight running between the two largest yards on the Pan Am system. Much to the delight of railfans, this road rosters many older, yet very dependable EMD locomotives; todays train features MEC 378, a high-hood GP40 built in April of 1966 for the Norfolk & Western Railway (and repainted into the beautiful dark blue scheme in late 2010), and two former Penn Central RR units; MEC 350, ex-CR 3266, nee PC 3266 built in 5/69, and MEC 352, ex-CR 3268, nee PC 3268, built in 5/69, both now sporting the new colors as well. History has been kind to this rail line, and it is good to see freight still rolling along the Stony Brook, 165 years removed from her humble origins in northeastern Massachusetts.

Image recorded on February 16, 2013 by Ted Krug.

PanAm Railways train EDPO Westford Massachussets Stony Brook Line

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In the beginning….

With the blessing of the Attalla, Alabama town council, the Etowah Historical Society has begun their ‘Junction Park’ project, and the first piece of equipment to be part of this new transportation museum is now on the property. Chesapeake & Ohio caboose 904145 was privately owned by a local family, who then donated it to the Hardin Center for Cultural Arts in nearby Gadsden for display, in memory of their teenage son who was killed in an accident in the early 1990’s. Arrangements were made to keep the hack in the area, and for it to be part of the new and still work-in-progress attraction at Junction Park. The former C&O caboose will be joined by a 1922 built Louisville & Nashville passenger car in the future, and possibly 2 historic streetcars that once plied the streets of Anniston, Alabama.

The Attalla/Gadsden area is steeped with railroad history, with rail lines dating back to the 1860’s, and still plays host to two railroads; class 1 road Norfolk Southern, and the shortline Alabama & Tennessee River, whose Gadsden to Guntersville freight line runs right behind the park. We send our good wishes to the hard working folks of the Etowah Historical Society for a speedy completion of this project, and also thank them for their work of preserving northern Alabama history for future generations to look back on and enjoy.

Image recorded on April 7, 2012, by Jimmy ‘Coach’ Stewart.

Former Chesapeake & Ohio caboose is part of Junction Park in Attalla Alabama

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North Dakota Connection

Since new rock-fracturing techniques were introduced in 2008, there has been a boom of crude oil production from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, and, in fact, they are now the Number 2 oil producing state in the US, behind Texas and in front of, yes, Alaska. Unit oil trains run almost daily to facilities across North America, now to include New Jersey. Here, one of the first crude oil trains destined for NJ has arrived in Westville on April 3, 2012, keeping it’s Canadian Pacific run-through power all the way from the upper-midwest, over Norfolk Southern’s Harrisburg Line (original CP symbol 614, to NS 64Z once in Harrisburg), and eventually into Camden, NJ, where Conrail Shared Assets crew YPCA-05 relieved the NS road crew. Due to capacity limitations, the crew left the rear half of the train in Camden’s Pavonia Yard and proceeded south 6.1 miles to Sunoco’s Eagle Point storage facility in Westville. The following day would see the remainder of the train delivered, and the empties then collected for forwarding back west. Domestic oil production/transportation/storage/usage is a very welcome sight, and will hopefully lessen, at least to a small degree, our dependence on foreign produced oil. It is good to see two North American railroads working together to bolster our economy, and we wish them the best to keep the New Jersey-North Dakota connection viable for years to come.

Image recorded on April 3, 2012 by John Danielson.

Canadian Pacific crude oil train 64Z in Westville NJ

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SD-18 at dusk has other-worldly feel

“Captains Log, Stardate 2112…….rail operations at Lunar Camp 3 are normal, with rock loading for Planet Earth on schedule…..”

If we ever build a railroad on the moon, it shouldn’t look too much different than this! This is actually Kent, Ohio, on the property of Shelly Materials, and the evil monster with the ‘ditch light eyes’ lurking in the foreground is just SD-18 #321, resting after a hard day’s work of switching carloads of stone. Built in the early 1960’s for the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range RR, #321 was one of only 54 SD-18’s built by EMD for US railroads, and is currently one of only five still known to remain on the rails.

In the daylight, #321 is one of the most attractive locomotives in the country, with her dark blue color and her gold ‘lightning bolt’ accents, which are applied to honor the Kent State University ‘Golden Flashes’ athletic teams. Photo courtesy NASA………well, no, actually………

Image recorded May 12, 2010 by Fred Stuckmann.

SD-18 at dusk has other-worldly feel

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