A familiar story for Classic Train Forum readers

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A familiar story for Classic Train Forum readers
Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 8:04 PM


So here we are..postwar, 1948, busy, busy, lots of employment. A simpler but flawed times..this scene was all across our lands, it was cherished even then and thought to be 



So a scant 6 and half years later...steam is gone, scrapped along with a lot of employment and skill...a way of life and cherished things relegated to history and nostalgia. Not so busy is it? Little do they know the worst it yet to come....but hey, it's progress right. Soul less look alike Diesels purchased from the same company that wipes out the great passenger trains that connected everywhere. 


1979- Last train out of there, decrepit and abandoned structures.
1980-All structures demolished, all track ripped up.
1980 and a half- Crickets.

Today...yah OK, just great. Stirring. Young kids can aspire to be a cashier.

My sincere thanks to NDG...check out his posting in "String Lining" in the General Discussion Trains forum where he and RME have some questions regarding that first photograph. 

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 9:03 PM

The pictures got a bit out of sequence when I posted them...tried to fix it but no luck. Classic Forum members are intelligent enough to fiqure it out. 

Now I know the story here is old news and not all that exciting and can be rationalized as to what happened. It a tale repeated all across the land. 

I also know that just about all of us on this forum were there and witnessed these transitions firsthand. I only ask you this...place yourself in that 1948 photo and recall not only the sights and sounds but the feeling of permanence, pride, workmanship and importance.

Then place yourself in that parking lot at the strip mall that now occupies that land. Tell yourself that this is an improvement. Give your head a shake.

 

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Posted by PRR8259 on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 9:52 PM

I was not there and cannot remember...

As a civil design engineer I can appreciate what was accomplished with only pencil and ink drafting and without the ability to complete quick revisions in cadd like today.

I can appreciate the steam power by collecting the amazing models being made in brass today.

The servicing labor costs of steam doubled on Nickel Plate Road between 1950 and 1956.  The plummeting anthracite coal traffic was the beginning of the end for some by 1950.  The PA Turnpike Northeast Extension destroyed profitability of paralleling railroads in 1956.  Some never made any profit again like Lehigh Valley.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 11:25 PM

PRR8259-Yes, never underestimate our abilities with some tools...a T-Square, some triangles and a K+E rapidiograph set and the drawings are stunning. Every Mine I worked at had plans and sections done by hand issued from Engineering. The freehand lettering was actually better than todays printing. Man those guys were good, and fast! Another skill being lost to time. AutoCad is very nice but not pleasing. It just is. 

As for your rationalizing of events, well I acknowledge that. There are a myriad of reasons all valid and very real. However, we pursued a policy of full employment until we abandoned and destroyed that policy.

The question is : Standing in that parking lot staring at the pavement and a Target Store in a strip mall vs. the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway engine facilities and a yard is quite the dichotomy. I contend that it is not right, not good at all. I don't care how cheap bananas are, the youth must aspire to something that is a wonder and tangible,  or it all goes to pieces. 

To really make it worse these efficiencies and productivity gains have benefitted very very select few. Not everyone's grandchild can be a research biologist. So those opportunities for promotion and advancement that once existed are also limited. 

Dark vision? Maybe...I'll take the roundhouse any day, even in 1948. 

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Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, February 09, 2017 8:31 AM

All I am saying is that pictures from back then belied the economic truth hidden beneath the surface.  Unionization of railroad employees hastened the end of steam, as reported in Hirsimaki's NKP book, by driving costs up overnight.  Some have also argued that states like Pennsylvania which had more miles of railroad than anyone were horribly overbuilt and could not sustainthat many rail lines.  For some the good old days maybe werent so good and our government was idiotic to fund highways against competing private rail lines, thus creating the transportation mess we have now.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer on Thursday, February 09, 2017 11:46 AM

Look at Florida and the track that Seaboard Coast Line started ripping up soon after the ACL/SAL merger than created the railroad with the slogan that was a play on the reporting marks: Service Customers Like.  Ha, the customers started to use motor freight due to P-poor rail service.  The SCL management thinking, hey, we're the only railroad in town, they gotta use us!  BS they did!  Compare the map of SCL on July 1, 1967, M-Day to today's CSX.  It'll make you SICK!

Now CSX (Chicken S*** eXpress) isn't any better.  The Clinchfield Route is in danger of being completely shut down (railbanked at best?)....

Am sure there are lots of strip malls and other fancy new buildings standing where railroads once ran.  I've never read the book When the Railroad Leaves Town but imigine it's a good read!

Good fiction: The Long Summer of George Adams.  Takes place in Oklahoma in 1952.  The Kaw & Wichita is about to retire the last four steam locomotives which will put engine watchman George Adams out of a job. 

Item: The town of Sumac in the book is in reality Skedee.  It was on the ATSF line that ran through Cushing.  The town is almost a ghost town (no store, no gas station) and the BNSF demolished the coaling tower a few years ago.  I got to photograph it back in the late 80s.  Sadly, I got there just after the rails had been lifted!:(

What a bummer!

 

RME
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Posted by RME on Thursday, February 09, 2017 12:26 PM

PRR8259
Unionization of railroad employees hastened the end of steam, as reported in Hirsimaki's NKP book, by driving costs up overnight.

It's a little unfair to target 'unionization' as the cause of this, although some aspects like craft specificity may have had a differential effect on retention of steam power.  I found it obvious looking at the railroad trade press in the postwar half-decade that more than just powerful unions were involved in the increases in labor cost: perhaps the most important one was that steam required a large force of relatively unskilled labor, working under usually primitive and dirty conditions, to be cost effective.  As expected standards of living increased postwar, and increasing alternative employment for less-skilled workers became increasingly available, there wasn't enough 'sweet spot' of workers dedicated and skilled enough to work on steam but not wanting better employment.  Any attempt by unions to increase wages in that highly-leveraged situation -- and remember that this applies to all the other aspects of steam operation, like water and fuel replenishment -- would lead to more motivation to replace steam ... but many of the explicitly 'unionized' issues, like firemen on diesels or a day's pay for each 100 miles run, carried over into dieselization, where of course they strongly influenced retention of rail service on many levels, which is the greater point here.

I cannot imagine a modern America without efficient interstate highways.  I think it is difficult to imagine a modern America with a large plant of competing railroads, each with its own severe fixed costs and tax liabilities, in which even efficient intermodal service as we know it today (with low-tare-weight articulated trains and ISO-standardized containers) would have developed sustainably.

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, February 09, 2017 5:24 PM

Copied over from "String Lining" in the Trains Forum:RME- Well of course you are, reluctantly, correct regarding the quick demise of the steam locomotives, the facilities and the specific employment that went along with all of that. The reasons for the disappearance are overwhelming. 

The Diesel really didn't save the railroads in the East. I doubt if the end would have been any quicker without them..maybe it extended the railroads life and bottom line somewhat. Passenger was gone in any case regardless of motive power.

Does anyone have any figures are how many steam locomotives were scrapped each year from say 1948 until 1956. The numbers would be huge. I'm thinking 52-53 was not a good time for steam. New England disappeared steam entirely almost overnight. 

The larger issue was the overall loss in employment and rail itself and to see that in todays terms. What I mean by that is why can't we have both in place...the main line huge systems of today serving transportation hubs/nodes AND a renewed vibrant local system everywhere serving industry and regions. They could cooperate and compete creating their own transportation nodes that could feed into the system or into larger regional markets. Perhaps the industry is no longer there. 

With a renewed industry those scenes of 1948 would could reappear, of course sans steam, but lots of activity and employment nontheless. Big mountain to climb with everything from taxes and regulations to environmental and employment issues. 

The thing is...it was all there in place and should not have been lost in the first place. Can it be restored? 

 

 

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Posted by sgriggs on Friday, February 10, 2017 11:24 AM

We as railfans lament the loss of steam and steam facilities, but their demise (and the disappearance of steam-specific railroad jobs) was as inevitable as the loss of blacksmith shops and buggy whip manufacturers when the automobile and farm tractor were developed decades earlier.  It's just the result of technological progress.  Diesels overwhelmed even the most modern steam locomotives because their advantages were overwhelming.  

 

Technology tends to put people with obsolete skills out of work, until they can adapt and develop new skills.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, February 10, 2017 8:12 PM

No cannot and will not be restored.

Some are missing the bigger point here.  Your tax dollars were used to build an extensive public road network.  This made it very difficult for privately owned railroads to compete against heavily subsidized trucking companies.  Cars are also insignificant to pavement damage.  The truck registration fees are a joke compared to the damage they cause.  In actual effect the car owners are supporting the trucking industry.  People forget the railroads pay taxes on all that real estate, in addition to the fuel tax.  Also our locomotives are very likely much cleaner.  The trucking industry enjoys enormous advantages.

We do not have the population density of Europe which would make passenger rail more viable, but our freight rail is fighting at a disadvantage relative to heavily subsidized with our tax dollars trucks.

It is my business to build highways and I can tell you the environmental nutjobs will not let some of the railbanked lines ever come back.  You think they fight the conservative republicans?  Just wait till NS wants to put rails back where there is now a trail.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, February 10, 2017 11:34 PM

PRR8259- Ok, thanks for the thoughts...generally agree. Also have my reservations regarding railbanked lines...good luck with getting rails back once a trail is in place...agreements, laws, contracts, whatever they will have the full force of a hundred well funded activist groups fighting against this...and the media on their side as well. 

Once the rails are gone it's gone. Successful restoration of rails will be a rarity for sure. 

Was thinking more along the lines of new lines connecting to what is remaining in a revitalized industrial setting but I suppose thats pie in the sky. 

Perhaps modern day societies could not function without the way the highway systems are in use today but it is obvious that it cannot continue on and on with ever increasing congestion. What if legislation is introduced, in stages, mandating trucking companies to provide their own highway systems. That would change the picture dramatically. 

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Posted by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer on Saturday, February 11, 2017 8:17 AM

It would be interesting to know how many railbanked lines have been restored (if any) to service and if any rail trails will ever stand a chance to come back?

Like most agree: When they're gone, they're gone! 

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Posted by Goodtiming on Saturday, February 11, 2017 6:31 PM
Can anyone help me? In the photo of Cheviot yard, what is the funnel type piping attached to the stack of 1478. Thanks
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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, February 11, 2017 7:17 PM

Goodtiming- There was quite the discussion on this in the Trains Forum under the "String Lining" thread starting around Feb 8th. I will copy this response from NDG

Regarding curved tube to hopper car over stack Steam Locomotive on MR. 

What an interesting photograph! Wonder if there is a larger view somewhere?

Might I suggest that they are doing a tube and flue clean on the locomotive shown, and diverting the ash, clinker and other debris out thru curved tube directly into hopper car.

It seems there is not a tight fit of funnel-thing around the top of the smoke stack so that air can be entrained by velocity of debris exiting stack. There appears to be a second tube beyond.

Doubt locomotive is 'under steam' as probably workers inside firebox with tools and maybe air wands inserted into tubes from firebox end to blow material forward and down and out thru grates.

I suggest the medium is compressed air from roundhouse applied to locomotive blower at exhaust nozzle in smoke box, and cranked up to full pressure.

Read somewhere that 'Sanding Out' on the road is NOT done on coal burners as cinders, etc. do the job, and are a major part of metal wear inside tubes requiring their replacement as they thin.

Superheater elements can plug and have to be rodded out, or blown out from firebox end with a long pipe with a baffle on rear end to prevent loosened debris from blowing back, injuring worker inserting pipe into tube. 

Anyway. No Expert.

When I do this job, Oil Burner, I shut off Main Stop Valve at Turret in cab. Plumb in air thru gladhand type fitting from Shop Air to Turret above Stop Valve, thusby supplying air to all downstream appliances ex Turret thru their respective stop valves.

This provides air to Air Pump, if needed, and to locomotive blower ring in smoke box thru their respective stop valves after locomotive moved outside.

This compressed air can be used down thru Main Stop Valve at Turret to charge locomotive boiler with compressed air for a shop move as long as the hose.  ( Duh. ) 

The first time I tried this, I was the Hero, and did not use the air pump for Independent brakes, the water in boiler and tender started to 'slosh' increasing movement resonance, using Johnson Bar for reversing and 'brakes' almost put engine off the end of track in shop and out thru wall.

Yes, there is a God! it was that close!! 

You suited up in those paper throwaway boiler suits, taping cuffs and arms. Covered mouth and nose w filter, wore safety glasses, which had to be cleaned frequently, then backed into Firebox thru door.

A Dungeon of soft pillowy flour fine soot in a warm cocoon womb punctuated barely by the rounded humps of staybolts, and a brick coffin surrounding the burner. 

You them asked the workmate to open the blower valve on the manifold by the Fireman's seat, and the air then gushed out thru holes in blower ring in smoke box, speeding up as back pressure rose in line.

At full pressure on the blower there was a TRUE HURRICANE of air rushing in thru firedoor, across firebox, and out thru tubes to front and up the stack.

You then went to work, using trouble lite on cord, and brushed down door sheet, side sheets, crown sheet, throat sheet, and bricks to expose metal and brick surface as well as possible, for a boiler inspection and hydro test, also checking bricks and their mortar.  Sand from sanding out would be shoveled out firedoor into bucket on deck.

The fuseable plug was removed from crownsheet., inspected, the alloy top surface facing the water was scraped bright, and plug reinserted with thread goo. 

http://i157.photobucket.com/albums/t62/NDGee/Saturated_zpskcc7id5q.jpg 

Using compressed air the blower pulled soot away from worker, and if he faced up air stream, it was clear.

Previously when this job was done, no negative pressure, you could not see a half inch, and the soot etc went down behind bricks and had to be shoveled out the door.

BIG MESS.

Still a louzy job with the air, but easier, and cooler, if hot water still in boiler. Obviously you did not take plug out if water, or pressure above.

If tubes were to be cleaned, a large chunk of burlap or like bag was fitted to end of a piece of pipe and shoved in firebox end of tubes one by one. A section of hose on tender end to allow swab to reach smoke box pushing soot, as firebox length too short to allow a solid piece of pipe long enough to reach front end. 

Fun, and bad on the lungs. One coughed up black tar for long after.   

Kudos all around.


In Toronto, CN used wheel hones on Diesel Switchers mounted in lieu of brake shoes to profile wheel treads.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 12, 2017 10:11 AM

It's interesting looking at those photos, and how the site of an exciting, dynamic railyard turned into just another hum-drum parking lot, but you know, it could be worse, a lot worse.

Let the old military history buff Firelock tell you a tale.

On August 27 1776 the biggest land battle of the American Revolution was fought in Brooklyn NY.  Commanding the British forces was General William Howe, a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill Howe was not going to repeat the mistake of underestimating the Americans, so instead of a "hey-diddle-diddle-straight-up-the-middle" attack Howe came up with a cunning battle plan of fire and manuver, catching the Americans off-guard and driving them off the field. 

From General Washington down to the lowest musketman the Americans had a lot to learn, and the British Army was teaching it to them.

However, down by a bridge over Gowanus Creek a regiment of Marylanders, 400 strong, made a suicide stand to allow the rest of the Americans on that side of the battle a chance to escape.  400 Americans against Lord Cornwallis' 2000 Redcoats.  The held, they attacked, they held, and attacked again, stunning Corwallis with the ferocity of the resistance.  When it was over, 226 Marylanders lay dead on the field, but the mission had been accomplished, the Americans had escaped to fight another day.

As was the custom of the time the dead were buried where they fell.  Time passed, life moved on, people forgot, urban development took it's toll and the battlefield disappeared.

Today, the gravesite of those Marylanders is marked by an auto repair garage.  Only the military historians and Revolutionary War buffs can tell you who's under it. The old Marine in me wants to break down and cry.

So you see, it could be worse, a lot worse.

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, February 12, 2017 11:34 AM

Perhaps a time will come yet when that will be straightened out..is there a plaque or a cairn, something? 226 remains..thats significant.

 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 12, 2017 3:51 PM

That's the story all right.  They do have their monument, and some of us remember, but that auto repair garage...

I wish the money could be found somewhere, somehow (it's been tried) to purchase that piece of ground and turn it into a vest-pocket park, but considering the cost of New York City real estate it's not likely to happen anytime soon.

Thanks Wanswheel, you continue to amaze.

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Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, February 12, 2017 6:18 PM

This was right down the street from me.

The New York Central Linndale roundhouse.  Unfortunately for me, it was gone long before I came along.  I remember the site first being a warehouse and outlet for a major department store.  In recent years it's been the headquarters of American Greetings and Hugo Boss.

A waking Lithium Flower just about to bloom

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 12, 2017 6:45 PM

OOOOOOO, that's impressive!  What a sight that must have been!

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Posted by Penny Trains on Monday, February 13, 2017 6:43 PM

Well my favorite train still runs nearby: http://www.memphiskiddiepark.com/index.cfm  Big Smile

A waking Lithium Flower just about to bloom

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 5:34 PM

That little train is cool!  I wouldn't mind having it in my backyard at all!

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