Hell Gate Bridge centennial

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Hell Gate Bridge centennial
Posted by wanswheel on Friday, February 10, 2017 4:23 PM
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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, February 11, 2017 8:54 AM

Thanks for posting Wanswheel!  The Hell Gate Bridge is just as impressive today as it was 100 years ago, to say nothing of the fact a model of it was a popular accessory produced by Lionel and Mike's Train House for many years.

Here's something everyone may get a kick out of.  Slide on over to the "Classic Toy Trains" website and check out Rene Sweitzer's blog "What do O-Gauge Railroaders Do On New Year's Eve" and have a look at the Milwaukee Railroad Club's 28 foot long model of the Hell Gate Bridge, the word "impressive" barely does it justice.

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Posted by RME on Saturday, February 11, 2017 8:58 AM

Firelock76
... the word "impressive" barely does it justice.

The fugglers in Kalmbach tech support can get a pasted image from the blog into the forum reply form, where it displays nicely, but apparently not onto the actual forum itself.

Here's the link to a picture: http://cs.trains.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-00-11-13/5545.hell_5F00_gate_5F00_3.jpg

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, February 11, 2017 9:31 AM

Oh yeah.  As neat as the Lionel toy bridge was, to have an O gauge train look right on a Hell Gate Bridge model, THAT'S how big the Hell Gate Bridge model has to be!

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Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, February 11, 2017 1:14 PM

Not just any steamer, a Central Vermont, its cargo lcl freight shipped at a lower differential rate to the Midwest via New London and Canada. No doubt the CV crews passing through Hell Gate every morning and evening witnessed the construction of the bridge from start to finish.

The CV steamer is definitely going north, judging by the location of the gas tanks in both pictures.

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, February 12, 2017 1:31 AM

Love that ad PRR/Central Vermont. Notice the depiction of Penn Station along with the Central Vermont logo. Better yet note the Central Vermont City Ticket Office phone number "529". 

What we would give for a Pullman accomodation, diner in the diner, a parlour seat, perhaps a fine cigar and a great nights sleep under fresh linens with the whistle blowing away through the night. All of it in heavyweights. Not to mention the feeling of "importance" arriving and departing those magnificient stations. 

Many railroad Presidents and CEO's made it known that passenger service was not profitable but I do not believe it. They sure went the extra mile and were highly competitive with each other. No expense was overlooked to gain an edge. There were trains to everywhere and lots of them. If you throw in the express and mail contracts things were pretty darn good. 

Well don't bother with dailing 529. All of it, 529,  the Pennsy, CV, the heavyweights, Pullman, including Penn Station the structure is long gone. 

Thinking we are the last generation to have experienced and to have known this firsthand...at least the tail end of it anyway. 

I suppose Amtrak at least tries somewhat, VIA if you are willing to max out your credit card. Airports are horrendous, no.no,no. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 12, 2017 9:38 AM

Miningman, whether or not passenger service was profitable or not is a "controversial" question that I don't believe will ever be resolved to anyone's satisfaction.  I put controversial in quotes because at this late date what's it matter?

In my own opinion, and I can't prove it (nor can anyone un-prove it) is long distance passenger service back in the glory days was profitable, or as you said the big 'roads wouldn't have competed so fiercely for it.  Commuter runs, another matter entirely, if the 'roads broke even on that one they were doing fine, although I believe they probably turned a profit on those too until competition from trolleys, interurbans, and then the automobile and buses began chipping away at the customer base.

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Posted by Great Western on Sunday, February 12, 2017 12:46 PM

On 9th. October, 2016 I, as a radio ham, was scanning the 17 meter band (18Mhz.).

I came across a special call sign being used by a New York club based in Brooklyn which was celebrating the centenary of Hells Gate Bridge.  To my delight the operator of the station heard my call to him and we were able to have a brief conversation and exchange the customary signal strength reports.  So I have the pleasure in having the Hells Gate Bridge special centenary call in my log book.

Incidentally the station was on air from 30th. September until 14th. October.

Alan, Oliver & North Fork Railroad

https://www.buckfast.org.uk/

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. Lewis Carroll English author & recreational mathematician (1832 - 1898)

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Posted by RME on Sunday, February 12, 2017 5:14 PM

I think it was plenty profitable across Hell Gate in 1916, and still pretty profitable in 1924.  Whether it was 'as profitable as it could have been' (absent amenities like loss-leader dining car service) is another story, as is whether 'competitive high-speed express service' was the net loss W.H.Vanderbilt said it was in the famous interview.  At least part of the 'fierce competition' might have come from the common-carrier requirement to run trains regardless of patronage; if you have to run it regularly, there are advantages in running it well AND attracting increasing patronage to a given train.

Commuter runs were relatively profitable when equipment and service costs were low, and there was relatively little competition for any alternative transportation.  Profitable, that is, when equipment utilization matched demand.  When you need enormous numbers of consists for traffic that only peaks a couple of hours twice a day, and needs to be kept and serviced at the 'far outer end' of runs, most of your economics goes south quickly, even if you have enormous perceived competitive advantage during those couple of hours...

 

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, February 12, 2017 6:14 PM

Enormous resources were put into passenger service, everything from locomotive design and investment to Vice Presidents so there must have been more to it than is alluded to. 

Once the mail contracts were lost what was left at that point were petitioned for train-off immediately. 

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Posted by wanswheel on Monday, February 13, 2017 12:38 PM

Don’t  know when New Haven started running electric locomotives on the bridge. It seems the bridge was all set for electric by June 1918.  NY Times article about a collision says they were still changing engines in September 1918, at least for the passenger trains.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9907E6DE113BEE3ABC4053DFBF668383609EDE

Excerpt from New Haven Passenger Trains by Peter E. Lynch (2005)

The New Haven received the first of its heavy passenger electrics, the Westinghouse-built EP-2s, in 1919, which was too late to help with wartime traffic. By 1928 the New Haven had 27 EP-2s. Despite the electrification of the passenger tracks over the Hell Gate Bridge, this route saw many steam locomotives for many years because of an electric locomotive shortage. Since these trains to and from Pennsylvania station changed to PRR DD-1 third-rail units near Sunnyside Yard in Queens until 1933, when wire was strung into Penn Station, the New Haven gave preference to Grand Central trains in assignment of electric power.

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Posted by NDG on Monday, February 13, 2017 2:40 PM

 

 

Wonderful Bridge, Wonderful Data.

Thank You, Sir!

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 2:52 AM

Steam continiued to be used to Bay Ridge on freight after wire reached Sunnyside.  The passenger service to Penn was not ttoally dpendent on the then big EP-2s, since the EP-1s could handle the Hell Gate Bridge by operating in two or three in Multiple, which they did.  Indeed, i never saw an EP-1-pulled train that only had one.   This was true of the Danbury an New Canaan thru trains.  The big electrics were on the New Haven jobs by the time I started observing, about 1937, age 5.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 3:03 AM

Also, do not forget that the Bridge was partially paid for by a surcharge on through New Haven - PRR tickets.  Under the right circumstances, you could save money riding Bosoton or Providence to Philly-Balt, Wash. by buying a ticket to New York than quickly buying a New York-onward ticket at Pernn Station while the train was chaning engines.  I think this surcharge was carried right up to Amtrak.   But then no change at Penn with PC, GG1s through NH - Wash.

Think of all the varieties of electric power Hell Gate Bridge has seen.  The varieties of mu equipment.  Yes, even MP-54s on an ERA fantrip.  And LIRR diesel equipment has run over it on at least fantrip.  Anjd all that equipment to and from the 1939-1940 Worlds Fair, including the PRR S-1 and a Dryfuss NYC J3a.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 4:51 PM

And David, the Civil War locomotive the "General" ran over the Hell Gate Bridge in 1965 on it's way to the World's Fair, and under steam as well!

Maybe the "High Water Mark Of The Confederacy" should be listed as being in Queens instead of Gettysburg!

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Posted by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 12:43 PM

It would be interesting to know how many American Flyer S gauge operators incorporated the Lionel Hell Gate Bridge on their layouts?  Seems like the contrast would have worked even better than O gauge.  Bet Flyer's model of a New Haven "Jet" looked right at home as it made it's way through the bridge! 

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Posted by ZephyrOverland on Thursday, February 23, 2017 1:27 PM

It's interesting to note that in the New York Times article from April 2, 1917 that wanswheel had a link to in his initial post, it states that Boston-Washington day service via Hell Gate Bridge would be restored by June 1 with a train called the Columbia Express. Instead, the Colonial Express returned, beginning on April 30.  

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Posted by wanswheel on Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:33 PM

The Times knew better. They got the day train's name right in these:

HELL GATE SERVICE APRIL 1 - Through Trains from Washington to Boston Will Be Started Then.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9F04EEDA123BEE3ABC4C52DFB566838C609EDE

MORE HELL GATE TRAINS - The Colonial Express and Bar Harbor Trains to Run Over New Route.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9D06EEDB153AE433A2575BC1A9629C946696D6CF

ELEVEN PERSONS HURT ON COLONIAL EXPRESS - Electric Locomotive Crashes Into Train in First Accident on Hell Gate Bridge Route

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9B01E6DC103AE433A25752C2A96E9C946696D6CF

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Posted by ZephyrOverland on Thursday, February 23, 2017 8:41 PM

wanswheel

The Times knew better. They got the day train's name right in these:

Maybe there was credence in the Columbia Express name.  Here's an article from the Washington Evening Star from February 23, 1917.

Unfortunately, railroads as an industry didn't get serious about passenger train name usage until after WW1.  Newspapers were (and still are) also notorious in manlging or miscommunicating passenger train names in news stories.  But I'm sure that the Columbia Express name didn't just appear out of thin air.  Maybe PRR had initial thoughts about renaming the Boston-Washington day train, but decided to stick with the Colonial Express name.  

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Posted by RME on Saturday, February 25, 2017 3:57 PM

ZephyrOverland
But I'm sure that the Columbia Express name didn't just appear out of thin air.

I suspect that what you have is a phenomenon not uncommon in that era: a press release sent 'round that has a typo in it (here, someone using a train name that sounds like the actual one, but isn't).  Show me a typical newspaper editor of the day who would think to fact-check that item individually, out of all the material needed to put papers to bed.  Difficult to 'prove' without the ephemera, but a simple comparison of the date window for stories containing the 'Columbia' name might give you an idea of how short-lived the common origin was. 

(Does seem to me, if you want analogies for a counterpart of  "Federal", that 'Columbia' is at least as likely than 'Colonial'...)

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Posted by ZephyrOverland on Monday, February 27, 2017 12:58 PM

RME

 

       ZephyrOverland
But I'm sure that the Columbia Express name didn't just appear out of thin air.

 

RME, I agree with you concerning the challenges of validating items in newspapers, especially concerning passenger train operations of the era.  In doing passenger train research utlizing newspapers of the day, especially for the pre-WW1 era, I've always had to corraborate with what I turn up in the papers with other sources, such as industry publications, Official Guides, timetables and even other newspaper articles or ads.  

As for the Columbia Express/Colonial Express issue, below is  a Washington Times article that appeared on February 23, 1917, the same day the Washington Evening Star article, that I posted previously, appeared:

This article indicates that the Columbia Express existed when the via-the-Hudson- River-crossing existed, which obiously was not the case.  So based on this, the Columbia Express reference is incorrect.  Despite that, references were made of that name between mid-February to mid-April 1917, when PRR officially announced on April 17 that the Colonial Express was being restored by the end of the month.  During the same time period though, other articles correctly referenced the Colonial Express.  So most likely, it was the case of a reference appearing out of thin air and making its way through the communication channels of the time.

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