Montrealer aka Bootlegger

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Montrealer aka Bootlegger
Posted by Hawkeye606 on Tuesday, September 05, 2006 8:49 PM
Technically only the southbound train was called the Bootlegger, but the name became applied to the northbound as well (long after prohibition!). The official name for the northbound was the Washingtonian. The southbound- the Montrealer. Both the south and northbound trains passed through White River Junction in the night, but occasionally would be late, especially northbound. One old time railroader in WRJ would hear the whistle, **** his head, cup his ear and proclaim, "There goes the Boot!"
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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 06, 2006 5:12 AM

The southbound train was the Washingtonian and the northbound the Montrealer.  Rode them both several times.  And yes the bootlegger name did stick.  There was competition from New York, the Montreal Limited on the NYC and D&H.   And at one time on the Rutland as well, but not while I was a frequent rider.

 

Among the interesting services provided after some train-offs was the set-out sleeper for White River Junction.   The two Pullman fluted side 10 rommette and six double-bend-room Boston and Maine sleeper normally assigned to this service were the "Dartmouth College I" and the "Dartmouth College II".   They were identaclel to the New Haven's postwar 10 and 6's, but with an all stainless side treatment, no paint except black lettering and numbers.

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Posted by Hawkeye606 on Thursday, September 07, 2006 3:57 PM
Of course I got th\at reversed. The southbound was the Washingtonian and the northbound the Montrealer.
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Posted by Hawkeye606 on Thursday, September 07, 2006 4:25 PM

Another funny story used to be told at cocktail parties when I was a student at Dartmouth in the 60's. I don't know how much of it was true and how much was "urban legend":

Dartmouth collaborated with the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop and build the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, NH. When the building was dedicated, they invited a number of dignitaries from Washington, DC to attend. Since air service into the Upper Valler was limited to commuter flights and Boston was several hours away, it was decided to have the dignitaries travel by train. The only problem was that the northbound Montrealer passed througn White River Junction at 4am and the southbound train to return to Washington passed through at 11:30pm. These were preAmtrak days when there was still some amount of infrastructure still in place at WRJ. There was a steam connection in the yard which had been used in better days for the northbound trains to leave off a sleeper so travellers could detrain at their leisure. The car was also spotted in the yard, attached to steam and power in the early evening, so travellers could board at a decent time and wake up in Washington DC the next morning.

There were a few challenges. The WRJ crew hadn't done this operation for years. Both Dartmouth and the Army Corp were a little vague about the actual day of the arrival and departure. To add to the soup, both the north and southbound trains changed power and crew at WRJ (CV to B&M). Also there was another train, the CV-operated Vermonter, which ran as a local, gathering passengers (and milk!) for smaller stations north of White River, which went north 30 minutes after the Montrealer and arrived southbound 30 minutes before the Montrealer. All this added confusion to the yard operations.

The day before the dedication the Washington dignitaries boarded the special pullman in DC. When the Dartmouth folks arrived the next morning to pick them up, the sleeper was nowhere to be found. A quick check with the stationmaster revealed that it was somewhere north of Essex Junction headed for the Canadian border. The dignitaries detrained in St. Albans and the Dartmouth folks made a dash to pick them up (this was before I-89 was built!). There were apologies all around, from Dartmouth, the B&M, the CV, the Stationmaster, etc. The dedication had to be delayed for several hours, but other than that went off as planned.

There was some confusion as to when the dignitaries would return to Washington, but the extra pullman was spotted in WRJ for several days. The arrangements were made to have it picked up by the southbound train and the dignitaries boarded after a nice dinner at the Coolidge Hotel next to the yard. They were comfortably bedded down and awoke the next morning still in White River Junction.

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Posted by wanswheel on Thursday, September 07, 2006 11:24 PM

My grandfather was an engineer on the Montrealer in the steam era.

Here's some history on the subject, written by my father, who organized a campaign to restore passenger train service to Vermont and Montreal in the early days of Amtrak:

In 1924, Canadian National Railways had just been formed, being a merger of Grand Trunk Ry with the several Canadian transcontinental lines that got over-extended in the early 1900's. To get a president, CN looked to Pennsylvania RR. Henry Thornton, former General Mgr, Lines west, of PRR, was hired. He is the man who conceived and built Jamaica Station of the LIRR, with its 3-way cross-platform transfers of commuters. He was made Sir Henry Thornton by King George V, and he went to work to make CN a solid competitor of CPR.

One thing that bothered him was that, because of the longer mileage of the CV-B&M-NH route to New York, the CN had to offer passengers a 2-hour longer run to New York than the CPR through the latter's D&H connection.

BOth D&H and New Haven operated the Montreal trains into Grand Central, and passengers going beyond had to transfer either to PRR at Penn Station or to B&O at Jersey City.

The Hell Gate Bridge had been opened and was being used by New Haven-PRR for through Boston-Washington trains only. Sir Henry decided he could gain an advantage over CPR if he could put on a through train that would connect the capitals of Canada and the U.S., via the new Hell Gate Bridge.

And so, in 1924, the Montrealer-Washingtonian were put on. They carried through sleepers from Ottawa and Quebec, and ran down the CV to W.R. Jct., B&M to Springfield, New Haven to Penn Station, and PRR through to Washington. These trains were added to the existing service of 3 daily trains via CV to New York at that time. They operated substantially on the same schedule as the final schedule, but the entire train went all the way to Washington, and it also carried Montreal to St. Petersburgh sleepers for the many Canadians who vacationed in Florida.

Despite the 2-hour longer running time than the D&H, they were an instant success, for the very same reasons that Amtrak has seen in its current appraisals: they served a market unreached by the D&H service, both in northern Vermont vacation areas, in densely populated Southern New England, and in through service to south of New York, all without that barrier of a change of stations in New York.

During the depression, the Washingtonian-Montrealer ran in 14 cars regularly, loaded, at a time when, one day in 1933, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce made a border-to-border count of all people traveling from East to West and counted only 32 people!

Naturally, the Montrealer-Washingtonian were given real preferred handling. It was put on a man's permanent service record if he caused a delay of even one minute to Nos. 20 or 21. And a friend recently told me of the only one instance in its 42 years of operation that the train was ever side-tracked for a freight train. The engineer, who happened to be my uncle Dan, was so indignant that he posted the train order on the bulletin board for all to see, as evidence of the offending Dispatcher's incompetence.

CN started the train with completely new equipment by Pullman, and as improved equipment came along, it was put on, with the final consists comprised of the newest CN and New Haven equipment. PRR equipment was limited to baggage cars, since PRR never had anything good enough for that train, although they would occassionally slip in an extra PRR coach.

Even when the Great Flood of 1927 washed out the Northern Division of CV, CN put 5,000 men to work, and work equipment from as far away as Vancouver, and it took three full months just to get the first train over the road St. Albans to W.R. Jct., and another three months to be able to operate passenger service at all, and still another six months to be able to operate the Montrealer-Washingtonian. CN paid D&H $400 per day for an entire year for trackage rights down from Montreal into Rutland, with CV providing its own train crews and fuel, but prohibited from carrying any but through passengers -- rather than let the Montrealer-Washingtonian drop out of the picture.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, September 08, 2006 3:29 AM

Thanks for the history!   In the days when Dartmouth College I and Dartmouth College II were operating, most equipment was New Haven, some Pennsy, an some CV.   The New Haven coaches were usually the remodelled 8200's, the prewar "American Flyers", that had interiors like the postwar 8600's, including reclining seats and the smoking facing-the-aisle section at one end.  Any PRR coaches were usually modernized P-70's with air conditioning and reclining seats, sometimes picture windows, sometimes single small windows.  Sleepers both PRR and NYNH&H were six and tens, as were the two B&M drop sleepers for White River Junction.

Much of this period I was working on the Hopkins Center project at Darmouth, and use of Owl sleepers to New York, where the architects Harrison and Abromovitz were located, the sleeper to White River Junction, and the two Budd cars back to Boston that were running as the Allouette (one CP and one B&M, diesel mu) was almost routine for me.  The Center opened in 1962, but I would occasionally want to show up for concerts and plays.  But after train service to Boston was discontinue, my auto had to suffice.   My last Boston-Montreal trip was via B&M Budd car to Portland, taxi to the GT station, and their Sunday evening only Portland -Montreal passenger train.  I think this was a summer-only operation, but I enjoyed all these train trips.

 

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Posted by Hawkeye606 on Friday, September 08, 2006 8:33 PM
It was one of my first trips on the Amtrak Montrealer one early December night. . It had started to snow as we left WRJ, and by the time we reached Brattleboro, it was coming down like a real nor'easter. The train made a screeching halt somewhere south of Brattleboro. One of the seasons's first snowfalls had prompted several Dartmouth students to go back to the rear car and pull the emergency cord, stopping the train so they could get out and have a snowball fight. Thye conductor first read them the riot act, explaining that the emergency stop had likely created flat spots on some of the wheels. I'm guessing he also made a call to the State Police, since the train stopped again at a rural crossing and the students were plied into a cruiser with flashing lights. I expect it was a rather expansive snowball fight.
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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, September 11, 2006 4:26 AM
Question:  With the success on 1924 of the Montrealer/Washingtonian, why did the day train, the Ambassador, continue for its history to run to GCT?   Why didn't it also use the Hell Gate Bridge and run to Penn Station and to Washington, DC?
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Posted by Hawkeye606 on Monday, September 11, 2006 10:32 AM
I'd guess it was because the Penssy didn't elect to pick it up. The Ambassador didn't get into NYC at a very convenient time. As I recall, it was after 11pm. I remember arriving late and wandering across town with my siutcase in hand looking for Port Authority (not realizing there was a Times Square Shuttle subway).
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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 5:16 AM

These links are to a picture of the Ambassador in 1936 and a timetable, date unknown. If it had been a Penn Station through train it would have to have left Washington very early in the morning and arrived after midnight.

http://imagescn.techno-science.ca/structures/index_choice.cfm?id=36&photoid=1775812032

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/pictures/1606/mtrbm.jpg

Mike

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 6:26 AM
Great photo, but why no Montrealer/Washingtonian in the timetable?
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Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, September 23, 2006 12:12 PM

The first run of the Montrealer was in 1924, so that timetable has to be earlier than that. 

The New Englander's train numbers 21 and 20 were given to the Montrealer and Washingtonian.

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Posted by wanswheel on Monday, October 03, 2011 6:50 PM

I found this article on the web the other day.  -- Mike MacDonald

MACDONALD'S EFFORTS PAY OFF!

By Betty Sproston

One man sparked the restoration of passenger service in Vermont and worked relentlessly for it for more than a year.

On July 7, l97l, Joseph V. MacDonald read a newspaper story on his way to work at the Continental Can Co. in New York City about Amtrak's decision to resume passenger service between Boston and New York via New Haven, Conn., Springfield and Worcester, Mass.

MacDonald is a native Vermonter, born in St. Albans. He completed high school and then was graduated from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., in 1936.

His father and two of his uncles were locomotive engineers on the Central Vermont Railway running between Montreal and White River Junction. During his schools years, MacDonald worked as a messenger in the telegraph office of the CV and was a timekeeper during vacations.

"These are my sole connections with railroading, but the interest generated back there stayed with me," declared MacDonald, who is corporate buyer of capital equipment at the head office of Continental Can.

He travels thousands of miles a year by rail. He does not fly. So far this year, his business travel by rail totals about 40,000 miles. As a result, he believes, during some 3l years of business travel by rail he has gained an awareness of what is happening among railroads that is shared by few business people. He was perhaps the only person reading that New York Times story who knew key facts and would be in a position to put forth a proposal to Amtrak.

"My efforts have been as a private citizen and as a public service. I have no other interest in the matter, financial or otherwise," declared MacDonald.

He realized the new Inland Route train would cross the Central Vermont tracks at Palmer, Mass., 14 miles east of Springfield. If Montreal cars could be coupled to the rear of the New York-Boston train via Springfield and Worcester, and uncoupled at Palmer, the CV could haul them from Palmer to White River Junction, and on to Montreal.

This would mean a restoration of the Montrealer-Washingtonian service, abandoned in 1966.

"As a native Vermonter, I felt I had no choice but to look into the matter, to see whether a viable service could be proposed." he said.

Thus MacDonald dug up figures on operating costs, on historical patronage - innumerable legal and financial facts. On July 26. 1971, he completed a 29-page business proposal entitled, "A Proposal for Through Rail Passenger Service New York-Montreal, via the Penn Central, Central Vermont and Canadian National, via Palmer, Mass." He submitted it to Amtrak, to railroads, to state and federal officials, to leading newspapers in the East.

The proposal demonstrated that with patronage of 100 each way daily the service would more than break even. From then on, MacDonald said there wasn't a free evening or weekend for him. His correspondence used up 20 boxes of typing paper. In the meantime, he continued his considerable responsibilities for Continental Can, and traveled on trains across the country.

MacDonald said the first significant reaction to his proposal came in a story Aug. 10, 1971, in the Burlington Free Press, followed by an editorial Sept. 4, calling on Vermonters and their governmental representatives to support the proposal. Amtrak invited MacDonald to discuss the proposal with James W. McClellan, then its manager of marketing development. He spent four hours with McClellan, updating him on the New England situation.

"But even more significant than the visit to Amtrak was the story The Burlington Free Press put on the AP wire that day, telling of the visit. It caught the eye of a group of transportation chairmen of Chambers of Commerce in New Haven, Meriden, Hartford, Springfield and Worcester who were meeting in Hartford," said MacDonald.

Next day, they called MacDonald to join forces.

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Posted by wanswheel on Monday, October 03, 2011 7:09 PM

Also found on the web.  By this time Dad (1914-1978) was on the Amtrak board.

1976 letter to Railroad Magazine - Old Days On the CV

I was delighted to read about the Central Vermont's three Pacifics in the June Information Booth because I grew up with the CV and my father fired and ran its 230's. I was actually standing among the people lined along the old cast-iron fence on Feb. 4, 1928, when the 232 posed for the photo you published. I was then 13 years old. It was a happy day for St. Albans, Vt., because this was the first train to run on the Northern Division after three months of reconstruction from the big flood of 1927. Among the dignitaries in the three-car train was Sir Henry Thornton, president of the Canadian National.

The flood damage had sent the CV into receivership. Prior to that CN had owned two-thirds of its stock, but the Central Vermont had been run pretty much by itself under the aegis of E.C. Smith, grandson of the founder. CV engines were painted in their own livery, which had no resemblance to the Canadian National's. They bore the name Central Vermont on the side of the cab, with the engine number in larger figures on the sides and rear of the tender and in small digits on the sand dome, all lettering and numerals being white. The engines were painted a solid black, except for light gray smokeboxes and the white-rimmed wheels.

But to the dismay of onlookers, including myself, the 232 came down from the enginehouse and under the trainshed painted - for the first time for any CV engine - in Canadian National livery. There were a gilded number on the side of the cab, a removable small number plate in white paint on the rear of the tender, no number at all on the sand dome, and the name Central Vermont in gilt enclosed in a titled rectangle on the tender. Engine and tender were now CN dark green and not black.

Obviously, CN had taken over at last. Our own railroad had fallen beneath the November rains, but was rescued by the 5000 workers whom CN had put on the job for three months. And now CN was showing us, by imposing its own livery, who was the boss. On July 29, 1929, when Central Vermont Railway property was sold at public auction, the Canadian National acquired 100 percent of the stock as the only successful bidder. The line became the Central Vermont Railway, Inc. and the Smith family was out.

So the photo you published brought back memories - those I have just related and those of my own CV job. I began working in St. Albans at age 12 as a messenger boy in the telegraph and dispatchers' office (shown in the photograph just behind the 232's smokebox). I continued working for CV through my high school years, also putting in a summer vacation from college on an extra gang, laying rail in the Green Mountains. That ended my rail career until I was appointed two years ago to the Amtrak board of directors.

There were actually four 230's, numbered 230-233 inclusive. But in the early 1920s or perhaps earlier, the 233 was in bad shape, needing a heavy overhaul. The Canadian National had a small 2-6-0, fresh from the shops, for which the CV decided to swap the 233 rather than spend the money on overhauling the Pacific. The new acquisition, the 2-6-0, was numbered 397. It was not a good swap

The CV leased five Pacifics from Canadian National and numbered them 234 through 238. They were slightly heavier than the 230-232, but the 238 was the original CV 233 back on her home rails until the arrival in 1927 of the 600-603, all 4-6-2's, enabled the company to send back the engines.

These details are vivid to me because in 1924 I used to take my father's dinner pail down to him at 6:10 a.m. when The Montrealer stopped in St. Albans. He was fireman on the train, which five leased engines handled regularly. Many a ride I had on the 230's from the enginehouse to the station as a reward for toting his dinner pail, as well as a cab ride with him from Montreal to St. Albans.

In 1945, an uncle let me run the 231 on the late night local passenger train, No. 304, from Bethel to White River Jct. Many years later, when my small sons and I were visiting St. Albans, I was permitted to run the Canadian National 6218 from the ash pit to the switch, 500 feet. The boys were amazed that I could possibly know how to run that big 4-8-4. Well, I had learned on the 230's when I was their age.

Joseph V. MacDonald

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Wednesday, October 05, 2011 6:04 PM

daveklepper

  The two Pullman fluted side 10 rommette and six double-bed-room Boston and Maine sleeper normally assigned to this service were the "Dartmouth College I" and the "Dartmouth College II".   They were identaclel to the New Haven's postwar 10 and 6's, but with an all stainless side treatment, no paint except black lettering and numbers.

Both the New Hven and B&M had 6 section-6 roomette-4DBR sleepers.  What you remember are those (Neither road had any 10-6's).

Good to have recollections of these overnight interline trains, which were discontinued in September 1966.  Sadly, I never rode them --- only the latter-day Amtrak version 

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, October 06, 2011 5:41 AM

Since you corrected me on the sleeper configuration, perhaps you can fill in a gap in my memory.   I think the buffet sleeper cars used on both the State of Maine and the Montrealer were in the Beach series of names.  Can you confirm or correct this and give the configuration?   Each car had a lounge and rooms, but I don't remember any roomettes.   Did the New Haven have any Postwar cars with sections?   I rode the Doller Saver Sleeper several times, but it was always a heavyweight 12 and 1.   1960.

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Posted by Vermonter on Friday, October 07, 2011 4:51 AM

When I retired from Amtrak's Boston Dispatchers Office about six years ago, Amtrak's Vermonter (in both directions) was still often referred to as "The Bootlegger," or simply "The Boot."  I wonder how many of the younger folks have any idea what that term referred to.

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, October 08, 2011 1:04 PM

Quoting Dave Klepper: "Since you corrected me on the sleeper configuration, perhaps you can fill in a gap in my memory.   I think the buffet sleeper cars used on both the State of Maine and the Montrealer were in the Beach series of names.  Can you confirm or correct this and give the configuration?   Each car had a lounge and rooms, but I don't remember any roomettes.   Did the New Haven have any Postwar cars with sections?   I rode the Doller Saver Sleeper several times, but it was always a heavyweight 12 and 1.   1960."

The New Haven's Beach Series cars (delivered in 1954 & 1955) were 6 section, 6 roomette, 4 double bedrooms.

There were four 6 double bedroom cafe lounge cars delivered in January of 1955. Bay State and Keystone State were assigned to the Federal, and Nutmeg State and Pine Tree State were assigned to Washington-Montreal service. Two of these may have been mov ed to the State of Maine.

The other postwar sleepers were the 14 roomette, 4 double bedroom Point series, which were delivered in 1949 and 1950.

Johnny

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, October 10, 2011 7:25 AM

It was the 14 and 4 series that I mistakenly remembered as 10 and 6.    Except for my trips on Dartmouth College I and II.  Do you have the names of the 14 and 4's?    Om 1960, Russ Jackson and I rode the Maurey Kleibolt - Chicago RR Club 5632 Colorado excursion from Chicago, including a side trip behind UP 844 out of Denver to Rawlins and back (diesel Denver- Cheyenne), and four days on the D&RGW narrow gauge.   Russ and I were assigned to roomettes in one of the New Haven 4 and 14;s, and Maurey said:  "We wanted you to feel at home."   McGinnis orange stripe and all.   The CB&Q had mechanically gone over the whole consist, including some heavyweight equipment, so we had a good trip.

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Posted by nyc#25 on Monday, October 10, 2011 9:41 AM

Correct, both the B&M and NH had "6-4-6" Pullmans.

The NH also had 6 double bedroom, buffet lounges and

14 roomette, 4 double bedroom cars.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, October 10, 2011 10:34 AM

Dave, here are the names of the 14-4's.

Allyns Point, Beaver Tail Point, Black Point, City Point, Cornfield Point, East Point, Goshen Point, Gull Point, India Point, Long Point, Lookout Point, Lords  Point, Manomet Point, Mishaum Point, Monomoy Point, Morgan Point, Napatree Point, North Point, Pond Point, Quonset Point [not HutSmile], Race Point, Rocky Point, Roton Point, Sandy Point, Shippan Point, Stratford Point, Wilson Point.

The first one was numbered 500; the last one was 526.

Johnny

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, October 10, 2011 10:52 AM

Dave, here are the names of the 14-4's.

Allyns Point, Beaver Tail Point, Black Point, City Point, Cornfield Point, East Point, Goshen Point, Gull Point, India Point, Long Point, Lookout Point, Lords  Point, Manomet Point, Mishaum Point, Monomoy Point, Morgan Point, Napatree Point, North Point, Pond Point, Quonset Point [not HutSmile], Race Point, Rocky Point, Roton Point, Sandy Point, Shippan Point, Stratford Point, Wilson Point.

The first one was numbered 500; the last one was 526.

Johnny

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, October 10, 2011 1:34 PM

Those were the cars that I rode most frequently on the Owl and on the Federal.  I think they all got the orange stripe during the McGinnis era.  I wonder if any have survived?   Or any of the post-WWII NH sleepers?

At times the buffet lounge on both the Federal and the Montrealer was a PRR car.  More often on the Federal.   The Owl did not carry one except when it was combined with the State of Maine in Providence, during the last years of the State of Maine.   The Owl was, however, all Pullman until the Narraganset was dropped and its coaches added to the Owl, with added stops/

Both the Owl and the Federal had a drop-pickup Providence sleeper.   The Owl's was discontinued before the Federal's.

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Posted by Montrealer on Tuesday, November 01, 2011 5:22 PM

I've seen quite a few pictures of the New Haven's sleepers in the McGinnis era, and in all of them the 6-4-6 Beach Series and 6DB-Lounge State-series cars have an orange window stripe, while the 14-4 Point-series cars are all stainless steel with no striping.  Not sure what the reason was for the difference.

The B&M cars named Dartmouth College I & II for the WRJ set out sleeper were originally part of the B&M's group of four "Beach" series cars.  LA-based PV "Salisbury Beach" is the only one still in operation.  These cars became available in the early '60's after the State of Maine and Gull were discontinued.   They were sold to CN in 1965.

Kevin Holland's excellent book "Passenger Trains of Northern New England in the Streamlined Era" has a color photo of the Montrealer crossing on a trestle near Swanton, VT. in 1966.  The consist is two CV GP-9s, a CN RPO, Southern heavyweight baggage car, New Haven 8600-series coach, CN coach, NH sleeper-lounge, NH 14-4 sleeper and one of CN's ex B&M or BAR streamlined 6-4-6 sleepers.

Dave

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, November 02, 2011 6:15 AM

Thanks.     An 8600 on the Montrealer was unusual.   Most of the time it was one of the American Flyer former grill cars that were rebuilt with 8600 series interiors.

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 10:44 AM

"Bob LeMassena, 90, full-time volunteer of Colorado Railroad Museum, at the museum in Golden... Chinese have uncovered a 105 year old steam locomotive in a riverbed in China. They are asking the rail museum in the US to help them identify it. LeMassena came through for them."  Denver Post, April 18, 2005

http://www.foothillsfuneral.com/obituary/2312572

https://books.google.com/books?id=pyn6-wNZFbwC&pg=PA91&dq=%22robert+le+massena%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqxPHApZPVAhVhxYMKHTdVC5wQ6AEILTAB#v=onepage&q=%22robert%20le%20massena%22&f=false

 

September 15, 1974

Dear Mr. LeMassena:

Through the kind courtesy of Dave Morgan, I have only this weekend received a copy of Trains Magazine for May 1972. I had asked Dave for the copy, because I had seen, in the listing of available back issues, mention of an article, "The Bootlegger," and I felt sure that it could only refer to our beloved Montrealer and Washingtonian.

Sure enough. But more than just another article: it was an absolute pleasure to read your sensitive, accurate, and detailed story.

I had been, when I had just seen the listing "The Bootlegger," mildly indignant at such a name -- knowing full well that there were those who did call the Washingtonian that -- but the first paragraph of your story took away the sting: "whose southbound run was dubbed accurately, if not politely, the Bootlegger."

So long as you recognized the irreverent tone with which the name was applied down on the south end -- but never up on the CV!!!!

But let's not get away from the subject. Probably the most important thing to me was that you wrote of the train as she was when I also was a boy in St. Albans, and my father was a fireman (hand firing those 600's all right!) on nos. 20 and 21, while his two brothers with more senority were engineers, some of the time on these two trains.

I have placed the setting of your story as somewhere between 1928 and 1933 -- simply because the 600's came in April 1927, while the Pennsy was electrified to Washington by about 1933, I believe. Of course, your photograph of No. 21 with the 601 at East Swanton is dated July 1940, and the smoke deflectors and the higher coal bin on the tender were applied perhaps around that time.

To put my time into perspective, I was born 10/13/14. In late 1926, I started substituting as a messenger in "SA" telegraph office in St. Albans, adjacent to the Despatcher's office, and I worked part time and full time there until late 1931.

So I was there, too, during the great days when The Montrealer and The Washingtonian were our best trains, and we spared nothing to make and keep them exactly that. It went into the permanent record of any man who delayed those trains even one minute. (Except of course that the CV couldn't do anything about The New Haven, who were the villains in the old CV saying, "The New Haven will lose 20 minutes into Springfield, the B&M will hold their own, and we have to make up the 20 minutes into Montreal."

Which brings up one of the very few things I could find fault with in your story -- your comments about the slower run over the CV. Not so, not at all! While I can't produce timetables going that far back to prove it, it is my recollection that the New Haven and the B&M both had 40 MPH terminal to terminal schedules for the trains while we had 45 MPH on the CV. At one time the schedule White River Junction to St. Albans was down to 2 hours 28 minutes for the 117 miles, and there was a standing bulletin that nos. 20 and 21 were not to make up more than 20 minutes between White River Jct. and St. Albans. Of course, it was also the informal understanding that the engineer who couldn't make up 20 minutes wasn't qualified for the run!

The only other thing I could find wrong was a slight misidentification of track. You are right that Windsor-White River Jct., 14 miles, was CV track; but also, the 11 miles between East Northfield, Mass. and Brattleboro, Vt., were paired track -- southward on the CV west of the Connecticut River, northward on the B&M across the river.

But a little more significantly, north of St. Albans the CV track did not end at the Canadian border: St. Armand, Des Rivieres, Iberville, all were CV, all the way to St. Johns, which was total of 43 miles if my memory is right. At St. Johns northward, the CV joined the CN track running from Rouses Point and Cantic to St. Johns and Montreal. So the exchange of mileage on crews and engines was the 47 miles St. Johns to Montreal versus the 43 miles St. Albans to St. Johns.

In post-WWII years, the CN upgraded the Rouses Point Branch of the CV between Fonda Jct. and East Alburgh, where the old Canada Atlantic line diverged to Boteau, and tied to the connection to the Rouses Point-St. Johns line at Cantic, to create a new main line between St. Albans and St. Johns. For a few years, service was maintained between St. Albans and St. Johns via the original main line through East Swanton-Highgate Springs-St. Armand, through a pair of locals pulled by the old 219 and 220, then finally the old line was abandoned save for a section up to East Swanton only.

This changed the crew and engine mileage, of course, shortening the CV mileage to 25 miles St. Albans to Cantic. Initially, the CN tried to exercise their additional mileage; but the Brotherhoods went to Uncle Sam, who ruled that unless CN allowed the CV crews constructively their old 43 miles St. Albans-St. Johns, then Uncle Sam would require CN to take their engines and crew off at the border, thus requiring establishment of engine and crew terminals at Cantic, at prohibitive cost to CN. So CN yielded.

Another idiosyncracy of Nos. 20 and 21 was that, by special agreements with the Brotherhooods, these two trains, and these two only, were exclusively CV jobs all the way White River Jct. to Montreal. This came about because of a contract Grand Trunk Railway had signed with Rutland RR in 1919, under which GTR agreed never to operate a through passenger service Montreal-New York City except via Rutland RR. In order to operate the Montrealer and Washingtonian without violating that contract, it was necessary that the CN avoid all participation in the operation of the train; so it was set up as a CV operation, running into Montreal under CV trackage rights, rather than as a CN operation St. Johns-Montreal. Reservations on the train were all handled by St. Albans, and when I was working as a messenger on the second trick, the hottest thing I had to handle was to run out to the ticket office with the "space message", which handed back to St. Albans all the space not checked in at the gate when the train left Montreal. The St. Albans ticket agent then did all the filling of requests for space down the line.

The CV's only dining car was each morning put on the rear of No. 21 at St. Albans, to Montreal, and taken off each night.

The subterfuge was carried to the point that 5 CN 4-6-2's, the 234-238 inclusive, moved down to the CV in 1924 to cover the runs, were repainted and renumbered 234-238. After the CV got the new 600's, 4-8-2's, the 234-238 were sent back to CN, but were again repainted in St. Albans in their real owners livery and numbers before they went back.

Oh, we were mighty proud of our train. When the disastrous Flood (which all Vermonters know to be the big one of 1927) knocked out the CV between St. Albans and White River Jct., Nos 20 and 21 were run for an entire year over the D&H, who very kindly charged the CV $400 per day for the use of their track, meanwhile requiring CV to furnish engines and crews and fuel and pay for a D&H pilot, but refusing to let the trains handle a single passenger except Montreal-New York or beyond. Do you wonder at the strength of the feeling in Vermont in 1971-72, when we were waging the campaign to get Montreal service restored by Amtrak via the CV instead of the D&H? I am sure wars have been fought over lesser issues, than the determination of CV employees and the State of Vermont that this time we are going to get the trains back! (A Burlington Free Press signed editorial said, "What Vermonters must do is beat Governor Rockefeller to the punch"!!)

But here I'm getting into another subject, which someday will be the subject of that book I've promised people to write -- as you may know, I was the originator of the proposal (literally a 29-page business Proposal dated July 26, 1971) to get the Montrealer and Washingtonian restored. It took 13 months out of my life, but we won. Which is the reason that in May 1972 I didn't get a copy of Trains Magazine -- I was just too inundated in fighting the campaign to take time to pick up the magazine!

Now I have the May 1972 issue, and belatedly I've enjoyed more than I can say, your fine article, which in almost every paragraph took me back some 40 years in a heady return to those days when life was so much simpler for all of us -- or so it seems.

In return, I had promised Dave Morgan to send him a copy of the original Proposal for the Montrealer's restoration, which I shall... Xerox at the office.... I'll run two copies...and send you one too; had Amtrak known as much as you do of the importance of the old Montrealer, it wouldn't have taken us 13 months to teach them. (Their position was, no train has run for 5 years, therefore no train should ever run there.)

Of course, now that the train is back, it is most gratifying to find it is the absolutely best performing train financially on the entire Amtrak System.

I hoped I haven't bored you with these extended comments, but I put a lot of my life and soul into that train, both when I was a boy and in 1971-72. I don't think there could possibly be anyone who appreciated your article more than I.

Sincerely,
Joseph V. MacDonald 

 

https://archive.org/stream/Classic_Trains_Special_Edition_No.19_Great_Trains_East#page/n85/mode/2up

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    September, 2013
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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 1:28 PM

Thanks so much for all this. I remember that issue very well...must have read it ten times over the years. So good and rich with history. 

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    May, 2012
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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 7:00 PM

In a timely event Amtrak is supposed to have operated a St. Albans-Montreal test train today to verify the upgrades done by NECR since 2013.  Equipment came up on yesterday's 56. Vermont is committed to extending the Vermonter at least to Montreal, if not resurrecting the Montrealer. 

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    September, 2013
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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 8:38 PM

rcdrye- Now that is really terrific news. Good for Vermont. 

Hope our Shiny Pony Prime Minister has not put a damper on the enthusiam after his latest absurd caper. 

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    June, 2002
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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, July 20, 2017 2:24 PM

The article states that before AC catenary was extended from Trenton to Sunnyside, the swap between PRR DD! third-rail power and New Haven electrics took place at Penn Station, implying that the New Haven electrics had third rail shoes that could be used on overruning LIRR third rail as well as New York Central underrunning.

I had thought this to be the case, but was corrected that the swap took place, the engine change, at Harold Tower, and that the New Haven electrics did not enter Penn until they could use catenary.

Which or some of each?

My memory is firm that Washington Union Station's steam switcher locomotives were all 0-6-0 standard PRR B-6s with slope-back tenders, labeled for Washington Union Terminal.  Massena wrote 0-8-0's.  Were 0-8-0's used?

 

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