Saluda Grade to reopen?

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 21, 2017 1:32 PM

I'm sure everyone has seen this, if not, it's a great video.  Like a training video by the Southern.

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, April 23, 2017 2:13 PM

Coincidence Department -

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Classic Trains I had laying around and found it contained a story about a Southern wreck at Glenita.  

The train?  The Belmont...

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Posted by TrainChaste on Monday, April 24, 2017 8:53 AM

[quote user="mbinsewi"]

I'm sure everyone has seen this, if not, it's a great video.  Like a training video by the Southern.

 Yes I have seen that video many times but thanks just the same. That may be the only Belmont we get to watch on the grade so if anyone has not yet seen it they should give it a view. I walked the grade in September 2016 down from the town of Saluda but once you get near Melrose the Kudzu vine in impassable. I was in up to my neck and turned around. Then I drove to Melrose and walked up as far as possible again until the vines were too thick. I guessed that about 1/2 mile of the grade is impassable with the tracks invisible. Never found the trestle over the river branch off of the Pacolet river which I believe is about 3/4 of a mile west of Melrose but I may try again. I was really trying to find the timing signal (in the video frame above) but could find no evidence of it or the "end timing section" sign as well. I would guess someone took that! The actual signal is likely covered with vines. Anyway I would be interested to know if it is still there if anyone knows.
 
Jack Kertzie

 

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Posted by rktrekker on Monday, November 20, 2017 7:09 PM

Hello Train Fans, this is my first posting on any site, and wanted to comment on my walk on the Saluda Grade in late April of 2016. I am in Saluda often, have a number of computer customers in the Area along with City Hall. My mom and I parked at the top of the Grade in Saluda on a Saturday Morning, walked the entire grade from town to Melrose and to the Big Washout below Melrose. While this is a steep grade for trains, we are both in great shape, and other than some worn out feet from all of the rocks on the ties, we had a great walk. While we did encounter some Kudzu before Melrose, it was mostly just a tripping hazard, no leaves, just vines and we were able to pass thru it at that time. Also, just before the Kudzu, a small branch is now running down the center of the rails for some distance. I did not know about the trestle that is about 1/3 of a mile before the washout, and we almost turned back due to the height. Came across several snakes, wild turkey and other smaller wild life. The runaway track at the bottom of the grade is completely grown over, and the tracks just disappear into the mountain and vegetation. The tracks were surprisingly free of vegetation otherwise, and crossing the Pacolet River was no problem. I was unable to figure out where the second runaway track once was. I can post some pictures if anyone is curious. The tracks are quite rusty, and the Wash Out is VERY serious, along with another washout that is about 2 miles down the grade from the crest in the town of Saluda. I can say with certainy, that some effort is still being made by Norfolk Southern to keep the right of way clear, noticed that one tree that was crossing one set of rails had been cut and pulled out of the way. I did see the timing section signs that are mentioned often. Any Electrical Signal Panels along the way have been vandalized and would take considerable effort to repair since they have been left open to the elements for some time. It took us about 4 hours for the whole walk, taking time for pictures along the way. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:50 AM

Thank you for that description of the current appearance of the track.

By the way, for the benefit of any who do not know what a "branch" (as mentioned) is, it is not another track, but is a small watercourse.

Johnny

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:58 AM

Welcome to the Forum and thanks for the report.  By all means post pictures if not too much trouble,  We would all enjoy seeing them,

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Posted by dubch87 on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 2:51 PM

A Norfolk Southern MoW crew cleared the section between U.S. 176 (Trade St.) in Tryon and the washout at the Vaughan Creek fill in October. I didn't witness it, but later saw where it had been cleared at the Carson St. crossing. They've done this before in other sections. You can see an example in Google Map imagery where they cleared east of the Vaughan Creek washout to east of Ridge Rd. I guess it's cheaper just to clear a small section at a time and alternate years. They kept the entire right-of-way pretty well maintained up until 2014 when Blue Ridge Southern/WATCO bought the line between Asheville and Flat Rock.

What boggles my mind is that they still bother sixteen years later. Do they have to because of the fiber optic line sharing the right-of-way?

On another note, the Saluda Historic Depot board attended the "Railroads and Regional Economic Development Conference 2017" in Asheville on Sept. 22. Supposedly the Great Smoky Mountains RR is interested in helping to get an Asheville-Hendersonville-Saluda tourist train going. I'm not saying it's going to happen, just quoting the article.

If anyone is really bored, here is a list of all the washouts I'm aware of along the W-Line between Zirconia and Landrum. Going west to east:

   

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Posted by rktrekker on Thursday, November 23, 2017 7:59 AM

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, while I have not yet had time to collect my pictures from the Saluda Grade Walk in April of 2016, I have found pictures that I took of the track cut at mile marker 26 in East Flat Rock. I have seen many pictures of the cut at mile marker 45, and even visited that location. But, have few if any pictures of the East Flat Rock Location. This is located off of Zirconia Road behind the Church with a small Cemetary. The rail cars in the distance belong to Watco, who use the rails for storage. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

https://image.ibb.co/ed9EdR/IMG_1005.jpg https://image.ibb.co/bQkbsm/IMG_1006.jpg https://image.ibb.co/cfoqJR/IMG_1007.jpg https://image.ibb.co/ccZak6/IMG_1008.jpg https://image.ibb.co/h9jxyR/IMG_1009.jpg https://image.ibb.co/iezmsm/IMG_1010.jpg https://image.ibb.co/fP1XXm/IMG_1011.jpg

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Posted by dubch87 on Thursday, March 08, 2018 4:14 PM

Somebody found some 8mm film of the last passenger train up the Saluda Grade in 1968.

https://www.facebook.com/matthew.lytle.56/videos/1793447414019245/

   

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, March 08, 2018 6:44 PM

dubch87
Somebody found some 8mm film of the last passenger train up the Saluda Grade in 1968.

https://www.facebook.com/matthew.lytle.56/videos/1793447414019245/

Surprised it was only a single unit to go upgrade.

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, March 09, 2018 4:15 PM

BaltACD

 

 
dubch87
Somebody found some 8mm film of the last passenger train up the Saluda Grade in 1968.

https://www.facebook.com/matthew.lytle.56/videos/1793447414019245/

 

Surprised it was only a single unit to go upgrade.

 

Figure 60 tons per passenger car plus 120 for the locomotive.  That's 300 tons at 20x4 #/ton to get up the hill = 24,000# of TE.  No sweat for a four axle - even one geared for passenger service.

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by MP173 on Sunday, March 11, 2018 8:51 AM

What a fascinating look at the world 50 years ago.

Ed

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Posted by JAKE MILLER on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:50 PM
Good to see that this forum is still being used. I remember hearing that the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad was once looking at trying to start a passenger train (Or something along the lines of that) out of Saluda, down the grade, and back. Is this still in the works, or have plans fallen through for that as well?
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Posted by rktrekker on Monday, October 08, 2018 5:32 PM

Hi Everyone, 

It has been a while since I have posted anything, but wanted to post a link here for a new Streaming Youtube Webcam that I have installed for the City of Saluda, The Camera is installed on City Hall and has a clear view of town and just as importantly, a view of the crest in town of the actual Grade. You can also drag the bar in the bottom of the screen to go back in time up to (4) Hours.  The camera is running 24X7, hope everyone enjoys. Comments on Youtube are purposely disabled. The link is below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBloQ2fHDJU

Thanks

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 12:56 PM

Thanks for the camera. Wish I had been able to have ridden the 611 trip up the hill. My Dad had told me of riding a scheduled train on this route back in the 40's. Has any train operated on this track this year?

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Posted by csxns on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 3:09 PM

Electroliner 1935
Has any train operated on this track this year?

No and never will.

Russell

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Posted by zardoz on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 10:22 PM

csxns
No and never will.

In the image from the camera (so nicely offered for our viewing), I see that the rails have been paved over.

   23 17 46 11

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 7:20 AM

csxns
No and never will.

One may wonder why - I would opine that when built the line was crucial to the builder, but with mergers over time, the line is superflous.  Clearly that's not what railfans want to hear.

Wikipedia says the line has been completely isolated - rails pulled, etc.  

One of the original lines in my area - the Utica and Black River - had a center portion pulled up in the 1960's.  The primary reason was taxes, however.  That 14 miles added nothing to the bottom line, and the remaining industries could all be reached by other routes.

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Posted by dubch87 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 3:53 PM

zardoz
 

In the image from the camera (so nicely offered for our viewing), I see that the rails have been paved over.

 
Not quite. Norfolk Southern replaced the wooden flangeways with asphalt about a decade ago due to rough crossings.

Google Street View Saluda

   

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Posted by TrainChaste on Thursday, October 11, 2018 8:25 PM

Russell must work for NS. I feel it is presumptuous to say never. Some of us (myself included) feel that this piece of track will be very useful as the rail scean develops. Very strategic piece of track that can not only be repaired but improved. The population in the Carolinas has been steadily rising and the BMW plant near Spartanburg is thriving. Coal is not yet dead and rail traffic is on the rise. Not to mention the fact that a detour was severely needed a few months back when the old fort route had a washout. If you say "never" do you have information that none of us are 'privi' to? Thanks in advance.

Jack Kertzie (Saluda fan)

PS Thanks for the webcam!!!
 

 

PS2 if you don’t come to work drunk you can run Saluda!
 
Electroliner 1935
Has any train operated on this track this year?

 

No and never will.

 

 

[/quote]

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, October 12, 2018 4:15 PM

dubch87

 
The Tyron street view has one puzzling item.  The electric meter for the crossing appears to be in service.  That makes no sense !
 
EDIT.  Further thought it may be the 100 watt service rate at that location may have no charge for no electrical use ?
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Posted by rdamon on Friday, October 12, 2018 4:39 PM

The meter by the silver box looks like it is for the traffic signal.  The crossing signal is that green box by the gazebo.  Looks like that meter is gone.

 

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Posted by Boyd on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 2:02 AM

If some day the RR line is abandoned and the tracks removed, some sections of the ROW could be turned into ski hills. 

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 06, 2019 6:25 PM
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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, September 09, 2019 2:30 PM

I found the video of Saluda Grade quite interesting. I am thankful that I was able to take a trip down from Asheville to Hayne and and back in the summer of 1964. Just before we started up the grade, we met a weedkiller train which was spraying the vegetation along the track--and also spraying the track. Somehow the sanders on the engines of our train (four or five cars) were not working, so we were delayed (I did not time the delay), and arrived in Asheville late. 

In the srping of 1967, I took an uneventful trip down, riding from Knoxville to Columbia.

Johnny

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Posted by NKP AU Tower on Monday, September 09, 2019 6:30 PM

blue streak 1

One item that I've noticed.

1.  NS  does not seem to want to abandon any of their lines at the present time.  Maybe they have seen the mistakes that CSX and its predecessors made in abandoing the  "S" lines from Norlina -  Petersburg & Savannah -  JAX  , the B&O from Parkersburg - STL., etc.  t

The Old Fort line may have the potential for a many mile wipe out due to weather ?  If so Saluda in that case might be able to go back into service faster ? 

 

  

 

Newbie here, so go easy!  In response to the above quote, I would agree. The remaining ROW for the AC&Y ends in my village. The Ohio Department of Transportation approached NS about abandoning the ROW so that the overpass (over a county road and the AC&Y) for Interstate 75 could be removed instead of replaced. NS said no, they have no intention of giving up ownership of any additional portions of the ROW. The last train through here was in 81', and the tracks were pulled up between Carey and Delphos, and the entire ROW and grade removed from Delphos to Bluffton. Unless the W&LE decides to lease it and replace all the rails, I highly doubt I will see another train on it in my lifetime.

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Posted by dubch87 on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 6:45 PM

No one should be asking “When will Saluda reopen?” after watching this video. It is slowly rotting and washing away. Not to mention running Saluda in the age of reflective safety vests and PSR. Not a chance….

HOWEVER… I still have a couple of questions I’ve wanted to ask, but I didn’t want to beat a dead horse.

The “Saluda shuffle” of tripling the hill took a lot of time. In the old days they had helpers waiting at Melrose. Why didn’t they have helpers in the later years? Time/labor = money lost?

With the prevalent use of DPUs now, you could have a mid-train unit(s) and rear units and probably make the hill in one go. Could they not have ran DPUs in the late 90's/early 2000's? Downhill would still be a monster. I remember in the last few years of operations seeing rear units on the down-grade coal trains. I’m assuming these were manned, but maybe not. I don’t know if they were for additional dynamic braking or pushing from Asheville to Saluda (or maybe both).

Ignoring the costs of rebuilding the line, would it ever make sense to reopen? Intermodal is here and big. The Port of Charleston is growing with a new terminal opening and the upcoming harbor dredging making it the deepest on the east coast. Intermodal traffic from Charleston has to go through Atlanta or Roanoke to get to the Midwest by rail. It’s probably 5 hours between Spartanburg and Atlanta, plus time north through Georgia to Tennessee. Saluda would cut off a lot of hours, at least going uphill. Safety wasn’t as big of a concern going up. Just add more horsepower and throw down sand.

Would the cost of rebuilding be cheaper than expansion elsewhere and alleviate any potential bottlenecks along the “Crescent corridor”, even if it was only operated one-way? I know it will never happen, but you have to wonder if there isn’t someone sitting at NS management wondering “would it work?”

   

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 7:28 PM

dubch87
With the prevalent use of DPUs now, you could have a mid-train unit(s) and rear units and probably make the hill in one go.  Downhill would still be a monster.

And therein lies the real issue: you can't control the train using the dynamic as an integral part of the anticipated braking (in case you exceed the all-too-quickly-reached 22 to 23mph range where brake fade becomes infinite with the dynamics disabled or incompetent to hold the whole train) so you'd still have the whole retainer and setting manual brakes thing even with the DB distributed into the equivalent of 2 or 3 shorter consists.

The other half is, of course, that speed is less and less important to PSR and customers both: what's in demand is accurate scheduled delivery.  And trains over Saluda in any kind of inclement weather will remain an interesting exercise.

Perhaps if Elon Musk succeeds in getting the Boring Company to make equipment that tunnels in rock at 1/10 current costs, there will be some routing that eliminates the peak gradients...

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 9:06 PM

dubch87
...

With the prevalent use of DPUs now, you could have a mid-train unit(s) and rear units and probably make the hill in one go. Could they not have ran DPUs in the late 90's/early 2000's? Downhill would still be a monster. I remember in the last few years of operations seeing rear units on the down-grade coal trains. I’m assuming these were manned, but maybe not. I don’t know if they were for additional dynamic braking or pushing from Asheville to Saluda (or maybe both).

Ignoring the costs of rebuilding the line, would it ever make sense to reopen? Intermodal is here and big. The Port of Charleston is growing with a new terminal opening and the upcoming harbor dredging making it the deepest on the east coast. Intermodal traffic from Charleston has to go through Atlanta or Roanoke to get to the Midwest by rail. It’s probably 5 hours between Spartanburg and Atlanta, plus time north through Georgia to Tennessee. Saluda would cut off a lot of hours, at least going uphill. Safety wasn’t as big of a concern going up. Just add more horsepower and throw down sand.

Would the cost of rebuilding be cheaper than expansion elsewhere and alleviate any potential bottlenecks along the “Crescent corridor”, even if it was only operated one-way? I know it will never happen, but you have to wonder if there isn’t someone sitting at NS management wondering “would it work?”

SOU was one of the early users of 'LocoTrol' - a predecessor to today's Distributed Power.  I don't know if the SOU ever used LocoTrol on their operations on Saluda.

While the line is not operatable at present.  From the videos, a work train and MofW crew with the proper supplies could have it operating in a week or less.  Being able to opeate tonnage trains on a continuing basis would require a major installment of new rail and ties.

What the economics of the line in today's railroading are is a question I don't have any answer to.

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