Erie Lackawanna East

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Erie Lackawanna East
Posted by MP173 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:31 PM

I picked up Karl Zimmerman's excellent paperback - Erie Lackawanna East which covered the EL after the merger of the two systems.  Great valued book for $5 at the local used bookstore.  BTW here is a plug for O'Gara & Wilson Ltd. Antiquarian Booksellers in Chesterton, Indiana.  The bookstore is a great supply of used books, including quite a selection of railroad books.  The owner buys collections and resells.  This is located near the Chesterton webcam.

Enough of a plug for a great local business...

What ever happened to the Erie Lackawanna lines, primarily east of Binghamton?  Are these in use today as freight routes or primarily suburban lines into and out of NYC/Hoboken?

Anything over Starucca Viaduct these days?

Ed

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:53 PM

Quite a bit of the Erie-Lackawanna lines still survive in the New Jersey/New York area.  The line from Hoboken to Port Jervis is still used for freight and commuters, many of the former Erie and Lackawanna lines are used by New Jersey Transit for commuter service, and Starucca Viaduct is still very much in use.

Here's something you might be interested in, it's a map of New Jersey Transit rail lines.  Everything north of that big red slash which is Amtraks Northeast Corridor is mostly, if not all, former Erie and Lackawanna.

www.njtransit.com/pdf/rail/Rail_System_Map.pdf

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 8:00 PM

The Lackawana from Binghamton to Scranton was transferred from CP to NS.  Scranton to the Delaware Water Gap area is owned by the local gov't and operated by a shortline.  The "Cutoff" rails from the Delaware River to Morris Jct (near Lake Hopatcong) were pulled up by Conrail, however, NJT has rebuilt a few miles to Andover.  Funding cuts have prevented this section from re-opening.  Their ultimate goal is to re-open the entire cutoff.

On the NJT map, the Raritan Valley line to High Bridge (just north of the NEC) is ex-CNJ.  The North Coast line was joint CNJ-PRR

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 8:23 PM

MidlandMike
. . . Scranton to the Delaware Water Gap area is owned by the local gov't and operated by a shortline.  The "Cutoff" rails from the Delaware River to Morris Jct (near Lake Hopatcong) were pulled up by Conrail, however, NJT has rebuilt a few miles to Andover.  Funding cuts have prevented this section from re-opening.  Their ultimate goal is to re-open the entire cutoff. . . . 

Delaware-Lackawanna RR, an all-ALCo operation, has been featured in Trains once or twice.  The former double-track is almost all single track now.  NKP 765 did a few trips on it in Aug. - Sept. 2016.  There have been long-term dreams to restore passenger service from Andover through DWG to Scranton, but nothing has been done for over 20 years other than a few studies and meetings.  

- PDN. 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, May 31, 2018 4:26 AM

Very stupid idea, in my opinion, was made post-merger to route freight preferentially over the Graham Line instead of the Lackawanna, this culminating in the fiasco eliminating high-speed ROW around Garrett Mountain when I-80 was built.  A bridge service connecting NKP with ex-DL&W would have been a highly attractive intermodal route, both with trailers and containers...

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, May 31, 2018 6:41 AM

A routing involving NKP and the ex-DL&W wasn't going to happen because it would have been a marvelous opportunity for EL to short-haul itself.  Croxton-Chicago on an all-EL route did handle a lot of TOFC.

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Posted by oltmannd on Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:43 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

A routing involving NKP and the ex-DL&W wasn't going to happen because it would have been a marvelous opportunity for EL to short-haul itself.  Croxton-Chicago on an all-EL route did handle a lot of TOFC.

 

Premium intermodal traffic, at that.  PC could never pry the UPS traffic from EL.  

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

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, May 31, 2018 10:03 AM

I should also have mentioned that the Lackawanna's main shops and Scranton yard form the basis of the Steamtown National Historic Park, and the main line south of town is the route of their excursion.  The former Lackawanna headquarters building and station is now a Ramada hotel.  During the NRHS 2010 convention, I stayed in the hotel, and rode the mainline to the Delaware Water Gap.  The excursion was hauled by 3 of the Delaware-Lackawana RS-3's and part way by Steamtown's CN mikado that is now out of service.

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Posted by Savage Tunnel on Thursday, May 31, 2018 5:33 PM

Paul_D_North_Jr
 

 

Delaware-Lackawanna RR, an all-ALCo operation, has been featured in Trains once or twice.  The former double-track is almost all single track now.  NKP 765 did a few trips on it in Aug. - Sept. 2016. 

 

- PDN. 

 

 

That would have been September of 2015, Labor Day weekend, perhaps the greatest Steamtown event ever.  I was on the 9/5 train to the Delaware Water Gap that stalled in Nay Aug Tunnel. I was 4 cars from the engine, and it was amazing to feel that engine pull itself through the tunnel on the 2nd try. The other great experience that weekend was riding the vestibule of the dome car "Stampede Pass" up the east slope of the Poconos, listening and watching 765 accelerate uphill out of 5mph slow orders.
The x-DL&W mainline east of Scranton is a virtual museum of early 20th Century railroading, as much of the infrastructure is still there, including massive signal bridges.

 

 

 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, May 31, 2018 5:37 PM

M-Mike, you are correct, the Raritan Valley Line is ex-CNJ.  Silly me, I should have known.

On the other hand, I DID say "mostly!"

Colorful map though, don'tcha think?

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Thursday, May 31, 2018 9:01 PM

oltmannd
CSSHEGEWISCH

A routing involving NKP and the ex-DL&W wasn't going to happen because it would have been a marvelous opportunity for EL to short-haul itself.  Croxton-Chicago on an all-EL route did handle a lot of TOFC. 

John Kneiling used to say that was the best route for intermodal and high/wide loads - the former due to the lack of congested cities on the route, the latter due to the ex-Erie's clearances. 
"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, May 31, 2018 11:31 PM

Paul_D_North_Jr
John Kneiling used to say that was the best route for intermodal and high/wide loads - the former due to the lack of congested cities on the route, the latter due to the ex-Erie's clearances. 

The railroad think tanks of the 70's-80's-90's and even to today look at a 'uncongested' route as one not worthy of retaining as it was not perceived to be generating enough car loads to pay for it's continued operation - no matter how clogged another route was because of a high volume of industrial switching disrupting through operation.

         

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, June 01, 2018 5:34 AM

With the NS's recent bridge replacement, looks like the ex-Erie Southern Tier is in good shape physically and trraffic-wise. But that is only the eastern Erie.

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Posted by MP173 on Friday, June 01, 2018 6:57 AM

The Erie Lackawanna Historical Society magazine "The Diamond" has a very good article on EL and UPS.  It is very large and is contained in 3 articles with quite a bit of detail of the operations.

There is very little published in rail publications about UPS, I have been told that UPS is very secretive and protective.  I have read two books on the history of the company, but very little (if any) was discussed about the rail operations.  

There has always been alot of "would have, could haves" with the EL being a solution for capacity issues.  It simply wasnt going to happen.  If I recall, Santa Fe took a look at it and passed.  What an intermodal pipeline that could have become, but the volumes were not there at the time....and labor wasnt what it became a couple of decades later.  Recall there were 4 and 5 men crew operating.

Still, I find it interesting to look back thru on line archives and records and try to imagine the EL in operation.  Those commuter trains must have been a huge drain.

Ed

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, June 02, 2018 7:42 PM

Firelock76

M-Mike, you are correct, the Raritan Valley Line is ex-CNJ.  Silly me, I should have known.

On the other hand, I DID say "mostly!"

Colorful map though, don'tcha think?

 

It seem ironic that the NJT map shows Amtrak's NEC route in red ink.  ATK covers its operating costs on the NEC, whereas NJT only recovers less that 50% of its operatng costs at the farebox.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, June 02, 2018 7:53 PM

Well, whether or not that "red ink" is appropriate or not for Amtrak's NEC depends on who you talk to, but let's not go there!

I'm in no mood to open a can of worms if I'm not going fishing.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, June 02, 2018 8:08 PM

Yes I realize that operating costs are only part of the story, and capital costs on the electrified NEC are high, but still ATK seems ahead of NJT.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, June 02, 2018 8:50 PM

Oh yeah, from what I've been getting from the New Jersey papers I read on-line, and other sources, NJT's in one helluva mess.  For various reasons, none of them good.

At least my Lionel Jersey Transit set's a good, reliable runner!

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Posted by MP173 on Sunday, June 03, 2018 7:35 AM

I have expanded my EL research a bit, looking at websites, YouTube videos, etc.  

The Ford plant in Mahwah seems to have been a large source of on line traffic, that closed in 1980 - after the Conrail takeover.  The New Haven connection seems to have been a big source of traffic until that dried up/burned up.  Penn Central seemed to strangle EL in many ways.  The 1972 hurricane finished any hope EL had of survival.

It is often said that EL would have been a very good intermodal route, but I just do not see it surviving until the double stack revolution changed intermodal.  They just didnt have the critical mass of traffic, particularly coal.

Pretty scenery tho.

Did they recover any commuter losses or were they on their own financially?

Keep any comments coming.

Ed

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, June 03, 2018 9:23 AM

Commuter losses were just that for the EL and the Jersey Central as well.  The state of NJ never did compensate or subsidize commuter operations until very late in those two 'roads lives.  Keeping a long story short it wasn't long after the formation of Conrail (who handled some commuter operations for a while) that the NJ Department of Transportation formed NJ Transit to take over commuter operations entirely, both rail and bus.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Sunday, June 03, 2018 9:14 PM

Some articles that may be of interest:

Lackawanna�s steam locomotives
from Trains September 1965  p. 28
DL&W  steam  system 
 
boy watching Lackawanna M.U. car
from Trains October 1965  p. 22

 

William H. White put Erie Lackawanna in the black
from Trains April 1967  p. 18

 

coach travel on the Erie
from Trains May 1972  p. 20

 

tripower locomotives on the Lackawanna
from Trains July 1971  p. 44

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, June 04, 2018 7:08 AM

New Jersey DOT did provide some subsidies and other support prior to 1976.  NJDOT did purchase the U34CH's and new suburban coaches for EL's diesel lines and purchased and rebuilt a lot of secondhand long-haul coaches for all operations.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by MP173 on Friday, June 08, 2018 2:35 PM

I have been all over the EL the past couple of weeks.  Thanks to all for the info.  

Youtube videos exist with quite a bit of coverage of late EL operations and a 14 part series taped by Chuck Walsh which explains just about everything one needs to know about the Lackawanna Cut Off in NJ.  I am thru part 6 of the series and it is pretty interesting.  Lots of historic detail on the "Cut-Off" and how it is incorporated into today's railroad world.

I am slowly becoming familar with the old Erie and Lackawanna sides. The downgrading of the Cut Off does seem ill advised, but the routing of significant freight to NH made the Port Jervis routing critical.  

BTW, the Delaware Water Gap seems like a great recreational area (both nature and railroads).  I would like to take a little trip out that way sometime.  No doubt the sound of Alcos working up hill would be a wonderful experience.

Very little remains of the EL out here in Indiana...North Judson might have some track in place.  Years ago there was a passenger train which ran on the old EL from North Judson to Monterey, Indiana and back...took my family there for a train ride, probably in late 1980s.

Too much head winds against the EL back in the 70s for survival.  

Ed

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Posted by Atlantic and Hibernia on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 11:25 AM

Overmod

Very stupid idea, in my opinion, was made post-merger to route freight preferentially over the Graham Line instead of the Lackawanna, this culminating in the fiasco eliminating high-speed ROW around Garrett Mountain when I-80 was built.  A bridge service connecting NKP with ex-DL&W would have been a highly attractive intermodal route, both with trailers and containers...

 

 

Very true, but it would have been more expensive to use the Garrett Mountain route for both Interstate - 80 and the Erie Lackawanna.

Commuter ridership was declining and the freight customers could be serviced with a branch line.

Of course, now that Interstate - 80 is a parking lot every morning.....

Sigh...

Kevin

 

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Posted by david vartanoff on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 1:49 AM

The 1972 hurricane finished any hope EL had of survival.

Actually Chessie System came very close to buying E-L in the pre-Conrail negotiations.  A"Flash Report" to stockholders touted E-L as a useful addition giving them direct access to the New Jersey container market.   The labor issue (which in hindsight became moot fairly quickly thereafter) was wht nixed the deal.  Hays T. Watkins could not convince his BOD to take the deal even though the ROW/equipment was $1 and good will as E-L's unions would not budge on the crew sizes.   While it would have savaged the survival of my beloved B&O, from a more generalPOV Watkins was right and the BOD wrong.  

\As a modeler, I think the E-L SDP45s would have been neatin Chessie paint and I liked the pooling of F45s on the premium trains.    Ah, what might have been.

 

[/quote]

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Posted by tabeckett on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 2:47 AM

Keep in mind also, there were shorter crew districts in those days, too. On the Erie side, Croxton-Port Jervis; Port-Susquehanna PA; Susquehanna-Hornell; Hornell-Salamanca; Salamanca-Meadville, and so on. New York had a full crew law, so any train over 70 cars had SIX men on. Conrail modified the crew districts, so they became Croxton(actually, by the mid 80's, the crews originated at Oak Island)-Port Jervis; Port Jervis-Gang Mills(Corning)-Gang Mills-Olean; Olean-Meadville, etc. By then, there was not much left of EL west of Akron that was functional as a through route. OIEL, the train that ran the EL main west of Hornell, worked its way to the Chicago Line at Cleveland, I think via the ex PRR from Akron.

Conrail later set up a long pool for the stack trains, all of which ran via the Southern Tier Line(ex Erie) until they finally, after several years of anguish, made West Point tunnel sufficiently large to run stacks on the River Line. The long pool ran Oak Islalnd-Binghamton, then Binghamton-Buffalo. All trains except OIEL/ELOI ran to Buffalo, then onto the Chicago Line. If EL could have established CR style work rules and crew agreements in the early 70's, they could have nailed down a serious share of east coast-Chicago pig traffic. They had the clearances, and the railroad was in much better physical condition than PC.

Another factor:PC's bankruptcy. The Poughkeepsie bridge fire in 1974 ended the Maybrook gateway, and you can bet PC was not exactly crying that the bridge went out of service. This caused EL to short haul those cars, which then ran from Binghamton to Utica via the old DLW, then onto PC there. Another PC factor was that they were in bankruptcy by 1970, so EL couldn't get its share of interline moves, or any other funds owed to it by PC, further draining cash flow, a real burden after the railroad was devastated by Agnes in 1972. How bad was the damage?? In the Canisteo valley, between Addison and Hornell, the water was wall to wall in the gorge, in some places over 8 feet above the rail.

As far as current operations, the line from Binghamton to Buffalo is probably as busy as it was in Conrail days, as NS runs two pairs of intermodal trains, and some auto racks, in addition to the merchandise trains. The line east of Binghamton is very, very quiet. NYSW runs there six days a week, SU 99 going west, SU 100 going east on opposite days, with one day open. I think NS runs a train out of Oak Island to Campbell Hall.

When CR had the line in the 80's and 90's, you could figure at least one stack train each way, sometimes a second section, especially later in the week. OIBU and OIEL westbound, BUOI eastbound, ELOI sometimes, since it got annulled at Gang Mills a lot of the time, its traffic sent east on BUOI. There were a pair of rack trains to/from Doremus Av in Newark. There were also a number of NYSW stacks, usually one in each direction daily on average. Later in the week, there might be an extra section westbound. It was a pretty good place to watch and chase then. Now, west of Binghamton, there's enough to keep you busy, and it is unquestionably a pretty line. East of there, well, don't get your heart set on seeing a train on Starrucca.

Tom Beckett Keeping the freight moving by road and rail
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Posted by MP173 on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 6:32 AM

Tom:

Thanks for your excellent review of past and present operations.

I just finished H. Roger Grant's book - Erie Lackawanna, The Death of an American Railroad.  This was my second reading of the book.  I have also been spending quite a bit of time on the EL Historical Society website.  There is quite an archive of train consists of EL trains in the 1974-75 time frame along with freight schedules.  

Grant does a very good job of discussing the politics of EL, including the alternative railroad options at the time including NW and CSX.  What is really interesting is Grant's discussion of the disolving of the estate.  Yes, it is very dry reading, but the bond holders and others who held out did quite well when all was disolved and paid out. It took until 1991, but those who purchased the bonds for 10 cents on the dollar did quite well.  A couple of years ago I read a book by the attorney who handled the estate of the Reading Railroad.  

The EL fascinated me and I actually had plans in February 1976 to view the line in Huntington, In.  I was a senior in college in southern Indiana and we had a break from Tuesday thru Sunday.  My plans were to go to Huntington for a day then return home to Southern Illinois to my family.  Those plans were derailed when my mom called very excited to know I had all that time off.  I changed my plans to spend time with my mom and dad.  It was the best decision looking back now.

The crew change and full crew (6) were no doubt restrictive on their ability to survive.  I am fascinated how the EL was able to secure and maintain the UPS business.  

The 1970s were dark days in the railroad industry.  The advances made industry wide are nothing short of spectacular.

Ed

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Posted by tabeckett on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 3:26 AM

Most welcome. Glad to provide some useful input. I lived in Endicott NY from 1988 to 2006, and had been visiting upstate on a pretty regular basis from the late 70's. I spent a lot of time chasing the Tier over 25 or so years.

One of the great things about the ex EL there was that it was the backwater of a large system. As such, it didn't get a lot of attention from Philadelphia, which I think the people who worked there were perfectly happy about. The plus side was, a lot of things remained from EL days, though some were in various stages of decay. The one thing most fans recall well is the semaphores, which were numerous along the line from Endicott(224-2 was the easternmost) to Hunt-I think the westernmost was 356-2, a couple of miles east of Portage bridge. The Canisteo valley was chock full of them, and there were even two pairs, one at Arkport, MP 337, that was hard to access, as it was across a cornfield from the road; the other pair was at Tioga Center, MP 243. That set was well known, as it was adjacent to NY 17C. You could shoot the picture from the shoulder. The track configuration was largely as EL conveyed it til the early 90's, when much of the line west of Waverly was single tracked with sidings. The beauty of it for a chaser was that the line was well followed by highways, both local and expressway-NY 17 parallels, a lot of it on the ex DLW right of way west of exit 67 in Vestal, from Hancock to Gang Mills-there were enough trains, and variety of trains-keep in mind, the D&H and later CP had trackage rights Binghamton to Buffalo, so all that color, plus Alcos-to keep you occupied in stunningly scenic locations, and train speeds were moderate, in the 40 MPH range, so chasing was possible without having to become a threat to public safety. Don't ask me about the time I chased Bennett Levin's E 8's down the Canisteo at 75 MPH!!

I grew up in Queens, but didn't get to Jersey much, largely because New Yorkers would rather go to Hanoi than Hackensack. So I missed the last glory of the EL(and CNJ, RDG, LV....) in the mid 70's. I went to high school in Manhattan, graduating in 1977, so for 30 cents, I could have jumped on the PATH to see a lot of that action; for lunch money, could have taken a ride out to places like Bound Brook, Suffern, Denville, South Amboy....well, you get the idea. Still kicking myself for missing that wonderful show. The up side is that most of those lines retained their flavor for almost ten years after CR started up, in terms of operating patterns and facilities, though by the late 80's, and surely through the 90's, CR standardization that had been implemented since 1976 took over.

Huntington in the 70's would have been a treat. North Judson, with the C&O and NYC, as well as the Pennsy Panhandle Line, would have been better, especially when you consider what it looks like now.

I read Roger Grant's book, very interesting, if dry. Yes, the folks who held the EL securities did very well at the end. You just had to have(lots of) patience.

Here's a look, some albums from RRPA. This may take you a while.

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=67750

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=110173

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=110543

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=107802

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=113637

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=113677

CP and NYSW get in on the act, too

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=85614

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=107695

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=111700

Commuters, too

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=97368

Tom

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Posted by Samuel Johnston on Monday, June 25, 2018 8:57 AM

Very little, I would gather.  Modern Susquehanna is it; probably not even one train A DAY.  Yes, I know his books.  I call then "cry books" because I cry over what I could have done.  I had to depend on friends with cars--and they had already done EL and were too busy riding Southern steam specials, etc.  Zimmermann's Decade of D&H is very good.  In 1985 there were detour moves on the Erie and the D&H Lanesboro'-Niveveh which I chased, etc.--and afterwards noted I had gotten ALL of Zimmermann's locations--and then some because I "fell for the syren call of the Erie" as it was phrased.

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Posted by MP173 on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 4:43 PM

Tom:

Great photo albums.  You are correct...it would take a lot of time to process all photos.  I scanned thru the first pages.  You have quite a collection.

"Drivin like a fool out to Hackensack, drinkin his dinner from a paper sack."....Steely Dan at it's best.

 

Ed

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