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The 19th Century: Two railroads cross in the woods

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The 19th Century: Two railroads cross in the woods
Posted by NKP guy on Monday, February 5, 2024 8:43 AM

In 1863, Erie RR predecessor the Atlantic & Great Western RR crossed Pennsylvania RR predecessor the Cleveland & Pittsburgh RR at grade about 3 miles from my house. It's bucolic there now and must have been even more rural in the late 1800's.

Both were single track roads at the time and both were double tracked later.

My question: Since this crossing had no switches to/from these roads, how was such a crosssing managed? Would there have been a tower? Why? Would trains have been expected to stop before crossing the other railroad, look both ways, and then proceed? Did train orders allow engineers to simply proceed without stopping? Did the two railroads coordinate the crossing? How? 

After 1911, the roads were grade separated and the grade crossing eliminated.  But what about between 1863 and 1911? What were the rules for such situations?

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, February 5, 2024 12:38 PM

It usually depended on who got there first.

The "senior" railroad, the one that got there first, would often be relieved of having to flag the crossing. The "junior" railroad's train crews would be expected to stop and flag before proceeding.  This worked OK if trains were short and sight lines were good.  Pretty soon simple signalling systems, like ball signals, came into use.  The general pattern was that the junior railroad paid for the crossing and any signals or towers, including staffing.

On low speed lines gates were sometimes used even well into the twentieth century.  The gate would normally be set across the junior railroad's track and swung around across the senior raiload's track to allow passage of a train.

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Posted by NKP guy on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 6:19 PM

Thanks to rcdrye for a succinct, knowledgeable answer that was easy to visualize and understand.

 Come to think of it, I believe I've seen such a gate in Cleveland's Flats on a B&O branch where it was crossed by some steel mill railroads.    

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 8:17 PM

NKP guy
Thanks to rcdrye for a succinct, knowledgeable answer that was easy to visualize and understand.

 Come to think of it, I believe I've seen such a gate in Cleveland's Flats on a B&O branch where it was crossed by some steel mill railroads.    

Went looking in my copy of the 1944 B&O Akron Division Employee Timetable.  There is a full page of 'Fixed Signals' governing a multitude of railroad crossings at grade - on line of road and within various industries, and what actions must be taken for movement of trains at those locations.  Multiple steel mills and other heavy industry at Youngstown, Warren, Cleveland and Lorain.

RD Tower (which was a moveable target) was the timetable point where the Yard Limits for Clark Ave. Yard started at the geographical South end of the yard and was the initial point on both the Cleveland Sub and the CT&V Sub.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 4:18 PM

BaltACD
Went looking in my copy of the 1944 B&O Akron Division Employee Timetable.  There is a full page of 'Fixed Signals' governing a multitude of railroad crossings at grade - on line of road and within various industries, and what actions must be taken for movement of trains at those locations.  Multiple steel mills and other heavy industry at Youngstown, Warren, Cleveland and Lorain.

People our age (you know who you are) are the last generation that remembers these "multiple mills and other heavy industries" at their height.  It had to be seen, especially at night, and smelled, to be believed. 

Just imagine Industrial America in 1944; it makes me nostalgic--and proud. 

Do you know that PRR calendar painting of the same time depicting Uncle Sam and the steel mills of America?  

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 5:37 PM

NKP guy
 
BaltACD
Went looking in my copy of the 1944 B&O Akron Division Employee Timetable.  There is a full page of 'Fixed Signals' governing a multitude of railroad crossings at grade - on line of road and within various industries, and what actions must be taken for movement of trains at those locations.  Multiple steel mills and other heavy industry at Youngstown, Warren, Cleveland and Lorain. 

People our age (you know who you are) are the last generation that remembers these "multiple mills and other heavy industries" at their height.  It had to be seen, especially at night, and smelled, to be believed. 

Just imagine Industrial America in 1944; it makes me nostalgic--and proud. 

Do you know that PRR calendar painting of the same time depicting Uncle Sam and the steel mills of America?  

As a kid in the early 1950's our family lived in Pittsburgh.  The 'base' of our family has always been Baltimore.  Being a railroad family with Dad being a Trainmaster we had 'privledges' on our travels - generally leaving Pittsburgh in the early evening, with a Pullman bedroom - the light show put on by the various mills - on both sides of the Monongahela River put on light shows that the laser light shows of today are far from emulating.  Generally we went East on #10 and came West on #9 which arrived Pittburgh in the evening.  There is nothing that can match the light show of heavy industry working a full capacity.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 6:46 PM

BaltACD
There is nothing that can match the light show of heavy industry working a full capacity.

 

Amen.

 Pennsylvania HSR: PRR Passenger Train Alongside Edgar Thomson Steel Mill

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Posted by ELRobby on Friday, February 9, 2024 1:28 AM

I don't know if there is a way I can get your email address. I just got done typing up a detailed answer to your question with some of the original 1863 and 1872 A&GW rule book requirements and the Ohio Law of 1860, and the 1874 A&GW Receiver's inventory showing what was at Ravenna for the crossing, and I lost it when the Trains website timed out on me. The answers you've got so far are pretty much incorrect generalizations about crossing agreements. My last 9 years were spent in a Joint Facilities department so I know something about crossing agreements and their source documents in the area from Ohio to Chicago. I believe you also have the dates wrong on when the C&P relocated their track. I also know something about the A&GW history that you might not have found. I can email you an answer but I am not going to trust the Trains website again with a lengthy answer. I have now been burned by that too many times.

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Posted by NKP guy on Friday, February 9, 2024 7:35 AM

I'll look forward to hearing from you. You can email me at bruce759@yahoo.com

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 10, 2024 11:03 AM

The only way to write long posts on this deflicted site is to type them up in a word-processing application (I use Microsoft Word set to save files in Rich Text Format on a computer, and the Notes app on the iPhone) and then copy the text over to the 'post body' window.  Any formatting that does not correctly 'translate' can be done before the site has one of its epileptic glitches, and if by some horror the whole thing disappears again, you can just re-copy from what you saved locally.

The 'alternative' is to do the moral equivalent of Autosave: every few minutes of typing, post or 'Update Reply', then go back in and start editing and adding to what is essentially a partial draft until everything is in there.  On particularly woeful days that I have to post from a phone, I'll make a note at the beginning not to comment or reply until the whole thing has finished being typed in -- then I just remove the note as the last edit.

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Posted by pennytrains on Friday, February 16, 2024 6:37 PM

One of those strange coincidences, I've been building a semi scale depot for my Lionel O gauge trains and since the main building is pretty far along I started researching other structures and equipment.  Today I'm looking into train order signal designs and I came across this website devoted to signalling: https://railroadsignals.us/signals/sem/index.htm#MECHANICAL_DRAWINGS_

As to the accuracy of the information I'll leave that to those who know a lot more than I do to verify.  I'm mostly at interested in the diagrams and blueprints.

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, February 17, 2024 7:07 PM

"Two railroads cross in the woods."

Now that reminds me of Pompton Junction where the Susquehanna and the Erie's New York & Greenwood Lake branch crossed.

Originally protected by a watchtower the diamond was upgraded to an electrical signal system, the first train that tripped the circuit was the superior train. 

The crossing's still there although there's very little action on the old NY&GL now except switching local industries.

Want to have a look? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxKmiGqP5A 

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Posted by NKP guy on Sunday, February 18, 2024 7:56 AM

   A tip of the hat to Flintlock76 for posting a nice video. The crossing, surrounded by woods, looks to my mind very similar to the crossing from 1863 that I asked about.  Also, I think the use of drone photography is just right here; a video taken from ground level wouldn't be quite as interesting to my eyes. I've learned a lot about crossings from this posting and the comments following. Thanks to every one who's contributed.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, February 25, 2024 6:42 PM

Glad you enjoyed the video!

I'll tell you, the drone videos that young man shoots are downright mesmerizing!

I've binge-watched them twice already!

 

 

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Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, February 28, 2024 10:31 AM

   Here's an anecdote recently brought to my attention that came about in tiny part because of this crossing: 

   On July 3, 1891, about 2:30 AM, a passenger train eastbound on the Erie RR crossed the Pennsylvania RR on its way to its next station stop less than three miles away in Ravenna, Ohio. Barney Dyer, the signalman on duty at the crossing, watched in disbelief and horror as, not five minutes later, a freight train full of meat on its way to the East Coast, passed at speed, likely 25 mph. Dyer foresaw the disaster that would unfold a few minutes later and exclaimed, "that's a hell of a way to run a railroad!" In the event, the freight train at an estimated 20 mph slammed into the passenger train stopped at the Ravenna depot. The wooden cars turned into splinters. Those that couldn't escape the crumpled cars were doomed as fire spread throughout them.

   Consequently, twenty-five people, nineteen of them employees of Corning Glass returning to New York, lost their lives in this disaster. Today there's a large memorial to them in the cemetery in Corning.

   And while Barney Dyer's name has more or less been forgotten, his precient exclamation at the crossing that morning entered American folklore and idioms.

   I'll attach a link to a report of the crash from the Ravenna newspaper a few days later. Toward the bottom of the page, click on "Keep Reading Page 2".

https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/167450530/

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 29, 2024 8:27 AM

NKP guy
...

   I'll attach a link to a report of the crash from the Ravenna newspaper a few days later. Toward the bottom of the page, click on "Keep Reading Page 2".

https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/167450530/

'FREE' subscription requires entering credit card information.  So you can forget about the subscription in 7 days and then get charged until the recently tipped over lunar lander rights itself.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, March 2, 2024 10:40 AM

Something I neglected to do but should have.

Here's the link to the North Jersey Aerial Rail YouTube site.

https://www.youtube.com/@northjerseyaerialrail9597/featured

If you're an expatriate or exile from northern New Jersey like I am and you want to see the area in a whole 'nother light this channel's for you!  I'll tell you, this young man's got a future!  The vid's are mesmerizing, to me anyway. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, April 19, 2024 9:52 AM

Flintlock76
North Jersey Aerial Rail

That nice young man's got a new Pompton Junction video I think all will enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1Do50znDLo

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, May 11, 2024 4:31 PM

BaltACD
RD Tower (which was a moveable target) was the timetable point where the Yard Limits for Clark Ave. Yard started at the geographical South end of the yard and was the initial point on both the Cleveland Sub and the CT&V Sub.

RD Tower, One of my favorite stomping grounds in the early '70s:

 4070_RD_w-RW by Edmund, on Flickr

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by Col Bob on Sunday, May 26, 2024 2:55 AM

My dad fired on the Louisiana & Arkansas out of Greenville TX for a couple of years after high school. Entering Greenvile, the L&A crossed the Cotton Belt and the crossing was protected by a gate that had to be unlocked and swung across the other line to allow you to proceed. This was apparently fairly common where traffic on one or both lines was light. 

Why is there a gate across the railroad track? - Trains

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Sunday, May 26, 2024 10:06 AM

Until recently, an EJ&E industrial lead crossed the South Shore main line in Gary and South Shore's main was protected by gates.  South Shore's dispatcher had to be contacted by the EJ&E crew before the gates could be moved to allow passage on the lead.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul

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