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Tearing down old structures

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Tearing down old structures
Posted by hbgatsf on Monday, March 13, 2023 8:11 AM

I have been driving past the Rutherford Yard outside of Harrisburg since 1977.  As background this was a classification yard for The Reading RR that passed to Conrail and then NS.  This structure was very visible from the road:

These pictures are from 1970. By 1977 the yard was used mainly as a storage facility until NS converted it to an Intermodal Yard in 2000.  It was at that time that this structure was torn down.

I always thought that it was an old coaling station.  If that is correct it wouldn't have been used as such for many years in 1970.  Would they have just left it in place for all that time because it was easier to do so than tearing it down?  Was that common?

 

Rick

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, March 13, 2023 8:29 AM

In a word, yes.  In the old days if a particular structure was unneeded and on railroad property where the general public wasn't allowed the 'roads would simply padlock it and let nature take its course.  The building would be allowed to sink into decrepitude and wouldn't be removed at all until it finally collapsed.

Coaling towers were a bit different though.  Those things were built for the ages (think American pyramids) and were VERY slow to deteriorate so it was even easier just to leave it alone, even more so if they had sanding capability since diesels were sanded in the same manner as steam engines. They wouldn't be demolished until they became hazardous to operations or depending on locality were still being property taxed without providing any benefit. 

In Richmond VA the coaling tower in the old C&O Fulton Yard lasted into the 1990's before CSX finally had it demolished.  On the other hand some N&W coaling towers are still there in the western part of Virginia in the NS mainline, still solid and not going anywhere.

And you're exactly right, that's an old coaling tower in the pictures.  

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Posted by hbgatsf on Monday, March 13, 2023 9:43 AM

Thank you.

Flintlock76

even more so if they had sanding capability since diesels were sanded in the same manner as steam engines. 

My layout is set roughly in 1983.  While that has been stretched somewhat by rolling stock I try to hold to period relevant structures.  I do have one steam locomotive that I use for excursions and I haven't done anything about servicing it.  Knowing that coaling towers lasted that long gives me some ideas about putting one in service especially if I can say it is used for sanding the diesels. 

Rick

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, March 13, 2023 10:13 AM

There is a coaling tower over the tracks at Clyman, WI.  The old C&NW ( now UP) Adams Sub.

I'm sure there are many still around.

Mike

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, March 13, 2023 10:36 AM

Along the C&NW/UP east/west main in Illinois, there is a coaling tower at DeKalb (east of Rochelle) and Nelson (west of Rochelle).  Anyone visiting the Railroad Park in Rochelle should try to make the time to check them out (and while you are at it, the former CB&Q wood depot in nearby Stewart Jct).  With a good telephoto lens it is possible to get decent shots of trains running under them.  Otherwise if that's the shot you want a certain amount of tresspassing is likely involved, or so I have been told    Angel   The one at Nelson still has its Fairbanks Morse builder's plate visible, which might tell you just how dangerous if not impossible it would be to try to, ahem, "preserve" it..  

In a farm field in Montfort WI a lonely coaling tower still stands but the tracks (ex C&NW) are long gone.  Again a telephoto lens is helpful to get good photos right from Hywy 18.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, March 13, 2023 11:43 AM

hbgatsf
Thank you.

You're welcome!

I remember seeing that coaling tower numerous times when I moved to the Richmond area in 1987, and then one day it was gone without a trace.  Sad, it was quite a monument to the steam era.

I found this article about the Fulton Yard tower which I think all might find interesting.  If I remember correctly it was located about where the number 51 appears on the aerial photo.  On the lower left edge of the photo you can see the "ghost" of the old roundhouse.

https://towns-and-nature.blogspot.com/2016/07/richmond-va-c-coaling-tower-and.html

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Posted by azrail on Monday, March 13, 2023 2:54 PM

The reason why these big coal towers stayed up so long is that there is often no empty space to "drop" them.

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Posted by tstage on Monday, March 13, 2023 4:01 PM

The massive concrete coaling tower in Collinwood (OH) was once used to outfit NYC steam locomotives up into the 50s.  It remained standing after steam was long gone; primarily serving as a seagull and pigeon rest area until the end of 2013, when it was completely demolished.  That was a sad day for me, as I always enjoyed seeing that monument to the "glory days of steam" whenever I accessed I-90 from E. 152nd Street...

Tom

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, March 13, 2023 8:58 PM

It costs a lot of money to demolish a building, especially buildings of this nature.

Railroads were struggling in the 70's, nobody was going to tear down something that could simply be pad locked, secured, and left alone if it was not in the way of other uses for the land.

I think the Clinton Street rotary coal dump in Baltimore sat unused for a decade before a new use was found for that pier. Then it was taken down.

There are still ruins of B&O shop buildings along the tracks leading from the B&O Museum - shops that have been gone for 50-60 years, but it is railroad and/or Museum property that no one needs for anything and it would cost hundreds of thousands to tear down and clean up. So now they are effectively "part of the museum", only viewed from the train rides offered at the museum.

Trains of the Baltimore and Annapolis RR stopped crossing the Severn River into Annapolis in the early 60's. The swing span was removed, but the trestle stood across the mouth of the river until the late 1980's. In the late 70's a group of us teenagers actually walked all the way out on it to the point of the missing swing span.

In 1926 they began construction of the Conowingo Dam across the Susquehanna River in northeastern Maryland. Temporary tracks were laid along the south shore of the river from Havre de Grace to allow materials to be moved by rail to what is now the base of the dam. Significant parts of those tracks are still there and are part of a walking/biking trail on the north side of Havre de Grace.

Within a short drive of where I live in Havre de Grace I can show you lots of abandoned buildings, tracks and bridges related to the rail industry.

The examples are endless, even today.

Sheldon     

    

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, March 13, 2023 10:16 PM

Here is an Amtrak train running under a coaling tower in Michigan City, Ind.  Amtrak owns the line segment, so I suppose this is an example of an Antrak coaling tower.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2610312162329847&id=100000532667674

 

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Posted by hbgatsf on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 7:15 AM

MidlandMike

Here is an Amtrak train running under a coaling tower in Michigan City, Ind.  Amtrak owns the line segment, so I suppose this is an example of an Antrak coaling tower.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2610312162329847&id=100000532667674

 

Does that coaling tower span the mainline?

Rick

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Posted by AEP528 on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 8:19 AM

Search for "coaling tower over mainline" and there will be multiple examples.

This one is probably my favorite:

http://towns-and-nature.blogspot.com/2021/10/vicker-va-n-mainline-coaling-tower.html

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 9:59 PM

hbgatsf

 

 
MidlandMike

Here is an Amtrak train running under a coaling tower in Michigan City, Ind.  Amtrak owns the line segment, so I suppose this is an example of an Antrak coaling tower.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2610312162329847&id=100000532667674

 

 

Does that coaling tower span the mainline?

 

Yes.

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Posted by chutton01 on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 4:50 PM

As a general observation, in New Jersey and New York, railroad properly and facilities that will likely never be used again in revenue service tend to get demolishted/removed to reduce property tax assessments and liability insurance costs. Not sure how many abandonded coaling towers are left in NY, but in 2017 an Erie Lackawanna tower was demolished in Salmanca.
This very well may be true in other locations as well - when does the liability costs and property tax cose outweigh the costs of just demolishing the towers?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 5:04 PM

chutton01

As a general observation, in New Jersey and New York, railroad properly and facilities that will likely never be used again in revenue service tend to get demolishted/removed to reduce property tax assessments and liability insurance costs. Not sure how many abandonded coaling towers are left in NY, but in 2017 an Erie Lackawanna tower was demolished in Salmanca.
This very well may be true in other locations as well - when does the liability costs and property tax cose outweigh the costs of just demolishing the towers?

 

Not sure how that kind of property is assessed for tax purposes, likely different in each state, but how much value can worn out fixture like that have?

As for liability any non railroad personell are likely trespassing, no more liability than all the other attractive nuisances on railroad property that people should stay away from.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 5:52 PM

chutton01
As a general observation, in New Jersey and New York, railroad properly and facilities that will likely never be used again in revenue service tend to get demolishted/removed to reduce property tax assessments and liability insurance costs.

Certainly true in New York State.  CSX has been purging themselves of facilities they may (or may not) can live without just to get out from under the tax burden.  

Some say they're at the point of hindering operations doing so but I don't know enough about it to say yes or no.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 7:02 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Significant parts of those tracks are still there and are part of a walking/biking trail on the north side of Havre de Grace.

That jogged my memory.  Somewhere (maybe near Cass WV) I found dated nails in railroad ties of an abandoned line.  I think they were from the 50's.  When were these track nails used?

Henry

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Posted by AEP528 on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 7:13 AM

CSX has stated multiple times that their tax burden in NY is higher than that of all other states that they operate in combined. They're not just removing structures, they're also removing trackage. I don't know how the tax is calculated, nor is it clear why other shortline and class one railroads don't mention taxes in NY.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 7:32 AM

BigDaddy

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Significant parts of those tracks are still there and are part of a walking/biking trail on the north side of Havre de Grace.

 

That jogged my memory.  Somewhere (maybe near Cass WV) I found dated nails in railroad ties of an abandoned line.  I think they were from the 50's.  When were these track nails used?

 

 

I don't know?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 7:33 AM

AEP528

CSX has stated multiple times that their tax burden in NY is higher than that of all other states that they operate in combined. They're not just removing structures, they're also removing trackage. I don't know how the tax is calculated, nor is it clear why other shortline and class one railroads don't mention taxes in NY.

 

Just one more reason to not live or work there.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 9:19 AM

BigDaddy
That jogged my memory.  Somewhere (maybe near Cass WV) I found dated nails in railroad ties of an abandoned line.  I think they were from the 50's.  When were these track nails used?

I'd have to say the 1950's.  I've never seen track nails anywhere (trainshows, antique shops) that date from prior to the 20th Century. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 9:21 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
AEP528

CSX has stated multiple times that their tax burden in NY is higher than that of all other states that they operate in combined. They're not just removing structures, they're also removing trackage. I don't know how the tax is calculated, nor is it clear why other shortline and class one railroads don't mention taxes in NY.

 

 

 

Just one more reason to not live or work there.

Sheldon

 

According to moving companies who's business it is to know New York is one of the top five states for move-outs and is consistantly so.  

As far as the shortlines, regionals, and other Class 1's operating in New York they most likely don't have the tax burden CSX does.  Remember, when CSX purchased their half of Conrail they got all the old New York Central trackage and facilities in New York which obviously were pretty extensive. 

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Posted by AEP528 on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 9:25 AM

Flintlock76

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
AEP528

CSX has stated multiple times that their tax burden in NY is higher than that of all other states that they operate in combined. They're not just removing structures, they're also removing trackage. I don't know how the tax is calculated, nor is it clear why other shortline and class one railroads don't mention taxes in NY.

 

 

 

Just one more reason to not live or work there.

Sheldon

 

 

 

According to moving companies who's business it is to know New York is one of the top five states for move-outs and is consistantly so.  

 

And Maryland is ranked only two states above New York. Apparently no one wants to live there either.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 9:40 AM

AEP528

 

 
Flintlock76

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
AEP528

CSX has stated multiple times that their tax burden in NY is higher than that of all other states that they operate in combined. They're not just removing structures, they're also removing trackage. I don't know how the tax is calculated, nor is it clear why other shortline and class one railroads don't mention taxes in NY.

 

 

 

Just one more reason to not live or work there.

Sheldon

 

 

 

According to moving companies who's business it is to know New York is one of the top five states for move-outs and is consistantly so.  

 

 

 

And Maryland is ranked only two states above New York. Apparently no one wants to live there either.

 

I tried several times to get out of Maryland but my wife was not buying. So we moved to rural Maryland where people vote conservative, local taxes are low, and the sheriff's office and the DA respect your right to defend yourself.

Not all of Maryland is like the DC suburbs.

I would have left for Appalachia decades ago but my wife has health issues that make her more comfortable closer to some of the best health care in the world.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 11:53 AM

hbgatsf
Would they have just left it in place for all that time because it was easier to do so than tearing it down?  Was that common?

Hi Rick.

I photographed this coaling station in West Virginia in 2020.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

It was an unexpected thrill to see it there.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 3:17 PM

SeeYou190
It was an unexpected thrill to see it there.

I can imagine!  It was a thrill to see that C&O coaling tower in Richmond that I mentioned earlier.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 4:36 PM

AEP528

And Maryland is ranked only two states above New York. Apparently no one wants to live there either. 

Could be worse. You could live in Illinois as I do. For four years running, Illinois is the Number 1 move out state.

Rich

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Posted by hbgatsf on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 7:01 PM

It is interesting to see some of these coaling towers still standing in recent years.  I would imagine most people driving by them don't even notice them, or if they do, they don't have a clue what they are.  

Rick

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Posted by hbgatsf on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 7:07 PM

With regard to taxes you never know what deals have been done.  Incentives and cronyism abound.  A big railroad would be an easy mark so like any big corporation they have accountants looking for any way to lessen the burden. 

Rick

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