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Saluda Grade to reopen?

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Posted by Boyd on Monday, February 13, 2012 12:22 AM

Well is there still a section of track at one end where they unbolted the rails and moved them sideways about 2 feet each rail? I remember seeing a picture of it,,, maybe at the beginning of this thread or another thread on Saluda.

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

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Posted by Modelcar on Monday, February 13, 2012 8:50 AM

.....Yes, you are correct.  The rails were cut, and moved off center as you say and spiked down so no continuity exists on the route.  Also, a mound of ground was dumped on the tracks at that point too.

But there also exists a large land slide out from under the tracks not too far from Saluda, that left a wide gaping space of the tracks hanging in mid air. {I really doubt if that has ever been repaired}.

Also....a person with a bit too much "cool aid" drove his pickup truck...I believe from Saluda down the tracks and actually came upon this big gap where no support was under the tracks, and some of the ties fell from the weight of the truck, and the truck was not able to go any further.  The fellow was lucky it didn't roll down off the side of the tracks at the gap left from the ground sliding out from under the tracks.....It is a long way down where the ground slid down the embankment.  {I don't know if that ROW support ever has been repaired....I doubt it}.  Have no idea how the pickup truck was recovered.

Someone had very good photos of all of the above posted on here.  I do have some in "my pictures".

So all of the above certainly would have to be dealt with, and I'm sure a lot more...before any railroad activity could be restored on "Saluda Hill".

Quentin

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Posted by rocket2go on Monday, February 13, 2012 1:52 PM

This post from anb740 is very correct.   The washout is still there and it appears that a part of the mountain simply washed out from under the rails for about 150 to 200 ft (around 2002/03).   Of course, if NS can fix things as good and as fast as they did in New Orleans after Katrina, they can fix anything, including this monster!   

Currently, there is a 23 car work train on the dead end siding at East Spartanburg, consisting mostly of dormintory cars, which are occupied.  I asked one of the workers if they were going to work on the Spartanbury to Asheville line and he answered "I believe that is where we're heading."   Naturally, this is not official news and this may have been a contract worker instead of an NS employee.  This crew could simply be getting ready to help with the new ties, ballast, and rail crossing work that is currently underway from Landrum to Hayne.   I understand the same thing is happening on the other end of the line near Hendersonville. 

Keep in mind that there is no official news about re-opening the line and that all this activity could just be preventive maintenance work.   There is a good size lumber yard just south of Landrum that ships wood chips, and the rails may simply need work to bring them up to FRA and NS standards.    

 

 

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Posted by Stourbridge Lion on Monday, February 13, 2012 2:36 PM

Frank - Welcome to Trains.com! Cowboy

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Posted by Tryonian on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:54 AM

I drove up the 176 and saw them working on the tracks past Saluda! so, I am starting to believe the rumors :) but, there is so much work to do before the big engines roll!  

 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 11:42 AM

Frank Ezell

This post from anb740 is very correct.   The washout is still there and it appears that a part of the mountain simply washed out from under the rails for about 150 to 200 ft (around 2002/03).   Of course, if NS can fix things as good and as fast as they did in New Orleans after Katrina, they can fix anything, including this monster!   

Currently, there is a 23 car work train on the dead end siding at East Spartanburg, consisting mostly of dormintory cars, which are occupied.  I asked one of the workers if they were going to work on the Spartanbury to Asheville line and he answered "I believe that is where we're heading."   Naturally, this is not official news and this may have been a contract worker instead of an NS employee.  This crew could simply be getting ready to help with the new ties, ballast, and rail crossing work that is currently underway from Landrum to Hayne.   I understand the same thing is happening on the other end of the line near Hendersonville. 

Keep in mind that there is no official news about re-opening the line and that all this activity could just be preventive maintenance work.   There is a good size lumber yard just south of Landrum that ships wood chips, and the rails may simply need work to bring them up to FRA and NS standards.    

Tryonian replied on Tue, Feb 14 2012 10:54 AM

I drove up the 176 and saw them working on the tracks past Saluda! so, I am starting to believe the rumors :) but, there is so much work to do before the big engines roll!  

 

To Frank Ezell and Tryonian:

           Thank you, both, for the information!    It is really great to hear that there might be work going on that would bring some traffic back on that line over Saluda Grade!

    We're looking forward to more positive reports!

    As they say in South Central Kansas

" MUCH GRASS!"Smile, Wink & Grin

 

 

 


 

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Posted by Bunn19 on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 5:06 PM

Tryonian

I drove up the 176 and saw them working on the tracks past Saluda! so, I am starting to believe the rumors :) but, there is so much work to do before the big engines roll!  

 

 

Where did you see them working on the tracks?  I rode up there today from Spartanburg and didn't see any track work going on past Landrum.  I did see a work crew that looked to be from the City of Saluda working near the crossing just past the crest of the grade.

I'm hoping to see work crews from NS past the cut off at Landrum in the near future!

 

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Posted by Modelcar on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 6:22 PM

....Fellow posters from the Saluda area.  All the visual info is really getting our hopes up.  So...please keep the chatter coming to keep us aware of what just might be anticipated.

Thanks to all who are doing so.

Quentin

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Posted by rocket2go on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 6:31 PM

I took the same route that Bunn19 did and saw exactly the same things he describes.  I went all the way to Flat Rock N.C.with no sign of rail work anywhere between Saluda and there.   The work crew at Saluda was taking care of a water/sewer main, or something like that.   However, the track repair crews were busy re-building road crossings, putting in new ties, etc., east of Campobello, at Gramling, and all the way to downtown Inman, S.C.  

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Posted by j610 on Saturday, February 18, 2012 9:38 PM

I was there once and stood at the bottom of the grade looking up . It is almost impossible to believe a train could make it up that steep a grade . But i have seen videos of it and it is awesome .     RON

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Posted by Modelcar on Sunday, February 19, 2012 9:05 AM

.....Ron, I had the same feelings being there and trying to realize it really is a railroad...!

Stood at the edge of town and sighted down that grade, and to myself, could hardly believe I was looking at a railroad that was actually used in the usual manner.

We stopped several times and waited {when they were still using it}, and never got a chance to watch the action in person.

So if something does happen to reopen it....I'd have to think seriously to make the trip from here down to Saluda to really take in such action.

Quentin

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Posted by j610 on Sunday, February 19, 2012 12:27 PM

I am keeping my fingers crossed because it is only 70 miles or so southwest of me .     RON

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, February 19, 2012 7:48 PM

j610

I was there once and stood at the bottom of the grade looking up . It is almost impossible to believe a train could make it up that steep a grade . But i have seen videos of it and it is awesome .     RON

I have been up the grade, on #27--2 engine units, a headend car or two, two (I think) coaches, and a sleeper. It took us over an hour because the weed-killer train had just come down, spreading oil not only on the right of way, but also on the track. I do not remember if the engines were out of sand or if the sanders were not working, but it was a slow ascent. I have also gone down twice, and we moved slowly lest we run away.

The operation there certainly was not typical, even under the best conditions.

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Posted by Modelcar on Sunday, February 19, 2012 8:22 PM

.....At one time in the past, I understand it had two runaway tracks.

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Posted by railcarguy on Sunday, February 19, 2012 8:54 PM

Back in the mid 80's I saw three SD45's pulling eight fully loaded wood chip cars up hill and they were pulling for all they were worth.

Also in the mid 80's, I heard from the Norfolk Southern people at Asheville a loaded Bellmont coal train with mid train locos with the radio car ran onto the safety track and the front truck of the lead unit went off of the end of the safety track with the road foreman of engines at the controls. I've seen the safety track and that's one steep grade!

 

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Posted by Modelcar on Sunday, February 19, 2012 9:42 PM

.....Sometime ago, I believe it was on here, I found a black / white photo of a steam locomotive at the end of the remaining safety track, and it had plowed into the dirt up to the bottom of the smoke box...!

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, February 20, 2012 10:43 AM

Modelcar

.....At one time in the past, I understand it had two runaway tracks.

Yes, Quentin, your memory is right. My memory is not good enough to remember when it was published in Trains, but there quite an article several years back, which gave the history. While in the hospital, after surviving a runaway, an engineer came up with the idea of safety tracks--and the company listened to him. Not only were the tracks upgrade, but also they were sanded. Back when they were put into use, the engineer had to use the locomotive whistle to inform the switch tender that he had the train under control, and it was safe to line the switches for the main.

Johnny

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Posted by Modelcar on Monday, February 20, 2012 2:17 PM

....Johnny, now that you memtion of the article back a ways in Trains, I do recall that article.  I don't remember just when either, but I'd say maybe 15 years or so ago....It was back there quite a ways.

And...I probably have that issue, but woe is me....It's in a box someplace, and it would require one to search and search for it.

Back in Pennsylvania near our home area there is a run-away extension built for trucks out of control.  Location is on US route 30 west, downgrade on Laurel Hill mtn. nearing the small community of Laughlintown.

It has always put a question in my mind when I go past it...as it is not built  up grade as one would drive onto it.  But some filling has it built up from the grade of route 30, and the surface of it appears to be deep sand....But if a trucker did make it to the end of it.....and still had intertia working for him....there would be a sizeable dropoff at it's end.

Meaning {down over the end of the ground fill}.

Trivia:  I just noticed, as of early last week, marks the time I've been on this forum: 10 years...!

Quentin

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Posted by Modelcar on Monday, February 20, 2012 7:04 PM

.....Since we've had reports on here by fellow posters of hearing chatter of possible Saluda line opening.....We're wondering if Trains Mag. personnel might have any inside info they could release and or comment on....Question

Quentin

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Posted by Hendersonville Railfan on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 8:54 AM

I agree! Any official information would be great to hear. This forum is the best place for knowledge of the Saluda Grade and I know we all want to watch them attack the grade again. I was in a carseat when the 611 thundered up the grade, and I was 9 when they abandoned the grade, and they ceased operations to brevard shortly thereafter. I have also heard rumors of tie replacement through Landrum, on the Saluda side of the cut. I don't know if it's true or not since I'm at college, not in Hendersonville anymore. I remember seeing the NS "Brick" research train (my video was mentioned on this thread way back on 1-19-2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2Ymlo944-c&hd=1) from when I caught the train coming out of Hendersonville that summer. I'll keep digging for information and make my friend who told me about the track work take a picture next time!

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Posted by Stourbridge Lion on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 10:09 AM

Hendersonville Railfan - Welcome to trains.com! Cowboy

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Posted by Modelcar on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 10:39 AM

.....Yes, Hendersonville Railfan, welcome to the forum.  And we appreciate any update you can learn on the subject.

Quentin

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Posted by haleyscomet on Thursday, February 23, 2012 3:04 PM

I too am extremely interested on wether they reopen the grade so I just signed on to the Trains forum.  We have some vacation property near Saluda and used to hear the diesels (covered wagons) rumbling up the grade.  As a child I would watch the train activity in Saluda while playing in the playground near the tracks.  We would love to hear trains on it again!

Has anyone ever walked the grade to see if there is any activity?  Would one even be able to get around the washout?

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Posted by Stourbridge Lion on Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:52 PM

haleyscomet - Welcome to trains.com! Cowboy

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Posted by dubch87 on Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:40 PM

Didn't expect to hear all this! I wish I was still in the area, but I have been in Raleigh for the past year and don't make it back home often. Otherwise you'd be getting detailed information and pictures! If something is happening, my dad will be the first to let me know, and he hasn't said a word.

I read somewhere awhile back that tie work was being done up to Landrum, as was mentioned above. Although if coal trains are going to be going through there again, I'm sure work is needed on both sides of the track, as well as between Flat Rock and Landrum (it's been a decade, after all).

There is probably some merit to the coal train theory. One of the reasons NS stopped running over Saluda was because the coal plant in Belmont started receiving coal from somewhere else in the Virginias, eliminating the Saluda route. These coal trains will probably be heading straight to the port in Charleston. I also read (I think in this thread) that an empty hopper train could probably make it up the hill in one or two goes.

The washout is fairly substantial and remote, but nothing that can't be handled. They're not fixing it until there is a reason to.

However, until we hear it straight from the horse's mouth (and I doubt we will, NS has been very vague on Saluda), or see major work being done, this is nothing but another rumor. There seems to be a new one every few months. And since I'm from there, I can safely say that more gossip goes through those small towns than you can imagine. You can always tell that it's a rumor when the topic combines both vague and specific details, such as "soon" and "coal to China." I'm not sure how you know one, but not the other.

I do believe that if Saluda is ever reopened, it will have to be in the next few years, while NS still has some crewmen remaining that have experience on the hill and can train the next generation.

Time will tell.

   

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Posted by rocket2go on Friday, February 24, 2012 9:06 AM

The key motto in all of this should be: "I'll believe it when I see it".   Just one sign that things may start to happen is when they connect the rails at Landrum and Flat Rock.  There is substantial rail work going on between Landrum and Hayne Yard at Spartanburg.   Right now the crews are working their way down through Inman.   There are bundles of really beat up old ties lying on the ground between Landrum and Inman, ready to be picked up.   As expected, all road crossings along this route are being completely re-done with new asphalt, etc.    The route is beginning to look like a Class 1 railroad again!   The rumors are flying.   I pick up a new one about every day.   Some I check out, others I don't.   The washout below Melrose is pretty substantial, however, rest assured it can be fixed (this from a washout engineer expert).   Will post more when "I see it".  

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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, February 24, 2012 10:09 AM

....dubch87

Thanks for all that info.  I realize exactly what you have said about the rumors floating around every several months....Suppose that comes in part...from the deep seated interest many rail fans have of the special location.

It sure is a quaint little town as observed when my wife and I visited there {several times}, in the past.

Very much enjoyed the good hot dogs in one of the restaurants right there on main st., and actually {several times}, stopped in and spoke with the elderly Mr. Pace in the old general store....In fact, ordered something from him, and he sent it to us here in Indiana when it was available to him. 

We sure tried to see action on that "Hill", but unfortunately, never did.

PS....And now another update from {Frank}...Thanks.

Quentin

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Posted by Bunn19 on Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:50 PM

I decided to drive up from Spartanburg today and take a look at the washout myself.  We parked at Melrose and hiked down to the washout.  The trackwork along the way was in surprisingly good shape (there were a number of bad ties but not many as I had expected).  The one wheel flange lubricator and multiple switch point heaters that I passed were in bad shape.  Most of the signals were rusty, with a few having lenses shot/broken out.

The actual washout didn't look as bad as I thought that I would be, but one thing that I noticed is that the track on top of the fill leading up to the washout looked like it had subsided about a foot or so.

I think that NS could fix it relatively easily (compared to some washouts I've read about/seen pictures of out West).

I do think NS is still spraying the line with an herbicide, because there was no growth on the track except for the area directly adjacent to the washout so close that a work train or high rail truck couldn't get to).

On the way up, I looked at the line from Hayne to Landrum, and it looked very good with all of the trackwork that has been going on lately. It looks like the work crews have made it down past Inman and are working their way towards Hayne.

Here are a few pictures I took today:

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Posted by Modelcar on Sunday, February 26, 2012 9:18 PM

Bunn19......That's a great report.  Thanks for your effort, and sharing to us some distance away, giving us an update look at the situation.

I'm surprised Kudzu is not all over the place, you might be correct about the spraying.

The ROW does show it's decade age of no use....Almost makes one wonder {seeing this evidence}, if we'll ever have trains on it again.

But again, thanks for your update effort.

One thing for sure.....It still looks as steep as ever...!

Trivia:  And no pickup truck...Wonder how they got it out of there.

Quentin

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Posted by Bunn19 on Sunday, February 26, 2012 9:40 PM

Here are a few pictures that I took as well.  Besides the washout area, the ROW isn't in to bad of shape.

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