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Saluda Grade to reopen?

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, March 12, 2012 2:02 PM

Thanks, Sam, for giving us the link. Especially of interest to us all may be one of the postings on page 3, which gives a possible reason as to why the line has not been abandoned even though it is absolutely out of service--when the Asheville and Spartanburg RR was under way, some one/body stipulated that there must remain a route between Charleston and Asheville--thus prohibiting the railroad from abandoning any part of the route between Hayne and Biltmore.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Monday, March 12, 2012 5:06 PM

RailroadRichard
The best way to get to Melrose, NC is to travel west on US 176 out of Tryon, NC.  About 4 miles up the grade is a road to the left to Pearson Falls, there is a sign.  About 2 miles up this road you will pass under the RR.  If you look back you will see the safety track and to the left of the main you will a little gray-silver shack,  This is Melrose named after the mountain top neer by.  You can also get on this same road coming east out of Henderville on 176; but this road which will be on your right is not as well marked.

At about these Lat./ Long. coords., per ACME Mapper 2.0, which has fair aerial/ satellite views of this area, but pretty good "Terrain" and "Topo" views: N 35.21996 W 82.32509

- Paul North. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, March 12, 2012 6:03 PM

Deggesty

Thanks, Sam, for giving us the link. Especially of interest to us all may be one of the postings on page 3, which gives a possible reason as to why the line has not been abandoned even though it is absolutely out of service--when the Asheville and Spartanburg RR was under way, some one/body stipulated that there must remain a route between Charleston and Asheville--thus prohibiting the railroad from abandoning any part of the route between Hayne and Biltmore.

 

You're very welcome, Johnny!

I went back to the link and reread the last post and sure enough: The post, FROM WILL in TRYON:    "...The original reason for closing it was economics and shift in rail traffic from coal mines in southern Virginia to West Virginia, but the trains are now being routed through Salisbury, a good 3 hours by train from here. He thinks that the Saluda Grade will probably see regular freight traffic again one day.."

"...He also told me that Representative Charles Taylor, District Eleven, found an old legal document dating back to the 19th Century stating that a rail line had to be kept from Charleston, S.C. to Asheville. Even though the rails are cut, Norfolk Southern can not legally remove the rails..."

Now that last paragraph is a fascinating piece of intelligence!     Sure would be interesting to find out the 'what's, where's, and why's,' contained in that document...Whistling

Found this link to some information on the Construction and genealogy of the Saluda Line :

first; This on the Asheville and Spartanburg RR:

http://www.carolana.com/NC/Transportation/railroads/nc_rrs_asheville_spartanburg.html

And then this on the actual construction of the line:

http://www.carolana.com/NC/Transportation/railroads/nc_rrs_spartanburg_asheville.html

The following link has much information relevant to the formation,intrigue and construction of the railroads in Western North Carolina,North Georgia, East Tennesee.

But if you scroll down to the sections marked:Spartanburg & Asheville RR, Buncombe's Subscription, Richmond Pearson's Bill, I could not find the specific information that Will inTryon had reference to, but it seems evident by the shenannigans noted; There would be reasons for the reference about not taking the rails out and maintaining the rail corridor...

http://www.newrivernotes.com/nc/wnc20.htm

 

 


 

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Posted by bkpigs on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 9:56 PM

Any new news????

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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, May 4, 2012 9:19 AM

....I suppose many of us are still hoping Saluda might someday, and not too far out in the future, be active again...

And I'll just make this comment to allow this thread to not fall too far back....and say, if any of the good people locally there, just learn of any railroad talk "behind the scenes", jot it down here.  I know the interested one's, me included would appreciate it.

Quentin

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, May 4, 2012 4:09 PM

Quentin;

You are Spot on on this one. 

   It is a fascinating story, and in the last few months has drawn several really interesting comment for some Posters in that area .

  Hopefully, They will continue to keep the Forum here updated with, and new or current happenings in that area of western North Carolina!

 

 


 

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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, May 4, 2012 9:37 PM

....Good comment Sam....Thanks for posting it.

Quentin

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Posted by dubch87 on Sunday, May 13, 2012 9:08 PM

I was looking around on Google Maps and noticed there is some fresh satellite imagery of the area from earlier this year (2012, for those reading this in the future). I found at this location in Horseshoe Curve near Tryon what appears to be new ballast and fill over a creek. In the 2010 aerial imagery, it looks consistent with the rest of the roadbed.

Thought it was an interesting find and shows Norfolk Southern's dedication to maintaining this line.

   

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Posted by Modelcar on Sunday, May 13, 2012 9:49 PM

Could that be the area that the rather large wash out under the tracks occured several years ago....?

Quentin

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Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, May 13, 2012 10:15 PM

Modelcar

Could that be the area that the rather large wash out under the tracks occured several years ago....?

Quentin:

      If you run the internal link in the post by dubch87 [Google Map Link] to the Northerly direction, you'll find what appears to be quite a bit of ballast [new?] on the line, particularly, at the point of the crossing at Country Club Rd.

    In some of the links I had posted earlier in this Thread there was mention about how the Southern was required to keep this line open (nee: Greenville & Spartanburg RR) because of some of the former political shenanigans that had taken pace in elation to the operations of the G&S RR south of [and through?] Saluda. 

     Maybe some of the area's local Posters [from Western N.C.] have a take on this, or any other activities regarding the railroad over Saluda?

 

 


 

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Posted by Modelcar on Monday, May 14, 2012 10:07 AM

......Forever interesting stuff, that on trying to guess just what, when or if....about Saluda.

I'm thinking the RR would like to not activate Saluda, ever....with the extra precautions that must be taken, and maintenance required to keep it as safe as possible.  And expense to get loads up and over it...Sometimes in sections.

Quentin

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Posted by Bunn19 on Monday, May 14, 2012 10:40 AM

I haven't ridden up to the area up West of Landrum, but I do know that work has continued on the line between Hayne and Landrum.  The major T&S gang finished a month or so ago, but I've seen NS employees working on crossing, and a friend emailed me some pictures he took of a ballast machine working in Inman a couple weeks ago.

I also heard that a track Geometry train was seen on the Flat Rock-Asheville segment a few weeks ago as well.

Again, no new specific evidence on the grade reopening, it could all be related to NS having to maintain the still active portions of the line.....

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Posted by dubch87 on Monday, May 14, 2012 6:53 PM

 

Modelcar
Could that be the area that the rather large wash out under the tracks occured several years ago....?

Unfortunately, it is not. The location of the "mass wasting event" - as geologists put it - is right here in Google Maps.

 

samfp1943
If you run the internal link in the post by dubch87 [Google Map Link] to the Northerly direction, you'll find what appears to be quite a bit of ballast [new?] on the line, particularly, at the point of the crossing at Country Club Rd.

I don't think the ballast is new near the Country Club Rd. crossing. I believe bad image processing is making the ballast appear different shades and look new. Plus, the only way to deliver fill or ballast is by truck/high-railer since the rails are "cut", and I doubt they'd go through that big of an operation. The apparent fill in Horseshoe Curve is a little more evident, but I can't be certain. Here is the 2010 imagery for comparison:

samfp1943
 Maybe some of the area's local Posters [from Western N.C.] have a take on this, or any other activities regarding the railroad over Saluda?

I will be visiting family this weekend only a couple of miles from that location. I can't promise that I'll have time to explore the rails, but I will certainly try.

   

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Posted by Modelcar on Monday, May 14, 2012 7:51 PM

.....Oh yes, that's it.  And sadly, it appears nothing has been done to repair it....One can even see the sag in the tracks where nothing remains to hold it in place....

{And where the Ford pickup truck was driven}, and lucky it did not fall over the side where the washout was and perhaps the driver may not have made it.

With these conditions existing all this time, along with non action anywhere of any significance to at least keep the track more or less...mothballed, I wonder if it continues to exist only, by some legal obligation to the RR.....and it will never see action again.  Just my My 2 Cents

Quentin

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Posted by Bunn19 on Monday, May 14, 2012 9:00 PM

A railfan friend and I were able to ride up to the area in question by Country Club Road in near Tryon and take a look at things for ourselves.

There was a smaller washout in this area, that has been halfway repaired.  The roadbed isn't perfect, but equipment has been in the area and new ballast dumped over the ties, and new rye grass planted on the new fill that was placed on the smaller washout. It looks to be more of a stop gap measure to keep this smaller washout from getting any worse. 

Here are a few pictures of the area I took with my iphone:

Crossing at Country Club RD showing wheel flange marks on the pavement:

I think this is from a heavy Hi-Rail dump truck.

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Posted by dubch87 on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 9:05 PM

Thanks for the update. You're an adventurous one!

   

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Posted by Modelcar on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:24 PM

Bunn19...

Thanks for the effort to get a close look and info on site....

Really nice photos.

Sure wish we'd see some evidence of the same kind of work to restore the massive washout.....

Quentin

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Posted by rocket2go on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 11:43 PM

The word is that the line will not reopen until it's decided who will pay for the massive washout below Melrose.   I suspect it's between the State of N.C., who owns the railroad line, and NS, who leases the line from the state and owns the track and trackage rights.   From an NS employee, millions are at stake and I believe it.  

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Posted by Rader Sidetrack on Thursday, May 17, 2012 7:56 AM

Frank Ezell

I suspect it's between the State of N.C., who owns the railroad line, and NS, who leases the line from the state and owns the track and trackage rights.

Say what!? 

Can you point to any evidence to support this claim? It seems very unlikely that the state of North Carolina owns the Saluda line. Nowhere have I seen it suggested that NS is leasing any part of that line.

The state does own the NCRR (Charlotte to Morehead), and owns a portion of the Murphy Branch, some of the P&N line and some eastern NC ROWs, but where is the evidence it owns Saluda?

http://www.bytrain.org/quicklinks/pdf/nc_railmap_10.pdf

The link above is to a map published by NCDOT showing rail lines in NC. Note that the end of the Murphy Branch, along with the P&N, and other state owned lines are marked as "NCDOT". Saluda is clearly marked as "NS".

 

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:28 AM

Bunn19
[from post about halfway down Page 8 of 12 (presently) here - http://cs.trains.com/TRCCS/forums/t/147877.aspx?PageIndex=8 - on 02-26-2012 at 8:50 PM; emphasis added - PDN] 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:http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/418563_10100349222881671_33001064_44591558_681326615_n.jpg

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/402010_10100349222966501_33001064_44591560_1584659358_n.jpg

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/422605_10100349223131171_33001064_44591562_1020274552_n.jpg

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/404348_10100349224149131_33001064_44591574_1020257586_n.jpg

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/426737_10100349226629161_33001064_44591610_1430644989_n.jpg

  If this is the 'big' washout - at/ over Big Fall Creek, at about these Lat./ Long. coords. (per ACME Mapper 2.0) N 35.21982 W 82.29866 -  then just a couple-three days and $20,000 - $30,000 would be enough to fix it with only fill and stone - maybe double or triple that if a new culvert pipe needs to be installed, but certainly not "millions [of dollars] at stake".

Compare with this previous post from 02-24-2012 at 10:06 AM, also on Page 8 [snipped and emphasis added - PDN]:

Frank Ezell
The key motto in all of this should be: "I'll believe it when I see it". . . . 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".

- Paul North.   

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by rocket2go on Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:54 AM

State ownership of the line from the NC/SC border on to Asheville is not new information and not a recent occurrence.  If I recall, this goes back to when the line was built in the 1880's.   It could be because Polk County wanted nothing to do with the railroad and would not support the issuance of bonds.  They ordered that the line take the shortest route through the county, which is one reason it's where it is today (other than the fact that the soil was unstable on the mountain range in the region across the Pacolet Valley, where I-26 is now located).  Perhaps that was the beginning of how the State of NC got involved, because of the obvious economic benefits the railroad would bring.  The information about ownership was passed to me some time ago by two men whose father and grandfather worked for the Southern and ran Saluda in the days of steam.   I was also informed recently of the same thing by a source I consider very reliable.   Of course, to really get to the matter, a search of official records is in order.  There may even be local information available in Tryon and Asheville.  I will attempt to find out more. 

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Posted by rocket2go on Thursday, May 17, 2012 9:08 AM

These pictures are deceiving.  I've been there.  That washout under the tracks goes straight down at least 150 ft.  Also, a part of the mountain above the tracks and around the west bound curve will probably need to come down to prevent a re-occurrence and/or to realign the track.   A road will probably have to be built, starting about 1/4 mile to the east of the washout, to the base of the washout to clean out debris and dirt and for a support wall and related structures to be built.  Drainage ditches and culverts would need to be installed in the area.   Of course, to do it right, there can be no give in the roadbed when a train comes through.  The washout can certainly be fixed, but it will cost - a lot.       

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Posted by RailroadRichard on Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:42 PM

It was was a couple of months ago I saw a highrail tank truck coming from Tryon into Landrum spraying for weeds.  I saw it spray the last 1/4 of a mile before the cut in the rail. I asumed that it came down the some of the grade.

 

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Posted by dubch87 on Thursday, May 17, 2012 5:06 PM

Frank Ezell

These pictures are deceiving.  I've been there.  That washout under the tracks goes straight down at least 150 ft.  Also, a part of the mountain above the tracks and around the west bound curve will probably need to come down to prevent a re-occurrence and/or to realign the track.   A road will probably have to be built, starting about 1/4 mile to the east of the washout, to the base of the washout to clean out debris and dirt and for a support wall and related structures to be built.  Drainage ditches and culverts would need to be installed in the area.   Of course, to do it right, there can be no give in the roadbed when a train comes through.  The washout can certainly be fixed, but it will cost - a lot.       

Frank is right. The big washout will take more than fill. There is a steep slope below and a steep slope above in an area that averages over 60 inches of rain per year. Slope stabilization, retaining wall(s) and proper drainage will be necessary.

Circa 2004:

It's certainly not impossible. Much greater engineering feats have been accomplished. But NS is looking at the cost/benefit of this repair on a line that was already expensive to operate and maintain. What's the return on investment for a line that only sees a few trains per week?

At the same time, the cost of the repair is probably a drop in the bucket to NS. If they decide they need trains over that line, it will happen.

   

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Posted by dubch87 on Thursday, May 17, 2012 5:12 PM

Rader Sidetrack

 

 Frank Ezell:

 

I suspect it's between the State of N.C., who owns the railroad line, and NS, who leases the line from the state and owns the track and trackage rights.

 

 

Say what!? 

Can you point to any evidence to support this claim? It seems very unlikely that the state of North Carolina owns the Saluda line. Nowhere have I seen it suggested that NS is leasing any part of that line.

The state does own the NCRR (Charlotte to Morehead), and owns a portion of the Murphy Branch, some of the P&N line and some eastern NC ROWs, but where is the evidence it owns Saluda?

http://www.bytrain.org/quicklinks/pdf/nc_railmap_10.pdf

The link above is to a map published by NCDOT showing rail lines in NC. Note that the end of the Murphy Branch, along with the P&N, and other state owned lines are marked as "NCDOT". Saluda is clearly marked as "NS".

I've never heard this either. An e-mail to someone with the NCDOT Rail Division or Norfolk Southern will probably provide a quick answer (well, if tomorrow wasn't Friday Wink). E-mail both and see if you get the same answer!

   

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Posted by crescent20 on Thursday, May 17, 2012 7:30 PM

NC owns it NS paid 1$ lease for 100 years 

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Posted by Bunn19 on Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:42 PM

dubch87

 

 Frank Ezell:

 

These pictures are deceiving.  I've been there.  That washout under the tracks goes straight down at least 150 ft.  Also, a part of the mountain above the tracks and around the west bound curve will probably need to come down to prevent a re-occurrence and/or to realign the track.   A road will probably have to be built, starting about 1/4 mile to the east of the washout, to the base of the washout to clean out debris and dirt and for a support wall and related structures to be built.  Drainage ditches and culverts would need to be installed in the area.   Of course, to do it right, there can be no give in the roadbed when a train comes through.  The washout can certainly be fixed, but it will cost - a lot.       

 

 

Frank is right. The big washout will take more than fill. There is a steep slope below and a steep slope above in an area that averages over 60 inches of rain per year. Slope stabilization, retaining wall(s) and proper drainage will be necessary.

Circa 2004:

http://farm1.staticflickr.com/79/224099075_a928a57312_z.jpg?zz=1

It's certainly not impossible. Much greater engineering feats have been accomplished. But NS is looking at the cost/benefit of this repair on a line that was already expensive to operate and maintain. What's the return on investment for a line that only sees a few trains per week?

At the same time, the cost of the repair is probably a drop in the bucket to NS. If they decide they need trains over that line, it will happen.

Yes, Frank is right about the washout being expensive to fix.  I've visited the washout twice, once with a civil engineer that specializes in heavy highway construction.  I've also talked to a RR track subcontractor who has visited the washout.  

They both told me that the washout can be fixed with standard civil construction practices, but it will involve much more than dumping some fill off the side of the track and tamping it down. From my somewhat limited experience with soil mechanics working as a project manager in the commercial construction industry, I agree with them. 

Most likely it will require a segmented retaining wall, new culvert, fill and some type of soil stabilization method to keep the new fill in place.

It looks as if the whole section of old fill went plastic when it was saturated with water from the heavy rains. 

On reopening the line, I can reiterate what Frank says about NS wanting to reopen it, but the washout is the main determining factor.

I've heard from reliable sources (who have close contact with those at NS who would know) that NS would have reopened the line by now if it wasn't for the washout.

I have also heard from different sources (some reliable and some here-say)  that Amtrak is pushing for a line over the route. I suspect this is one of the parties (between NS, NCDOT, and Amtrak) that are going back and forth about who will pay for the washout to be repaired.

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Posted by dubch87 on Thursday, May 17, 2012 9:04 PM

Here is a sense of scale on where the washout is located:

It's not easy to get to. Access from below would require constructing a bridge across the Pacolet River. You can actually see the gap where the washout is.

There is no vertical exaggeration to the terrain. The terrain was created from a 20-foot ground resolution LiDAR derived elevation dataset.

   

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Posted by Modelcar on Thursday, May 17, 2012 10:02 PM

Thanks for sharing.....Good illustration.

Trivia:  Anyone remember the pickup truck that was driven down to this massive washout...{on the tracks}, some years ago.......?  And was snagged on the rails....!  Don't know how it was removed.

Quentin

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, May 18, 2012 2:48 PM

dubch87

Here is a sense of scale on where the washout is located:

http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/1738/washouttincircle.png

It's not easy to get to. Access from below would require constructing a bridge across the Pacolet River. You can actually see the gap where the washout is.

There is no vertical exaggeration to the terrain. The terrain was created from a 20-foot ground resolution LiDAR derived elevation dataset.

That is quite a picture! 

Thanks for sharing it!   Thumbs UpThumbs Up

My question is...If you look towards the left in the picture, is there not another slide area about twice as big as the one currently subject of discussion...The Original 'Big Slide' that occurred some time back?

 

 

 


 

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