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August 1995


CSXT Paints Caboose With Pumpkin Scheme

CSXT caboose 904094 has been repainted into a bright orange (Pumpkin) scheme for use in maintenance of way service.


CSXT Forms Management Team to Improve Locomotive Utilization

CSXT has formed a locomotive management re-engineering team to find ways to improve utilization of its locomotive fleet. One of the team's recommendations was to divide planning and management of the fleet into four categories: (1) scheduled trains, (2) non-scheduled trains, (3) local and mine runs, and (4) yard service. Larry Koster, on loan from the mechanical department to the transportation department, has been named project manager to lead implementation of the recommended initiatives.


Georgia Pacific to Place Facility in Frederick, Maryland

Georgia Pacific has announced plans to place a lumber manufacturing and distribution center in Frederick, Maryland, to be served by CSXT. According to press reports, the company expects to receive about 70 percent of its products by rail, and will build a track onto the property.


Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Merger Approved

The Interstate Commerce Commission has voted approval of the merger of Burlington Northern Inc. and Santa Fe Pacific Corporation by a 4-0 vote. It would create the nation's largest railroad.


Union Pacific Cutting Management by 10 Percent

Union Pacific has accepted severance applications from about 500 managers, cutting non-agreement personnel by about 10 percent.


Steamtown Officially "Open for Business"

[By Ray Saunders] . . . The controversial Steamtown National Historic Site at Scranton, Pennsylvania, was dedicated on Saturday, July 1. The National Park Service is in charge of the $66-million plus project that turned the former Scranton yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, and associated trackage, into a tourist attraction. For more information on Steamtown, call 800-22-WELCOME.


The Station Inn

[By Jeff Yoder] . . . The Station Inn at Cresson, Pennsylvania, is the ideal base for a railfanning vacation. The inn is located about 70 feet from Conrail's triple-track Pittsburgh line, one-half mile west of MO Tower (now closed) and the helper-servicing terminal. The inn's front porch is a pleasant spot to sit in the evening and watch the eastbound MAIL and TV trains and the westbound Broadway Limited. In the morning it is best to eat the complimentary breakfast early and start railfanning because the morning hours are very busy. All rooms at the Station Inn are suites, each with three beds and a bathroom with a shower. The suites are named and decorated for the Baltimore and Ohio, the Pennsylvania, and the Erie. Railfans who wish to watch trains throughout the night should request the B&O or the Pennsylvania suite since these face the railroad. Guests who are unfamiliar with the Pittsburgh line can find directions to popular railfan locations as well as current Conrail timetables and rulebooks at the inn. In the "Common" room there is a TV, a VCR, and an ample supply of railroad literature. The owner and operator of the inn, Tom Davis, makes sure that all guests enjoy their time spent at his establishment.

Guests arriving in Altoona by Amtrak will be met upon arrival when staying at the inn three or more nights.

For further information write the inn at 827 Front Street, Cresson, Pennsylvania 16630. Reservations can be made by calling 800-555-4757.


The Railroad Junction Restaurant

[By Allen Brougham] . . . The next time you're in Hagerstown, Maryland, here's a nifty place to eat. Adorned throughout by railroad goodies (models, signs, lanterns, photos, etc.), the Railroad Junction Restaurant is a veritable museum to accompany your fancy while you satisfy the palate. Its hours are 6:00 A.M. to 8:30 P.M., but (remember this) never on Sunday. You see, the owner observes a different calling on Sunday..... he's a preacher. "Smile, Jesus Loves You," reads the heading on the bulletin board listing the day's specials. Robert Robinson has been in the restaurant business 15 years, 10 of them as owner of Railroad Junction. A missionary in the Philippines for 12 years before becoming a restaurateur, he now serves as interim pastor of Calvert Temple in Williamsport, Maryland. The menu at Railroad Junction covers the gamut from breakfast to dinner with such headings as Conductor's Special, Engineer's Lunch Box, Western Railroad Express, and Dessert Caboose. Prices are reasonable; the most expensive dinner entree on a recent visit was $10.95. Reading-2100 graces the cover of the lunch and dinner menu.

Railroad Junction is located at 808 Noland Drive just off U.S. route 11, a mile and a quarter south of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum. Reservations are not required and the dress code is casual. Credit cards are not accepted.


More on Semaphores

[By Eric Schmelz . . . a sequel to the author's article published in the Bull Sheet of August 1994.]

Southern Pacific operates all remaining Union Switch & Signal Style-B lower-quadrant semaphore signals in service on Class A rails. One year ago I submitted an article about known semaphore lines in general; at that time there were four lower-quadrant lines. SP has since sold the Siskiyou Line (between Eugene and Ashland, Oregon), and regrettably the fate of this LQ stronghold (boasting over 100 locations in 1994) remains unknown. However, the three remaining lines have been thoroughly investigated and documented, and it is this information I wish to share.

One advantage of living in Tucson, Arizona, is that all of the remaining lines are accessible within a six hour drive. The closest LQ semaphores are on SP's Tucson Division (Lordsburg District) between Vail and Mescal, Arizona. This is a strange string of ten LQ's that exists exclusively on number 2 track which itself twists and turns as it follows Cienega Creek for roughly 20 miles before numbers 1 and 2 tracks merge to single track at Mescal. These semaphores are all positioned for train movements in the eastbound direction, thus westbound trains are very infrequent sights on number 2 track. Only four of the ten semaphores are readily accessible from the road, and six of them require crossing Cienega Creek Nature Preserve. This property is managed by the Pima County parks department, and if you wish to hike and photograph this area, it is wise to obtain a permit in Tucson first. Otherwise, fines vary depending on which parks ranger catches you! One advantage of railfanning this line is the large number of trains that can be seen. Also on the SP, anything goes. I have witnessed everything from B&O units to SP SD9's. From an aesthetic perspective, this stretch of LQ's has been damaged - all of the original cast-iron pinnacles have been removed and replaced with flat plastic shields. In my mind, the most unique section of this line is Pantano (MP 1012.8). It is here that the last railroad watertank-LQ semaphore combination exists. Two major horseshoe curves exists on this segment, thus train speeds are not usually above 30MPH. In a judicious chase, one train can be photographed at three different locations. Replacement signals (Modern Industries color-light signals) for all ten semaphores have been in place now for over three years; when they will become activated is anyone's guess.

The most rarely photographed of any semaphore line is probably SP's Phoenix line between Wellton and Picacho, Arizona. This line was completed in 1926-27 and was likely the last "new" railroad to receive such an old style signal. Presently the line between Phoenix and Wellton sees very little traffic. Including Amtrak, witnessing two daylight trains is a real treat. Heading east from Wellton, the siding at Roll (MP 780.9) is where the LQ's begin in earnest. Yes, active sidings exist which are protected by LQ semaphores at both ends. This attribute is now unique to the Phoenix line. The other two sidings are Kofa (MP 802.5) and Hyder (MP 822.3). Hyder would be the best bet to catch one of the sidings in use, but even here you would probably have a better chance at winning the lottery. The most intriguing section of the line is where it goes through the Gila Bend Mountains and the Signal Mountain Wilderness. This area is about as remote and hostile as the desert gets. A recent expedition revealed that no semaphores remained in this mountainous section; all had succumbed to the dreaded modernization manifested in color-light signals. Thus with few exceptions, it's scattered semaphores between Roll and Saddle (MP 840), then three sets on the other side of the mountains near Arlington (MP 861) and Dixie (MP 865). Dirt roads are the rule for railfanning the Phoenix line. Freights legally go 40MPH, and on dirt roads this is the speed at which the steering and control of automobiles becomes very dangerous. Important reminders include: bring at least two gallons of drinking water per person per day, sunscreen, and emergency food. If you should run into car troubles on the "main" roads, you might not see another vehicle for 12 hours. On "secondary" roads (such as to Saddle), forget it - there is NO traffic. Grab your water, it's a 20 mile hike to the nearest house! Do not let me discourage you from attempting to railfan the Phoenix line. It is unique, with the whole physical plant basically untouched since the day it was installed. In total, roughly 30 semaphore locations still exist on this line, some right near wooden trestles. If only they ran trains on it!

Probably the best kept secret is SP's Carrizozo District (east line) between Tucumcari, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. Most people will tell you that all the semaphores were removed in 1988 when track was reworked and welded for a large increase in traffic. Well, this is almost true, but not totally. Four locations exist south of Carrizozo but north of Three Rivers. Ten more locations can be found north of Carrizozo.

New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment, and this high, dry mountainous section is itself exceptionally beautiful. This is a true mainline where freights can go 70MPH or more, thus making photographs at multiple locations difficult at best. Not to worry, though - unlike the Phoenix line, you can just sit and wait. Ten to 12 trains in the daylight are common. Most meets occur in the town of Carrizozo, the veritable center of the semaphore district. Railfanning this area is straight forward; almost all existing semaphore locations are visible from Route 54. Since my first visit, roughly eight months ago, three semaphore locations have been removed. Thus, like all semaphore lines, this section will not last much longer. The unique features of this line are the extremely fast train speeds and the presence of side-by-side double lower quadrant semaphores.

As railfans in the northeast morn the loss of the "2nd Generation" Pennsy position lights on Conrail's Pittsburgh line, 1st generation lower-quadrant semaphores can still be seen in Arizona and New Mexico. This exact style of railroad sentinel has guided trains for over 100 years and continues to do so, with little recognition from the railfan community. Although it seems inconceivable, if northeastern rail enthusiasts ever get tired with CSX's last string of remote interlocking towers, the Southwest may be an ideal vacation destination.