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December 1995


UN Tower Closes

CSXT's UN Tower in New Castle, Pennsylvania, closed November 5. UN controlled the junction of the former B&O's P&W Subdivision with the P&LE mainline at the east end of New Castle Yard. The closing was part of an extensive cutover project involving five different control points. Some of the signals now in service display C&O-style color-light aspects, replacing the traditional B&O-style color-position-light aspects.


Construction Begins on Rail Trail Along Northern Central in Pennsylvania

Construction has begun on the segment of the York County Heritage Rail/Trail between New Freedom and Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, with completion of the segment slated for next spring. An earlier segment between the Maryland state line and New Freedom was completed last year. Eventually the trail will extend to York, with completion of the final segment slated for late 1997. The York County trail is Pennsylvania's portion of the Northern Central Railroad Trail, which extends in Maryland from Ashland to the state line.


Emporia, Virginia, Depot to be Renovated

The city of Emporia, Virginia, plans to renovate its turn-of-the-century depot to house its Chamber of Commerce, to showcase displays of local attractions, and to serve as a future stop for Amtrak trains.


Wilbur Smith Dies - B&O Operator

[Reported by Allen Brougham] . . . Retired B&O tower operator Wilbur William Smith died on November 25. He was 72. Known as "Smitty" during his railroading career, it was he who gave me my first taste of life in the towers after I joined the railroad in 1970. At the time, he was the first shift operator at HB Tower located in Camden Yard in Baltimore. A Navy veteran of the second World War, serving in the Pacific as a gunner's mate, he joined the B&O following the war working briefly as a fireman. He then became an operator, and he worked the rest of his career in the towers of the Baltimore Terminal. He is remembered by those with whom he served as a dedicated and conscientious railroader, and one to rely upon in the task of training new operators in the profession. I had already served a couple of months as a sidewire operator in the Camden Station dispatchers' office when I was given the opportunity to qualify in a tower. HB Tower was my first assignment, and Smitty was my instructor. "You'd better listen to that man!" were the words of advice I heard from one of the dispatchers, the late Herb Stinson. It seems that Smitty's blend of humor and method of instruction could catch a student operator off guard if he were not fully prepared to learn. I found Smitty to be a good instructor. He arranged for me to ride a yard engine around the territory controlled by the tower, and afterward he grilled me with questions about the characteristics of the plant, the names of places, and method of operation. Then, at one point, he sent me to a block telephone with instructions to call him at the tower. "Mount Airy," answered Smitty when I called him. It was just a joke, of course, as the agent at Mount Airy was nowhere close to that particular telephone circuit -- but it was an important reminder that whoever used the block telephone had better well know the correct ring for the station he was calling! I trained with Smitty for about a week, and then I worked the job on my own while he went on three weeks of vacation in Iowa. Smitty was known as a practical joker. But there is one story, as told by his wife, wherein the joke was on him. It seems that Smitty was scared of snakes, but somebody surprised him in the tower once by draping him with a rubber snake, causing him to shriek with terror. Smitty retired from the railroad 11 years ago, but he kept in close contact with his fellow workers. He and his wife regularly attended luncheons of the B&O Veterans Luncheon Club, held each month in Glen Burnie, Maryland. [A.B.]


Brunswick Roundhouse Demolished

The old B&O roundhouse at Brunswick, Maryland, has been demolished.


CSXT Reactivates 14 Locomotives

CSXT has reactivated 14 B23-7 locomotives it had earlier retired. They are units 3115 through 3128 inclusive.


CSXT Grouping Automotive Trains into Q200-Series

Resymbol/renumber of CSXT Automotive Business Unit trains is slated to become effective December 20. Under the plan, all ABU trains will be grouped into the 200 series with a Q prefix.


Central Union Terminal in Toledo to be Renovated

[Reported by Mark Sublette] . . . Amtrak personnel moved out of Toledo's Central Union Terminal and into an adjacent former maintenance building on October 17 as work began by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to renovate the former New York Central rail facility. The Port Authority bought the depot from Conrail in September for $23,000. The Lake Shore and Capitol limiteds currently serve the Toledo market. The approximately $8.3-million renovation plans call for passenger operations to be moved to the station's track-level floor which once housed baggage-handling facilities, becoming Amtrak's new operations base and possibly a bus terminal. The current station concourse on the third floor will become a public hall, while the rest of the building will be remodeled as office or commercial space. Along with these renovations, the Port Authority is spending $2.9-million for related projects around the terminal, including road and parking improvements, and demolition of the abandoned Page Dairy. Workers began repairing streets near the facility during the first week of October. The rail station portion of the 45-year old structure is scheduled to reopen next summer, though some construction is likely to continue after that.


Georgetown Branch Rail/Trail Making Progress

[Reported by Mark Sublette] . . . A new concrete deck was poured in the morning of September 30 for the old B&O bridge over the C&O Canal and Canal Road at Arizona Avenue in northwest Washington, formerly part of the Georgetown Branch, and a major obstacle to completion of the Capital Crescent Trail, the National Park Service said. The trail, a 10-foot-wide asphalt hiking and biking path, is to extend from Georgetown, D.C., to Bethesda, Maryland, over the abandoned railroad right of way. The Park Service said the 87-year-old bridge needs extensive repair before it can be used to carry the trail.


Amtrak Testing Viewliner Sleepers

[Reported by Mark Sublette] . . . Two production Viewliner sleepers have been delivered to Amtrak from Morrison-Knudsen's Hornell, New York, facility, and two more were expected by October 27. Numbers 62000 (American View) and 62001 (Atlantic View) were expected to be joined by 62003 and 62004 to go into captive test service on the Lake Shore Limited to work out any teething problems. Possible test operation in Florida service was also under consideration.


Martinsburg, West Virginia, Depot to be Renovated

[Reported by Mark Sublette] . . . As part of West Virginia governor Gaston Caperton's Homecoming '96 project, the city of Martinsburg, West Virginia, has adopted the planned renovation of the historic Baltimore & Ohio ticket station/railroad hotel as a project to help showcase the best that a particular community has to offer. The city recently learned that the renovation of the 1847 structure had been approved for funding through the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). Federal money of $750,000 will be matched with $187,000 in city funding. Commercial reuse of the former B&O shops across the tracks from the station is also envisioned with a pedestrian-enclosed footbridge over the mainline showing prominently in a design by Grove Architecture. The former Hotel Berkeley, in which the B&O ticket office was located, served to house railroad workers as well as visitors to Martinsburg. The ticket office was closed in August 1992; the hotel had ceased operations several decades before. Renovations are expected to be completed by late 1996, and will include an intermodal rail/bus terminal as well as improved parking.