Back Issues


Main Page

January 1999


George Warrington Named President of Amtrak

George Warrington has been named president of Amtrak following a year as its acting president. "We can no longer exist only with a 'survivor mentality,' focused on cost-cutting and being apologists for mediocrity," said he in a news conference late last month. "Instead, our future depends upon growth, identifying and attracting new customers." He added that Amtrak will not be satisfied with merely reaching self-sufficiency, as mandated by the federal government by the year 2003. "Our goal is to create a truly commercially-driven service that will be the envy of all transportation providers."


"Efficiency-Producing" Changes Ordered for Houston Area

The Surface Transportation Board has ordered "efficiency-producing" changes in the Houston, Texas, area, but denied requests by a coalition of Union Pacific shippers and railroads that UP divest assets in the area. Adopted was a "clear route" condition whereby a BNSF train may be permitted to operate over UP trackage, or vice-versa, and a Tex-Mex train may be permitted to operate over either UP or BNSF track.


Union Pacific Reports Average Freight Train Speed Increase

Union Pacific reported late last month that its average system freight train speed rose above 17 MPH for the first time since July 1997. "Pre-crisis" train speeds had averaged 17 to 19 MPH. In the meantime, freight car dwell time in major yards dropped to 33 hours, according to a UP report.


Tom Arnold Dies

[By Allen Brougham] . . . . . Thomas H. Arnold, B&O conductor, historian and railfan, died on December 8. He was 83. A resident of Catonsville, Maryland, and a long-time subscriber to the Bull Sheet, he had been a freight conductor on the B&O for almost 40 years.

According to his December 12 obituary in the Baltimore Sun, he graduated from Baltimore City College in 1933. Three years later he became a railroader with the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad in its Baltimore roundhouse on Falls Road as a mechanic. Two years later he joined the B&O as a brakeman. During the second World War he served in the Army with the 9th Traffic Regulation Group of the Army Transportation Corps. Following the war, he returned to the B&O where he was promoted to freight conductor. He retired in 1975.

I remember Tom from my own early years on the B&O when I was on the extra list working in the towers in Baltimore, as a sidewire operator in the Camden Station dispatchers' office, and as an extra freight agent at Sykesville, Maryland. Tom was then the conductor on the local freight train that ran up the Old Main Line each day from Curtis Bay. He was always known as a dedicated and professional railroader.

Following his retirement, he continued his love of the profession as a volunteer at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore where he was active in restoring locomotives. He had also assembled a vast collection of railroad memorabilia, photos and books. His wife, Clara Jameson Arnold, died in 1977. He is survived by a son, a daughter, and a sister.


Platte River Railroad Piers Being Demolished

Union Pacific and the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District are blowing up abandoned railroad piers in the Platte River in Nebraska to prevent ice jams. The piers are remnants from a rail line built in the late 1800's, according to a news report.


Union Pacific Seeks Offers for EC-3 Test Car

Union Pacific is seeking offers for a 1984 EC-3 track geometry test car, surplus as a result of having purchased a new EC-4 car. Minimum acceptable bid for the 45-foot car is $500,000.


Oakland, California, Invests in Rail Infrastructure

The Port of Oakland, California, is investing nearly $75-million to upgrade its rail infrastructure, including new terminals for both UP and BNSF. Construction is slated to begin this coming summer and be completed in nine to 13 months.


Construction Begins on Alameda Corridor Intermodal Project

Ground was broken December 10 to mark the beginning of construction of the 10-mile $712-million Alameda Corridor Intermodal Project, the largest component of the $2.4-billion Alameda Corridor which, when completed, will consolidate four separate freight routes to the ports in San Pedro Bay, California, in southwest Los Angeles County. Included will be the elimination of nearly 200 grade crossings.


New Rail Line Planned for Coal Fields of Wyoming

The Surface Transportation Board has given permission to the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad to build a $1.4-billion rail line through to coal fields of Wyoming. Involved is construction of 279 miles of new line and upgrading 589 miles of old track from Gillette, Wyoming, to the Mississippi River, for the movement of low-sulfur coal.


Union Pacific Adopts Nathan Air Horn

Union Pacific has changed its standard air horn from Leslie 3-chime horns to Nathan 3-chime horns. Both SP and CNW used Nathan horns. Pre-merger CNW used a 5-chime Nathan horn, the same used by Amtrak. According to a Union Pacific news report, the Nathan horn was developed in the late 1940's by Robert Swanson, who used the U.S. Navy Band from Annapolis, Maryland, to develop frequencies which would make the horn distinguishable from truck horns and still be heard inside an automobile. Early diesel locomotives used a single note truck-type horn sometimes referred to as a "cow" horn. Present UP locomotives will not be retrofitted, but will be replaced with Nathan horns as their Leslie horns wear out.


B&O, RF&P Locomotives Deleted

The sole surviving CSXT locomotives sporting the paint schemes of the B&O and RF&P were deleted from the roster early last month. They were B&O blue unit 2107, a GP38; and RF&P unit 6855, a GP40. Reportedly, both units were still on the property awaiting disposition as of late last month. Also deleted was the uniquely-painted Yellow Nose-1 unit 7024, a C30-7, which had a Yellow Nose-2 wraparound on its nose; and former Western Maryland unit 3795, a GP40, renumbered by CSXT as 6570.


Railroad Structures of Northeastern Ohio

The Cleveland Southwestern Railway - Chippewa Lake to Madisonburg

[By Richard D. Ballash and Alan J. Kevern - September 5, 1998] . . .

Two sources formed the basis for this trip. The first is a fantastic compilation, "NEW NORTHERN OHIO'S INTERURBANS - VOLUME 5," by Harry Christiansen, Trolley Lore, 26241 Lake Shore Blvd., Suite 471, Euclid, Ohio 44132, publisher, 1983. We picked up our copy at Olmstead's Trolleyville USA gift shop, west of Cleveland. The other source was Roger Scott of the Orrville, Ohio, Railroad Heritage group, interviewed by myself in 1995. He identified the storefront depots located in this article.

CHIPPEWA ON THE LAKE is a veritable trolley park treasure chest. The brick depot/substation was celebrating its 100th birthday when we visited. After the demise of the Southwestern interurbans in 1931, the building is today occupied by a roofing company. Its owner told me that he had just replaced its copper gutters with "perfected" duplicates of the originals which will last 200 years! He intends to make a monument out of this landmark, and that it will be passed down through his family. Inside, rail still exists in its substation section floor, as does the tall doorframe from the exterior into the substation. Outside, the station name is engraved in a concrete block on the building's trackside face.... Most of the turn-of-the-century trolley parks have long vanished, but CHIPPEWA LAKE PARK is still there. It was abandoned in 1979. Its wooden roller coaster and classic numbered entrance gates and turnstiles now fight the weeds and trees. The place is completely overgrown. Fifties-style angle-arched fluorescent light poles line the street approaching the park's old entrance, and there are remnants of fancy entrance dividers and signs. At the north end of the park, we located an original stone-piered plate girder Southwestern trolley bridge, now concrete slab-capped and used as a walkway.... South of Chippewa, where the Southwestern curves out of Chippewa and snuggles up to parallel CSX's (former B&O) Cleveland/Sterling line, we found in the KENNARD ROAD grade crossing what we believe is a piece of original Southwestern mainline track! The track segment, with flange guard rails, is on either side of what look like ramps which take the interurban line down to sub-B&O parallel right-of-way on either side of the grade crossing.... THE NORTHERN OHIO RAILWAY MUSEUM owns over 30 old streetcars and interurbans. Unfortunately, there was no one here to tour guide us through the gated-off rolling stock at the group's carbarn. There is an accessible string of heavily vandalized and overgrown cars parked along the B&O mainline just away from the museum grounds proper.... At CRESTON, the Pike Station Inn, the last building on Ohio-3's east side before the ex-Erie Railroad's mainline grade, was a storefront Southwestern depot, according to Roger Scott.... Continuing our tour southward, the old brick two-story building occupying the northwest quadrant at the intersection of Ohio-3 and Sterling Road, was the reputed storefront depot for JACKSON. The 1-1/2 story quilt store, occupying the southeast quadrant at the intersection of Ohio-3 and Pleasant Home Road is reportedly the old HERMANVILLE depot.... And the other piéce de résistance of this tour is the brick 1902 depot/substation at MADISONBURG. Located along Ohio-3, this beauty sports the brick lettering, "C.S.W.T" near its trackside roofline, and twin gooseneck platform lights! The structure is used today as an apartment complex.

This is a great one-day tour which took us about seven hours to complete. At the minimum, though, do check out those depot/substations at Chippewa and Madisonburg. These are two amazing century-old sentinels from Ohio's golden interurban era.


Joe Shatzer Retires

[Reported by Allen Brougham] . . .

JOSEPH MELVIN SHATZER, JR., veteran CSXT interlocking tower operator, retired the morning of December 1 after 42 years of railroad service. He ended his career as the third-shift operator at NA Tower in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Joe, 62, began his career in September 1956 as an operator on the Western Maryland Railway on the extra list at Hagerstown, Maryland. He got his job through his wife's uncle, Bill Berger, who was a WM train dispatcher. During his tenure on the extra list, Joe worked at Lurgan, Big Pool, Williamsport, YD office in Hagerstown, NC Tower in Hagerstown, Highfield, Gettysburg, Hanover, Porters, Emory Grove, Walbrook Junction, Westminster, Union Bridge, Glen Morris, Glyndon and Thurmont. Operators were expected to work agent positions along with operator jobs, being classed by the WM as agent-operators. He was on the extra list until March 1962 when he took the regular third-shift position at YD office. He remained there for about 10 years, then took the third-shift position at NC Tower. That tower was jointly staffed; WM operators working third-shift, and Conrail operators working the other two. He remained at NC until the tower closed in December 1986. He then worked as a caller in Hagerstown until February 1987, at which time he took the third-shift B&O position at NA Tower in Martinsburg. By then, the clerical roster of the Western Maryland had been combined with that of the B&O. He returned to YD office about six months later, remaining there until the position was abolished in 1989, and then he returned to NA Tower where he spent the balance of his career.

Joe, who owns a 30-acre farm with about 25 head of cattle, always preferred working third-shift, as it left the rest of the day to do whatever else he chose. He is a league bowler with a 170 average (his best game was 255), and he enjoys golf. "This keeps me out of devilment," he says.

Looking back upon his career with the railroad, Joe says he has no regrets, and would do it all over again given the chance. And he laughingly recalls being told early in his career that there would be no jobs left in "a couple of years." But he stuck it out, and he always had work. In April 1995, Joe was named outstanding employee of the month by the Brunswick, Maryland, District Safety Committee. He lives with his wife in Five Forks, Pennsylvania, and they have four sons, two daughters, 14 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Joe and his wife plan to do a little traveling now that he is retired.