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The Bull Sheet

November 1990

Current News

Norfolk Southern has restructured its transportation department by reducing its number of regions from three to two, and its divisions from 13 to 10. The Eastern Region now includes the Georgia, Norfolk Terminal, Piedmont, Pocahontas and Virginia divisions; and the Western Region includes the Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Lake and Tennessee divisions.

The Baltimore & Annapolis Trail is now complete. It was dedicated on October 7. The 14-mile trail makes use of the abandoned WB&A right-of-way between Dorsey Road near Glen Burnie and route 50 near Annapolis.

Amtrak is implementing the use of larger tickets that are easier to read and will mostly replace the need for separate seat checks. Also, beginning this month, advertisements will appear on Amtrak train ticket jackets.

CSX has sold an eight-mile line from Orlando to Toronto, Florida, to the Florida Central Railroad.

D&H locomotive 7406 now has CSXT reporting marks stenciled on the cab.

The Montgomery County, Maryland, Council has voted 5 to 2 against further consideration of an excursion train on the county's portion of the former CSXT Georgetown branch.

A bill is pending in Congress to appropriate $310,000 to acquire the abandoned B&O right-of-way between Clarksburg and Parkersburg, West Virginia, for use as a hiking trail.

Norfolk Southern has begun dismantling its yard in Alexandria, Virginia.

The Strasburg Rail Road is restoring Western Maryland coach 200 (originally WM-835) to its original appearance.

Charlie Davidson Dies, Retired B&O Tower Operator

[By Allen Brougham]

Retired B&O tower operator Charles Ellsworth Davidson died on October 1. He was 71. He began his career in 1952 at the age of 32 with the recommendation of a neighbor, B&O trainman Harry Harrison. His first assignment was as a student at Poplar Tower in Baltimore County, Md., training with then-operator LaVere Neale.

I first met Charlie in 1970. He was, in fact, the first operator I met on my first day of duty as a student operator. I was assigned to train with the second-shift sidewire operator at Camden Station in Baltimore, and arriving early I met Charlie who was working first-shift.

Charlie at that time had a 'roving-relief' job which included first-shift duty at each of five different locations in a five-day week. Relief turn 7 was what the assignment was known by, but most everyone referred to it by name simply as 'Charlie Davidson's job,' for easy reference. In addition to sidewire, the other offices in his circuit were HB, North Avenue, CX and HX towers respectively, all in Baltimore. While lacking the advantage of providing a place to call 'home,' the assignment nevertheless did offer a great deal of variety, which he enjoyed.

Charlie did find a 'home' in 1978 when he took a regular position at North Avenue Tower, but he was displaced from there a year later and went to work in a number of non-tower positions until his retirement in 1981. His tenure on the roving-relief assignment, however, is how he will likely be most remembered.

City of Bowie Buys Bowie Tower

Amtrak's Bowie Tower, along with its neighboring tool shed and passenger waiting shelter, have been purchased by the city of Bowie, Md.

According to Steven Penn, the city's director of public services, all three structures are slated to be moved to a nearby site which will become an historical park. The contract with Amtrak provides that they will be moved prior to December of next year. The proposed historical park is on city-owned land just north of the north leg of the way to Conrail's Pope's Creek branch.

Preliminary plans are for all buildings to be fully restored, and for the tower to become a small museum with the operator's office to appear as it was when it was in use.

The present Bowie Tower is the third such structure to stand at this location. According to historian Robert Williams, who is an advisor to the project, the tower was built in 1913 and stood until 1932 at Severn, Md. It was then moved to Bowie where it was in use until 1988 when it closed. Its bay window was added in 1959, otherwise the building is basically the same as when it was built, he said.

Riverside Tower Closes

CSX's RV Tower at Riverside in Baltimore has closed.

It was not a 'tower' in the traditional sense of the word. It was an office within a building shared by other functions. The operator controlled neither switches nor signals. In fact, the office had no view of the outside.

The office opened in 1984 as a train-order station to fill the void left by interlocking towers then being closed within the Baltimore terminal. Its name and call letters were borrowed from 'old' RV Tower, an interlocking station that had been in service nearby until the early 1970's.

Duties of the office are being consolidated with those of the report clerk in the terminal dispatchers' office at Halethorpe, Md.

An Idea for Safety

[By Allen Brougham]

It was with much anticipation when, in 1984, I submitted an idea to a Chessie System employee suggestion program. Cash prizes were being offered for ideas based on their merit, and it was with much excitement and fanfare when I was awarded $100 for my entry.

The idea had to do with safety. I had suggested that a selected number of road locomotives (about five) be painted with one-of-a-kind color designs and adorned with safety messages. It was not unlike the 'safety cabooses' that Chessie had similarly painted several years before.

But unlike cabooses - which run at the end of the train - locomotives run on the front. I felt that safety messages were more appropriate on the front of the train, where the idea of 'safety first' would have more meaning.

They liked the idea.

In fact, I later learned that my suggestion was one of the first in the program to be approved. Moreover, for the first couple of months into the program, by suggestion was still the only one from anyone on the then-Maryland Division to be approved.

Not too long after the program ended, however, Chessie System ceased to exist. The idea was never adopted.

But now comes as least some renewed hope that the idea could yet come about. The CSX Safety Department has invited employees to offer ideas for its 1991 safety program. I sent them my safety engine idea once again.

The unique painting of locomotive is a costly and detailed proposition, and approval is far from certain. Again, this is only one idea. We'll see what happens.

A Little 'Suspicious'

[By Allen Brougham]

It did look rather 'out of the ordinary.'

Two rather scruffy-looking gents were walking along the track past JD Tower in Hyattsville, Md., where I was on duty. They were heading east toward nearby Riverdale, carrying what appeared to be parking meters.

It's not what most folks would have with them at 9 o'clock at night.

So, on a 'hunch' that the authorities might wish to talk with these individuals, a call was made to the friendly Riverdale Police.

Perhaps the gents weren't in too much of a talking mood, though, as several minutes later the police called back to report that the gents had taken refuge in a large thicket near the tracks. K-9 units were on the property to help flush them out, and CSX was being asked to hold all trains.

From the distance, flashlights could be seen out and about.

Some 45 minutes later, and after a couple of trains had to be stopped in the process, all was reported clear.

It seems that the parking meters had been stolen from a lot in Hyattsville, and the two 'suspects' were now on their way to the slammer.

I wonder if they offered to pay their bail in quarters!