BO The way it was

mmi16 Jan 24, 2024

  1. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Worked the Agent/Operators position at Salem, IL in 1966 with a start time for the job was 2230. The Eastbound #12 was due around Midnight. Upon arriving at the station the freight room had to be checked for whatever mail bags USPS had deposited for furtherance on the RPO's on #11 and #12. Normally it was only a couple of bags for each train, however, there was a hunting magazine that was published and printed locally and when that happened there would be several hundred 'pigs' to be sorted (pig is a small, but heavy, mail bag for the magazines). When it was a magazine night, it took most every minute to get the pigs sorted and loaded on the baggage cart to be ready for the arrival of #12. Very few people showed up to buy tickets for passage, but that was also a duty of the job. The Westbound #11 was scheduled around 0600. Another duty of the job was to physically check the interchange track between the M&I (Missouri & Illinois - a UP subsidiary) to verify if the cars had been interchanged before or after Midnight - a few years later, per diem began to be calculated on a hourly basis rather than the daily basis at Midnight.

    The hardest part of handling 'baggage' was when Military remains from the Vietnam War were received off the baggage car and transferred to one of the local funeral homes who had been notified of the shipment schedule for the remains and would be on hand to accept the remains.

    My first two years on the railroad, I worked what were nominally 'flat land' locations, trains would pass me with the engines operating at less than full throttle to manage their speed and their trains. In the Summer of 1967 I got instructions to work the Operators job at Bakerstown, PA, after having transferred from the St. Louis Division to the Pittsburgh Division. The office at Bakerstown was about 30 car lengths from the top of Bakerstown Hill - the ruling grade on the P&W Subdivision between Glenwood Jct. and New Castle (the original route of the Capitol Limited before the P&LE trackage rights agreement).

    Every Train Order station has a 'bell circuit' that notifies the Operator of the approach of the train and in normal circumstance the Operator will notify the Dispatcher of the train's approach, so he can issue a Train Order if he desires. At Bakerstown one could hear the head end power, in the 8th notch, a minute or more in advance of the bell being actuated - the B&O being primarily an EMD road, it was the chant of 4 to 6 EMD's on the head end of a 100 car coal train and another two GP9's shoving (PA had a state law that with helpers of GREATER than 3500 horsepower, the caboose could not be occupied).

    With the train insight, the power emitted a crescendo of the 567 chant passing the station at 10-12 MPH with the engine's load meters right at the threshold of their short time rating. Welded rail had not been installed yet, and you got the repetitive clinking of the axles crossing each rail joint. After about 30 cars passed, the speed of the clinking started increasing at a faster and faster rate and then the next thing you know you see the markers of the caboose approaching and the GP9 helpers that are throttling down as once they get past the station they will cut off from the train on the fly and await the Operator to line the crossovers and give the hand signal to permit the helpers to proceed downgrade for their next shove.

    That was 1967 - in the early 1970's the P&W's double track route was converted to single track CTC. When CSX sold off the former B&O Buffalo Division to form today's Buffalo & Pittsburgh RR, the B&P got trackage rights from Eidenau into New Castle on the P&W Sub. In the early 2000's CSX decided to stop using the P&W except as necessary to handle Amtrak between Glenwood Jct and the NS connection to the former PRR station in Pittsburgh. In 2017 the part of the P&W from Allison Park to the NS connection was leased to the Allegheny Valley and the part from Allison Park to New Castle was formally least to the B&P.

    It was a way of railroading that would not live to see the 21st Century.
     
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  2. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Down the road in Grafton a couple of years earlier.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, such a fine shot. D Tower at Grafton is circled here, surviving until 2018. I shot a photo of it 04/06/1989.

    Grafton - for upload.jpg

    1989-04-06 Grafton WV Tower - for upload.jpg
     
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  4. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I volunteered on a small NJ shortline. We hung out in a small office, where someone got the idea to wire up a real deal bell from an interlocking tower that would trip whenever someone came through the door. The venture lasted maybe a day. The single PING of the bell was so LOUD that the someone who hooked it up decided it was best to disconnect it. :whistle:
     
  5. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I assume you "were requested" to disconnect that circuit. LOL
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I wonder if any train orders were copied here. If so, were they as "D Tower", or "Grafton".....
     
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  7. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Can't directly answer the question. 1963 B&O Cumberland Division employee Timetable shows several items about Grafton. In the Special Instructions the following locations are listed at places for Standard Clock, Train Register and Bulletin Board - Yard Office, GR Telegraph Office and Callers Office. In the schedule pages Grafton and East Grafton are both listed as Day/Night Train Order locations. The Timetable has no references to D Tower, D Office or D Cabin. There are 2.2 miles between Grafton and East Grafton according to the Timetable.
     
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  8. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    This is/was GN (corrected from GR) Tower at East Grafton, taken 10/15/1995. Note the light panel in the middle window. I'm guessing that this may have displayed track numbers for arriving trains.

    1995-10-15 GN Tower East Grafton WV - for upload.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2024
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  9. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Sign on the Tower identifies it as GN Tower.
     
  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Ooops, I messed up. Slide is correct, my typing not so. o_O
     
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  11. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    B&O had a number of Wire Chief jobs. I worked the Relief Wire Chief's job at Akron as a regular job for my last year as an Operator before getting promoted in August 1970. That job was known a K Office and it was housed in the Division's office building in downtown Akron. If I recall, and that is dangerous at this late date, D Office was the Wire Chief job at Grafton. I believe there were also Wire Chief jobs at Cincinnati, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Baltimore (there could be more that my mind is overlooking).

    The Wire Chief was the 'official contact' for any wired communications issues that were being experienced by personnel on the Division.
     

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