Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania Railroad’

Orrville Depot to Celebrate 150th Anniversary

May 14, 2018

An eastbound Norfolk Southern train passes the Orrville station. The view was made from the steps of the former Orrville Tower.

The former Union Depot in Orrville will mark its 150th anniversary next Saturday (May 19) and to mark the occasion the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society is holding an open house on between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The event also marks the 40year anniversary of the ORHS.

During the open house there will be a cake cutting ceremony at noon. Visitors will be able to tour the building throughout the day.

Although there is no admission charge, visitors are encouraged to make a donation.

The ORHS gift shop will be open and model train layouts will be in operation.

Operation Lifesaver will have representatives on hand to promote railroad safety.

The station was built in 1868 to serve the Piitsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago, and the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus railroads. Both eventually became of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The depot has since been restored by the ORHS and serves as a railroad museum and the society’s administrative offices. It is located at 145 Depot Street.

For more information on ORHS, the historic Union Depot Museum or to view the schedule of events, visit www.orrvillerailroad.com or the ORHS Facebook page. You can also call 330-683-2426 to hear the most up to date information on each event.

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Levin Heading Effort to Restore PRR K4s

May 11, 2018

An effort to restore former Pennsylvania Railroad K4s 4-6-2 No. 1361 kicked off this week.

Bennett Levin, who owns a pair of PRR passenger diesels, is behind the effort to ramp up the restoration effort.

Speaking to the 50th anniversary convention of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Levin said the official state locomotive of Pennsylvania needs a new boiler and its axles must be converted to roller bearings.

Levin said new boiler would cost at least $1 million with the money coming from private sources.

Former Norfolk Southern CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman is reportedly helping to support the restoration.

“We believe there are financial partners out there to sustain the operation,” Levin said. “There is movement going forward.”

Levin said once the 1361 is restored that it will be used to pull a replica 1940s and 1950s Pennsy passengers train in Pennsylvania.

No. 1361 was displayed at Horseshoe Curve near Altoona between 1957 and 1985.

The locomotive was then restored to operating condition and pulled excursion trains before an axle problem sidelined it 1988.

Partial restoration was done at Steamtown and the East Broad Top shops in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania, but the locomotive has been in a state of disassembly for more than 20 years.

Some further work has been done on the boiler and other components in Altoona in recent years.

Levin acknowledged that the operating environment for historic equipment is “fragile.”

Amtrak canceled a special he had planned to operate to the PRRT&HS convention with his PRR E8A locomotives and passenger cars.

He said he will work for a legislative remedy to alleviate liability insurance issues that hinder excursion trains so that excursion operators no longer need Amtrak’s liability insurance to use freight railroad tracks.

No Diamonds, But Still a Tower

May 3, 2018

I sometimes wonder what Wheeling Tower in Bellevue looked like as late as the 1960s and 1970s.

At one time, it controlled diamonds over which a Wheeling & Lake Erie line to Toledo and a New York Central line to Milbury Junction crossed the Nickel Plate Road and Pennsylvania railroads here.

I’m not sure when these diamonds were removed. The ex-NYC was not conveyed the Conrail and was abandoned after the latter began operations on April 1, 1976.

The Norfolk & Western acquired the Nickel Plate in 1964 but in 1949 the NKP had acquired the W&LE. Yet the diamonds was removed sometime after the N&W arrived on the scene.

In the photo above, Norfolk Southern train 14Q is coming into Bellevue on the Toledo District, formerly the W&LE route to Toledo and making the turn to head into Moorman Yard.

The original W&LE tracks would have crossed to the right of the tower as you look at it and the NYC to the left.

Remembering the PRR E8A Units

April 26, 2018

With the cancellation of the excursion from Philadelphia to Altoona, Pennsylvania, I would like to share some pictures that I did of the two Pennsylvania Railroad E8As during happier times out that way.

The cancelled trip was to have helped the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society celebrate its 50th anniversary during a convention in Altoona.

The train was to have run to Altoona on May 9 and return four days later.

It might have been the last mainline excursion of the Pennsy passenger locomotives because owner Bennett Levin has said he does not plan to give the engines a positive train control apparatus.

The images in this series were made at Altoona, Horseshoe Curve, Gallitzin and Cassandra.

Photographs by Jack Norris

PRR Steam Locomotive Print Offered to Donors

April 26, 2018

A print featuring five historic Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotives is being offered by The Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania as a fundraiser to help pay to stabilize five locomotives in the museum’s collection.

The print is a reproduction of a watercolor painting made by artist Peter Lerro Jr.

Depicted are M1b No. 6755, K4s No. 3750, L1s No. 520, H10s No. 7688, and B6sb No. 1670.

Those making a donation of $250 or more will receive a limited edition, signed and numbered reproduction of the painting, known as “Ready For The Roundhouse.”

The Friends group has $190,000 of the $250,000 needed to have the five locomotives media blasted, painted and repaired.

A form to be filled out in order to make a donation can be obtained at the museum’s website at http://www.rrmuseumpa.org or by calling 717-687-8628.

Tuscarawas Eyes Excursion Service

April 23, 2018

Tuscarawas County officials are eyeing a former Baltimore & Ohio rail line for use as excursion trains, including the annual Polar Express trips made from Dennison.

The line in question extends from Dennison to Dover and is owned by CSX but leased to R.J. Corman.

The route begins at the Aleris plant south of Uhrichsville, crosses the former Pennsylvania Panhandle rail line at Uhrichsville, and then goes through Midvale, New Philadelphia and Dover.

A mile-long section of track would need to be built between Uhrichsville and the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum. That would cost an estimated $1 million to $2 million.

New Philadelphia Mayor Joel Day is describing the proposed service as an economic development proposal.

“It would generate revenue from those tourism dollars and create another tourism attraction,” he said.

Scott Robinson, president of the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce, said the project would create a great train ride but said “it would take a tremendous effort by a lot of different parties to make it work out.”

Day also said that, “restoring the rail lines from New Philadelphia to Dennison would connect the northern communities of the county with the southern, and give us direct access to the rail corridor that runs between Columbus and Pittsburgh. Plus, with the abundance of natural gas we have in eastern Ohio, technology could be developed (if it hasn’t already) that allows train engines to be powered by natural gas.”

Day recently met with the Ohio Rail Development Commission to discuss the plan. They talked with Tim Brown, project manager for the rail commission.

“Tim was there to gather information,” Day said. “He wasn’t a decision maker. That was sort of disappointing in a way, but he was a good resource for us. What he’s going to help us do is get a meeting with CSX to talk about the rail line through New Philadelphia.”

Brown told the Tuscarawas county contingent that railroads in Ohio are more interested in earning revenue from freight than operating passenger or excursion trains.

“But we hope that if we can get in front of CSX and explain the plan and the benefits of that, we can convince them it’s a good idea,” Day said.

He noted that the railroad is not making a lot of revenue off the line, but if the connection to Dennison was made, CSX could earn money off tourism dollars.

The excursion train, if it comes about, would be operated by the Dennison museum.

“We’re exploring the options to tie Dennison into Schoenbrunn and New Philadelphia and Warther’s Museum in Dover with train rides,” said Wendy Zucal, the director of the museum.

She said the depot already has passenger cars, excursion insurance and volunteers trained in railroad safety.

It operates the Polar Express train ride in December from Dennison to Newcomerstown in cooperation with the Genessee & Wyoming Railroad.

Planned Pennsylvania Excursion Canceled

April 23, 2018

A planned excursion train in Pennsylvania in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society has been canceled, a victim of a recent Amtrak policy change banning most special moves and charters.

The train, which would have featured the PRR E8A passenger locomotives and former Pennsy passenger cars owned by Bennett Levin, had initially been approved by Amtrak.

But Levin received a phone call from an Amtrak official saying Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson had ordered an end to special trains.

Although the Amtrak policy change had allowed for exceptions in narrow circumstances, a recent clarification of the policy indicated that Amtrak will not approve excursions that operate on lines not used by the carrier’s scheduled trains.

The PRRT&HS excursion was to operate from Philadelphia to Altoona, Pennsylvania, on May 9 via the Buffalo Line of Norfolk Southern and the Nittany & Bald Eagle short line railroad using former PRR routes via Williamsport and Tyrone.

Levin had submitted a detailed request to Amtrak in December to operate the excursion and he agreed to Amtrak’s price for the trip in early February.

As late as early April Amtrak was still agreeing to operate the trip before backing out in mid April.

PRR Group to Run Special Train

April 14, 2018

The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society will operate a special to celebrate its 50th anniversary convention in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on May 9-13.

The trip will operate via Lock Haven and returning via the loop at Gallitzen. The motive power will be PRR E8s 5711-5809.

The fare is $1,000 and includes reserved round trip seating in one of five parlor cars, food and beverage service while aboard, a special farewell brunch on May 13, and an illustrated route guide and souvenirs.,

Contact Steve Staffieri at Interceptor92@verizon.net to verify availability and send your check, payable to the PRRTHS, to:
Steve Staffieri
President PRRTHS
2963 Columbia Drive
Bensalem, PA 19020

PRR Group Offers Program on South Wind Route

April 3, 2018

The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society meeting in Chicago on April 21 will feature a program about the route of the South Wind between Logansport, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky.

The program will be presented by William Shapotkin at the Historical Pullman District Visitors Center. The PRRT&HS meeting will run between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and admission to the program is free.

Shapotkin will also discuss an Amtrak proposal in the early 1970s to operate an auto ferry service between Indianapolis and Florida.

A test train of the AutoTrak service made one trip carrying rented Avis sedans in modified auto rack cars. The rented vehicles sustained so much damage that Amtrak scraped the AutoTrak idea.

However, Amtrak did combine is Chicago-Miami/St. Petersburg Floridian with an Auto-Train Corporation service that began in May 24, operating between Louisville and Sanford, Florida. The arrangement lasted through September 1977.

Survivors From Penn Central and PRR

February 20, 2018

I went railfanning in Trenton, New Jersey, recently and in keeping with the Penn Central birth/Pennsylvania Railroad demise theme, I would like to present some reminders of those railroads that are still in service today.

These include position light signals (now colorized) and former Metroliner cars serving as cab cars on Keystone Service (New York-Harrisburg) trains.

My New Jersey Transit trains clicked away the miles at a steady 105 mph between Trenton and New Brunswick under the heavy catenary of the former PRR mainline.

Photographs by Jack Norris