A Collection of Short Stories about Railroads – Book Two

ndame1

Notre Dame & Western at the university heating plant

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New Haven Railroad
Speeds and Trackage Rights

Passenger speeds

With the advent of “Acela”, there is a lot of interest in speeds on the New Haven from New York to Boston. See a great historical list here!

Trackage rights

The New Haven had trackage rights on several other railroads.

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Troy & Greenbush Railroad

 (left: Livingston Avenue Bridge; right Maiden Lane Bridge)

The Troy and Greenbush Railroad was chartered in 1845 and opened later that year, connecting Troy south to East Albany (now Rensselaer) on the east side of the Hudson River.

It was the last link in an all-rail line between Boston and Buffalo. Until bridges were built between Albany and Rensselaer, passengers crossed on ferries while the train went up to Troy, crossed the Hudson River, and came back down to Albany.

The Hudson River Railroad was chartered in 1846 to extend this line south to New York City; the full line opened in 1851. Prior to completion, the Hudson River leased the Troy and Greenbush.

The two railroad bridges crossing the Hudson River between Rensselaer and Albany were owned nominally by a separate organization called The Hudson River Bridge Company at Albany, incorporated in 1856. This ownership was vested in The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, three-fourths, and the Boston and Albany Railroad Company, one-fourth. Except for foot passengers, the bridges were used exclusively for railroad purposes. The north bridge (variously referred to as the Livingston Avenue Bridge or Freight Bridge) was opened in 1866, and the south bridge (variously referred to as the Maiden Lane Bridge or Passenger Bridge) in 1872.

The first railroad in New York State, and one of the first anywhere, was the Mohawk & Hudson, connecting Albany and Schenectady. The Rensselaer & Saratoga Rail Road followed in 1832, only a year later. Within twenty years, three more railroads came into Troy:
(1) Troy & Greenbush;
(2) Troy & Boston; and
(3)Troy & Schenectady.
The resulting congestion led to the formation of the Troy Union Railroad in 1851, owned jointly by the four roads. It opened in 1854. The tracks were moved from River Street to Sixth Avenue and a new station built. One of the lines was eventually bought by the D&H RR (Rensselaer & Saratoga RR), two were merged into the New York Central RR (Troy & Schenectady RR and the Troy & Greenbush RR), and the fourth became part of the Boston & Maine RR (Troy & Boston RR).

TROY AND GREENBUSH RAILROAD ASSOCIATION was incorporated May 14, 1845; road opened June, 1846. Leased June 1, 1851, for the term of its charter or any extension thereof to The Hudson River Railroad Company at an annual rental of seven per cent on $275,000 capital stock. The lease was assumed by The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company under the consolidation of 1913.

This Company was incorporated May 11, 1845, and organized May 14, under a lease from the New York and Albany Railway Company. According to the charter the road extended from Washington street, in Troy, to where it intersected the track of the Schenectady and Troy Railroad, to Greenbush, where it connected with the track of the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad. On its completion trains were drawn by locomotives up through River street to the intersection of King and River streets, Troy, where the depot was situated. On January 1, 1851, the road was leased to the New York and Troy Railroad Company. This was subsequently leased to the Hudson River Railroad for seven per cent. on $275,000 its capital stock.

From our archives of New York State Railroads: “GREENBUSH, one hundred and forty-three miles, is the northern terminus of the Hudson River Railroad. The Troy and Greenbush road, six miles in length, is run by the former company under a lease. Passengers can cross the ferry here to Albany, or continue on to Troy, trains being run every hour, and immediately upon the arrival of the New York trains. The western terminus of the Albany and Boston is also at Greenbush. Extensive depot accommodations have already been erected here, which will soon be increased, and the vast business in freighting done by the various roads will tend to render this village a very important point.”

In 1851 the Hudson River Railroad leased the Troy & Greenbush. If the Mohawk Valley were to be built, then there would be a true rival to the Mohawk & Hudson and the Utica & Schenectady. When the Hudson River RR failed to press its advantage, Troy tried to get the Harlem to extend to Troy from Chatham. Russell Sage chaired a committee that concluded city should sell its railroad. Also involved was Edwin Morgan, the president of the Hudson River RR. The net result was a sell-out to the New York Central.

The 1950 Annual Report of the New York Central shows improvements on leased or controlled property Troy and Greenbush Railroad $238,925.55

Another interesting division problem was the Troy and Greenbush Branch from Rensselaer to the Troy Union Railroad. In the 1920’s, when the Hudson and Mohawk Divisions were separate, it belonged to the Hudson Division and was dispatched from New York. When the Hudson and Mohawk Divisions were combined, the T&G was still dispatched by the Hudson dispatcher, at Albany, until sometime in the 1940’s. When the Hudson and Mohawk were split in the 1950’s, the T&G went to the Mohawk Division and was dispatched from Utica.

Today, all that is left is the “Troy Industrial Spur” that runs from the Livingston Avenue Bridge to South Troy.

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Little Falls & Dolgeville RR

LittleFallsDolgeville

About 3 miles North of Little Falls (rt 167) there is a remnant of a fairly large Trestle. This is near a restaurant called the Half Way. What surprises me is the condition of the Trestle. The Dolgeville line closed up in 1964. It ran from the mainline to the Adirondack Bat Co. The line north of this was closed in the 30’s. Industries in Dolgeville were shoes: Daniel Green and others as well as Hal Schumacher’s Adirondack Baseball Bat factory. The first train ran 12/14/1892 and last 7/15/1964. The last train used engine 847, a 600 hp switcher. The NYC purchased the line in 1906. Business on the line consisted of coal, iron ore, piano sounding boards, milk, pulp wood, canned goods, etc.

LITTLE FALLS AND DOLGEVILLE RAILROAD COMPANY
This company was incorporated December 27, 1902, as the successor of a company of the same name, incorporated February 20, 1891, construction of whose road was completed December 31, 1893, at a cost of $575,000, to cover which $250,000 capital stock, $250,000 first mortgage bonds and $75,000 second mortgage bonds were issued. The original company went into receivership May 27, 1899, and the first mortgage was foreclosed. The property of the company was sold July 24, 1902. Reorganization was effected and $250,000 of new capital stock and $250,000 of new first mortgage bonds were issued. The holders of the original first mortgage bonds received an amount of the new issue equal to their holdings of the old bonds and capital stock equal to the amount of unpaid interest which accrued during the receivership. The balance of the capital stock was used to pay the expense of reorganization. The operation of the road under the new organization commenced on January 1, 1903. The control of the road passed to The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company on July 24, 1906, through its purchase of a majority of the capital stock. Consolidated April 16, 1913.

DOLGEVILLE AND SALISBURY RAILWAY COMPANY
Organized July 8, 1907, to construct a railroad from Dolgeville to the iron mines belonging to the Salisbury Steel and Iron Company at Irondale, a distance of 3.89 miles. Under the terms of a contract dated July 24, 1906, entered into between the Salisbury Steel and Iron Company and the Little Falls and Dolgeville Railroad Company, the latter named company was to operate the road on its completion. The road was reported as completed September 1, 1909. Under the conditions of the contract, the Little Falls and Dolgeville Railroad Company agreed to pay the sum of $2.00 for each car passing over the line, the amounts so paid to be considered as installments for the purchase of the capital stock of the Dolgeville and Salisbury Railway Company. When the amount of those installments should reach the sum of the cost of construction of the Dolgeville and Salisbury Railway, the entire capital stock of $150,000 would become the property of the Little Falls and Dolgeville Railroad Company. Up to the time of the consolidation of the Little Fall and Dolgeville Railroad Company into The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, April 16, 1913, the Little Falls and Dolgeville Railroad Company had paid, in the manner above described, an aggregate sum of $35,724.00. The agreement was assumed by The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company and the payment of the installments continued, the amount reaching the total of $40,210.00 on December 31, 1913. On completion of the necessary payments the capital stock will become the property of The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company.

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RailwayExpressMilestone

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CarrierAirConditioningUN1950

The New York Central entered the Carrier Corporation plant on what was still referred to in 1950 as the Syracuse Junction Railroad. The air conditioning unit being loaded was bound for the United Nations building being constructed in 1950.

 

THE SYRACUSE JUNCTION RAILROAD COMPANY:

Incorporated June 9, 1873. The road was built by The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company to take the two freight tracks of its four track system around the city of Syracuse and was opened November 16, 1874. It was leased to The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company April 10, 1875, as a legal formality, and on October 7, 1879, was absorbed under authority of law.
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

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New York Central Fire Brigades

WestAlbanyFireBrigade1950

New York Central had several fire departments composed of volunteers from railroad employees. Some locations like West Albany and Selkirk had actual fire trains. Other locations had a single car. Beech Grove Shops on the Big 4 in Indianapolis had a home made fire engine pulled by a tractor. Several cars were available for the Adirondack Division as the road passed through a forest preserve. These cars had lots of the backpack pumps, called Indian Pumps. In 1950 West Albany was still a big railroad facility as evidenced by the West Albany Fire Brigade.
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

FireTrain1950interior

Inside view of one of the cars belonging to the New York Central Railroad West Albany Fire Brigade
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

FireTrain1950WestAlbany

New York Central Railroad West Albany Fire Brigade in action! See the West Albany Fire Brigade in action at a civil defense test at the General Electric Schenectady Works.
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

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More about Mail and Express (M&E) trains on the New York Central

mail-train-nycentral

The M&E trains were ordinary passenger trains in the timetable. the term “first class” was really without meaning as those trains ran only in double track territory where they were cleared by signal indication. They were just part of the flow of passenger trains and moved at the usual passenger train speeds with no special priority that wasn’t usual for any other passenger train.

The time it took them to get across the railroad was purely a matter of the horsepower per ton of the train. The reason the Century could make better time was that it had less tonnage for the horsepower. A heavy M&E train could not get across the line as fast because it took much longer to accelerate to the speed limit.

There seems to be a mystique about these trains arising from the romance of the fast mail of earlier years. On the NYC they didn’t “go like hell” any more than other passenger trains that ran nonstop between Albany and Syracuse or Buffalo and cleveland, or …etc.

A Rider Car was operated at the rear of a Mail & Express train for the benefit of the train crew. Passenger equipment was perfered or mandated for this purpose because these trains operated at passenger train speeds and a regular caboose would not be suitable for this service account its running gear (springs & journal boxes). Because all cars of a mail train may not have steam head connectors, Rider Cars assigned to this service usually had a stove/furnace in one end for crew comfort in inclement weather.

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DetroitTerminalRailway

Detroit Terminal Railway


Of the 20,000 shares of capital stock issued by the Detroit Terminal Railroad Company, one-fourth was owned by the Michigan Central Railroad Company; one-fourth by the New York Central Railroad Company and one-half by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company.

The Detroit Terminal Railroad Company incorporated Dec. 7, 1905 and was a switching line at Detroit. It was merged May 1, 1984, into Conrail.

See all the locations in Detroit.

See a 1916 map.

See some great old pictures of the Detroit Terminal Railway.

Michigan Central Station from the WIKI

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Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad

Amsterdam

Here’s an old map of Amsterdam (courtesy of Russ Nelson) which shows the Kellogg’s Branch (Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad) leaving the New York Central mainline which runs on the East side of the Mohawk River.

Across the Mohawk River, is the West Shore Railroad.

Another, more detailed, map of the Kellogg Branch from Gino’s Rail Page, shows the entire extent of the branch. Careful! It’s BIG

In the Amsterdam, New York, area, a short spur leaves the old New York Central mainline and goes up a hill to the upper portion of Amsterdam. Once this was a separate railroad. It has continued as a branch under Penn Central, Conrail, and now CSX.

It is known as the Kellogg Industrial or by CSX as “CP-173 -to- QCG1.60”.

Here’s what the branch looks like:

CP-173: Chicago Line: Kellogg’s Yard QCG0.00
New York State Route 5 Undergrade Bridge QCG0.33
Chuctanunda Creek Bridge QCG0.98
Vrooman Avenue Grade Crossing QCG1.20
James Street Grade Crossing QCG1.40
Church Street Grade Crossing QCG1.49
Jay Street Grade Crossing QCG1.49
End Of Track QCG1.60

The Kellogg Branch was actually a separate railroad corporation: The Amsterdam, Chucktanunda and Northern Railroad Company. The Kellogg family owned it, and had built it (1879) to serve the their mills on the hill in upper Amsterdam. The NYC leased the RR (1907) and operated it. This railroad corporation used to show up in “Moody’s Railroads” as late as 1954 and shows it extending “about 1 mile” from the NYC main line to Jay St., Amsterdam. The AC&N owned the right-of-way, and NYCRR owned the track, aggregating about 2.71 miles including side tracks. There were 200 shares of stock outstanding, with a par value of $100, all owned by Lauren Kellog and Elizabeth K. Swift. It paid a dividend of 14.75 in 1953.

1959 Employee Timetable shows equipment restrictions as cranes X-13 to X-16 and engines nos. 526 to 566, 1000 to 5104, 6600 to 6903. The cranes were all 250-ton wrecking cranes, and the engine restrictions essentially prohibited cab units. The maximum gross weight for cars operated without special authority on the Mohawk Division at the time was 220,000 lbs (nominal 70 ton capacity) and there were no additional weight restrictions on the Branch. In 1950, the restriction read: engines heavier than U-2a, U-2b, U-2d and U-2f must not operate over the Kellogs Branch. (those were 0-8-0’s).

It is one of the steepist adhesion railroad grades in service in the country.

The Kellog’s Branch was established in the late 1800’s as a connection for the Kellogg and Miller Linseed Oil operation. Remains of this can be seen behind the present Dunkin Donuts on Route 67 in Amsterdam. The line was extended to the Sanford Carpet Mills, present day Noteworthy Printing.

NYC named the line the Kellogg’s Branch and for some reason, Conrail refered to it as “The Kellog’s Branch.” Why they dropped the last ‘G’, who knows.

In 1905, a spur was built off the Branch (Originally called the Linseed Oil Branch) headed north to the Mclarey and Wallins Carpet Mills, later Mohawk Mills. A large wooden trestle was built across a ravine to reach the plant. There was a steam generating plant there as well, which facilitated another trestle, this one made of stone. Parts of the trestle are still on the property. The smoke stack, seen all over Amsterdam and as you made your way up the NYS Thruway was just knocked down recently.

Sometime in the 1960s, a spur was built to Fiberglass Industries in the Edison Ave. Industrial Park. This is THE sole remaining customer.

The line was abandoned from the FGI spur north around 1990. Some of the last customers on the line were a paper company, COLECO toys (Former Sanford Mill) and a lumber yard just north of the FGI switch. The trestles were removed sometime in the 1990’s. There were several impressive ones. The two at Mohawk Mills, and a large wooden trestle that curved over the Chuctanunda Creek near the Forest Ave. Paper Mill.

A Conrail caboose was used to push up the branch, but after a derailment in 2004 it was moved to the CSX interchange where it has sat ever since. In 2006, 3 trips are made a week, usually Monday, Wednesday. and Friday. Inbound covered hoppers of sand come in and emptys go out.

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New York Central Snow Book

SnowBook

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These are some advertisements / features related to the 1964 to 1965 World’s Fair held in New York City (Photos clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)
New York Central’s property included the following hotels: Barclay, Biltmore, Commodore, Park Lane, Roosevelt, Waldorf-Astoria.

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I discovered an interesting article by Richard F. Tolmach in California Rail News (June/July 2010)

The subject of the article was “Redesigning Metrolink for Mass Market Success” and the thrust was on pairing trains across platforms for matched departures could boost regional rail mobility. Mr. Tolmach’s “hero” was New York Central veteran Carl Englund. Englund advocated using Los Angeles Union Station as a timed-transfer hub for commuter trains. Englund prepared route surveys in 1972 that provided the planning basis for Metrolink. This system (owned by Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) and operated by Amtrak) now carries 38,400 daily riders over 512 route miles utilizing 53 locomotives and 158 cars.

Englund had experience in 1945 as stationmaster at Frankfurt Haupbahnhof then aligning schedules of RDC cars at a regional hub in White River Junction, Vermont. He discovered his practice worked at both big hubs and small ones.Englund held that timed connections could exponentially increase regional rail travel because of the synergy created by mobility in multiple directions. His studies identified new services since he used objective measures such as corridor population, population per mile, efficiency of equipment use, and relative performance of existing services. He successfully predicted that services which spanned regional metropoli end-to-end would outperform city center to city center trains, and identified suburban-to-suburban travel as a significant element in successful performance.

Most North American rail successes owe a lot to Englund and his contemporaries who carried out service experiments on the New York Central, Illinois Central and Canadian National in the mid-1960’s. He later applied lessons learned to the Northeast Corridor and GO Transit. New York Central discovered when it cut through service that overlapping travel corridors are key to revenue success. Even when a weak travel corridor is joined end-to-end with another corridor, it can contribute tremendously to system throughput and revenues. This is because the ridership of each corridor is overlaid with trips between the two corridors: new city pairs produce longer trips. The Northeast Corridor owes much of its success to the 1969 takeover of the New Haven passenger service by the Penn Central. Penn Central wanted connecting traffic so they diverted all Boston trains to Penn Station so that passengers could continue to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

Carl Englund died in 1996 at the age of 82 years.

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Plimmon H. Dudley (1843-1924) – metallurgist

DudleyAutograph

Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley, the New York Central Railroad’s expert on rail metallurgy, would also accurately predict the weather. He was considered the “scientist of rails”. He died in 1924 at age 81. He had joined the New York Central in 1880 and had lived in the Hotel Commodore since it was built.

INTEREST IN FLAWLESS RAILS:
Steel men expressed great interest yesterday in the announcement made by President A.H. Smith of the New York Central Railroad that the road’s staff of specialists under the direction of Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley had discovered the cause and remedy for the hidden flaws in steel rails.

HOW ONE MAN HELPED MAKE RAILROADS SAFER; Inventions of Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley Point Out Roadbed and Track Defects and Make Steel Rails Impervious to Cold
By JOHN WALKER HARRINGTON.
February 17, 1924,
EVERY one of us who slips into a Pullman berth at night and wakes up safe and sound in a distant city owes a debt to Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley’s half century of the study of the steel rail. As his eighty-first birthday approaches, science and transportation are preparing to do him honor.

Gifts can become unworkable in many ways. Consider the Dudley Professorship of Railroad Engineering at Yale. The chair was created in 1923 with a $US152,679 gift from Plimmon H.Dudley, a New York Central Rail engineer.

His express desire, he said, was that his research into railway safety be continued, in particular in connection with the development and improvement of designs of rails, roadbeds and crossties.

But railway engineering lost its lustre as a hot academic topic. And the professorship sat vacant for more than 70 years.

“I was kind of stumped as to what to do with this chair,” Yale’s president, Richard Levin, admitted.

Then Yale realized that the steam engines and wood ties of yesterday had been replaced by today’s magnetic levitation and superconductivity. So since 2002, Stephen Morse, an engineer who has studied urban transportation and switching strategies for the control of uninhabited vehicles, has been the Dudley Professor of Engineering at Yale.

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Metro-North New Haven Line in the Winter

MetroNorthSnowPlow

It’s old wiring, and some of the catenary support towers are original century-old installations.

The ancient infrastructure is way past end of useful life even with Metro North’s excellent maintenance practices. You get more frequent breakdowns with old mechanical systems and the old supports than the newer installations on the line. Do not forget shoreline weather factor. Winter unleashes steady punishment on all shoreline-facing structures during peak storm season. The differences between light/fluffy snow and heavy caked-on snow or sleet/ice are dramatic shoreline vs. just a couple miles inland during most Noreasters, and there’s often a stiff sea breeze even in less-severe weather and even with Long Island Sound somewhat more protected from the worst of the Atlantic elements than other places. Pressure + time takes its toll more rapidly than with inland electrification, and if the weather alone doesn’t bring down a wire here and there it corrodes it enough that you get more pantograph downings on brittle stretches. There’s also a lot of new-growth trees along the ROW that were allowed to sprout and grow above catenary height during the deferred maintenance era. Lot of downed limbs from wind and heavy snow/ice, and MNRR has limited options for clearing a wide swath around the ROW when it runs through people’s backyards… the trees are a natural sound and sight barrier that the neighbors would go ballistic if cut down.

That’s the price the NH line has to pay for being the most congested passenger rail corridor in the country, running high-speed service on one of the oldest ROW’s and the single oldest still-operating electric installation in North America (other extant ones may have been older, but they completely scrapped and changed their type of electric collection method after early experimentation).

And with all due respect, the new, improved, high-tech crap doesn’t perform as well or as long as the old stuff did. It may run faster, when it runs, and it may look prettier, but the simpler the design, the fewer the problems.
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Central Warehouse in Albany NY

CentralWarehouse02

In Albany, New York there is a huge warehouse that has gone sort of obsolete with advances in frozen food procedures and exit of Albany as a meat processor. Not only does it have a rail siding and an interior “railroad station”, but it is only a few feet away from the Amtrak New York to Chicago line. It is almost shouting distance from the Livingston Avenue Bridge that is the Amtrak New York to Chicago line. Well anyway in October, 2010 it caught on fire from someone removing steel pipes and using cutting torches near cork insulation. See some great pictures of the Central Warehouse.

Fire continued to smolder inside the former Central Warehouse cold storage building more than 48 hours after the fire in the Albany landmark was first reported, but Albany Fire Chief Robert Forezzi Sr. said the vacant eyesore is in no danger of collapsing. Firefighters were shooting 1,000 gallons of water per minute into the building’s 10th floor in an attempt to extinguish cork insulation that was still smoking. Despite more than two days of fire damage and constant water being pumped into the structure, Forezzi said the 83-year-old building’s massive concrete and steel frame will hold. The only evidence Sunday that the 400,000-square-foot former refrigeration facility had been ablaze was water running down the outside walls.

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album-robbie-robertson-BuffaloCentralTerminal

Did you know Robbie Robertson even sang a song about Buffalo Central Terminal?

Buffalo, New York, is a lucky city. True, the weather is terrible, crime is high, the economy is dead and the suburbs are usually on fire, but Buffalo still has a lot going for it. The city’s main attraction is a tall, dark tower that bursts forth from otherwise flat land in the middle of a residential subdivision and soars 20 storeys up into the air.

In 1929: The New York Central held dedication ceremonies for its new “Central Terminal” at Buffalo. The modified Art Deco style terminal included seven platforms serving fourteen station tracks.

You can find a lot out about New York Central’s Buffalo Central Terminal plus Buffalo history at Buffalo History Works

Robert Long from Maryland has donated some slides to the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. from the 60s and 70s of train trips he took to and from Buffalo and the area. The photos include some beautiful shots of the building along with a bunch from the DL&W terminal. The photos are part of the CTRC’s growing collection of historical archives.

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PacemakerFreight

Pacemaker service was effectively ended when the Central introduced “Early Bird” service, which started around 1956/57. This didn’t last long itself, as the introduction of Flexi-van service then carried LCL

When the Pacemaker cars were delivered they were used only on Pacemaker freight service routes. But that does not mean they didn’t appear in other trains or that they were not mixed with other cars in Pacemeker trains.

The Pacemaker service train NB-3 provided overnight service from New York to Buffalo. But it also took cars for other destinations. It was not a dedicated train for the NY-Buffalo service.

It would be interesting to know if any trains of all Pacemaker cars were seen in regular service. I believe they moved along with regular cars from the beginning of the service. TI’s hard to imagine how a solid train would occur other than for publicity photos. Do we have any non-PR photos that show a train with only Pacemaker cars ?

When did the service end? Depends on what you mean by “the service”. LCL service declined rapidly in the 60’s and was almost gone at the time of the PC merger. I’m not sure when dedicated trains were discontinued, but the overnight New York-Buffalo service is not shown in the 1954 timetable.

What happened to the cars when the service ended? They were used as ordinary box cars.

Did the cars remain in their old colours for long? Yes, until they were in a shop and really needed a paint job. They slowly disappeared like any other old car.

See more about LCL (Less Than Carload)

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