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Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:08 pm
by Noel Weaver
My remarks were not particularly directed toward Gadfly but toward the individual who credited them with being the first to go all diesel. I agree that they were well managed but I think there were others over the years that were also well managed and were able to profit from their passenger trains for a long period as well. The trains that remained on the Southern after Amtrak took over in 1971 were not the trains that I termed the trains to nowhere. There was local to Lynchburg, I believe, a day train between Washington and Atlanta and the Southern Crescent on the mainline plus the Ashville train. One thing that made it more or less possible for the Southern to say no to Amtrak was the fact that a lot of the money losing trains had already been pruned, I guess they figured they could live with what remained. I seem to think that the Lynchburg train carried piggyback as well as passengers so that probably helped pay the costs. Finally we all have memories of our favorite railroads whether they be the Southern or one of the others and we all had our reasons for think that ours were the best. Which one was the best, I am not prepared to say because I don't think I worked for one of the best until my late years with Conrail under none other than Stanley Crane a well respected leader from none other than the Southern. He was a classy railroader in every respect.
Noel Weaver

Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:24 pm
by Gadfly
That, my friend, we will agree on. ;) He was at the helm of Southern when I first hired! :)

GF

Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:11 am
by Gadfly
Speaking of dieselization, I have an original copy of the ceremonial photo taken of the 1953, "Last revenue freight under steam" taken in Tennessee as the fire of steam locomotive 6333(?) was extinguished. Lined up in the freight yard was 6333, an E3(?) cab unit and the replica of "The Best Friend of Charleston". This photo hung for 50+ years in the Superintendent's office at Southern's Roadway Shops. When the shops were remodeled, the photo was, of all things, thrown OUT in the trash, and I happened to see it in the dump box and retrieved it. I considered it a lucky find. It now hangs on MY wall as a reminder to me of those many years of railroad service. These photos were taken of that final day of "official" steam and distributed throughout the Southern System. The Maintenance Superintendent of the shops (over all the operations) also had a brass bell on a stand displayed in the FRONT office where visitors came in. This was off a PS-4 steam passenger locomotive and was polished to perfection. Go in there and dare RING that bell, I DARE you! :) We KNEW better. "They" say (we never know who "they" is), that at the end of steam, HUNDREDS of these bells were dumped/buried in the ground at Roadway Shops, and a few employees managed to retrieve some of them. And the shop itself had a whistle on top of the shops. It, too, came off a locomotive. It was used to signal Pay Day, and on the 1st and the 15th, the Paymaster would bring the checks down to the shops and blow that whistle. It was also used to summon the Fire Brigade made up of shop employees. All around the shops were fire stations with hoses, and when a fire happened (rarely), the whistle would start blowing staccato blasts for the Brigade to quickly assemble. We even put out a few right-of way fires. And don't pull that cord unless there WAS a fire or it was payday: that was a run-off offense (horseplay) and considered a false alarm! It blew frantically the day a stationary boiler blew up out at the cleaning shed sending lumber and debris high into the air. I was within 35 feet of it when it went with a deafening KA-BOOOOOOM, and parts of the building came falling around my head: boards, splinters, shards of stone, roofing tiles, nails and HOT WATER! It looked like a sudden downpour of dirty rain, and it was suddenly "foggy" with hot steam all around. The building itself was on fire, but was partially put out by a ruptured water line that was shooting water up into the sky! This actually helped the fire brigade control the fire. And I sat there on my little tractor (I was towing 39 foot rail sections) stunned because in those first seconds I simply didn't know what had happened: I hadn't had time to react! And men were running pulling fire hoses towards the cleaning shed, and one came up to me and asked if I was all right. I didn't even get a scratch even tho all that debris fell all around me. That whistle was screaming, and it was utter mayhem all around. They sent me to the company doctor anyway and had me checked out. NO one got hurt in the incident, and no one was IN the cleaning shed at the time of the explosion. Normally, somebody would've been in there cleaning parts for rebuild, but he had gotten caught up with no parts to steam clean, and had gone to the rest room. The boiler was replaced with an even bigger, modern automatic gas-fired unit. Until I retired, I never liked to go in that building, or around that big boiler sitting there all "innocent". As you can see, there's lots of railroad memories...............................................


GF

Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:44 pm
by Noel Weaver
I can sure relate to cleaning out stuff and saving things that the railroad considered "junk". A friend an I cleaned out an old store room in Grand Central Terminal way back when and there were some wonderful things in that room that the railroad did not want. I also had a hand in cleaning out the old roundhouse in Waterbury, Connecticut and saved some steam records, it turns out that these are probably the best steam to diesel records from any point on the New Haven Railroad and they are safely in my collection. I never got paid for the work I did in cleaning out old facilities on the railroad but I got well paid in the wonderful collectors items which today are worth a lot at least to me. I concentrated more on paper than on hardware, I do not have enough space for hardward at this point.
Noel Weaver

Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:28 pm
by Gadfly
Noel,

I would expect most of us who spent any length of time on the railroad have memoribilia: I've got Southern Railway jackets, hats, NS jackets, hats, service pins and watches given as safety awards. My Hamilton 992 pocket watch is in pristine condition (I just had it cleaned) and it is 102 years old. I have a watch inspection card that goes with it. I have a set of Southern Railway whiskey tumblers with real 14 ct gold on the rims. They have the "Southern Railway Serves the South" logo and scenes of palm trees and cab units all round. I won the set at a long-ago Christmas party. May be valuable someday. I gave my daughter a painting one Christmas of "The Southern Crescent on a Snowy Christmas' by Robert West, known for his railroad post cards. He painted it at the Spencer Transportation Museum one year and I got to watch him do it. Who knows---------it may gain value some day when I'm dead and gone. Might end up on the wall of some railroad museum...... Then, of course, there's that photo of the last steam run that went into the trash.

We were up in the attic of the old storehouse building cleaning out for remodeling in the 80's and found old time cards from the 1930's, books and period magazines from 30's and 40's....bunches of 'em! I kept a few of them---time cards and a few trade magazines with steam trains and technology of the day. Most of it is probably junk, but I'm keeping it just the same. My daughter may find some value in it or they may become valuable.

I met a few "characters" in my day, too. "Mike" was one of them. He was a blacksmith welder that worked at Spencer Roundhouse and Backshop in the 40's- He worked on the PS-4 1401 that is displayed at the Smithsonian, and put a Thermite weld on the frame between the drivers (I forgot which side). He told of seeing this engine AND working on it as a young fella. This engine was assigned to the Charlotte District/Piedmont Division, and pulled President Roosevelt's funeral train right thru my town (Gastonia, NC) in 1945. George, now there's a colorful guy, too. Engineer on the Crescent, #1 on seniority list at the time, qualified steam and diesel engineer and known to "claim out" for any of the steam excursions that came to town. Also known for getting speeding tickets from the Trainmaster! Fast runner, prone to exceeding the 79 MPH speed limit! He scared the crap out of me one night while I was deadheading aboard a coach that was "hunting". I was sure we'd derail for sure. I DID report the car as "bad ordered". That night I "clocked" (or roughly estimated) our speed at around 95. On the train were 6 E8's, a baggage car and my coach was first out behind the engines. As we were "hopping" along with the trucks bouncing around furiously, I peered out the window to spot a mile post. As we passed a crossing, the gates were STILL coming down-----DING-DING-DING-DING-ding-ding-ding-ding-------------------GONE! HOLY MOLEY! :o I don't know how many tickets and out-of-service run-offs he got. Railroaders are a "different" bunch! LOL!

GF

Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:57 am
by Thunder
We certainly are a different bunch ;) Great stories!! I like the Southern and your right GF, you dont hear much about her.I am a born and raised Rock Island Lines man!But I see a SD 40 in that Tuxedo scheme a bell on each end ( horns on each end too!) and I get weak in the knees. That has to be one of the BEST diesel paint schemes ever.

Does anyone remember the Southerns ad campaigns in the 70's? Old Trains magazines of that era would have them on the back page or a center spread. Pretty cool that in the 70's when everything was going to hell in a handcart around the NE and other locales that you would have a railroad advertising how good it was.

I get to see a ot of old Southern cars in Joliet here. They are full of paper rolls for Smurfit and another paper company. Still neat to see the Southern gives a green light to innovations logos. Just for grins my switchman said Ok ahead for the south yard lead. I came back with look ahead, look South.He got a chuckle out of that.

Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:41 pm
by Gadfly
Thunder wrote:We certainly are a different bunch ;) Great stories!! I like the Southern and your right GF, you dont hear much about her.I am a born and raised Rock Island Lines man!But I see a SD 40 in that Tuxedo scheme a bell on each end ( horns on each end too!) and I get weak in the knees. That has to be one of the BEST diesel paint schemes ever.

Does anyone remember the Southerns ad campaigns in the 70's? Old Trains magazines of that era would have them on the back page or a center spread. Pretty cool that in the 70's when everything was going to hell in a handcart around the NE and other locales that you would have a railroad advertising how good it was.

I get to see a ot of old Southern cars in Joliet here. They are full of paper rolls for Smurfit and another paper company. Still neat to see the Southern gives a green light to innovations logos. Just for grins my switchman said Ok ahead for the south yard lead. I came back with look ahead, look South.He got a chuckle out of that.


I went to the "Heritage Gathering" at the NC Transportation Museum over the July 4 weekend. Present were at the "family" of lines represented by the Norfolk Southern Corporation. And, of course, on each flank, was the blue Norfolk & Western engine, and, on the right facing towards me was the oh-so familiar Southern Green and Gold paint that I saw so many times while loading baggage on The Crescent. It really took me back to those years of E-8s, and handing up orders, riding the cabs of the engines, and OS-ing trains in and out of Charlotte Yard. These two were the original merger partners in '82. I was assigned to Hayne Yard, Spartanburg, SC on June 1, 1982 when the merger took place. It was met with mixed emotions by all of us at Southern, who felt that something was being lost in the deal. Most of us were very proud of Southern Railway System, and proud of our association with it. It was a tough, no-nonsense company to work for, BUT they were, for the most part, quite fair. They were rougher on the T & E folks than clerks, but *some*infractions were kinda overlooked. Now if you ran thru a switch, or put an engine on the ground, rupturing the fuel tank(s), well, you'd see some "whammy" time. Southern was very stubborn and independent, known for shrewd management and solid profit-making. It had one of the best expense versus income ratios in the industry, and many competing railroads wondered just how they did it, secretly envying Southern. It consistently was listed on Standard and Poors and not as only one of the best-managed railroads in the US, but was one of the top FIVE corporations of all kinds in the nation--something other railroads couldn't even come close to. They generated enough cash that they ran a successful steam excursion program that carried over into 1992. And they did so in such a way that the steam program paid its own way. AND, when Amtrak came with demands as to what Southern Railway System *had* to do to satisy them, Mr Claytor very impolitely told Amtrak where they could stick it! :) He'd run the Crescent for FREE before Amtrak would tell SR what to do!!!!!!!!! And yet, this particular railroad, the railroad responsible for many Innovations (Southern Railway-Look Ahead, Look South) is generally ignored by the fan mags, overlooked in documentaries. and glossed over with quick blurbs on TV.

Seeking help with out-dated management techniques and bloated plant, Conrail sought relief from what seemed to be another Penn Central debacle save continued government feeding, they turned to L. Stanley Crane to reverse the red ink. Recently retired from Southern Railway, Mr Crane did exactly what the doctor ordered, turning Conrail into a worthwhile property---patterned after that of Southern Railway!

Like other railroad men, I am proud of the road that paid my bills and put a roof over my head. It became Norfolk Southern. I recently sent a book to a publisher entitled, "Crescent Memories". It chronicles a life on the railroad (ME), and how it was in those days pre-computer when *some* things were done "the old way", but computers were slowly coming on line to do jobs done for near a century. I have told the story from the standpoint of a clerk, and illustrates that everything isn't *just* trains and engineers. There are photos of regular operations, pics of steam trains coming by my station, train orders in the hoop, and all sorts of things collected over 30 years. There's tales of trudging thru the yards, getting the **** scared out of me by "unathorized persons" who sneaked up on me from nowhere. So I am hoping that the publisher will see the merit in my story, and that people everywhere who have curiosity about trains will be able to "live" the life thru my eyes and the things that happened to me out there. Maybe it will be appropriate in this 30th year of the Norfolk Southern merger. Wish me luck! :)

Gadfly

Re: Southern Railway System

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:57 pm
by SouthernRailway
The Southern has always been my favorite. I'm from the heartland of its network, and my first big trip was on the Southern Crescent.

New York Central, Pennsylvania, etc. are probably better-known because they operated in areas with more population density and had extensive commuter networks, giving them more "face time" with people.

But what happened to NYC, Pennsylvania, New Haven, etc.? All bankrupt and taken over by the government. I'd be ashamed.

I do miss the Southern paint schemes and familiarity, but Norfolk Southern is a railroad to be happy about; it's also very well-run. I just love that it took over former New York Central and Pennsylvania lines. People can gloat all they want about the latter railroads, but they're run now by a thriving railroad from the South.