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Postby brward » Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:49 pm

1. Anyone have some insight into the line that was once between Schenevus and East Worcester? Most of the ROW can still be seen.
2. Were the Challengers exclusive to the Penn Division or were they used system wide?
3. For some reason in history ,if any, did the D&H ever reroute trains over the NYOW via Sidney to the south?



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Postby Steve Wagner » Thu Aug 26, 2004 10:57 pm

I believe that Challengers ran regularly at least as far north as Mechanicville. I think they didn't venture north of Whitehall at all, partly because of the tunnels at Fort Ticonderoga and farther north.

A very knowledgeable Ontario & Western fan has told me that the O&W hauled considerable coal for the D&H north as far as the lines' interchange point at Sidney, because their grade out of the Lackawanna valley was not as steep as that of the Erie/D&H line over Ararat Summit. I doubt very much that D&H locos were used for this.

If anyone out there knows better -- or can answer the question about the track between Schenevus and East Worcester -- please let us know.
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Postby NYSW3614 » Sun Aug 29, 2004 8:22 pm

What do you want to know about the low grade line? It was abandoned in favor of the other line due to less mileage (?) and more customers on the line that is now in use today.

A D&H S unit was used to power the scrap trains on the NYO&W- I have seen photos of one in Walton, NY.
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Low Grade Line

Postby march hare » Mon Aug 30, 2004 1:11 pm

The low grade line was built to cut the grade on the south side of Richmondville for what was then (early 1900s) a predominantly loads-north railroad. Anthracite was mined in PA, principal markets were in NY and New England, so the northbounds tended to be loads, thus heavier than southbounds.

Basically, the line cut the grade by winding around on the valley floor a little more than the main, climbing the same vertical distance over a longer horizontal distance. This route missed both of the towns (Worcester and E Worcester) and thus had few if any shippers.

By 1964, the anthracite biz had largely evaporated as people changed to heating oil for home heating. (My parents, never technological leaders on issues like this, made the switch in 1962). Heaviest train on the route now was the paper train, RW-6, loads southbound. And the trains were all diesels to boot, which had better low-speed tractive effort than the steamers that the line had been designed for.

So as mentioned earlier, the low grade had few shippers, and its reason for existence was largely gone. Not a hard call for abandonment.

Challengers definitely ran over Richmondville into Mechanicville--one blew up on Richmondville hill in the 1940s. Jim Shaughnessy's book has lots of pix of them at least as far north as Mechanicville. I believe I've heard reports that they went up to Whitehall, but I can't verify that.

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Postby brward » Mon Aug 30, 2004 4:30 pm

Thank you for the insight gentlemen. The reason for my asking about the Schenevus Worcester line is the simple fact of the intrigue. I live rather close to the D&H and travel by it frequently. I have always noticed the line and just wanted to know the history of it. As with everything from the past about railroads. The more specific the answer the better.


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Postby Champlain Division » Tue Aug 31, 2004 4:24 am

On the old D&H Forum one of our members related to me how, just once, (1947, I believe) a Challenger was run up the Champlain Division as an experiement. The sharp curvature and the clearance in the tunnels along the lake were primary factors to them never doing it again. However, the lack of a large enough turntable at Rouses Point necessitating having to maintain the engines out in the elements plus having to turn the engine on CN's wye trackage north of the station pretty much put the last nail in the coffin on the project. Besides, the Northerns/K-62s were more than enough power on the division's east grades.
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Postby sween » Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:40 pm

The "Challengers" were pretty much assoicaited with anthracite, and I'd guess were purchased for no other reason. Despite that, they never ran into the heart and soul of coal country. They never operated south of Carbondale, which was the far northern end of the anthracite fields.

Postby O-6-O » Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:23 pm

Is there any video out there of the Challengers in action on either the
Penn or the Susquehanna Div. The sound they must have made up
Ararat must have been awesome.

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Track 4 WN to DE, 1500's Range, and NYO&W Interchange Co

Postby ChiefTroll » Sun Sep 05, 2004 4:38 pm

The line between WN Tower at Schenevus and Dante (DA, later DE) between West Richmondville and East Worcester was operated as Track 4, and was used by northward tonnage trains. There was no local business on the line. Construction was begun before World War I, which interrupted the work, and it was opened for service on December 7, 1921. Several other grade reduction and track addition projects included the new line from Delanson to Schenectady, a new Track 4 from FA Tower Oneonta to N Cabin Cooperstown Jct, and Track 4 from JX Tower at Schoharie Jct to DJ Tower at Delanson. Dieselization rendered the additional tracks unnecessary. Because of the property tax policies of New York State, the D&H retired them as soon as they could operate without them.

The D&H never used the term "Challenger" for any of its locomotives. That was strictly a Union Pacific and railfan term. The J-95 Class 4-6-6-4's were known simply as "The 1500's." They were purchased by the post-Loree administration, under J. H. Nuelle, who had come over from the N. Y. O. & W., to expedite bridge traffic, which Nuelle saw as the salvation when anthracite lost its place in the fuel market. The 1500's operated on all D&H main lines from Carbondale and Binghamton on the south to Whitehall on the north, including Mechanicville, and Colonie both ways. They were prohibited on the Penn Division south of Carbondale.

One 1500 made one round trip to Rouses Point for a clearance test, but that was the only time one went north of Whitehall. The close clearances were not in Ticonderoga or Willsboro Tunnels, but along Willsboro Rocks. They made it, but it was tight. The problem with the curvature was the overhang of the boiler on the curves. They had no problem negotiating the curves themselves, which are a maximum of about 9 degrees up there. The 300's had a longer fixed wheel base than the 1500's.

The clearances could have been opened up, but the expense of modifying the engine terminal facilities at Rouses Point could not be justified, because the 300's were able to handle the traffic on the lighter grades of the Champlain Division. I don't know if that engine was turned on the CN wye, or on the D&H wye west of the Cemetery Yard.

I doubt that the O&W ever handled coal "for" the D&H between Carbondale and Sidney. The O&W did originate coal that was interchanged to the D&H at Sidney. Around 1931, I think, Bridge 104.58 south of Sidney washed out, and it is possible that the D&H used a detour on the O&W to reach Carbondale or Jermyn. Other than that, the O&W purchased D&H Engine 805, a Class E-48 double cab 2-8-0, in 1947 to hold them over until their diesels arrived. I believe it was 1948, during a bituminous coal miners' strike, that the D&H leased one set of O&W FT's for use as pushers from Carbondale to Ararat.
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