Penn Central in Torrington

Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

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Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Ruzbasan » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:49 am

During 1974 to 1976, me and my friends walked home from Vogel Middle School in Torrington, CT by taking the short cut "along the tracks" between Water and Litchfield Streets. Penn Central would send a road switcher up from Waterbury to Torrington during the week to switch out the local industries in Torrington. I have fond memories of afternoons watching the big black Penn Central locomotive switch out boxcars at Stone Container Company located on Summer Street. It appeared to be the same locomotive everyday. Being kids, we never thought to take a photo of the locomotive, believing it would always be coming to town.

Flash forward 36 years latter and now I am would like to model the Penn Central locomotive that came to Torrington back in the 1970's. Problem is, I can't remember whether it was a GP9 or GP7 and whether it had the dynamic brake "side bulge".

Does anyone know the Penn Central locomotive model or engine number that switched the Torrington Secondary Branch during 1974-1976?
Perhaps Noel Weaver can shed some light on this.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:26 am

It could probably be almost anything. Four axle for sure, I doubt if any GP-7's but RS-3's, GP-9's, U-25b's and maybe GP-38's. I did not get up that way that often in the 70's especially to Torrington (place of my birth) but my interest was and is still strong and I have memories too.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Ruzbasan » Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:44 am

Noel Weaver wrote:It could probably be almost anything. Four axle for sure, I doubt if any GP-7's but RS-3's, GP-9's, U-25b's and maybe GP-38's. I did not get up that way that often in the 70's especially to Torrington (place of my birth) but my interest was and is still strong and I have memories too.
Noel Weaver


Noel,
Thanks for your quick response. You actually narrowed it down for me with your answer. The PC locomotive I saw back then had a triangle nose and was a four axle high hood with a cab on the side. Since you rule out a GP7, it must have been a GP9. Now the question is whether it had dynamic brakes.

Gary
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:02 pm

Most of the GP-9's that ran on the former New Haven were either New Haven former 1200's or former Pennsylvania and so far as I know the former PRR GP-9's that ended up on the former New Haven Railroad were equipped with dynamic brakes. I had a set of three former PRR GP-9's one morning on BG-1 from Cedar Hill to Oak Point one Sunday morning and all three of them were DB equipped. They ran like a Swiss watch and did a beautiful job with that train. If you question is did the GP-9's that ran to Torrington have DB blisters, I would have to say practically all of them did.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Ruzbasan » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:14 am

Noel,
I have seen photos of a Penn Central RS11 working the Bristol, CT Freight Yard during the late 1960's. Was this just a odd event, or were there Penn Central RS11's based in Waterbury that could have also come to Torrington?
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:59 pm

Anything that was based in Waterbury could have gone to Torrington. I think the job to Bristol worked out of Waterbury for the most part so that too could probably have made it to Torrington as well. At some point in time the Penn Central made changes to the operations in and around Waterbury but I don't remember just when that happened. Conrail made even more changes there which eventually ended up with just one local out of Waterbury and a yard job that I think worked as needed, they had some sidings in Waterbury that could not accomodate anything bigger than a small yard engine such as an Alco/GE S-1 or an EMD SW-1.
The downhill ride in the Naugatuck was not sudden but gradual and was affected by every plant closing or cutback. An example of this was when Scovill cut back on their east end plant in Waterbury that spelled pretty much the end of the Dublin Street Branch in Waterbury as there wasn't much else out there.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby FLRailFan1 » Wed May 28, 2014 7:26 pm

What industries did PC served in the Naugatuck valley from Derby north to Torrington. Just like Ruzaban, I wish I took a few photos of the East Hartford Main Street branch (to Pratt Whitney) and the South Manchester branch.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby theastralcity » Thu May 29, 2014 5:50 pm

According to the Penn Central Diesel Spotter's Guide (which isn't always completely accurate so take it for what it is worth), GP7s were clustered on the western side of the network, while GP9s were common throughout.

As per the all-time roster, PC had about twice as many GP9s than GP7s. They also got dozens of RS11s, including 15 from the New Haven so it is quite possible that it was an ALCo, especially since the Spotter's Guide makes a direct mention of RS11s operating in Conn in 1974.

All of this is of course anecdotal. PC was a very diverse and weird when it came to motive power utilization.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Backshophoss » Thu May 29, 2014 7:43 pm

Did the "Dewitt geeps"(repowered RS-3's with 567's out of NYC E-units) wander around this area??
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Allen Hazen » Thu May 29, 2014 7:56 pm

I don't know about Torrington, but Dewitt Geeps were certainly used in Connecticut in the early/mid 1970s.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Noel Weaver » Thu May 29, 2014 8:14 pm

Allen Hazen wrote:I don't know about Torrington, but Dewitt Geeps were certainly used in Connecticut in the early/mid 1970s.


I don't think the "Dewitt Geeps" were common in the Naugatuck Valley. They did not mix well with the heavier road power and the line to Torrington had more grades after the Thomaston Dam was built in the late 50's. The "Dewitt Geeps" were better suited for yard power and I think they were quite common in both Hartford and New Haven during Penn Central.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Allen Hazen » Sat May 31, 2014 1:27 am

Noel--
Thanks! Makes sense that you don't want to climb hills with an 1125 hp engine, even if it does have four big GE traction motors. My statement about the RS3m's getting used in Connecticut was based on the Canal Line's daily freight often having one in the 1970s. But the Canal Line is, of course, characterized by water-level grades! (And the short freight and low speed were within the capability of an RS3m. Come to think of it, I ***think*** I saw the Canal Line freight handled by an SW-1200, but it's an old and unreliable memory.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat May 31, 2014 1:44 am

The Canal Local on the south end was based in Plainville and usually had either a RS-3 (500 class) or a SW-1200 (640 class) at least during the New Haven days. During Penn Central the Dewitt Geeps came in to play all over the place on light duty jobs and by this time the Canal was a good fit for them too.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby TomNelligan » Sat May 31, 2014 2:36 pm

FLRailFan1 wrote:What industries did PC served in the Naugatuck valley from Derby north to Torrington.


Working from 40+ year old memory here, a probably incomplete list for the towns south of Waterbury:

Derby -- Housatonic Lumber, Suburban Propane, Charlton Press, plus freight house/team track
Ansonia -- Farrell Corporation, American Brass, plus team track
Seymour -- Kerite, plus freight house/team track
Beacon Falls -- Peter Paul candy, plus industrial park warehouse (can't remember the name)
Naugatuck -- Uniroyal, Naugatuck Chemical

All but Kerite are gone now, either completely out of business or no longer shipping by rail, and Kerite gets just a few cars a year. I believe that Peter Paul was the next-to-last customer but they moved out of Beacon Falls maybe 10 years ago. The Metro North line south of Waterbury now has almost no freight activity.
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Re: Penn Central in Torrington

Postby mainetrain » Sat May 31, 2014 7:43 pm

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