• Abandoning the former BR&P through Orchard Park

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  • 365 posts
  • 1
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  by BR&P
 
Fred, I'm not up to date on what is going on over there. But two questions come to mind regarding what you post:

1. What traffic would be moved that would warrant restoring rail service? Freight now moves over the former PRR which gets you from and to essentially the same end points. It would seem any new traffic which shows up could use the existing route rather than restoring what has been removed.

2. Why would the state be looking at restoring traffic, as opposed to an actual railroad - i.e. B&P?

Off the cuff I'd say it's fake news. If someone has information which suggests otherwise, I'll gladly reconsider my thinking..
  by fredmcain
 
Thanks for your response. Since I asked this question a few days ago, I contacted the general manager of the B&P and he told he doesn't know anything about this so the whole thing must be just another railfan rumor.

I think that it's sad that we lost this line. I hate to see any line go but it looks to me as though maintenance costs on the old PRR line you cited were considerably lower so in a way the decision makes sense.

Still, I wish that when a railroad wants to discontinue service, that they could just mothball the line with the rails, bridges, culverts, etc. in place. That way if anything should change in the distant future there could be a chance for restoration. But once the rails get pulled up and the property converted to other uses, there is no chance.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
  by BR&P
 
Even railbanking does not guarantee survival. Quite a few years back some outfit took over some track, IIRC there were two segments and the part in between had been shut down but not officially abandoned. When the new outfit attempted to restore service, the NIMBY's in the middle waged a hard court battle and prevailed. If anybody recognizes the situation I'm talking about please confirm, or correct any parts I'm not remembering right. Seems to me it was in Ohio but again it was a long time ago.

Since B&P handles their traffic over the old PRR line, any restoration of the B&P/B&O/BR&P line would require some very major source of on-line traffic. Furthermore, as far as I know that line has been officially and formally abandoned so whoever wanted to put it back would have to essentially start from scratch - STB hearings, acquisition of property which may have been built upon, environmental studies, trail people who would rather have a place to walk than taxpaying industries - you name it. The legalities would take decades and the lawyers' bills would bankrupt Bill Gates. And that's before you replace the very first tie.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see that line operational. Reality says there's no way in the world it would ever happen. :(
  by Matt Langworthy
 
BR&P wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 3:35 pm Even railbanking does not guarantee survival. Quite a few years back some outfit took over some track, IIRC there were two segments and the part in between had been shut down but not officially abandoned. When the new outfit attempted to restore service, the NIMBY's in the middle waged a hard court battle and prevailed. If anybody recognizes the situation I'm talking about please confirm, or correct any parts I'm not remembering right. Seems to me it was in Ohio but again it was a long time ago.
The railbanked line was a former NYC segment in/near Beechwood, PA. RJ Corman wanted to revive it but trail nuts and NIMBYs successfully sued to stop the project.
  by BR&P
 
Matt, that sounds like the type of thing I'm talking about, but not THE instance. I think I read about it in the old "The Short Line" magazines that were published 20- 30 years ago. But the idea is the same.
  by fredmcain
 
Matt Langworthy wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 6:58 pm <SNIP>

The railbanked line was a former NYC segment in/near Beechwood, PA. RJ Corman wanted to revive it but trail nuts and NIMBYs successfully sued to stop the project.
Matt,

How can they do this? I was under the distinct impression that the ICC and now the STB has final say over these matters and that if the STB gives the company a clear block then that trumps local concerns and interests.

Has that changed? If so, our country is in real trouble because local interests can then start throwing their weight around and interfering with interstate commerce.

Or, was it more a case that RJ Corman lost interest in pursuing the issue any further?

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
  by BR&P
 
Fred, sadly that's getting to be the case in too many ways. I don't want to turn this into a political discussion, but politics DOES enter into stuff like this in many ways. In theory, yes, interstate commerce comes under various regulatory agencies such as the STB. On a very local level, the opposition can originate with NIMBYs who don't want trains in their back yards, or maybe those who feel coal is bad for the environment. (using Matt's mention of Corman in PA, which I presume was to move coal). They are welcome to their opinion but the issue SHOULD be decided by appropriate legal channels and existing regulations.

One problem can arise when the opposing forces draw out a long legal battle which can take years and eat up the railroad's money. They can literally make the railroad's plans too expensive to pursue. Local ordinances can be passed which prevent or limit the rail's efforts, and the line has the choice to pay lawyers to appeal in ever-higher courts until they prevail, or forget it.

There is no end to the stupidity and warped thinking people come up with. Someone will buy a house next to a rail line which has been active 140 years, then complain about passing trains. In one instance, a railroad received irate calls from someone who had just bought a house by a branch line used a few times a week. The person said the real estate agent told them the tracks were not used anymore, or else they would not have bought the house. Somehow they seemed to think the railroad should cease operations because of what the agent said!

Arrgh! Don't get me started! :P I'll just leave it with this:

"Things are not as we WISH them to be. Things are not as they may APPEAR to be. Things are not as others CLAIM them to be. Things are as they REALLY are." REALITY is that even if Toyota wanted to build an assembly plant on the old BR&P line, and if someone else wanted to build a tax-paying, people-employing salt mine there, and someone else wanted to build a lumber distribution facility needing rail there, it still probably would never happen.
  by fredmcain
 
Dear BR&P,

I think those are good thoughts that you posted. I find myself agreeing with what you'd said.

As for "getting too political" - that's kinda hard not to do. Railroads have always, from their early beginnings, been very, very political. That was true in the 1800s and it's still true today.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
  by BR&P
 
Fred, I agree. Politics, both aboveboard and crooked, have always been an integral part of railroading. I was speaking more in terms of this forum. We can discuss the political implications of railroading past and present, that's fine. I just didn't want it to stray into our own opinions on today's situation which is easy to do these days. (translation: "Don't get me started" :P :P :P ) Personally I value the input and knowledge of everybody on here, and really don't care whether they voted for or against my candidate.

It does not matter whether you are the Union Pacific, or the Podunk and Western Shortline. Your business will be be impacted for better or worse by politicians, from Washington down to the village commissioner. It's just another of those "reality" things.

To get back on thread topic, I'd say the 2 largest factors that led to the abandonment of this line were maintenance costs and the lack of major on-line traffic. Both of those would still be factors today if someone were to try to put it back in. How would they deal with major bridges, drainage, soft roadbed etc? And what would they haul over the track once it was hypothetically restored?

A railroad president once observed "When you come right down to it, there are very few customers who absolutely HAVE to have rail service". Sad but true.
  by fredmcain
 
Dear BR&P,

Well, I can say this: I first became interested in this line through a highly unusual set of circumstances. About 15 years ago I read a brief account, recorded in Catherine Harris-Ainsworth's book The Legends of New York State about a phantom train wreck that supposedly re-enacts itself in the Zoar Valley. According to the legend, on a very dark, foggy and spooky night, folks have heard the train crash and the screams of the dying passengers.

Huh! Well, I have to admit that although I am very skeptical that a ghost train like that could possibly exist, I DID believe that the legend was based on an one-time, actual event. So, naturally I wanted to find out exactly what part of the Zoar Valley this happened in, when and on what railroad.

Well, guess, what? I couldn’t find a railroad. The closest I could come was to hone in on the BR&P’s Springville Trestle. I found a picture taken from the bottom of the stream bed that clearly showed what looked like some very old piers from an earlier trestle.

Aha ! I found it! This had to be the trestle that collapsed! Unfortunately, historical records do not show that that ever happened there. There was an earlier viaduct that was later replaced by the railroad so that they could run heavier trains. The railroad then simply dismantled the old bridge. The bridge you still see today is the second bridge that was there – or so I learned. Does anybody know different?

When I researched this in 2005 the line was still very much there. They weren’t operating it as a through route at the time but there was a lot of speculation that the B&P would eventually restore the line. Sadly, that never happened and they finally filed an application to abandon the route.

I think it’s a darn shame. With the scenery of that trestle, it might’ve made a nice tourist train operation in conjunction with whatever freight traffic they could secure but it is what it is, I guess. If I had been the president or general manager of the B&P, in all likelihood I would’ve made the same decision.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
  by BR&P
 
Fred, it seems to me we had a thread about that ghost train stuff on here many years ago, or maybe it was some other site linked to it.

If you don't already have them, here's 3 books you might be interested in. Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburgh Ry by Paul Pietrak is petty much the "bible" of BR&P history. While there are a couple minor errors IIRC, it's got a ton of history on the railroad with plenty of pictures too.

Also Morning Sun book Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburgh Ry In Color by Mike Zllitsch Volume 1 (Vols. 4 and 5 also have coverage of that subdivision as well). Obviously the color pics are from B&O and Chessie days not the BR&P itself

And "Train Wrecks And Disasters" by Bill Fries is a collection of newspaper accounts of major wrecks. It's not all-inclusive and skips some but very interesting reading anyway.

With those 3 (or 5 depending on how many of Mike's volumes we're talking about) you'll have a pretty good idea of what that line used to be through the years.
  by fredmcain
 
BR&P,

You know what? There once was a Yahoo! e-group on either the B&P or the BP&R, I cannot remember now anymore but I was on that group for a while and I’m thinking I did ask that question once before on that group. Sadly, all those Yahoo! groups are now defunct.

Anyhow, for anyone on this group who hasn’t heard the ghost story, I don’t have it in front of me now, but from memory it goes something like this:

There once was a railroad, now abandoned, that crossed the Zoar Valley right at the deepest spot of the gorge on an enormous, spidery trestle that connected two towns on either side of the chasm.

On one very dark, foggy and spooky night, the passenger train came through, right on time at 10:00 o’clock. The engineer saw too late that the bridge was out and slammed the brakes. But it was too late! The train crashed into the abyss. People living in the nearby villages could hear the crash of the train and screams of the dying passengers.
And now, on certain very dark, foggy and creepy nights, it has been reported that some people have heard the train crash and the screams of the passengers.


This account appeared in Ainsworth’s book in 1982. Then later is was reprinted in Tony Reevy’s book Ghost Train. Guess what? As far as I could tell there were NO abandoned railroads in the Zoar Valley area before the early 2000s when the BR&P line was abandoned. At the other end of the Valley the old Erie line through Gowanda is still active and that road didn’t cross a high trestle in any event.

So, I am tempted to suspect that the account of the Zoar Valley train wreck could very well have been a figment of one individual’s imagination. Until and unless someone else can find some information that shows otherwise.

I do have one of those books on the BR&P. I’ll have to check again. I don’t think I have the other two. I'll see if I can find 'em.

Thanks for your help !

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
  by BR&P
 
You have jogged my memory, I think that Yahoo group was where I previously heard of this tale. I was on that group, then it changed to .io and apparently some time after that I was supposed to do something or click something and didn't, and got dropped. If I ever find an extra can of "spare time" maybe I'll try getting back on but you know how THAT goes!
  • 1
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25