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Nostalgia & History > 6 of Penn Central Road Power

Date: 06/23/22 15:39
6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: MartyBernard

1. PC GP35 2382 built Dec. 1964 as NYC 6138, no location, May 1973, Karl Miller photo.

2. PC GP38 7720 built July 1969 became CR 7720, no location, June 1974, Karl Miller photo.

3. PC GP38 7855 built June 1970 and became CR 7855 and then BNSF 2180, no location, May 1973, Karl Miller photo.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/22 15:49 by MartyBernard.

Date: 06/23/22 15:39
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: MartyBernard

4. PC GP38 7855 built June 1970 and became CR 7855 and then BNSF 2180, no location, May 1973, Karl Miller photo.

5. PC GP40 3246 built Dec. 1968 and became CR 3246, JD Tower, La Porte, IN, April 1975, Karl Miller photo.

6. PC SD40 6094 built March 1966 as PRR 6094 with 3 L&N units, no location, Oct. 1975, Karl Miller photo.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/22 15:41 by MartyBernard.

Date: 06/23/22 15:53
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: ironmtn

First and third images look like Logansport, Indiana. Thinking more about the second one. If the first and third are indeed at Logansport, then this PC train may be on the TP&W in the second image. And could that second image be Webster, Illinois on the TP&W maybe, crossing of the Milwaukee's line to southern Indiana?

Later edit: Nope. Probably not on the TP&W, but on the ex-NYC Kankakee Belt, with the small-head NYC searchlight signals over on the other side of the diamond. If on the Kankakee Belt, the diamond may be Delmar (Dell), Illinois, crossing of the Milwaukee's line to southern Indiana just east of Momence. It was a "cornfield junction" like this, and one where the lines crossed perpendicular like this one.

Above originally posted before you added the latter three.

Later after 4-5-6 posted: Number four could also be Logansport. Number six may be on the Kankakee Belt somewhere with an interchange train for the L&N at Momence, Ill. (MJ Tower / Pence) after L&N had gained its interest in the former C&EI along with MP from Chicago (Dolton) to Woodland Jct., Illinois. I think that's a pretty rare shot. Not a lot of images of L&N power in northern Illinois / northern Indiana, particularly in combination with PC power. And I really like those two U-boats, U25C's(?) (or maybe U28C's)!

And lookee what they spliced into the middle: what looks to be an L&N SDP35(?), with the squared-off steam generator extension on the end of the hood. Likely a hand-me-down from the SAL, per roster at thedieselshop.us, and moved down from passenger service on the Seaboard. Wow.

Great shot at the tower at La Porte, Indiana, too!

Just some guesses. In any case, some really fine images of good Penn Central action back in the day. PC could be a lot more interesting than many in the railfan community give it credit for being, and also hustled more than many recall. Working hard to turn things around, they ran a lot of run-through trains. The power mixes that you could see were really interesting, and evidenced working hard to run a better railroad. I recall a lot of interesting PC run-throughs with mixed power in Illinois back in the day, particularly from St. Louis to Terre Haute.

Great stuff, Marty and Karl. Thanks!


Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/22 19:33 by ironmtn.

Date: 06/24/22 10:42
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: ns2557

Iamages 1,3 & 4 all appear to be the same train at that. All 3 units appear in all 3 shots.  Ben

Date: 06/24/22 21:55
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: Roadmaster

ns2557 Wrote: "Images 1,3 & 4 all appear to be the same train at that. All 3 units appear in all 3 shots."

ironmtn correctly guessed that these photos were taken at Logansport.  After he posted that location, I took a look at aerial photography and maps to pinpoint the location.  I made some incorrect assumptions, which led me to believe that this was not Logansport.  However, when Marty posted the photo of the PRR PL lower head this afternoon https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,5495606 , I saw a couple of things in that photo that helped me dismiss those incorrect assumptions, and then I figured out the vantage points of each photo.

On the west side of Logansport was an interlocking called Van.  At Van, the Panhandle Chicago mainline, oriented geographically west-east, once crossed a PRR line that, while oriented north-south at Van, went west to Effner and north and east to South Bend and Vandale.  There was once a tower at Van; I do not know when it was taken down. By 1960 there were longer any diamonds at Van; there were, however, even into the 1970's, interchange tracks in all four quadrants.  In Western Region ETT #1 effective April 28, 1968, PC called the line to Effner the Effner Branch.  Going north from Van was the South Bend Branch, and at a point called Fern 1.2 miles north of Van, the Logansport Branch split and went to Vandale, a junction on Pennsy's Fort Wayne mainline in Columbia City.  (Technically, the ETT shows the Logansport Branch starting at Van as well.)

So what is going on in these photos?  In #1 we see 2382 leading a train off the Effner branch and turning towards Chicago, traversing the southwestern quadrant at Van in the process.  Note that there is a CNW boxcar, a Pennsy boxcar with the keystone logo on the trailing end, a GN boxcar, and another PRR boxcar with the keystone logo at the leading end.  In #3, we see 7855, the engine on the other end of the same consist, facing towards Chicago, but it is on the northwestern leg at Van, so if it is moving away from the photographer, it is headed towards Fern.  In #4 we see 7855 on the point with the same train in photo #1 - notice the same boxcars - on the same leg as in photo #1 heading towards Chicago from the Effner Branch.  I am guessing that the train came in from Effner with one of those engines leading and the crew took the power off the train to turn it. The crew first ran west on the mainline, then crossed over on the double track mainline to access the northwestern leg; after running through the northwestern leg, the crew then ran through the northeastern leg.  Then the crew came back west on the mainline, and finally backed against its train on the southwestern leg.  If that is so, then 7855 was the original leader into Logansport.  The chronological order of the photos would be #4, #3 and #1.  However, if the manuever was slightly different, with the consist going east on the mainline through Van before traversing the northeastern and northwestern interchange tracks, then 2382 was the original leader.  The chronological order of the photos would be #1, #3 and #4.  Your guess is as good as mine which scenario is correct.**  The photo in the post about the lower PL signal head referenced at the beginning of this post also documents this manuever, showing the consist with 2382 facing east at the mainline end of the southwestern connection.

**Hmm, I looked at that photo from the post about the signal head and realized that there is a crew member on the front platform, as if he is expecting to step off it to tend to something ahead of him, perhaps a train with a CNW boxcar at the head end that he'll couple onto shortly.  If that's true, then 2382 led bringing that train to Van.

Matthew Dittert

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/22 06:29 by Roadmaster.

Date: 06/24/22 22:21
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: Roadmaster

Now what about photos #2 and #6?  My research leads me to assert that neither of these trains were on the Kankakee Belt.

#2 cannot be Delmar, as the Kankakee Belt curves through the crossing of the Milwaukee Road there.  I looked at several other crossings on the Kankakee Belt that I thought might be candidates.  These included Shelby, where the Monon main to Chicago crossed, and North Liberty, where the Wabash mainline running east out of Chicago crossed.  Note that there is a large building in the distance on the right side of photo #2.  While everything else about the environs at Shelby seemed like a match if the photographer was looking at an eastbound on the Kankakee Belt, there was not a large building northwest of the diamond.  North Liberty, however, was looking like a winner to me.  There, the open feel was correct looking at an eastbound on the Kankakee Belt, which, at North Liberty, would been heading due north on a long tangent track and then curving northeast a little ways after crossing the Wabash, and there were some large low profile buidings to the southwest of the diamond.  The lighting of the train looked right for an eastbound (facing north) in the morning, too.  However, I found  those buildings at North Liberty had peaked roofs, with the gables facing north and south; no gables are visible on those buildings in photo #2.  So, it is not North Liberty.  All other crossings were obviously not candidates at first glance, with too many tracks or roads or buidlings that would have to be in the picture.

I still want to figure out where this is.  Could it be on the Peoria and Eastern?  Could it be on the Egyptian line?   Could it be on another ex-NYC line radiating from Elkhart?  I plan to keep looking at maps and aerial photos and other online photos to figure it out.

Regarding #6, I am happy to say that I have a positive identifcation.  I can credit Marty's further posting of PC photos and the passage of time for my having a Eureka moment of sorts this afternoon.  The 6094 and L&N assistants are passing through North Judson on the Panhandle, heading towards Chicago.  Perhaps ironmtn can tell us whether the L&N units would have been interchanged at Louisville or Cincinnati.  The Pennsy depot is partially visible over the last locomotive and the PC coil car, and the top of the home signal for the crossings of the Kankakee Belt and the EL is sticking up over the cab of the SDP35.  See photo #6 in this post https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,5495542 for better views of the depot and the home signal.  Oh, the interchange track with the Kankakee Belt is visible at the right edges of both photos #6.  That waybill box, however, is visible only in #6 of this thread.

Matthew Dittert

Date: 06/25/22 06:54
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: inrdjlg

Regarding photo #6, I'm thinking that the train is one of the ULG coal trains that L&N and PC (and later Conrail) used to run.  (ULG=unit train from Lynch, Kentucky, to Gary, Indiana.)  I grew up on the Panhandle at Redkey, Indiana.  During earlier years, NYC and PRR had shared the ULG trains, and even after the PC merger, some of them continued to be routed through Indianapolis.  By the mid 1970's, however, the trains would head north from Cincinnati on the ex-PRR Richmond Branch and GR&I to Ridgeville, then turn west to Logansport and beyond.  When the ex-NYC Cincinnati Northern branch was upgraded, and improved connections had been put in place, the ULG trains would leave Cincinnati on the ex-NYC towards Dayton, then make a left turn at Carlisle Junction to travel the CN up to Ansonia, use a short segment of the Big Four main to Union City, then get on the Panhandle there.  

PC and L&N power were often pooled on the ULGs.  In addition, at least once or twice, I saw eastbound empty trains with a handful of covered coil cars tucked in behind the power, ahead of the empty hoppers.  However, I don't remember seeing any coil cars added to the westbound coal loads, though, so photo #6 is different in that respect.   

Date: 06/27/22 22:29
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: Roadmaster

Here's a photo of Van interlocking, complete with tower, looking east along the mainline towards downtown Logansport. The photo is dated is 4/12/1974. That is the southwestern interchange track diverging to the right, leading towards Effner.


Matthew Dittert

Date: 06/28/22 07:41
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: ironmtn

Roadmaster Wrote:
> Perhaps ironmtn can
> tell us whether the L&N units would have been
> interchanged at Louisville or Cincinnati. 

Sorry, I can't. I would have given the nod to Cinci as a guess, but purely a guess. But I think inrdjlg's post above about the ULG coal trains pretty much nails Cinci as the interchange point. I've seen images of PC power at DeCoursey Yard south of Cincinnati in Kentucky, so if there was a changeout point, that may have been it. As interesting a question is whether the PC power ran through to the mines in Kentucky. Now with this info on the ULG coal trains, I'm going to have to search for photos of PC power deep in the eastern Kentucky coal fields, such as at the yard and coal marshaling point of Harlan. I don't have any of Ron Flanary's fine L&N books (why not??), so I'll just have to search online.

I had never heard of the ULG coal trains, but it sure is an interesting operation. Probably high quality metallurgical coal, perhaps bound for U.S. Steel at Gary. Given the origin point at Lynch, Ky., deep in a Harlan County coal hollow east of Harlan and Cumberland on the former L&N (and not far away from the famed Hagan switchbacks, which the train would not have had to use, with the mine site at Lynch likely being west of there), movement through Cincinnati would be logical.

Great discussion - thanks to everyone. I really enjoy these historical operations sleuthing sessions, and the look back that they give. I only wish I had made it to the PC points mentioned in this discussion back in those days (I wasn't that far away in Chicago in college) to see the show.

See what happens, Marty, when you post excellent historical images like these from Karl Miller?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/22 07:55 by ironmtn.

Date: 06/28/22 18:33
Re: 6 of Penn Central Road Power
Author: Roadmaster

ironmtn Wrote: " . . . I don't have any of Ron Flanary's fine L&N books . . . "

I am almost in the same boat; I have ONE of his books, that one being "The Louisville and Nashville in the Appalachians", with Dave Oroszi and Garland McKee listed as co-authors.  There are a couple of shots of L&N trains south of the Ohio with PC power; while one is a transfer run into Latonia from north of the Ohio, the other are two long-distance freights, and one photo with three PC SD45's leading a coal train really caught my eye.  Flanary attributes the appearance of PC power on these trains to L&N's power shortage in the mid-70's which led L&N to lease lots of units from PC, as well as units from CN and C&O/B&O.  Flanary does state that one of L&N's early unit coal trains took coal to steel plants in Gary.

ironmtn also wrote: " . . . Great discussion. . . . See what happens, Marty, when you post excellent historical images like these from Karl Miller?"

Up until Marty posted these photos, my nearly universal reaction to the words "Penn Central" was apathy.  I'm not sure why that has changed now.  It might have been your references to Logansport and the Kankakee Belt.  Some years back I bought a copy of Robert Olmsted's "The Streator Connection" which taught me about the Kankakee Belt.  Oh, and the Kankakee Belt passed through one my favorite interlockings: North Judson, which I learned about studying the EL.  I knew that Logansport had been an important spot on the Panhandle, and that the TP&W had been abandoned there by Conrail.  At any rate, I've enjoyed jumping in and looking at maps and old aerial photos and poking around online and through some books.

I still haven't figured out where photo #2 of this thread was taken.  I'm tempted to re-post this photo in a new thread and pose some questions, especially concerning which lines Penn Central upgraded.  While the home signal says NYC, especially Michigan Central, I see some continuous welded rail under that train.

Matthew Dittert

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