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Railroaders' Nostalgia > EL Utica Branch Memory

Date: 07/11/20 06:15
EL Utica Branch Memory
Author: train1275

Probably my favorite locomotives were the 15 ex DL&W GP-7's numbered by EL as 1270 - 1284.
The 1270 - 1273 were built at La Grange but the 1274 - 1284 were built at Plant #3 in Cleveland, OH

Two of them were rated at 1700 tons south out of Utica on Paris Hill. In a word they were pure work horses. day in and day out. A two unit set would leave Utica about 7pm on The Bull and do a turn to Binghamton. Returning to Utica they were split up; one to the yard job and the other to the Sherburne local. They would tie up late afternoon at Utica, be MU'ed and do another Binghamton turn. Crews absolutely loved them to a man. On the Utica side the ex DL&W men called these 15 "Our Engines" to distinguish them from the 1200's that were ex Erie. We got rarely a DL&W 1400, usually the 1405 for some reason would make an appearance and from time to time ex ERIE units would invade the roster, in particular on the 1972 - 74 era Scranton Bull.  After Conrail "Our Engines" went west to Meadville and we got ex Erie's ultimately renumbered by Conrail as 5900's.

This scene was made by an old 1940's Kodak 620 Box Camera. as EL 1275 made her way south on the Norwich Local, commonly referred to as the Norwich Roustabout in old DL&W language. But times are changing and I think the slight blur of the focal plane shutter is indicative of the changing time. It's May 1976 and its now Conrail. The EL is beginning to fade and change into a new era and the scenes will only be memories now  for the EL itself is gone. The nicely painted engines with what I always thought was a powerful logo will be gone or corrupted into an interum Conrail scheme. The DL&W era painted relay boxes and flangers a holdover into EL days will also be changed to silver in Conrail days and soon the pure cinder ballast will be infused with stone when NYSW comes six years in the future.

But for now we have the 1275 racing for home to Norwich seen here south of Sherburne, probably closer to the 40 mph EL speed than the Conrail 30 mph speed. The engineer and conductor are ex DL&W men and we can enjoy one last look of the past. The 1275 is heading into a bit of cloud cover and the sun is lit up behind as a reminder of the glory days for this operation are behind us in the past. 

It sure was fun back then !  Prior to April 1st we had the New England freights detoured to the PC from when the Poughkeepsie Bridge burned in May 1974 and this line hosted Penn Central detours the Saturday before Conrail. Heady times for this 105# rail cinder ballasted line.

Date: 07/11/20 06:24
Re: EL Utica Branch Memory
Author: perklocal

Great photo  !   Thanks for the operational history lesson. Gotta love a turn job known as "The Bull"

Date: 07/11/20 06:35
Re: EL Utica Branch Memory
Author: train1275

I have never been able to learn the origin of the name The Bull, but it dates back at least to the teens, pre- WWI.
Some have said it was originally a job posted as BU-11 but so far I can't verify that. Others said it was because it just "bulled" it's way through from one end to the other.

I do suspect that it had some connection to "BU" - Binghamton to Utica. Normally the train was 1812 south and BU-19 north officially. On Sunday's it was a different schedule to catch the milk car at Greene and marked as 1820 south as the local was off.

Btw - besides the Conductor and Engineer having been on the DL&W payroll, and the 1275 being ex DL&W, the caboose on this job was the C-876, one of those nice steel DL&W Keyser Valley shops jobs. The story was that Conrail pulled this one off as it had a coal stove and they didn't want to buy any more coal. It was replaced ultimately by a fuel oil heated ex Lehigh Valley caboose until the line was sold in 1982.  The Norwich engine being fueled by a local fuel dealer (Mirabito).

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/11/20 16:00 by train1275.

Date: 07/12/20 15:53
Re: EL Utica Branch Memory
Author: ns2557

Great Shot and background on it and the train. Its nice to see and read what the Photographers recall about a ceratin shot. I can still look at a shot I took almost 50 years or so ago and recall every detail as to when/where/what. It amazes me my recall on such things.(Like now, I sit here and listen to songs from the late 60 era thru to the early 90's, thats because I believe that time frame is when all music, to me at least, became just noise with  words and no substance to the lyrics) So many thanks for sharing this shot. It brought back a flood of memories. Ben

Date: 07/13/20 17:48
Re: EL Utica Branch Memory
Author: Locoinsp

Great shot and a great story, Doug!

Date: 07/13/20 21:13
Re: EL Utica Branch Memory
Author: cewherry

train1275 Wrote:
> I have never been able to learn the origin of the
> name The Bull, but it dates back at least to the
> teens, pre- WWI.
> Some have said it was originally a job posted as
> BU-11 but so far I can't verify that. Others said
> it was because it just "bulled" it's way through
> from one end to the other.

Not to detract from your wonderful post but merely to add some background 'color'; the term "Bull" or "Bull Engine"
is one that I became familiar with all the way across the country in Southern Pacific country. For several weeks in the
1960's I worked the "Bullring Bull" at a small SP yard in Los Angeles known officially as "The Bullring". As might be
suspected, our task was to 'Bull', or switch if you will, our way within the limited confines of our namesake yard.
Not to be confused, at the same time there was another job that called the Bullring 'home'; the "Bullring Tramp", whose
duty it was to deliver and receive cuts of cars to and from adjoining yards. To be sure, other yards had their "Bull" engines
but this "Bull" assignment seemed to bathe in its aptly named description. There was no doubt what you were going to do
when you were called for this job; 'bull' cars around the yard.
Just another colorful railroad term lost to the current generation. Thanks for your two posts and their significance.



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