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State College station

For most of the Bellefonte Central Railroad's life, State College was its western terminus.

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower came to State College by train. His brother, Milton, was president of the Pennsylvania State College. You can read more in the article POTUS to Penn State.

milepost

Just outside of State College was Struble, which was the location of a wye for turning power and/or trains. It had a stub end to the south for most of its life, but for a short while was the connection to the Fairbrook and Pine Grove Mills branches.

Welcome!

It’s central Pennsylvania in the 1950s. The average car sells for $1,750 and gasoline is 20 cents a gallon.The average house costs $14,500 and a loaf of bread is 14 cents. Milk is 82 cents a gallon and a first class postage stamp is 3 cents. The stock market is at 235. The average annual salary is $3,800 and minimum wage is 75 cents per hour.

Fats Domino, Hank Williams, and Nat “King” Cole are topping the charts. The top movie is Cinderella from Disney, joined by All About Eve and John Ford’s Rio Grande featuring John Wayne.

The Pennsylvania Railroad has re-equipped its passenger trains and Walter S. Franklin is its president. The railroad has three regions and 19 divisions. Steam is still in use but dieselization is well under way.

Join us at the Lewistown, on the main line between Harrisburg and Altoona. It’s fall and the extra traffic on the highways is a tip off that Penn State has a home football game. Have a seat trackside and enjoy the sights and sounds of The Standard Railroad of the World!

1956 express train

Hunter s Park.standalone.prod affiliate.42

IMG 0009Diesel Locomotives

  • Frame and walkways painted Black
  • Body painted Navy (Ace Premium Gloss Enamel)
  • "PENNSYLVANIA MIDLAND" lettering Futura Bold
    • White 
    • Above railing on hood units
    • Middle panel on cab units
    • 13 point first letters; 12 point remaining letters
  • Road number lettering Futura Bold
    • White
    • 18 points
    • Centered on cab below window on hood units
    • xxx on cab units

IMG 0010Cabooses

  • Frame and walkways painted Black
  • Body painted Navy (Ace Premium Gloss Enamel)
  • "PENNSYLVANIA MIDLAND" lettering Futura Bold
    • White 
    • Centered on body underneath windows
    • 13 point first letters; 12 point remaining letters
  • Optional "A Penn Family Line" lettering Futura Italic
    • White 
    • Centered on body underneath "PENNSYLVANIA MIDLAND"
    • 11 point letters
  • Road number lettering Futura Bold
    • White
    • 18 points
    • Centered on cupola underneath windows

pm header

The Pennsylvania Midland Railroad is a 39 mile railroad constructed enable a 150 mile bridge route between Beech Creek, Pa., and Cumberland, Md. [This is an account of a fictional but plausable railroad placed in history and topography with other railroads of the time.]

The Pennsylvania Midland has its roots in the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain and Bellefonte Central railroads.

The Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad

huntingdonpa1895The Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Coal Company (H&BTM) was chartered in May 1852, to provide a rail link from Huntingdon to Bedford, and to provide a competitive alternate route to local coal producers to break the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's monopoly on coal that was being shipped from the Cumberland, Maryland, area. It ran through Bedford and Huntingdon counties.

bedfordpa1895However, the completion of the Bedford Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910 allowed the PRR to divert most of the lucrative through traffic from the Cumberland area away from the H&BTM. Significant revenues were lost as a result.

 

 

 

 

The Bellefonte Central Railroad

centrepa1895The Bellefonte Central Railroad was organized in May 1882 and was a short line connecting Bellefonte, Pa. with State College, Pa., in Centre county. The 18 mile line served to hauled local iron ore to furnaces in the Bellefonte region, and later hauled freight traffic to the Pennsylvania State University and lime for steelmaking from local quarries.

The line handled massive tonnage in lime products, but only transported it a few miles for handoff to the Pennsylvania Railroad at Bellefonte. Seeking to profit from more mileage for their efforts, the Bellefonte Central pursued several options for expansion1.

In 1894 the line was extended from Struble to Pine Grove Mills, Pa., at the base of Stone Mountain.

IMG 2471The first expansion was from Bellefonte to the north to Milesburg, Pa., then northeasterly to a connection with the New York Central at Beech Creek, Pa. This connection provided an increase in mileage for lime traffic, but also opened the door to new customers via the NYC. [Though considered, this expansion was never built.]

The second expansion was from Pine Grove Mills to Huntingdon, Pa., via a 1,000 foot tunnel through Stone Mountain. By extending to Huntingdon, the line connected with the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad, allowing the Bellefonte Central to form part of a coal route tapping the Broad Top field on behalf of the New York Central. [Though considered, this expansion was never built.]

The Pennsylvania Midland Railroad Company

The Penn Midland was formed in 1915, a joint venture of the Bellefonte Central Railroad and the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad. Its purpose was to connect the southern end of the H&BTM (at Everett, Pa.) directly with Cumberland, Md. 

The Bellefonte Central received 44% of the new company's stock; the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain 28%. These amounts were based on the percentage of route miles each railroad contributed to the bridge route. To finance construction of the line, the remaining 28% was sold in even portions (7%) to each of the bridge route participants -- the Baltimore & Ohio, the Western Maryland, the New York Central, and the Reading.

The Penn Midland also opened new opportunities in sand and lime quarrying and lumbering operations. 

mifflinpa1895In 1941, the Penn Midland leased trackage rights on the Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad (KV) in Mifflin county. The KV had fallen on hard times. It had constructed an inter-mountain extension [an expansion it had actually considered2] to reach Greenwood Furnace. When the iron ore industry dried up, the KV was left with debt from which it could not recover on its own. A short connector was constructed from McAlevy's Fort to Greenwood Furnace to allow through traffic.

Inter Mountain Railroad

The Pennsylvania Midland is a member of The Penn Family Lines consortium.

"The Midland Route"

While the Pennsylvania Midland Railroad served local customers between its end points, the larger objective of the line was to complete a bridge line from Cumberland, Md., to Beech Creek, Pa., a distance of 150 miles. The collective efforts of the three railroads -- the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad, the Bellefonte Central Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Midland Railroad -- were collectively referred to as the The Midland Route.

Such a route was not only plausable, but has factual roots in the history of the South Penn Railroad. Most think of Vanderbilt's New York Central when discussing the South Penn, but involved parties extended to the Reading, the Western Maryland, and the Baltimore & Ohio. The latter, in fact, had actually surveyed a route from an interchange with the H&BTM at Everett, Pa., to its main line at Hancock, Md.3

In Branchline Empires, Mike Bezilla writes, "In May 1912, newspapers reported that the New York Central wanted to acquire the Bellefonte Central and the Central Railroad of Pennsylvania, a relatively new short line that ran between Bellefonte and a connection with the New York Central at Mill Hall, Clinton County. It was widely rumored that the NYC planned the acquisition as the first step in a larger effort to reach the Broad Top coalfields and then establish a connection with the Western Maryland Railway near Cumberland, Maryland."4

Of the BFC's president, Bezilla also writes, "Frazer's ambitions for the Bellefonte Central went far beyond State College. He envisioned the BFC as a bridge line between the coal-hauling Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad to the southwest and the Beech Creek Railroad to the northeast.."4

A significant merchandise transloading operation was implemented at Everett. In addition to the Midland Route partners (NYC, RDG, B&O, WM), Everett also offered local connections with the Pennsylvania Railroad (via Bedford) and The Penn Family Lines. PRR "Merchandise Service", B&O "Sentinel Service" and NYC "Pacemaker Service" "home road" cars frequented the facility.

-------------------------------------------------
1 Bezilla, Michael and Rudnicki, Jack, Rails to Penn State: The Story of the Bellefonte Central, Stackpole Books, 2007. 310 pp., 50 photos, 25 maps.
2 Hartzler, John G., The Ol' Hook & Eye, A History of the Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad. Self-published. ISBN 978-0-9620642-1-0.
3 Harwood, Herbert H., The Railroad That Never Was: Vanderbilt, Morgan and the South Pennsylvania Railroad, Indiana University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-253-35548-5.
4 Bezilla, Michael, Branchline Empires; The Pennsylvania and the New York Central Railroads, Indiana University Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-253-02958-4.

Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society

The Society's mission is to further scholarly learning and interest in the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and its predecessor companies by stimulating and encouraging the collecting, researching, recording and preserving of all technical, historical and practical information concerning the PRR and to make this information available to interested persons in appropriate ways, such as publications, meetings, and the maintenance of a research archive. In addition, the Society hopes to further accurate modeling.

I have served on the Society's Modeling Committee, working with manufacturers to produce accurate PRR models.

Northern Central Chapter

I have served as chapter president, vice president, webmaster, and as a volunteer in the hosting of annual meetings.

New England Chapter

I have served as a volunteer in the hosting of annual meetings.

Middle Division Chapter

I have served as the chapter's webmaster.

footer logoNational Model Railroad Association

The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA), an organization of model railroaders, advances the worldwide scale model railroading community through education and standards as well as advocacy and fellowship.

logo vectorMid-Eastern Region

The Mid-Eastern Region (MER) is one of seventeen Regions within NMRA.  The MER includes Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, plus parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and North Carolina.  There are about 2,000 members in the MER.  MER activities include at least one convention each year – normally in the fall.

Susquehanna Division

I have served as a director of the Division and as chair of the Events Committee. I have served as a volunteer in the annual model railroad open house event.

Operations Special Interest Group

The principal purpose of the Operations Special Interest Group (OPSIG) is to discuss, develop and disseminate ways of operating model railroads to realistically emulate practices of the prototype.

 

 

The Great Scale Model Train Show

The Great Scale Model Train Show for over 28 years has provided a marketplace for everyone who enjoys building, operating, or simply watching scale model railroads. It's the largest show in the country dedicated to "scale" model trains, -- model trains that are intended to be reasonably accurate scale models. Merchandise at the shows includes all the common scales from Z to large scale. And there's much more than just the trains -- shop for scenery, tools, electronics, parts, videos, books, buildin supplies, software, display cases... everything you could want to make your hobby more enjoyable! Held quarterly in Timonium, Md.

01598 mAfter an eight year stint in N scale, I decided to return to HO scale in early 2008. For the next two years, I considered various locales to model.

I initially focused on the Cumberland Valley Branch. It’s actually only a few miles from my lifelong home, so I’ve had a decent amount of exposure to it. I pondered modeling the east end of Enola as the yard and engine facility. However, it lacked in scenery and was very light on passenger traffic.

I eventually decided upon the Milroy Branch. I had been fascinated with the Milroy line from an early age. I frequented Penn State football games with my family and the trip to those games passed over the line several times. It had very unique white ballast, compared to the gray ballast typical on Pennsylvania railroads. In my early research, I learned that this fairly short line boasted a ton of traffic during the 1950s. A Bethlehem Steel-owned quarry ran dedicated trains of limestone from a quarry to their steel mills in Johnstown. Standard Steel in Burnham exchanged 30 or so cars a day. And the American Viscose (rayon) plant in Lewistown was busy enough to be shifted twice a day. Lewistown had classification yard at its junction with the main line, as well as a downtown yard for shifting the many inbounds and outbounds from the immediate area. The striking mountain passes and trout streams along the line offered much potential for scenery.

Givens & Druthers:

Scale: HO.
Gauge: Standard.
Era: Early fall, early 1950s.
Region: Central Pennsylvania.
Prototype: Pennsylvania Railroad plus freelance Pennsylvania Midland.
Space: Approx. 32′ by 32′ overall, with obstacles.
Governing Rolling Stock: 85′ passenger cars on main line; 50′ cars on secondary lines.
Operating Priorities: • Branch line operations with a meaningful level of switching operations.
• A main line interchange yard with classification opportunities.
• A locomotive maintenance facility.
• Computer-based turnout and signaling control.
• Main line operations, at least at the vignette level.
• Passenger traffic; I love varnish!
• An era and locale where steam and diesel power can coexist.
• Opportunities for stunning scenery.
Operating Crew: 10-12

Control Systems:

Digitrax Super Chief DCC system.
Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI).

Construction on the new railroad began in May 2010.

The PRR Middle Division Main Line

main line 130521The main line is presented as a vignette. The four track mainline makes a 120 foot loop around the train room. There is an in-line 18 track staging yard, with four or five tracks routed to each of the four main line tracks. Each staging track holds a train consist that is “representative” of one or more trains that run during the schedule. Passenger trains are modeled after the actual Makeup of Trains book; freights per the Schedule of Arranged Freight Service.

Other than running the throttle and obeying the signals, there won’t be much for the main line road crews to do. But then again, I have several operators that prefer to run through trains.

The end of staging to the east represents Harrisburg/Enola; to the west, Altoona. Heading west, a train will come out of staging just east of the Lewistown Station, pass the “upper yard” at Lewistown Junction, pass through LEWIS interlocking, pass Mt. Union, then head into staging again.

A few passenger trains stop at Lewistown, but not many. One east bound freight and one west bound freight stop at Lewistown to exchange a block of cars. There is one dedicated freight from Altoona that brings an entire train into Lewistown and takes another back.

Tower Operations

LEWIS tower commands a full four-track interlocking at the end of the “upper yard” at Lewistown Junction. An additional set of crossovers in front of the Lewistown station is remoted to the tower. LEWIS talks to WALL tower to the east and JACKS tower to the west. The tower operator controls all signals and switches in the interlocking and maintains the tower sheet.

The operator is also responsible for providing clearance for the use of the Lewistown Secondary and the Milroy Secondary. Passenger traffic ceased on these lines in 1941, allowing them to be downrated from branches to secondaries. Clearances on secondaries is very informal and does not require paperwork; verbal authority is sufficient.

The PRR Lewistown Secondary

lewistown sec 130521The Lewistown Secondary begins at the “upper yard” by the main line. From there, yard crews pick up and drop off interchange traffic for the branch. The Lewistown Junction yard has 19 classification and advance tracks, car shops, MoW stores, and a locomotive facility.

The locomotive facility is larger than one would expect. With a 110 foot turntable, this shop maintained “stand by” power for the main line; typically in the form of M1 Mountains.

The yard prepares an east and west local for the main line each day, plus a dedicated train to the stone quarry at the end of the Milroy Secondary. The yard generates locals for the secondaries on an as-needed basis, and exchanges inbounds and outbounds with a downtown yard.

The downtown yard features numerous online customers, typically in the form of warehouses, a freight terminal, and a passenger station which is no longer in service. A connection to the Furnace Branch Siding leads to a dozen or so online customers, several being fuel dealers.

Beyond the downtown yard the Lewistown Secondary terminates and the Milroy Secondary and the Sunbury & Lewistown Secondary begins.

The PRR Milroy Secondary

milroy sec 130521The Milroy Secondary is an 11 mile single track run with numerous passing sidings. Originally a “branch”, passenger service ceased in 1941 and the branch was redesignated a secondary. As such, permission to operate is informal and does not require paperwork. Crews communicate with LEWIS tower for permission to run.

Upon entering the branch, while still in Lewistown, the line serves several oil dealers and a creamery, followed by a feed mill.

A mile or so later the line enters Burnham, Pa., where there is a sand quarry, freight station, and Kovalchik Salvage. After crossing the Kish Creek the line enters Yeagertown, Pa., home of Standard Steel. “The Standard” features several sidings for interchange plus a maze of internal trackage. The branch widens here to three tracks to allow numerous runaround operations. There are also two sidings for Yeager’s Mill, which is now in the building products business.

The line then enters Mann’s Narrows. Very steep mountains provide a backdrop for the right-of-way as it snakes along the cascading Kish Creek, a popular trout stream.

Next up is Reedsville, Pa., with a wye interchange with the defunct Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad. There is a runaround track, freight station, and team track. The line then passes through a scenic area, crossing Honey Creek several times.

Naginey, Pa., is the site of a Bethlehem Steel limestone quarry. This hole in the ground yeilds a train load of limestone on a daily basis bound for Johnstown, Pa., to the west. The quarry also ships to other customers.

The end of the line is its namesake, Milroy, Pa. There is a mill here, along with a freight station and a few other interests yet to be researched.

Other:

Bellefonte Central Railroad.

IMG 4103

Movement of Trains

Following the Sequence of Trains sheet, the LEWIS operator controls movements through the WALL, LEWIS, and JACKS interlockings via a JMRI-based US&S CTC machine, setting routes and signals as appropriate. 

The LEWIS operator maintains telephone communication with the Lewistown Junction yard, coordinating moves between the yard and the main line. 

The LEWIS operator maintains telephone communication with crews on the Lewistown Secondary, Milroy Secondary, and the Selinsgrove Secondary. Movement of trains on these tracks is at restricted speed and is permitted at the discretion of the LEWIS operator. 

Movement of Trains on the Main Line

CTC Instructions to Come

Movement of Trains on the Secondaries

The operator manages movements on the secondaries via a magnet board. Permission to move on the secondary is verbal, as passenger operations had ceased in 1941. Speed on the secondary is restricted, so all crews must proceed prepared to stop.

The magnet board simulates the track chart from 1919, with the trackage updated to the 1950s. Lewistown Yard is at left; Milroy at right. Vertical stripes indicate mile posts. A "T" indicates the location of a telephone box; a "W" a water tower; a "FP" a freight/passenger station; "F" a freight station; and "P" a passenger station. Yard limits are indicated by "YL". The red line across the bottom of the track chart indicates trackage not modeled (more will be activated in the future).

IMG 4112 IMG 4113

When a crew first calls in requesting clearance, locate the magnet representing their locomotive. The locomotive number is on the magnet as well as the steam or diesel locomotive class. Place the magnet on the track schematic at the location of the telephone box ("T") the crew is calling from, with the arrow of the magnet indicating the direction of the train.

If permission is granted to proceed, take a magnet labeled "ORDER: STOP" and place it on the track schematic at the end of the segment for which permission to proceed is authorized. It should be at another telephone box ("T") location.

Here, locomotive 8014, an H10s 2-8-0, is at Menzies and has been authorized to proceed to Yeagertown:

IMG 4114

When the train gets to the STOP location, the crew should call for further instructions. If further clearance is autorized, repeat the above process. If the train has work at the current location, turn the magnet vertically to indicate the crew is working locally.

#8014 is now working at Yeagertown:

IMG 4115

There may be times when a train desires to leave a string of cars on a siding as they work. For instance, a train heading to Milroy may leave part of its train in Yeagertown. The crew must call for authorization to do so. If approved, place an "OCCUPIED" magnet on the track in question.

#8014 is now proceeding towards Milroy, having left a string of cars in the Yeagertown siding:

IMG 4116

Record of Trains

The operator records all movements on the tower's Record of Trains sheet.

Record of Trains Instructions to Come