The Pennsy Modeler
In order to portray Pennsylvania Railroad and interchange partners as accurately as possible, this blog contains articles which are essentially notes to myself, but are shared should the community desire the same information.
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The system began in 1982 with the creation of the Norfolk Southern Corporation, a holding company for the Southern Railway (SOU, formed in 1894) and Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W, formed in 1881). In 1990, the two systems merged and formed the Norfolk Southern Railway.
The system grew with the acquisition of over half of Conrail. In 1996, CSX bid to buy Conrail; Norfolk Southern, fearing that CSX would come to dominate rail traffic in the eastern U.S., responded with a bid of its own. On June 23, 1997, NS and CSX filed a joint application with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for authority to purchase, divide, and operate the assets of Conrail. On June 6, 1998, the STB approved the NS-CSX application, effective August 22, 1998. NS acquired 58% of Conrail assets, while CSX got the remaining 42%, including about 7,200 miles (11,600 km) of track, most of which was part of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. NS began operating its trains on its portion of the former Conrail network on June 1, 1999, closing out the 1990s merger era. The Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) was a 11,000-mile (18,000 km) system formed in 1976 from the Penn Central Railroad (1968–1976), by bringing together several ailing northeastern railway systems into a government-owned corporation. Conrail was perhaps the most controversial conglomerate in corporate history. Penn Central itself was created by merging three venerable rivals — the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR, 1846), the New York Central Railroad (NYC, 1831), and the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (NYNH&H, 1872) — as well as some smaller competitors. In 1980, Conrail had become profitable after the Staggers Act largely deregulated the U.S. railroad industry.
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Strates Shows, America's only railroad carnival, travels the United States during a seven-month season, transporting personnel and equipment with 61 rail cars and 34 trucks. Traveling with the show are some 400 employees and families who operate the many rides, games and concessions.
Strates Shows has a history dating back to 1923 when James E. Strates, a Greek immigrant, began his first show. Mr. Strates came to America in 1909 and, like many immigrants, worked at a number of odd jobs. In 1919, he joined a carnival athletic show as a wrestler taking on all challengers. In 1923, James E. Strates acquired Southern Tier Shows and in 1932 changed its name to James E. Strates Shows. Mr. Strates continued to build and manage the carnival until his death in 1959. At that time his son, E. James Strates, assumed responsibility for the carnival and still operates it today.
Strates Shows are known to have ridden the rails of the Pennsy during the era being modeled.
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GE U25B, Class GF25
The GE U25B was General Electric's first independent entry into the United States domestic road switcher diesel-electric locomotive railroad market for heavy production road locomotives since 1936. From 1940 through 1953, GE participated in a design, production, and marketing consortium (Alco-GE) for diesel-electric locomotives with the American Locomotive Company. In 1956 the GE Universal Series of diesel locomotives was founded for the export market. The U25B was the first attempt at the domestic market since its termination of the consortium agreement with Alco.
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The economic success of the railroads depended on freight shipped in full cars. The idea of putting truck trailers on flatcars was a method of moving less-than-carload shipments economically. This "intermodal" concept held the hope of competing with trucks which were taking more and more of this business from the railroads.
In the mid-thirties, the Chicago, the Great Western and then the New Haven railroads began piggy back service limited to their own railroad. By 1953, the CB&Q, the Eastern Illinois and the Southern Pacific railroads had joined the innovation. Most cars were surplus 50's flatcars equipped with new decks by the railroads. By 1955, an additional 25 railroads had begun some form of piggy back service. A significant legal battle between the truckers and the railroads resulted in a ruling permitting interstate piggy back service using either railroad or privately owned trailers. The stage was set for rapid expansion of intermodal services.
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I consider the following Pennsylvania Railroad model railroads to have a high degree of fidelity to the prototype. They are not freelance, protolance, etc., but depict specific locales on the Pennsy based on historic documentation with a minimum of "modeler's license."
Those in bold I have had the opportunity to operate on. Those in italics are on my "bucket list" to visit.
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Nope, no Pennsy content here! I've always been a closet Auto Train fan, ever since it was first featured in Model Railroader in December 1972 and January 1973. I had the privilege of riding the train later in 1973.
Auto-Train Corporation (reporting mark AUT) was a privately owned railroad which used its own rolling stock, and traveled on rails leased from major railroads along the route of its trains, serving central Florida from points in the Mid-Atlantic region near Washington, DC, and the Midwest near Louisville, Kentucky, during the 1970s. Despite the popularity of the service on its primary route, which parallels busy Interstate 95 along much of the eastern coast of the United States in five states, the company failed financially after operating for almost 10 years. After a hiatus, a similarly named and operated service (Auto Train) was begun under the government-financed Amtrak in 1983, which became one of the railroad's most popular services.
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‘Two of the greatest post-war symbols of democracy in action’ in Harrisburg in 1947
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The Pennsy was known to operate on its rails locomotives which it did not own. These inclued railroad test units, builder test units, demonstrators, and leased units.
Railroad Test Units
July and August, 1924: The PRR borrowed a 37-ton GE gas-electic at the piers in New York City.
1937: The PRR borrowed an EMC 600 hp switcher for potential use at the General Motors plant in Linden, New Jersey. The Pennsy purchased the unit afterwards -- Class ES6 #5911.
1947: The Pennsy tested an F-M H20-44 as a potential helper west of Altoona. They eventually went with EMD F3's for this purpose, in an A-B-A configuration.
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Alco RS-1, Class AS10s / AS10am / AS10ams / AS10as
The ALCO RS-1 was a 4-axle road switcher diesel-electric locomotive built by Alco-GE between 1941 and 1953 and the American Locomotive Company from 1953 to 1960. The Montreal Locomotive Works built three RS-1s in 1954. This model has the distinction of having the longest production run of any diesel locomotive for the North American market. The RS-1 was in production for 19 years from the first unit Rock Island #748 in March 1941 to the last unit National of Mexico #5663 in March 1960.
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Over the years, I have had the opportunity to operate on many fine model railroads, including...
- Chris Adams' New York, New Haven & Hartford
- Bill Blackburn's Pennsylvania Railroad, Great Valley Division
- Jim Clay's Pennsylvania Railroad, Cumberland Valley Branch (deceased)
- Jim Dalberg's New Jersey Northern
- Tony Koester's Nickel Plate Road
- Steven Mallery's Pennsylvania Railroad, Buffalo Line
- Bob Martin's Central Pennsylvania Railroad (deceased)
- Larry Reynolds' Pennsylvania Railroad, Altoona Area
- Dave Rohrbaugh's South Penn Railroad
- Dave Trone's West Penn Railroad
- Jeff Warner's PRR/RDG/WM South Central Region
- Bob Zeolla's Conrail Conemaugh Line
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FM ERIE-A / B, Class FF20 / FP20 / FP20a
The Erie-built was the first streamlined, cab-equipped dual service diesel locomotive built by Fairbanks-Morse, introduced as direct competition to such models as the ALCO PA and EMD E-unit. As F-M lacked the space to manufacture the units in their own plant, the work was subcontracted out to General Electric, which produced the locomotives at its Erie, Pennsylvania, facility, thereby giving rise to the name "Erie-built."
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