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Author Topic: 120 year old, eastern US railroading.  (Read 1732 times)
Trainman203

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« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2020, 09:38:35 AM »

Horseshoe Curve clip addendum:  in the beginning around the mine branches you can see lots of sand piles around the rails where engines were slipping trying to move loaded cuts of cars.  I would believe none of that track to be level with no gradient.  About the bridge with the little cars spanning the main, I’m believing to think it had at least some locomotive coaling function, because there appear to be retractable chutes over each main.

Grand Trunk Clip, part 1:  the clip notes don’t say, but this is an international border tunnel under the St. Clair River between Ontario and Michigan.  The surrounding country appears pretty flat so the railroad has to drop down below grade in cuts to get deep enough below the river for shipping.

Approaching the tunnel, the camera train passes a passenger train in the hole.  All the passengers are waving white handkerchiefs out of the window, so they knew a movie train was coming, a really big deal in those days.  Right at the mouth of the tunnel, up against the portal, is a wood house, my guess is that it’s for some kind of watchman.  Above the tunnel is a “St. Clair” sign, visible only to oncoming engine crews and receding observation car platforms.  Railroads did these signs on tunnels and bridges, I always wondered why, since hardly anyone ever saw them, plus they’d get sooted up pretty quickly.

The train enters the supposedly illuminated tunnel interior but to my eye it looks more like engine headlight illumination.  Plus, for having served steam trains for more than 10 years, the interior looks mighty clean.  In reading elsewhere about this tunnel, I found that electrification was in the very near future.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 09:40:40 AM by Trainman203 » Logged

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Trainman203

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« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2020, 10:56:59 AM »

Grand Trunk Clip part 2:

Like the Kingston clip, this film is chock a block full of details of period railroad practice, in a period seldom modeled.

As the train emerges on the US side of the tunnel, a heavy block masonry building is on the left right against the portal.  Whether it’s a guard shack or some kind of maintenance building we’ll never know.

You can tell it’s midday in summer, since at this location the train is heading due compass west, and the shadow of the retaining wall is very short, indicating high overhead  noonday sun.  Almost immediately a passing siding appears on the right with a freight in the hole.  The head end crew is on the ground in front of the engine, although I count 4 people, maybe there’s an extra brakeman.  A couple of cars back, another brakeman is “decorating” the car tops, making us speculate that even though air brakes were around by now, they may have manually tied the train down for added safety, since this siding is on a certainly rather steep downgrade into the tunnel.

Every car in the train is an almost identical wood double sheathed Grand Trunk boxcar, with Grand Trunk prominently displayed on the side, so we might speculate that this train was specifically put there for advertising purposes in the film.    These cars are probably very close to the 36’ car presently offered by Accurail in the same Grand Trunk lettering.  I tried to count the cars in the train but it’s somewhere in the mid twenties I think, a pretty long train in those days, and for what is certainly an 1890’s low driver consolidation much like the currently available Roundhouse model pulling it.  The rear end crew, in a larger than usual number probably due to added brakemen, are all over the top of the caboose except for, probably, the conductor on the rear steps.  The caboose is carrying flags instead of kerosene marker lamps, indicating a daytime move as was done in very early days.  A few hundred feet past, a flagman is on the ground.

At the same time the camera train is climbing out of the cut passing the freight, action is beginning to appear on top of the cut to the left. Freight cars are on a long siding which soon has some kind of loading shed with an adjacent jib crane. There is also a wood water tank that appears too small for railroad use although it could be.  Near where the siding approaches the main, two cabooses are spotted.  This was a time when side door cabooses without end platforms ( called “muley” cabooses in my part of the country) were being phased out, and at first I  thought these cars were such, but close examination appears to reveal a platform post peeking just as they pass out of view.

There will be part 3 for the yard and station.
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Trainman203

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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2020, 05:47:42 PM »

Grand Trunk clip, part 3:

After passing the flagman for the freight in the hole, and the two cabooses spotted way up the embankment on the left, the camera train begins to enter the throat of the Port Huron MI yard. An unidentifiable building passes on the right but immediately to the left stands a switchman in charge of this end of the yard, with a cabin nearby for weather protection.  The switchstands are a modern high level type, no earlier harp type stands are seen.

To my eye, the train is moving very fast for normal entry into a large yard.  It slips through several switches at pretty high speed merging toward the right and the station complex which begins to come into view.  Behind the station rises smoke from at least one switch engine, maybe more, probably in another yard. To the left is a cut of flat cars with interesting but unidentifiable loads, and a coach yard on the right.  This is an international border station, and undoubtedly many US passenger trains terminated here.

The train literally whips into the track nearest the station platform.
A passenger train holding appears on the left.  The locomotives in this clip all still have large boxy headlights of the type associated with oil fuel, but, judging from how brightly the tunnel interior was lighted, they are likely converted to electric lighting, possibly of the carbon arc type.

The multi story station complex is very large.  It took two or three viewings to see that there are at least two separate buildings.  I realized that there is a large customs function assigned to this station, which accounts for the size of the complex.  A flagpole appears with a 46 star US flag and a flag below that I can’t identify, maybe someone can help.  I also realized that the camera train is quite likely the only train to go through this station without stopping.  Sarnia, on the Ontario side, undoubtedly has a very similar facility.

The station building itself is beautifully painted board and batten, with the battens painted a contrasting dark color..... indications of an era of very cheap labor.

Up next- Lehigh Valley snowplows.
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Trainman203

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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2020, 09:38:37 AM »

Lehigh Valley snowplow clip:

There won’t be as much commentary about this clip, because with deep snow covering everything, there’s literally nothing to see other than the tops of the equipment over the snowdrifts.  The landscape and lineside details are covered.

The rotary snowplow was a major invention at the time, reopening post blizzard commerce very quickly compared to wedge plows and crews with shovels.  Two steam driven machines are visible; the rotary plow itself, and the locomotive (possibly more than one) pushing it because the rotary is not self powered, even though though it has a boiler of its own to power an engine to spin the rotary blades.  

The big clue to operation is the exhaust from each machine, very different between each other in this case.  The rotary exhaust is very continuous because of the rapid spin of the steam engine spinning the rotary blades.  It’s also very black and heavy with coal combustion byproducts because the rotary consumes so much steam the fire must be kept very hot to maintain continuous steam generation or the rotary will die.  The pushing locomotive, on the other hand, emits a periodic chuff, with more condensing steam apparent, because the fire isn’t burning as intensely as the firebox in the rotary, and because the rotary is making very slow progress.  

After a couple of minutes you can see the rotary break through the worst of the drifts and speed up a little.  An employee following on foot slips and falls, only underscoring the intense danger inherent in this work; anything from being lost in the snow to sliding under the train or into the rotary blades.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 11:14:43 PM by Trainman203 » Logged

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Trainman203

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« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2020, 10:50:44 AM »

Lehigh Valley 2nd Black Diamond clip:

This looks like a retake 3 years later of the previous Black Diamond clip.  The main differences appear to be the movement of the likely staged section gang, and the season when the film was made.

In this one, the behavior of the section gang is very orderly compared to the disarray of the crew in the previous clip, who moving as individuals barely got off the track in time , waving handkerchiefs and probably shouting to get the other guys out of the way in time.  This time they moved almost in unison on command like the military and precisely lined up like recruits for inspection.  I wonder how much management dissatisfaction with the first film, and an according correction oriented directive, had to do with the making of this much more organized scene.

This film seems to have been made in a warmer season also, which in my opinion made for an inferior film.  It’s quite hazy here compared to the first, but the engine exhaust is much more subdued.  It has to do with anthracite coal fuel, which exudes very little visible smoke.  Because the air in the first clip was cooler, lots of exhaust could be seen from the approaching engine, but it’s all condensing steam in the cool air.  The unknowing public thinks it’s smoke, bad PR for a Road of Anthracite undoubtedly advertising clean soot free rides.  So I believe management directed a re-shoot to fix the disorderly crew issue and the erroneous smoke perception problem, ie, little condensing steam showing in the warmer air.

Second LV clip at same location:

Not much to add except as much as I have studied this clip, the train appears to be a mix of open platform and vestibule wood cars, in a period of open platforms going away.  Maybe someone with sharper eyes than mine can see better and comment.

Next up, the 999.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2020, 12:45:30 PM by Trainman203 » Logged

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James in FL

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« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2020, 04:43:15 PM »

46 stars would not have been seen on the American flag until after July 4 1908.
Oklahoma came in November 16 1907 as #46, star was added July 4 1908.  Huh?

The Sarnia Tunnel part of that film was made in 1903, flag would have been at 45 stars in that year.  Roll Eyes
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Trainman203

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« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2020, 05:29:56 PM »

Thanks, I welcome corrections. All of this effort is observations shooting from the hip. 
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Trainman203

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« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2020, 01:46:42 PM »

999 and ghost train clip:

This appears to be another staged PR film with a speeding passenger train passing a section gang.  In today’s world of near-complete railroad automation, it’s not easy to imagine a world with lineside railroad employees everywhere, particularly with section gangs assigned short sections of line which they’d comb over everyday looking for soft spots in the ballast, loose joints, and loose spikes.

In this clip, the train appears and runs by really laying back the unavoidable bituminous coal smoke at pretty high speed, which it wouldn’t do if real repair work was in progress.  But drama in PR is important, so the famous 999 speeds past at an unrealistic speed.

The engine itself is still in its original configuration with inanely high 80”+ drivers applied to set speed records with the Empire State Express. It supposedly set a record speed of 112.5 MPH in 1893 in a PR stunt but if I recall it was not well documented, and the supposed record (surpassed not long after and documented on the PRR) has been disputed  over time.  The 999 had its tall drivers removed relatively soon and replaced with lower ones for more average service, renumbered, and heavily modified over time before it was finally renumbered 999 for its move into museum preservation.

The 999 is also called the most famous 4-4-0 ever, but I believe that today the replica 119 and Jupiter at the Promontory UT historic site are much better known; as would be the General and the Texas of civil war Andrews Raid fame.

The train passes with a consist of pre-heavyweight wood passenger cars, again possibly a mix of open platform and vestibuled cars, some one with good eyes please report.  Crew members are waving white handkerchiefs in greeting but no passengers.  Possibly because the train was a scheduled very high speed run, the passenger windows were directed to remain closed.

The purpose of the gimmicky manipulated ghost train clip is a mystery.  Maybe someone has an idea.

Next, and last- NYC 4-4-2 taking on water at track pan.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 01:54:04 PM by Trainman203 » Logged

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WoundedBear
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« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2020, 02:56:14 PM »

Curious as to why you don't type all these observations into the comment box on YouTube?

The owner of the channel is specifically looking for people to add things like this, in his description of the video.

And don't give me any excuse of I don't have an account  Cheesy. If you are signed in to Google, you have a YouTube account. It's all free.

Sid
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Maletrain

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« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2020, 05:55:16 PM »

Well, once the comments are critiqued and corrected here, then it would be nice if somebody supplied it to the You-Tube guy. Cut and past would be all that is needed, then. 
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James in FL

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« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2020, 08:02:47 PM »

Well now I am confused… Huh?

Are you narrating, speculating, or just waging in general on the film?  Undecided
You apparently see things I don't see.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 08:05:57 PM by James in FL » Logged
Trainman203

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« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2020, 08:58:11 PM »

I basically am discussing things I see, and making observations based on visible clues and known historical patterns, and sometimes extrapolating to logical conclusions.  Some conclusions have been guessed and I generally acknowledged those. 

One of the best jobs I ever had was staff architect for a historic district, where I analyzed old photographs and drawings and wrote reports for committees in a fashion much like here.  I enjoyed it and enjoyed this exercise too

There’s not been much in the way of response comments like I had hoped.  No one has to agree with anything and if someone sees something different I welcome the conversation.

If you don’t see something I saw I’d like to know what it was , and initiate a discussion.
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Terry Toenges


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« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2020, 10:13:58 PM »

I'm just fascinated by the extent of your knowledge about all the things in there. With regard to any comments I might have, I wouldn't know what to question about your narrative anyway.
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WoundedBear
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« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2020, 10:32:23 PM »

So like I said.....go write this in the comments section on YouTube. The uploader will appreciate the help.

Did you read the video description? There is no reason you can't post comments. That has nothing to do with uploading issues.

Sid
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Trainman203

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« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2020, 02:50:48 PM »

I gotta say, I really enjoyed looking at these films.  Thanks to all who read.
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