RJC – Turning the Bigler Shuttle

RJC EMDs at Stifflertown, PA

RJ Corman Operations at Stifflertown, PA
by Henry Statkowski Photos and figures by the author

RJC Logo (plain)R.J. Corman’s Pennsylvania Line operates a coal train between Rosebud Mining’s Stifflertown, Pennsylvania mine in southwestern Clearfield County and their Bigler coal preparation plant in northeastern Clearfield County. It’s a 60-mile run using SD40-2 variants (SD40-2s & SD40T-2s) and 100-ton coal gondolas, formerly handled by a multitude of coal trucks (locally referred to as “coal buckets”) over public highways. The over-the-road transport was labor intensive – rail transport over already-existing rail lines was a logical step. Loading the train at Stifflertown is performed by front-end loaders at a coal dock, with the coal delivered … Read more

N&W Norton Yard Brakes and Tight Tunnels

NS working Norton Yard, VA

by Harry J. Dolan (Retired NS Trainmaster)

N&W Logo blue PlainWorking the N&W’s Norton yard in Southwestern Virginia required sets of six-axle locomotives.  The yard has a 1% descending grade from west to east.  Tracks 1 thru 8 (original numbering) hold 40 hoppers each; at 100 tons each, that is 4000 tons.  One six-axle unit at Norton couldn’t handle much more than switching the caboose track.  One Dash-8 would not even pull the 21 loads out of Norton Coal (switch off N&W Main at the east end of yard that crossed the Miller Yard Main of Interstate in Norton).

Just to give you an example as to what tonnage and a 1% grade will do let’s assemble … Read more

N&W Train Symbols

N&W SD40 1596, Home Creek, VA

by Harry J. Dolan (Retired NS Trainmaster)

N&W Logo blue PlainThe N&W used train symbols to identify its trains.  Train symbols are different from train numbers.  Train numbers are used to designate scheduled trains (those who’s authority to occupy the main track between stations is listed in the Division Employees Timetable).   Train symbols, on the other hand carry no timetable authority and do not authorize a train or engine to occupy the main track between stations.  Train symbols, at least on the N&W, pretty much reflected the initial and final terminal of the train or perhaps the primary type of traffic handled on that train.  For instance, the train symbol “FF-01” … Read more

N&W Pushers on the Clinch Valley Extension

N&W engines at Carbo, VA

by Harry J. Dolan (Retired NS Trainmaster)

N&W Logo blue PlainBig pusher consists (24 powered axles) were only used on loaded trains. “Time Freight” (General or Mixed Freight) pushers were limited to 14 powered axles. The former Southern pushed against cabooses, empty, and light loaded cars. As such, they limited pushers to 14 powered axles (example, two 4 axle & one 6 axle conventional units). High adhesion locomotive axles were counted as 1 1/3 conventional traction motors, hence, a C40-8 or an SD-60 with 6 actual axles would be counted as 8 axles. The N&W, on the other hand, pushed against 100 ton or heavier loads and limited their pusher consists to 24 powered axles (4 conventional SD’s or three … Read more

RJ Corman Operations at Clymer, PA

RJC Clymer, PA Operations 1999

by Henry Statkowski

Photos and figures by the author

RJC Logo (plain)The R. J. Corman Railroad, Pennsylvania Line (Reporting Marks “RJCP”), operates over former New York Central and Pennsylvania trackage in West Central Pennsylvania (including a five-mile stretch over former Baltimore & Ohio (Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh) and the joint NYC/PRR Cherry Tree & Dixonville Railroad). Operating westward from its connection with the ex-Conrail (now Norfolk Southern) Buffalo Line at Keating, PA, the RJCP continues westward to its hub at Clearfield, PA. From here, branches reach out in various directions to those coal-loading facilities still in operation. The coal-loading facility at Clymer, Pa. is one of them.

As of … Read more

ABCs of Mine Run Operations

Mine run basics - Diagram 5

by Dan Bourque

In order to effectively model coal operations on your layout, you first have to understand how a mine run works on the prototype. In this article, I’ve drawn up a make-believe yard and branch line that our mine run (known as a “shifter” on some railroads like the N&W and Clinchfield) has to work. Like tipples, no two mine runs are exactly alike, and each has its own set of operating challenges. Our mine run will take us through several of these challenges and how a crew might handle them.

Mine run basics - Diagram 1Our mine run starts in the yard with 2 engines, 14 … Read more

CRR Diesel-Era Helper Operations on the South End

CRR 816 Boody, VA

by Dave Beach

CRR Logo PlainThe diesel era helper operations on the South-end up to Altapass were really interesting. I think the pushers at least for coal trains often tied on before Erwin–maybe Johnson City or even Kingsport. I can remember seeing pushers cut into coal trains north of Erwin, but this was before the JC cutoff was built. I don’t know that they ever cut off at Poplar or were put on at Spruce Pine. I suppose that there could have been an occasional boost from the Spruce Pine switcher but doubt that it was a planned operation.

The cutoff at Altapass (or Ridge siding to be more exact) is something … Read more

CRR Steam-Era Helper Operations

Art - Clinchfield Challenger by Dan Bourque

by Harry Sandlin

CRR Logo PlainThe CRR used pushers and double-headed trains in the post war steam era as train tonnage increased. However, evidence of steam era pushers does not seem nearly as easy to find as in the diesel era. When Steam Ran the Clinchfield by James Goforth has several photos of double-headed trains, including merchandise trains. In Goforth’s book, the most dramatic evidence of pusher service is a photograph on page 100 of a southbound coal train with L-1 Mallet No.706 as pusher. The train had stopped to take on water at Boone, TN early in the afternoon of June 1, 1947. Class E-1 4-6-6-4 No. 656 shoved from the rear. The … Read more

CRR Operations on the Fremont Branch: the Moss Turn

CRR 3008 Dante, VA

by Scott Jessee

This article is a first-hand recollection of operations on the Fremont Branch as told by Scott Jessee, a Train Order Operator and Yardmaster at Dante, VA.  To view a track plan for this area, click here. -Dan Bourque

CRR Logo PlainThe 1st Moss Turn would go to work at 0700 hours with 9000hp on the Head end and 6000hp Pushing. It would usually get 10 to 20 Mtys out of Dante for the Lick Dock that was located at Moss #1 and would take more mtys if Moss #1 would need them. The 1st Moss Turn would then pick-up raw coal off … Read more