Trains & Railroads of the Past Extra Board

Reflecting Back Fifty Years

On March 20, 1974, the Delaware & Hudson and Lehigh Valley ran a special train carrying railroad executives, consult-ants and government officials to show the feasibility of Northeast Alphabet trains involving Maine Central, Boston & Maine, D&H, Lehigh Valley, Reading, and Baltimore & Ohio on the route between Portland, Maine, and Washington, D.C. It was powered by the beautiful D&H Alco PA units for the entire trip. Kermit Kunkle was the LV engineer who took over for the Lehighton to Bethlehem leg of the trip. Joe Nemeth, Ken Bealer, and Danny were off to Lehighton and I got in my Blazer, complete with my cast, to get a photo at Catasauqua. Everyone on the train was impressed with the 60+ m.p.h. run east from Lehighton. It was good advertising for the route that offered shippers a very competitive alternative to the dreaded Penn Central. —Kodachrome by Mike Bednar

Reflecting Back Fifty Years

TRP 2024-02by Mike Bednar/photos as noted

This article is somewhat of a follow-up to the article on the Central Railroad of New Jersey in Issue 37. When I reflect on these hard times for the Northeast railroads during the early 1970s, I find it hard to know how we all could stand for the pressure of trying to stay afloat in a sea of sharks… Penn Central, that is. The “little rail-roads” were being eaten alive by the giant shark called PC. By withholding interline payments from the smaller roads, Penn Central managed to take the smaller roads to the sewer with them. Not to mention the diversion of traffic that had been handed over to them in the past. Everyone who worked on the Lehigh Valley, Jersey Central, Lehigh & Hudson River, Reading and Erie Lackawanna did their utmost to keep their railroads afloat until they could be rescued.

Lehigh Valley was destitute enough that on March 4, 1973, they applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandoned the whole railroad by October. Erie Lackawanna and Reading were bankrupt and originally to be swallowed up by the Chessie System when the USRA was formed in April 1973.

Fifty years ago, President Nixon signed the Regional Railroad Reorganization Act (3R Act), which allowed the United States Railway Administration to attempt to make something out of the ashes of the Northeast rail scene. 1974 was not a good year for me either. I broke my leg in February and didn’t get back to work on the 2nd trick Light Side job until May. Between the Light Side and Heavy Side yardmaster jobs at Allentown and Florence, I was able to make up for any time I lost…

Lehigh Valley

ABOVE: We chased the U-Boats on Train SJ-4 all the way to South Plainfield, N.J., on December 17, 1974. We could not catch them until they stopped to set out at South Plainfield Yard. Dave Augsburger took this picture of myself and Danny with the crew: Bill Burnhauser, Engineer, coming out of the cab; Keith Nothstein, Brakeman, on the steps outside cab end; Charlie Harris, Conductor, seen standing on the front walkway. Bill was not impressed with the GE’s performance that day. When asked how he liked them, he remarked, “GE should stick to making toasters!” So the nickname “Toasters” was given to the LV U23B units!Kodachrome by Dave Augsburger, collection of Mike Bednar

Erie Lackawanna

ABOVE: On March 2, 1975, Dave Augsburger, Joe Nemeth and Jon Reck heard of an Erie Lackawanna symbol freight Train TC-3 (TransContinental) running via the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western main line from Hoboken, N.J., to Scranton, Pa. Joe Nemeth took this picture of train TC-3 grinding up the Pocono Grade at Paradise crossing. The earth trembled because of the two struggling diesels, General Electric U33C #3313 and EMD SD45 #3627. The frost on the rails didn’t help, either.Kodachrome by Joe Nemeth, collection of Mike Bednar

Reading Company

ABOVE: I talked about the Northeast railroads being power short in 1974-75 and the Reading was no exception. They had purged their Alco RS3 fleet in December 1973, so they were struggling to find power for their locals. To remedy this, they demoted their Alco C424’s to local service. Here the 5207 is on the Industrial Drill at BURN on May 4, 1975.Kodachrome by Joe Nemeth, collection of Mike Bednar

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This article was posted on: May 16, 2024