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Memphis Chapter Officers President – David Chase

Vice President – Bruce Smedley National Director – Bill Strong

Secretary – Oliver Doughtie

Treasurer – Thomas Doherty

Librarian – Mike Pendergrass Publication Editor – Tom Parker

December Meeting The monthly meeting of the Memphis Chapter was called to order by David Chase. The program featured the annual “Show and Tell” program. Participants were John Stefanac, Kenny Young, Kenny Broomfield, Michael Jack, Ann Jack, Nep Maury, Mike Pendergrass. Hunter Gatlin demonstrated his Microsoft Train Simulatorto the amazement of all in attendance. Bill Strong discussed the details for out Amtrak trip to McComb, MS, on Dec 18, 2007. Dave Chase conducted (railroaded) chapter elections so smoothly and quickly that all of the officers were re-elected and most didn’t even realize that it happened. Bill Strong made available for the membership copies of the latest issue of magazine Passenger Train Journal that featured the first installment of “Memphis and Its Passenger Trains” by former Memphian and Amtrak engineer, Phil Gosney

January's Meeting January's program will be “Rail Fans in Mid-America: Kenny Broomfield Visits the Meridian Railfest; Bruce Smedley Roams the Upper Midwest”.

2008 Meeting Schedule All meetings are held at the White Station Branch, Memphis and Shelby County Library. 7:00 PM 8:45 PM, on the second Monday of each month. For 2008 the dates are: January 14 February 11 March 10 April 14 May 12 June 9 July 14

August 11

September 8

October 13

November 10

December 8

BUFF ONLINE! I have posted an archive of previous issues of “The Memphis Buff” newsletters on the internet at It is intended for the membership only and requires a name and password to access. The default name is Member, and the password is Buff (upper case “M” & “B”) Cover Photo:WTTN B36-7 7855 is caught in this shot on May 18, 2007 at Milan, TN by Carl Lancaster. Formerly NERR 7855 nee SP 7855, the unit sports a partial repaint job.

The “Hump” returns to Johnston Yard For almost fifty years, cars were “humped” at the Illinois Central's Nonconnah Yard just south of Memphis. A switch engine pushed the cars over a hill and gravity was used to propel them to the proper classification track. Switchmen would manually throw switches to guide the cars and “riders” would jump on the cars and apply the hand brakes to bring them to a gentle stop.

and greatly reduced the number of injuries and fatalities that resulted from the hump operation. Johnston Yard has been virtually unchanged since 1949. Diesels have replaced steam engines. Trains have become considerably longer and heavier. Industrial switching and interchanges which were previously handled by other yards have become Johnston Yard's responsibility. A track or two has been added here or there, electric switches were installed somewhere along the way and an intermodal ramp was added, but basically the yard has remained the same.

A major renovation was begun in 1947 and on April 1, 1949, the yard was reopened as Johnston Yard, named after the railroad's president, Wayne A. Johnston, who was instrumental in the makeover that changed the yard from a hump yard into a flat switching yard. The twin humps were gone, switch engines now “kicked” the cars down the lead track and depended on inertia to move the cars to the classification track. Although the riders were gone, the operation still depended on switchmen to manually throw the switches. A present day view of the same location On December 1, 2005, the Canadian National Railroad announced it would spend 1.28 billion on infrastructure and expansion projects in 2006, including reconfiguration of Johnston Yard. At a cost of about one hundred million dollars, Johnston Yard will once again become a hump yard with a capacity of 3,100 freight cars. It will have forty five tracks in the classification yard, three 10,000 foot departure tracks, and eight 5,000 foot receiving tracks.

"Monday, 9-20-48, 4:07 PM, Switch connection made and first train to operate over new track" This picture was taken looking west from Third Street at “A” Yard. The Mudlines are on the left and most of the track in “A” Yard have yet to be laid. The job which had taken almost two years and had cost almost a million dollars resulted in increasing the yard's capacity from 10,000 to 15,000 cars per day

The new classification yard takes shape.

The hump and classification tracks are being built on the site of the former intermodal ramp which was moved to the Pidgeon Industrial Park in 2005. Rivergate Rd has been straightened, the curve and T intersection are gone, as is Alcy Rd.

During the first phase of the construction the hump and classification tracks are being built on the former site of the intermodal terminal which moved to the Pidgeon Industrial Park in 2005. Rivergate Road has been straightened, the curve and T intersection are gone, as is Alcy Road. When completed, the depature tracks will run along Rivergate Road on the north side of the hump from West Junction to “A” Yard. The receiving tracks will be south of the hump, replaceing virtually all of “A” and “C” Yards. Also gone will be the Johnston Roundhouse and the Johnston Car Shop. A new locomotive servicing facility is being built at the east end of the old car shop. A new car shop is slated to The Johnston Roundhouse will be replaced by the new locomotive be constructed between the hump yard and the servicing facility under construction. receiving tracks.

On the other end of the yard, an additional bridge has been built over Nonconnah Creek to accommodate a third track which will tie into the tracks at “E” Yard.

The new locomotive service facility is under construction at the east end of the Johnston Car Shop At Fields Road about a mile south of West Junction on the High Line, the former double track has been increased to three tracks and to four tracks north of Mitchell Road.

The new bridge over Nonconnah Creek at “A” Yard for a third track. (Top) The opening in the “Seawall” east of “A” Yard has been enlarged to accommodate the third track.(Bottom)

The Highline looking North from Field Road with Mitchell Road overpass in background (Top) and looking north from Mitchell Road overpass (Bottom).

When completed the new Johnston Yard could well be one of the most innovative yards in the country. While the hump engine will have an engineer, there will be kill switches at the hump which will stop the engine by radio control in case of emergency. Retarders will maintain the cars' speed at 5 miles per hour and the switches will be automatically aligned using sensors, car identification readers and billing information stored in the CN's computer system. On the other end of the yard the switches will be radio controlled, allowing the switches to be aligned from the switch engine without stopping. The only switchmen on the ground will be the ones pulling the pins and coupling the tracks. Maybe in another fifty years they will automate these tasks as well.

history of this railroad.

Mt. Washington Cog Railway By Tom Doherty

The main depot of the Mt Washington Cog Railway Nestled in North Central New Hampshire are the White Mountains surrounded by the White National Forest. Part of the White Mountains is the Presidential Range so named because its seven peaks are name for seven U.S. Presidents. At 6,288 feet, Mt. Washington is the tallest peak in the northeastern United States and the main mountain peak in the Presidential Range. The mountain boasts some of the planet's most severe weather, and retains the world record for the highest wind speed, 231 MPH (April 1934). The 52-acre Mount Washington State Park surrounds the summit, where visitors will find a multitude of old and modern buildings, once known as the “City among the Clouds”. So how does one get to the top of Mt. Washington?

Our train ready for boarding Like Pike’s Peak in Colorado you can drive or take the Mt. Washington Cog Railway. Our journey will be via the cog railway but before we travel “up the mountain” on the train let’s explore some of the

In 1852 while climbing Mt. Washington, Sylvester Marsh became lost near the summit. He knew that there had to be a better way for people to reach the highest mountain peak in the Northeast. Upon his return home, he immediately started working on a plan to build the world's first mountain-climbing cog railway. Yes the concept of using cogs to climb mountains via a railroad is an American invention. Marsh, a native of Campton, New Hampshire, had made his fortune in Chicago's meat-packing industry and was considered by his contemporaries to be a creative and innovative thinker. However, upon first presenting his idea to members of the New Hampshire Legislature, they laughed at Sylvester Marsh and said that he "might as well build a railway to the Moon." Undaunted, Marsh began the task of building his mountain climbing railway, along with inventors Herrick and Walter Aiken, a father-and-son team from Franklin, New Hampshire. The task was not an easy one, as equipment and materials had to be hauled by oxen for 25 miles to Bretton Woods, and then another six miles through thick forest to the base of Mount Washington. But on July 3, 1869, “Old Peppersass” became the first cog-driven train to climb 6,288-foot Mount Washington.

Today the railway holds the record as being the oldest cog railway in the world and also for having the 2nd steepest grade in the world. The average grade is 25% with the steepest being 37.4%. That is to say the track at the steepest point rises at the rate of 37 feet for every 100 feet it goes forward. Depending on

which car you are in, the people in the front are 14 feet higher than the people in the back! It takes a special type of railway indeed to accomplish the task of bringing people up to the summit of Mount Washington. The 2.8 miles of track are built entirely on wooden trestle. On top of this wooden trestle two light steel rails are laid in a method similar to standard railroad construction. The rails are raised to allow clearance for the spur gears which drive the locomotive. Located in the center of the steel rails is a cog rack. These three components make up the track work. This track is designed specifically for the unique cog engines of Mount Washington. The locomotives and cars are equipped with cogs that engage into the rack. The cog is driven by the steam pistons of the locomotive through a system of gears. This is a simplified explanation of the system.

bobbing like one of those toy dolls you used to see in the back windows of cars. As I looked at others their heads were doing the same thing than it dawned on me that so was mine. In the summer if you want A/C, open the window. There are two positions fully closed or fully open. As this was a fall trip if you are cold put on a sweat shirt. Pre-trip sales of sweat shirts on the day of our trip were brisk as the reported temperature on top was 38 degrees.

The interior of the passenger car

The brakeman at work The train crew is made up of three people; the engineer, the fireman and the brakeman. The brakeman actually performs the duties of trainman, switchman, and brakeman. If you’ve ridden the Pike’s Peak Cog railway or any of those in Switzerland this ride is nothing like those! On those other cog railroads you’ll ride in modern comfortable cars including heat and air conditioning and most likely your power will be diesel. On the Mt. Washington Cog Railway the objective is to have you experience the trip just as those of the early 1900’s did. The cars are the same and the engines are the same. Suspension on the passenger cars is limited; you’ll feel every tooth of the cog wheel mesh with the rack as it climbs the mountain. I looked at the man sitting across the aisle from me and his head was

So what makes this trip so much fun? You’re riding in vintage cars pushed by real steam engines. As our trip starts we board our car as the brakeman collects our tickets (round trip $52, one way $48). During the operating day there will be at least 4 trains on the mountain at any given time; one climbing up, one waiting at switch siding to come down, one coming down, and the one loading to climb. The ride up takes approximately 1 ¼ hours. About half way up the crew will stop to take on water while the down hill train passes. For the round trip the engine will burn approximately 2000 lb of coal and 1000 to 1200 gallons of water. During the uphill run the brakeman rides on the outside platform to watch for track problems. Each tie is numbered and if he sees something he’ll radio back to the dispatcher using the tie number as a reference point. The engines are hand fired so on the uphill push the fireman has his work cut out for him, and the brakeman just rides periodically providing commentary to the passengers. Each train is made up of one engine and one passenger car. The tree line is at 4500 feet which may seem low but with the weather

patterns and the surrounding lower terrain this is not that unusual. Once at the top the brakeman again becomes the trainman and tells you when the downhill train will depart.During the peak tourist season (summer) there is a Post Office at the summit

Getting a push uphill where you can send mail which will have a Mt. Washington postmark. The state park pavilion is about 30 feet below the peak but you can use the stairway to climb to the viewing platform at the summit. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a hotel on top and it was the “in thing” for the wealthy to do for a vacation.

the switchman as this is a manual switch (the only manual one on the railroad) and throws the switch. Once the uphill train has passed the brakeman reports this to the dispatcher and gets clearance to proceed down the hill. He communicates this to the engine crew by opening his window and shouting to them that they’re cleared on down. He will throw the switch to retake the main. Once on the main line the brakeman controls two hand-turned brakes that are attached to each of the car trucks and regulates the rate of descent by sound and the feel of the engine vibration against the passenger car. To feel the vibration a metal rod attached to the push plate extends into the passenger car by the hand brake wheels. The brakeman stands with one foot on this rod. If the engine starts to pull away from the passenger car there will be no vibration. On the downhill run the fireman gets to relax as all he has to do is maintain the fire, the engine isn’t using any steam. The brakeman gets a workout continually adjusting the brake pressure (particularly on the 37.4% grade) until we reach the main depot at the bottom of the mountain. On the downhill run the train doesn’t take on any water, we passed the next uphill train at the water siding.

Fall foliage

The view from the top of Mt. Washington Once the train starts downhill the brakeman actually has work to do. The engine and passenger car are not coupled together. There is a push plate on the passenger car that the engine pushes against going uphill. The passenger car pushes against the engine to go downhill. A short distance off the summit the engine will push the train on switch siding so the next uphill train can pass. Here the brakeman becomes

This is truly a fun trip, particularly during the fall foliage season. You’ll get the smell of steam and the steam embers drifting into the car. Remember to dress warm as it will usually be near freezing at the top and chances are you’ll encounter rain.

Visit their web site !

David H. Moffat and the Denver Northwestern and Pacific

by Tom Parker David H. Moffat was a Denver businessman and financier. He was born July 22, 1889 and died March 18, 1911. In 1885 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway and was elected president of the D&RG in 1887. He resigned in 1891. During his term he had pushed for a route David H. Moffat directly west from Denver to Salt Lake City. He spent $200,000 of the D&RG's money in the James Peak area where he subsequently built the Denver and Northwestern. On July 18, 1902, a group which included Moffat incorporated the Denver and Northwestern Railway. Denver wanted an “Air Line” west out of the City and the Denver and Nortwestern Railway was intended to be that route, originating at Needle's Eye Tunnel at the top Denver and terminating of Rollins Pass, east of ghost at Salt Lake City, Utah. town, Corona, CO Construction began on Photo by Alex Patton December 18, 1902. A

total of 33 tunnels, each several hundred feet long were required by the time the line reached Tolland, Colarado less than 50 miles west of Denver. Moffat's originally planned a tunnel through the worst part of the Continental Divide at Rollins Pass, but that plan was dropped and instead, using a series of switchbacks and grades of up to four percent, the railroad went over the Continental Divide at Corona, Colorado. The total mileage over Rollins Pass was 23 miles and was the highest railroad ever constructed in North America.

Riflesight Notch railroad trestle on the way up Rollins Pass Photo by Alex Patton

Construction had cost $75,000 a mile and the line over Rollins Pass took the remainder of Moffat's money. He was in New York trying to raise additional funds when he died in 1911. The DNW&P went into recievership in 1912 and was reformed as the Denver and Salt Lake Railroad in 1913. The railroad got no farther than Craig, CO on the Colorado-Utah border when construction stopped in 1913, less than half way to Salt Lake City. On the right of way originally mapped out by Moffat in 1902, a tunnel was “holed” through, on July 7,

Moffat Tunnel under construction

1927. It was completed on February 26,1928 and turned over to the D&SL, shortening the rail distance between Denver and the Pacific coast by 176 miles. The tunnel name, of course, is “Moffat Tunnel” The D&SL became part of the D&RGW and eventually part of the UP.

David Moffat's private car,"Marcia", on display in Craig, Colo., City Park Photo Courtesy Museum of Northwest Colorado (

Denver, May 27, 1906

A Union Pacific Train exits Moffat Tunnel (above article was compiled from information and pictures contained in Wikipedia online encyclopedia)

The following article is reprinted from the Craig Daily Press


The Moffat Railroad in 1906 by Chuck Mack Craig — When I found this article while searching through the old newspaper — the May 30, 1906 Steamboat Pilot — I decided it would be a great story for Craig and Moffat County, being as how it had mentioned David Moffat’s private coach, Marcia. As we all know Marcia sits in Craig City Park, proudly portraying the symbol of the great David Moffat and his railroad dreams. David Moffat’s dreams and plans were to extend the line on into Salt Lake City. But sadly, David Moffat’s dreams ended when the lines reached Craig; so it is right that Marcia, his private coach, sits at the end of the line and the end of his dreams.

Cheered by the vote of confidence, which the people of Denver gave him when they placed such a handsome majority in favor of his franchise for the Denver-Northwestern-Pacific terminals, D. H. Moffat and his associates are going forward with the work of building the great line to Salt Lake. Mr. Moffat yesterday denied a story that has been printed that he has secured terminals on San Francisco Bay. He declares that he has no intention of building west of Salt Lake. With four great trunk lines feeding his road in Utah he sees no necessity of trying to invade a territory that is already well supplied, or will be shortly. 1500 men are now working in Gore Canyon and along the route of the Moffat Road and are tearing up the rock at a rapid rate. The line will certainly be into the great coal regions early next spring. It is hoped to get the rails into Kremmling at the head of the canyon by the end of May, and the people of Grand County have written to inquire when they may set a date for the big celebration of the event. They will have a Western day, with bronco busting and characteristic features. It will probably be about June 1st. (Well the rails did not reach into the coal region as soon as was hoped. So I will insert right here a paragraph or two from another Steamboat Pilot article of 1908, so we will know just when the rails

reached the coalfield. “Oak Creek, some 15 miles before Steamboat Springs is reached, is the location of one of the largest and most valuable of the coal fields of the country.

long and hard and sacrificed so much”). Just where the line leaves the valley for the coalfields there was, on this beautiful fall day, a scene of regulated confusion. A great track-laying machine was in full operation. Coupled behind the machine proper, and forming a necessary part of its equipment, was a string of flatcars the first three or four loaded with steel rails, the next half dozen loaded with ties. Behind these was a locomotive. Firmly attached to the cars and running the length of the train on each side was a carrier frame. Passing over rolls within the frame a chain belt passed from rear to front. On the ground in front of the machine was a large force of workmen

(Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library)

There on a September day of 1908, another scene in the drama of “building the Moffat Road” was enacted. “Oak Creek before the snow flies!” That was the slogan handed along the line all through the spring and summer. It had been in the minds of the rock men and drillers working in the tunnels along Rock Creek; it had been shouted to the workmen on the great bridge, which carries the line from the steep wall of Rock Creek to the shelf around the base of the crater. It had been sung out to the graders, freighters and muleskinners all down the valley. The news columns of the Denver papers had told of the thousands of tons of Routt County coal from Oak Creek that would be in the yards in time for winter use; their editorial columns had teemed with comments on the vast importance to Denver of the opening of these mines,. All through the summer a large force had been mining and bringing to the surface the great mounds of coal, which were of now heaped up along the right of way down Oak Creek, ready for shipment. A new town had come into being on the hillside. The steel coming down the valley was about to cross the threshold of the great world of coal, to accomplish that which Mr. Moffat had striven so

From the loaded cars in the rear men would roll steel rails into one carrier and ties into the other. As one carrier would thrust the rails into the faces of the men in front, the other would spew out a dozen ties to them on the opposite side of the machine.

Bird's eye view of Mammoth Park, Moffat Road / by L.C. McClure, Denver. (Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library)

It was wonderful to see with what speed the rails were laid. Hardly could a dozen ties be dropped across the roadbed before the rails would come down upon them. In an instant, a dozen men had swung their heavy hammers and the rails would be spiked to the ties, but not before expert hands had placed in po-

sition and adjusted the bolts to the iron straps which joined the newly laid rails with the ones already in position. A signal whistle from the machine in front, an answering signal from the locomotive in the rear and the whole outfit was pushed ahead over the length of the newly laid rails. Again, the spewing out of the ties and the thrusting of rails, the swinging of hammers and the spiking of rails to ties, with that combination of blood and iron, the latter constantly crowding the former, and the line went forward at the rate of a mile and a half and sometimes two miles per day. T. S. Waltmeyer of Boulder was in the city yesterday in consultation with Moffat Road officials regarding the construction of a branch road to the vicinity of Grand Lakes. Mr. Waltmeyer and associates have a mill and mines in that vicinity and it will only require about 18 miles of construction. This will make a line of railroad within 6 miles of Grand Lakes, one of the finest spots in the state for a great pleasure resort, and a country that is sure to be largely developed within a few years. Mr. Waltmeyer gave general manager Deuel assurance that he has the capital and will start construction right away. The road will connect with the Moffat line at Granby.

Eight handsome new coaches reached the city this week for the Moffat Road and are now at Utah Junction shops being overhauled and put into shape for use. These are Pullman cars and as fine as anything that company has turned out. They are 90 feet and double vestibuled, fitted with inlaid wood and heavy plush, and lighted by Pintsch gas. These coaches cost $11,000 each and when in commission will give the Moffat Road one of the finest trains in the West. There will be shipped from the Schenectady works by the end of this week three new engines for the Moffat line. They are the largest engines ever used in the West, weighing 100 tons each and costing $20,000 each. With this additional power and car equipment, the road will be in fine shape for the summer travel. Within a few days, there will arrive in the city a handsome private car for president D.H. Moffat. It has been building all winter at the Pullman Shops under the direction of Sylvester T. Smith, who is an expert in designing cars of this class. It has cost $37,000 to build and is absolutely complete in the details that go to make up modern palaces on wheels. Mr. Moffat has named the car “Marcia� after his daughter, Mrs. McClurg. It will be used by him in traveling about in the interest of the company, showing notables over the line, and will afford Mr. Moffat a comfortable living place when out on the road watching construction. The operating department of the Moffat Road states that the shipments have been very heavy over the line recently. The stockmen are sending in feeders, and about 100 cars a day have been coming to Denver this week

(Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library)


P&E 21499, reconditoned by the Vermillion Valley Railway, at Danville, IL, October 20,2007. Photo by Ed Sanders

Meeting Schedule January 14, 2008 February 11, 2008 Meetings are the 2nd Monday of each month in the White Station Branch Library from 7-9 pm. 5094 Poplar Avenue Memphis, TN (in front of Clark Tower)

Contact the Editor Tom Parker 3012 Wood Thrush Drive Memphis, TN 38134

THE MEMPHIS BUFF welcomes contributions for publication. Copyrighted materials must contain the source. Original documents and photos are preferred for clarity. Enclose a SASE for the return of your materials. Articles sent via the Internet should be in Microsoft Word format. Photos should be JPEG files @ 72 dpi and at least 800x600 size. Consideration for a cover photo would require a much higher resolution. THE MEMPHIS BUFF is a not-for-profit publication for the Memphis Chapter of the NRHS. All credited photos herein are copyright by the photographer and may not be reused without permission.

January 2008 Memphis Buff  
January 2008 Memphis Buff