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Saturday, July 2, 2011

11-07-02 PHOTOS: PRSL Artifacts

Well I am finally returning to me regularly scheduled programming with an informal railfan trip organized by the West Jersey Chapter NRHS that consisted of a driving tour around the former PRSL territory looking for interesting historical artifacts that have survived in the decades since their abandonment. Stops include Winslow Jct, Tuckahoe,Woodbine Jct. Vineland, Newfield and Glassboro. Of course I'm not usually one for taking pictures of overgrown rights of way or an odd tie poking out of the sand, but there were more than a few subjects of general interest available on the trip and my featured photos will focus on those.

You can locate the entire set of photos here at:

We start off at the Southern Railroad of New Jersey yard at Winslow Junction. Old Red and White CNJ painted GP-7 #100 was once the mainstay of SJRR operations, but today is buried deep in the storage track as newer power has come in to supplement it.

After demise of the OnTrack commuter rail line in Syracuse, NY, former NYS&W RDC unit #7 was purchased my the SJRRto facilitate some sort of passenger operations, which were put on hold after the death of the previous SJRR owner.

Here is a rare beast indeed. Former Providence and Worcester U18B #1801 is one of only a small handful of 1960's era "Universal Series" engines still remaining. GE's first cut into full sized diesel locomotives, the Universal Series were not as robust or reliable as the dominant EMD equipment of the same vintage and most were traded in for Dash 7 or Dash 8 units in the 70's and 80's. 

Of course the real motive power that the SJRR is renown for are late model Alcos, some in fact are so late that they were produced well after Also itself went bust by the Montreal Locomotive Works. Here is one such unit, an MLW M420 #3578 painted in CNJ red, which was a lisence built Alco Century Series model C420 with a 2000hp 251C engine

The former SJRR owner was a huge fan of the New York, Ontario and Western railroad and were we see another MLW century unit painted up as NYO&W #800.

The pair of SJRR F Units, which used to hold down the local assignment on the Salem Branch, are now stored deep in the power line collecting rust.

Also hanging out is one of a pair of SJRR GE 44-tonners. 

If you head several miles south of Winslow Junction there is a hot mix plant that still gets its stone shipments via rail. Just south of this location on a heavily overgrown siding are a pair of locomotives, one EMD, one Alco, heavily stripped and decaying away. One is former Amtrak CF7 #538, which is still painted in in Amtrak MofW grey. CF7's were former F7 cab units converted into hood style road switchers by the AFST railroad back in the day.

Here is a view of the electrical cabinet inside the generally stripped cab.

Valve train on top of the cylinder bank on #538's EMD 567 prime mover. With all that oil the engine still seems t be in pretty good condition and there is no reason that old 538 might not run again some day.

Hanging out with 538 is ALGX C420 #7221. This is an authentic Alco unit, not some MLW knockoff, but like 538 it was the victim of parts and scrap theft back in 2007 with the head covers and inspection ports being stolen off the 251 engine. Taction motor cables were also removed from both units.

Closeup view of the stripped 251C engine.

Skipping head to Tuckahoe, home of the Came May Seashore Lines, we find everybody's favourite wooden interlocking tower with a pair of disc brake equipped passenger rail truck axles sitting around due to bad roller bearings.

Sitting on he CMSL power line we have former CNJ HEP equipped GP7 #1523, which was used in the CNJ's commuter operations before the GP40Ps were delivered.

Also in attendance are the pair of Lehigh Valley painted F Units along side PRR GP9 #7000.

The former Reading/PRSL Tuckahoe station has been fully restored along with the steam servicing water tower.

Moving down the CMSL main line to Woodbine Jct we find the section of the restored PRR Woodbine Branch connector. This was not simply added for historical accuracy, but as part of a plan to restore freight service to the branch by serving a large propane distribution and waste management facility.

Looking back to the south we see the "ramp" for the bridge over county road 550 and former PRR Cape May branch. Before the PRSL merger both the PRR and Reading had competing lines to Cape May. The PRR's line came first and when the Reading arrived in 1890 the PRR would not allow the Reading to construct a crossing at grade. The Reading decided to take measures into its own hands and in a move I am sure would tickle Ron Paul's libertarian fancy, tied up the local PRR station agent and then proceeded to install the crossing over night. The next day the PRR responded with armed security officials to which the Reading did likewise which prompted the State government to send in the militia to keep order. Eventually the contentious diamond crossing was replaced by the bridge distantly visible here.

Next we move onto the LANDIS crossing in Vineland, NJ, which is the only surviving non-RiverLINE related diamond crossing in South Jersey. This is where the West Jersey and Seashore's (a PRR company) Millville Branch crossed the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Southern Division to Bridgeton. Prior to 1948 the WJ&S line was electrified for interurban service to Millville, at this point using overhead trolley wire due to the lower cost and frequent grade crossings. This photos is looking north along what is now the Conrail Vineland Secondary. The diamond is completely non-interlocked, and the relay cabinet is for grade crossing purposes only.

As you can see here there's not a lot of extra money for maintenance here on the South Jersey secondary tracks. Case diamond crossings are highly expensive (10's of thousands of dollars each) so good old Conrail isn't going to let a couple of cracks stop it from using the appliance in daily service.

The cracked portion of the rail is held in place by a special welded steel tie that keeps the rail in alignment through the use of large "chairs" similar to what was used in Europe in place of spikes.

Since most traffic at this point is routed onto the former CNJ line, either to continue south for pickup by the Winchester and Western South Jersey Division, or to head back across the cracked crossing to serve a large glass manufacturer, the junction was re-aligned to give preference to their traffic instead of through traffic to Millville and beyond.

I promised PRSL artifacts and I don't want to disappoint so here we have one in the form of an old semaphore signal box for northbound traffic at the diamond back when it was actually interlocked.

Even better the box still contains the old semaphore operating equipment. Back before motors and such were either small or reliable they were located in the base of the signal so maintainers would have an easier time getting at them.

Driving up along the tracks to Newfield we find the former junction of the WJ&S electrified main line to Atlantic City and the Millville branch. The AC Line is long gone, but the Vineland Branch is still there along with a siding track that survived when the line was single tracked in the 1960's. Even in 2011 it is possible to identify those extra long ties that were used to support the third rail for interurban operations. Seeing as that service was canned in 1948 those ties have to be somewhere in the vicinity of 70 years old!!! It's a real testament to creosote, but its not surprising that the siding is out of service.

Well there you have it. South Jersey is full of fun and interesting long as you lower your expectations a bit. Next time we take another 4th of July walk around Philadelphia.

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