Author Topic: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021  (Read 445 times)

GP30M4216

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Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« on: September 22, 2021, 10:07:59 PM »
It's been several years since I've been to Elkhart. Like, the tracks by the depot were still on the old alignment number of years. I had family in the area during the Conrail and early NS years and got there frequently, but my last visit had been 2016. Last Thursday, I packed up the cameras and headed south from Michigan to check out the new track plan and visit the National NYC RR Museum, where I once worked as an intern.

I was alerted that Amtrak P42 #100, the Midnight Blue 50th Anniversary Unit, would be leading train 49, the westbound Lake Shore Ltd. I also came to find out, after arriving, that the train was significantly delayed by engine problems near Harmon NY and a broken down CSX freight sitting on Vickers Diamond at Toledo, so there was no huge rush. This gave me some time to check out the depot waiting room and new platform. The new platform is a good, impressive facility for passengers, well lid by LED lights. But I'm not super impressed by how they blazed a trail of new concrete sidewalks across the original brick platform, which is as old as the 1900-built station. Even less impressive is the weed-filled zone between the old and new platforms, which apparently local politics is keeping looking like a memorable first impression for several wrong reasons. Regardless, it's a decent place to wait for a train. And, you can still get a great photo of the depot, looking as if the 20th Century Limited might pull up at any second (photo 1).

Of course, with the tracks on the new alignment, you're much closer to the NYC RR Museum equipment right across the tracks. Here's a shot of the 3001 and Conrail caboose from the angle Virtual Railfan folks will recognize (photo 2).

Amtrak was late, but NS local B23 was right on time with their shove move down to Goshen. Led by graffiti-clad caboose 555616, today's eastbound run was a lite caboose move to pickup cars from the Marion Secondary and loaded MofW gondolas in Dunlap. They sneaked up on me but I chased them south to Goshen, snagging some photos of them at Hively's 4 quadrant gates and again at CP-412.

Something I had been wanting to figure out was how close the end of the new chain link fence is to the end of the platform and the rail at the west end, and also how close the new CP-421 relay box and other equipment is to the tracks. There is a gap between the fence and the tracks, but it's not very big. It's better to fit your lens through a link in the fence, as the box, generator and other stuff is actually further back than I thought. After an eastbound container train and a slow westbound manifest headed into the yard, Grand Elk got their signal to enter the Water Level Route with 20 cars from Michigan (photo 3).


GP30M4216

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Re: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2021, 10:12:15 PM »
I was supposed to have the day off from work, but a mandatory conference call was scheduled a few days ahead of time, so I sat in the depot parking lot stuck on the phone hoping nothing exciting was coming. Lucky me, the Vickers incident was blocking all westbound traffic. A loaded DEEX coal train with sun-ravaged Union Pacific power and an NS container train passed by, but no other traffic for an hour. The CSX train was finally moved and Amtrak 49 would lead a parade of westbound trains from Toledo, now due at EKH 3.5 hours late. With blue skies as far as the eye could see, it made sense to cross the tracks to visit the NYC Museum and get a photo of Amtrak 100 from the sunny side when it arrives. Traffic seemed dead, so it was likely to be a good shot.

Arriving before Amtrak was B19, the Elkhart east local, returning from their interchange with the Elkhart and Western. GP38-2 #5650 led the way (photo 4).

Going slightly out of order, while in the Museum later on I came across this graph photo of an NYC Pacific switching in almost the exact same spot as my photo (photo 5).

Meanwhile, the train gods had other plans. With 49 finally close enough that I could hear their horn blowing for the Lusher crossing, an endless manifest was slowly rolling out from the yard, with two NS engines up front and two more as a mid train DPU. What did my picture of Amtrak turn out like? Well I didn't even see the engine behind a couple of giant reefers! The blind end of a couple Amfleet II coaches kept me company while passengers boarded and detrained and then the Lake Shore whistles off for Chicago (photo 6).

I kept an eye out for other train traffic after Amtrak departed. An eastbound BNSF-led autorack train caught me off guard. A westbound manifest came rolling slowly in on 3 behind a faded NS dash-9. Eventually, I spied the yellow and black face of the Grand Elk waiting for their signal to head back to home rails. The jog in the fence beside the NNYX gray covered hopper at the museum provides a good vantage point now that a lot of the vegetation has been cut down. GDLK had a short 15-car train to bring north today, with GDLK 4209 and 4225 leading toward Kalamazoo. A friendly cloud, the first one I'd seen in hours, wandered through just in time to dull the light! (photo 7)

GP30M4216

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Re: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2021, 10:20:08 PM »
While the sun came and went behind the clouds, I took the time to photograph some of the other equipment on the grounds. A lot of it is looking rough - peeling paint, windows broken or missing, but some pieces are well-kept. The Conrail N-21 caboose #21230 from the Selkirk Wrecker train presents a nice looking welcome to the lineup (photo eight).

Also from the Selkirk Wrecker, 250-Ton derrick X-13 was also well positioned for a photo. A lot of the overgrown trees and vegetation has been cleared away and replaced with grass really opening up some photography angles near the back of the property. The wreck tender is also visible here, loaded with parts. Unfortunately, the other equipment from the wrecker is in various states of deterioration. Apparently, the derrick is still functional and is how they re-arrange equipment from time to time here (photo 9).

On a happier note, the grounds clean up has continued all along the south end of the property and has really improved the area around the 3001 and GG1 as well. It looks like the Mohawk may even have recieved a coat of black paint fairly recently! Now it just needs the cab number put back on the engineer's side - I'll donate the paint! Steam fans might appreciate photos 10-12.

A Pennsy fan can't go into this NYC territory without at least one shot of a PRR landmark, the museum's GG1 #4882! At one time, this was one of only a small handful of museum rolling stock anywhere painted in Penn Central colors (black with a white logo). The logo seems to be gone, but the black remains - faded and looking very prototypically PC! (photo 13)

After completing my outdoor tour, it was nice to step inside for a little bit to look at exhibits and enjoy the air conditioning. A lot of exhibits haven't changed too much over the years, even since I interned there in 2007, but they do a good job talking about the rise of the New York Central and the role the railroad played in shaping Elkhart. I chatted with some of the museum staff for a few minutes about upcoming changes and prospects. They've received a large grant to update and add new children's exhibits and interactive spaces, which in turn will shuffle some of the other spaces around leading to some new and re-imagined exhibits. The former passenger car which once served as an office has been gutted and will soon be fitted out as a series of passenger car exhibits - coach, lounge, diner, sleeper, all in the length of a single car. They have begun a much more concerted effort to catalog and organize their archival collections by museum standards, becoming and even stronger resource for railroad historians. It sounds like a new chapter may be beginning with some creative thinking, which hopefully in the long run will benefit the equipment collection and educational opportunities here.

My museum visit concluded, I headed west to search for my other two Elkhart-specific interests: remaining high hood EMD's, and any chance to see a former Conrail MT-6 yard slug in action, both assigned to the yard here. The yard was deader than I expected and the light was harsh from old US-33. A couple high hood SD40-2s in the 1600 class have been assigned to switching jobs on the west end over the past few months, but unfortunately, all I saw was one of them tied down out of range for even my 300mm Nikon lens. Meanwhile, GP38-2 #5222 was paired with SD40-2 #6147, the geep with its high hood and the special duty still technically set up with its long hood as "forward" in traditional N&W fashion, switching cars. It's interesting to see a lineup of various NS engines currently parked at the west end awaiting overhaul elsewhere. In my zig zagging between the west and east end of the yards a few times I missed a couple of departures, but a westbound coke train behind a single NS leader came up to CP-423 and a stop signal. This was a nicely matched unit train of NS black coal hoppers, and I was able to get ahead of them as they got their clear signal and beat them to County Line Road crossing for a photo. Does anyone know what symbol this might be? I can't image that many westbound coke or coal loads go through here these days.

I had forgotten that Indiana law doesn't require bells at grade crossings. impatient drivers sit on or hang over the tracks here waiting for the traffic light, and without much awareness, the gates just start dropping on people's cars. I watched two pickups bounce off the pavement and over the rails desperately trying to get off the tracks at the coke train approached. There were many seconds of cushion time, but I bet everyone's blood pressure was up several notches as a result.

On my way back east once more, I spied a yard switcher tied to NS #855, a former Conrail MT-6 yard slug, on the IN-19 overpass. It was soon obstructed by cars on an adjoining track, so no photos of this either, but it's nice to know the trademark slanted numberboards of a former Alco carbody are still keeping cars moving over the hump at EKH. My last stop of the day was back at the depot, where I picked up some trash scattered around before hitting the road back north to Michigan. It was fun to check out some old haunts and see some things not often found in Michigan! And maybe next time I'll get the Amtrak catch!  ;)

« Last Edit: September 25, 2021, 09:23:24 PM by GP30M4216 »

Bob Durnell

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Re: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2021, 07:55:28 AM »
Thanks for the "tour". Been quite a few years since i have been to the museum. If anybody is up there, either for the museum or just to watch trains,  give the hot dog place across the street from the station a try.  Their hours are a little weird, but they have really interesting items on the menu. Hot Dog Eddy's.

rrnut282

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Re: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2021, 08:48:05 AM »
I saw GDLK sitting on the siding at Three Rivers Tuesday.  A mile north of the siding a tamper was working.  I wonder if the train you saw had to wait as well.
rrnut2-8-2
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HVRM Grunt

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Re: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2021, 11:45:02 AM »
GP30M4216 -

Any additional photos of the other equipment at the museum there in Elkhart?  Most folks take shots of the 4-8-2, E-unit, GG1, etc., but omit the other railroad equipment there.

Les

GP30M4216

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Re: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2021, 09:51:05 PM »
Sure, here are a few more. I took a phone call in the middle of my visit but kept walking around shooting photos in the gaps between the clouds. Unfortunately, it's clear a lot of the equipment is suffering in the elements. Some cars, like the CSS car, have a new roof covering to keep the rain out, but sadly so many windows are missing it does little good. I was told some of the boxcars are being methodically emptied and parts and pieces inventoried, so that's good news, at least.

If you'd like more information about the roster of equipment at the NYC Museum, I refer to this link: https://heritagerail.org/2018/12/elkharts-new-york-central-museum/

Photo 1: one of two ex-B&O boxcars was repainted several years ago into this jade green NNYC Museum/City of Elkhart scheme. It occupies a prominently placed on top of the Benham Street underpass and it just starting to fade.

Photo 2 & 3: Some other photos of 250 ton derrick X-13. It was built by Industrial Brownhoist Corp in Bay City, MI and assigned to the Selkirk NY wreck outfit.

Photo 4: This former NYC RPO-baggage car is actually really rare as it was originally a Michigan Central RR car. It used to be parked right behind the 3001 and hoppers, fitting right in. Now it's on another track and shoved toward the west end of the complex.

Photos 5, 6 & 7: The South Shore car #15 is in rough shape. I've seen other museums put cut plywood into empty window openings and paint them to look like glass. This would seem like a good candidate for that.

Photo 8: Someone asked me once if the museum had any Merchants Despatch Co. refrigerator cars in the collection. The two reefers at NNYC are former Milwaukee Road. (North Judson does have an MDT reefer) Meanwhile, the museum in Elkhart does have two MDT flatcars, upon one is the Selkirk wrecker crane tender, and on the other are the trucks for said tender.

There are many other pieces I didn't get photos of, including some cabooses that look to be in decent shape.

HVRM Grunt

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Re: Elkhart and NYC Museum trip 9-16-2021
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2021, 10:56:57 AM »
Thanks for the additional pix.