Taking Volunteerism to All Heights

posted by James Lilly

Saturday, August 18, was a typical work day at Dover Park.  Volunteers were completing a variety of maintenance tasks on our equipment.  Our team does whatever it takes to make sure our cars are in "tip-top" condition.  And speaking of tip-top, here is a photo of volunteer and member Dean Edmonds on a ladder inspecting the roof of the Dover Harbor along with volunteer member John Eldridge, who took the photo.  The job was completed safely. Safety first, last, and always. 

Maybe This is Why It Is Called That....

posted by James Lilly

On a trip in March 2018, Dover Harbor was bringing up the markers on Amtrak's Sunset Limited.  As the train headed east through Louisiana at track speed, one of our crew members took this amazing photo looking back as sunset faded into the distance. 

The name Sunset Limited traces its origins to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway, which was known as the Sunset Route as early as 1874.The name Sunset Limited traces its origins to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway, which was known as the Sunset Route as early as 1874. 1

*photo by J. Lilly

1sourced from classicstreamliners.com. 

Want to see what it looks like under the Hudson River by Rail?

posted Jul 1, 2018, 5:06 PM by James Lilly

One of our members shot this video on a recent train trip.   It provides the unusual view of the tracks from a train as it travels from New York Penn Station, New York to Newark, NJ Penn Station. This includes passing under the Hudson River in one of the twin Hudson tunnels (built over 100 years ago) and views of the Manhattan skyline.

Video of New York to Newark via train under the Hudson

June Program to Feature Local Author Elmer J. Hall

posted Jun 2, 2018, 5:32 PM by James Lilly

The June program will feature distinguished local author, Elmer J. Hall, who has written a quartet of books chronicling the social history of the once heavily industrialized eastern Baltimore County peninsula. His talk will focus on his new release, The No. 26 Sparrows Point Line: Chronicles of the Red Rocket (1903 to 1958), 2017, but he will discuss all of his books. The books in the quartet are Diary Of A Mill Town, Recollections of the Bungalows and Sparrows Point, Maryland, 2004; Shipbuilding at the Sparrows Point Yard: A Century of Pride & Tradition, 2007; Patapsco and Back Rivers Railroad: Chronicles of the Push, Bump and Ram, 2010; and A Mill on the Point: One Hundred and Twenty-five Years of Steel Making at Sparrows Point Maryland, 2013.

Mr. Hall is a retired educator and native of Sparrows Point. He grew up in the Bungalows, the company town neighborhood that is now demolished. His father and three uncles came from the Virginia hills during the Great Depression to work at Sparrows Point and his mother was a nail sorter in the nail mill.

The meeting will be held on Friday, June 15, at 8 pm, at the B&O Railroad Station, 8100 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD.

The Glory Days - The Golden Age of Railroading - Indianapolis

posted May 18, 2018, 6:21 PM by James Lilly   [ updated May 18, 2018, 6:24 PM ]

During the Golden Age of Railroading, approximated from the 1920s til about 1950s, heavyweight Passenger sleeping cars were perhaps a many times a day occurrence at Indianapolis, Indiana's beautiful Union Station. Now trains only grace the terminal twice a day and Pullmans only very rarely. One only has to wander through the station or peer at some of the original columns in the train shed to lose oneself in time.  So when a young photographer named Noah Smith caught Dover Harbor in Indianapolis on May 12, he seemed to catch the essence of that fleeting yesteryear. We thank Noah for sharing his work....  Enjoy

Amtrak Changes and Private Cars and DCNRHS - Our Trips and Charters are Running!

posted Apr 29, 2018, 11:17 AM by James Lilly

Many folks have asked how the recent changes at Amtrak involving private cars, charters, and excursion will affect DCNRHS' trips and charter.  We are very much aware of the changes but want to reassure our passengers and customers that our trips and charters will continue to run. We urge our past customers who enjoy traveling with us to support our current trip offerings and ask those contemplating making a trip for the first time to "not hesitate, go now!" Our Trip Committee Chairman and Charter Agent, Mr. Kevin Tankersley, has penned a thoughtful article on this subject, which we share below!

Amtrak Changes Private Car Policies

Over the last few weeks, a lot was reported everywhere from the railfan media to the mainstream press on changes Amtrak was proposing to make to private car operations on Amtrak trains.  The reports gathered from car owners who suddenly had move requests denied, informal conversations and other unofficial sources, indicated a wide range of potential changes which were anticipated to severely curtail the operation of private cars on Amtrak trains.  The thrust of the reasoning for the changes relayed by Amtrak was that private cars delay their trains and that changes would be made to eliminate those delays. 

When these reports surfaced, the private car and heritage rail community sprung to action.

A number of individuals, private car owners and organizations urged folks to contact their Congressmen and Senators to express their views that the proposed changes were headed in the wrong direction. DCNRHS supported efforts of the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO) and the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance (RPCA) by providing answers to surveys of operational data to be used in discussions with Amtrak on these issues.

After several weeks of uncertainty, on April 18th, Amtrak officially released new policies for the operation of special charter trains, the operation of private cars in regularly scheduled trains and a revised tariff for the operation of private cars in regularly scheduled trains.  Here’s a summary of the changes and how they will affect DCNRHS’ three Amtrak qualified private cars—Dover Harbor, Franklin Inn, and Collinsville Inn:

Amtrak Chartered Special Trains

Amtrak Chartered Special Trains are now limited to operate only on the routes of regularly scheduled Amtrak trains.  What this means is that Amtrak will no longer operate special trains on routes that travel “rare mileage” such as for the AAPRCO convention.  DCNRHS’ cars have participated in Amtrak chartered special trains either in charter service such as Franklin Inn  did during the 2012 NRHS Convention in Iowa; and or on trips such as offered with Dover Harbor periodically as part of AAPRCO’s annual convention special trains.   Our cars have also participated in Amtrak Special trains, such as the annual New River Train in West Virginia, which runs on the route of Amtrak’s Cardinal, and could possibly be operated subject to several other stipulations in the new policy.  In terms of our cars, this means somewhat reduced opportunities for us to operate either in charter service or on trips offered through DCNRHS.   Also, even though our organization has a long history of operating excursion trains going back to 1951, DCNRHS has not directly chartered an Amtrak special train since the early 2000s.

Private Cars on Regularly Scheduled Amtrak Trains

Private car operations on regularly scheduled Amtrak trains are changed in the following ways:

The new policy defines the locations where private cars may be switched on and off of trains; this list eliminates a number of locations where cars were switched onto and off of trains previously.   The emphasis is on cars operating from origin to the endpoint of given trains and en route switching has been significantly curtailed with some exceptions.  Washington DC is one of the locations where en route switching is permitted on many trains, when power is changed from electric to diesel or vice versa.  Since Washington DC is the primary location DCNRHS operates its cars from this change does not have significant effect on our operations.  There are a few en route locations such as Huntington WV, Jacksonville FL and Emeryville CA where our cars have operated to in the past that are affected.

Another major change is that Amtrak had in recent years been encouraging private cars to have work done in their shops.  With the new policy, Amtrak will no longer do work on private rail cars, except for FRA-required repairs to safety appliances while the car is en route on an approved trip.  This means that for any work to be done on the car, we will have to hire private contractors or send our cars to private shops.  As there are none in the immediate Washington DC area, there is added cost for sending the cars to a shop, and also logistics for oversight of work being performed at some distance away.

Revised Tariff

Along with the new polices a revised tariff was issued, raising the most of the various rates twelve (12) to fifteen (15) percent.  A few of the special switching rates were increased by over 125%.  The new tariff rates are effective with all movements commencing on or after May 1, 2018.  DCNRHS does follow good business practice has some contingency built in to our business plans for trip fares and charter fees in the event of a tariff increase such as this, although it is not as much as this unexpected tariff increase, so there will be a slight impact to the bottom line of the trips currently offered.   Future trip offerings and charters will be priced to reflect the revised tariff rates, and you may expect our fares to rise as a result of these changes.  For the trips we are currently advertising, we have determined we will not change the fares and DCNRHS will absorb the additional costs, however it becomes more important for us to ensure the trips are well patronized.  We hope that you will join us for one or more of these upcoming trips.

DCNRHS Receives $15,000 Grant from The UPS Foundation

posted Apr 18, 2018, 3:26 PM by James Lilly   [ updated Apr 18, 2018, 3:29 PM ]


Team UPS Volunteers work painting the side of the an REA Baggage Car - August 12,  2017

Washington, D.C. - April 20 - The National Railway Historical Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter, Inc (DCNRHS) received a $15,000 grant from the UPS Foundation, which drives global corporates citizenship and philanthropic programs for UPS (NYSE: UPS).

The grant will be used to preserve and restore the exterior color and appearance of DCNRHS' three 1930s Railway Express Agency (REA) railroad cars. DCNRHS uses the cars as part of its larger program to preserve and teach America's rail history, and to provide people a chance to experience railroading first-hand through opportunities to ride vintage railroad cars or even do hands on restoration and operations.

DCNRHS' REA Agency baggage cars were built by the American Car & Foundry Company in the 1930s for the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) Railroad. An early predecessor of UPS, the REA provided shipment of individual parcels, goods and money, quickly, securely, and safety between parties in different parts of the country.  When the cars were retired from REA service, RF&P used them in maintenance of way trains before donating them to DCNRHS.

The project will use a combination of contract and volunteer labor to clean and power-wash the car bodies and under carriages, scrape the car exterior, repair weakened body panels and roofs, caulk exposed seams, and prime rusted metal.  Then the cars will be painted in a Pullman green color to match their appearance during operations during the 1930s and 1940s. Each car will have its original RF&P marking number restored to its exterior on both sides in gold paint using the correct Railroad Roman Font. With UPS Foundation's concurrence, DCNRHS will place a small plaque in the interior of each noting the UPS Foundation's support for the project. 

DCNRHS' Treasurer, Chief Mechanical Officer, and Manager of the project said of the grant "This means we will be able to preserve these cars which are a critical part of our equipment program, providing storage and workshop space for restoration and operation of our three historic Amtrak qualified railroad passenger cars. UPS' support of this project has been critical. Last year a dozen volunteers from UPS helped us apply exterior paint to one of the cars after our volunteers had primed and sanded them in preparation.  This grant is fantastic and beyond providing the means to complete the project will lift the hearts and spirits of our volunteers who work so hard to preserve and operate our equipment. Thank you UPS! Beyond that, I am speechless!"

Established in 1951 and based in Atlanta, GA, The UPS Foundation identifies specific areas where its backing clearly impacts social issues. In support of this strategic approach, the UPS Foundation has identified the following focus areas for giving: volunteerism, diversity, community safety, and the environment.

In 2017, UPS and its employees, active and retired, invested more than $118 million in charitable giving around the world. The UPS Foundation can be found on the web at UPS.com/foundation.  To get UPS news direct, pressroom.ups.com/RSS.

"The UPS Foundation is honored to support the National Railway Historical Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter, Inc's efforts to restore and preserve these historic pieces of American rail history," said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS. "Our goal is to fund powerful programs that make a lasting difference to the global community."

Want to See the Inside of the Tunnel under Capitol Hill?

posted Apr 18, 2018, 2:58 PM by James Lilly

One of our members shot this video on a recent train trip.   It provides the unusual view of the tracks from a train as it travels from Washington, D.C. Union Station to Alexandria, Virginia. This includes passing under the Capitol in First Street Tunnel, passing CP Virginia, Government buildings, and the VRE stop at L'ENFant Plaza, and traveling over the "Long Bridge" over the Potomac River with views of the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and Tidal Basin.

Traveling UNDER Capitol Hill by Train

PRR E8 with GG1 at Washington Terminal - Help Us Identify the Photographer

posted Mar 13, 2018, 6:53 PM by James Lilly

A friend of the Society shared this photo with us of PRR E-8 5893 helping a GG1 East (North) out of Washington, D.C. in we are told 1964.  We share it for educational purposes, and wonder if any one out there knows the photographer. Note the station and the Capitol Dome in the background. We note that DCNRHS does not hold copyright to this photo.  

Pullman @ Piscayne

posted Mar 11, 2018, 7:04 PM by James Lilly   [ updated Mar 11, 2018, 7:06 PM ]

Here is a video from Facebook with our Pullman Dover Harbor on the rear of Amtrak's No. 20 on 3/11/2018 at Piscayne, LA. Video is courtesy of the Louisiana Association of Railway Passengers.

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