Wellafter coming onto the PRR Main at tyrone I was never exactly sure of
where we were most of the time. After my harrowing backwards ride we came
into the greater Altoona area. I say Greater because unlike Pulaski NY where
the station was just "there", Altoona seemed to go on for miles. And that is
because it did. I asked our railroad host about all the cars in the yard.
Some were clearly mangled but the railroad guy said ALL the cars were bad
As a rule I did not carry my camera upfront. It just seemed like a bad idea
but at Altoona I stuck it down under the box that housed the trottle cable.
The only shot I remember taking was of a one-of-a-kind Penn Central SW-1200
modified for use with the ballast cleaning train, unit 80041.
I do not know which way we were facing at Tyrone but I do not think we tied
up in the Altoona terminal. The best of my recollection is that we ran lite
to the Region Post and started operating back eastward on the main. Although
i went rigth through the middle of Altoona I did not spot the elusive 5011
Not being familair with the territory around Altoona and Harrisburg I am a t
a complete loss to tell you where we were. But the next tie was in
Harrisburgh somewhere in the vicinity of the Amtrak station. I recall
running along the very straight mainline heading east and there was a sort
of yard on our right.There was not much in the yard and I paid almost no
attention until I realised I was passing a blue FM B UNIT! I was in a state
of railfan panic! I looked for a landmark and noted the the Pennsylvania
Truck Lines terminal was on my left ( I think this was a Penn Central
subsidiary). We tied the car up at the Harrisburg Amtrak stationIi think. I
recall putting the Sperry Car on the track under the station if that makes
any sense. it was also one of the few tracks without overhead wire.
Ivan told us that no one was to go on the roof without his permission. This
was because of the live catenary.
I also recall testing one fine afternoon and spoting a defect. Giving the
stop and backup signals and then going to the door weith my eyes out the
window facing the rear. I stepped out the car and realized the Susquehanna
River was below me but no place to stand so I clung to the handrail
realizing my mistake. I missed the defect too. Another rule after that was
that Ivan would test all defect on bridges.
Anyway we tied the car down and I just took off down the mainline with my
camera. I may have mentioned earlier that being with Sperry gave you sort of
a special exemption when railfanning if it was low keyed. Half hour later I
made it to the FM unit. It was rusted hulk that had been modified to work
with a welded rail train. I remember it was pale blue like a really faded
Conrail blue. My recollection is that it had an eight digit number with
letters that indicated that it was privately owned. I arrived in time to
take a couple of quick photos and then did not care for the prospect of
walking back to the Sperry Car. I was for the most part, right next to this
Pennsylvania Truck Lines terminal. I decided to go into the terminal and
seek a ride which i got with almost no explaining. It was one of those
Sperry things I guess. One of the terminal employees had spotted me and I
walked across the main explained who I was, what I was doing and could I get
a rie down to the station. The next thing I knew I was riding in the cab of
this green truck with some guy who dropped me accross from the depot.
On Friday August 3rd 1979 we tied the car down at Parkersburg , Pa on the
Trenton line. This was the last time I worked with Ivan Owen. The car was
moving around all the trackage in the Eastern Region now and Ivan was sent
to another car. He was actually the Supervisor which meant he was supposed
to visit different cars and see how they were doing and what needed to be
My buddy Rodger also was off the car that day. He had decided (or maybe it
had been decided for him) that this was not the life for him.
And that is all for this installment. What's in your archives?