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 Post subject: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:38 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:12 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Tidewater, VA
In the late 1890's, the Dismal Swamp Railroad moved logs out of the Great Dismal Swamp in Southern VA and Northern NC on 35 miles of 42-Inch track to Camden Mills, Va to be loaded onto barges and sent to Richmond, Va where the wood would become home made ice cream makers. In 1911 the Richmond Cedar Works laid two miles of standard gauge track from Camden Mills to Burrell, connecting with the Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line. NPBL also served another RCW mill at Money Point, Va, however I do not know what that mill was being used for at this time.

Upon doing research on online satellite images I pinpointed several locations of interest along the former RofW worth going to explore.

This first small bridge, the only visible piece of the RCW according to W. Hugh Moomaw's book. Virginia's Belt Line Railroad: The Norfolk & Portsmouth 1898-1997 is located on a dirt road along the coast of the Southern Branch Inter Coastal Waterway off Dominion Blvd in Chesapeake, Va. Just on the other side of this bridge, was a short passing siding where the NPBL and the RCW would interchange trains.

The rails were laid without tie plates as one can see, and 97 years later, the bridge is showing her age.
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The next spot to hit, unknown to Mr. Moomaw, was another bridge on the same river, this time spanning it in roughly a 250 foot section.
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Heading south we find 42" gauge Dismal Swamp Railroad RofW at Benefit Road. No rails are visible due to the over growth, however after seeing the bridges one wonders how much of the line still remains.

Looking North to Camden Mills
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Looking South, the line would eventually head west and into the maze of rail laid in swamp.
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Over the last few years i've been collecting images, both prints and negatives over various logging operations in The Great Dismal Swamp, however i've come to find researching a series of swamp logging operations that weren't well document is quite challenging.

Currently I know of : The Dismal Swamp RR, Richmond Cedar Works, Camp Manufacturing, Roper Lumber Co. and Moses White Lumber.

Any information pertaining to the above would be much appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:11 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:29 am
Posts: 237
Great pictures! Incredible that they have lasted so long. This reminds me of times spent with my grandpa in north Florida back in the early '80's, we followed the M&B right of way once and found a bridge, at least part of it, complete with rails, they just went off into the woods.... from the road you couldn't tell there had been a railroad there.
So, are the rails still mostly there? or is it just the bridges?


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:36 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:12 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Tidewater, VA
From what I can tell, the standard gauge still has a lot of rail in place, however it stops prior to reaching a housing development. There is a pier, in one of these developments, that I believe is very likely another bridge, that was rebuilt when the houses were put in.

Also, to the left of the larger bridge from what I can see in satellite images, there is a switch leading into what I think is Tidewater Construction. They have a few sharp curves in their facility and what appears to be several cranes, all early diesel and self propelled.

There is rumored to be rail in the swamp, however the park services claim to have not cleared that area for hiking yet and do not know if its safe to venture into. I have seen a photograph on Flicker, of an 0-4-0 diesel, that resembles one of 2, built by Berkley Machine Works in Norfolk, VA. Its nothing more than a metal steam locomotive cab on a steel frame with a very very short hood, less than 6 feet long, housing a small diesel engine. I'm unsure whether this was powered by a chain or with some sort of crank shaft turning the axles. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wait4thelight/558372615/ This image was taken in the 70's according to the poster, as a article for the Smithsonian Magazine on the swamp. Reports are, this was taken just below the NC state line.

I've sent this image along with other showing the full locomotive to the park in hopes they will allow a group to go search for this and see if it is recoverable for use as a display at the front of the park. I have heard nothing back other than they will allow private scouting tours if the price is right... *rolls eyes*


Other locomotives from the swamp have been preserved already, however nothing scratch built.

An example is this Plymouth, unknown tonnage or serial number on display in Courtland, VA. The builders plate in the cab has been painted over and later this year I will be inquiring about cleaning that plate to get the information I need. This was used by the Moses R. White Lumber Co. Standard gauge of course. This engine is chain driven. Behind it is an example of the typical log car used in the swamp. The trucks have ACL markings on them, and behind the log car in a shed were several hand cars from the SAL and ACL.

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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:51 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:00 pm
Posts: 805
Location: NJ
Lumber instead of springs in the arch bar trucks! Why didn't I think of that! Definitely a home built car using what ever they had laying around. A little TLC before it rusts into the ground. Maybe they can roll the Plymouht forward a bit to replace the ties to get it out of the dirt!

Later!
Mr. Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:37 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:33 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Danville
Great photos of whats left of the DSRR...I have for the last year or so have been doing some background research on the DSRR and Richmond Cedar Works...The railroad started out as the Norfolk & Camden Railroad and hadn't expanded much out of VA when the panic of 1893 hit. The RCW was developing its mills at Camden Mills, and decided to take over the operations of the N&C and changed its name to DSRR. RCW kept the 42" gauge as a cost measure as the N&C had already laid the rail to this guage, this at the time was believed to be smallest gauge that would be feasable in and around the swamp due to the spongy terrain.

Again, great photo's...I had passed those tracks many times, back in the 80's, and had not known of its ancestry....

chessie


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:22 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:04 am
Posts: 665
Location: Northeast Ohio
That Plymouth is certainly a graduate of the "one coat covers all" school of railroad preservation!


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 4054
Location: Maine
Looks like a great place to step on a cotton mouth!

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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:21 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:12 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Tidewater, VA
I hate to bump an older thread, but i've recently acquired a few images worth sharing off ebay... negatives really. I had to use a light box and photograph the negative as I have no way to scan them and get decent results... They are all 2" x 4" although I have one that is 3" x 5". Any idea's on how to get better quality images (prints or digital) of these?

I'll start with Camp Manufacturing Co. (later Union Camp and International Paper)

Camp owned this operation, the Franklin & Carolina, which operated both steam and diesel. This is the only image I have of one of their whitcombs, the 100. It later went to ACL and carried the same number and paint until it was retired.
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This is also an F&C locomotive, shown at the mill in Franklin... I have no history on this what so ever... I'm guessing its a 25T Plymouth, but I cant find where it was bought new, nor is it listed in Southern Iron and Equipments sale sheets.
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These next images i'm almost positive are Mallory Hope Ferrell shots. This is Richmond Cedar Works No. 12 at Camden Mills, VA on an unknown date... i'd say the 50's however judging by the engines condition and the background.
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Now this is where it gets interesting... these are Battery Electrics, but im unsure who built them nor their make and model... Both came from Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The first image shows them in dire need of help, while another shows one of the engines in much better condition. They were No. 1 & 2... but I'm unsure which is which.
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Last I have RCW 16T Plymouth, No. 17 at Camden Mills, VA. From what I can find, this was purchased from the Nansemond Ordnance Depot in Portsmouth, Va.
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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5608
Location: southeastern USA
Have you thought about simply printing them on photographic paper, using an enlarger and chemistry? Seems to have worked well for over a century, and probably there's an old photo studio somewhere not too far away where it can be done. You can even use matte paper with a brownish rather than grayscale tone for a more fakely authentic look, like Fox News, only better.

dave

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:35 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 566
Flat bed scanners are available which can scan negatives up to 4x5" at fairly high resolution.

My elderly Canon D2400UF can handle 4x5 negatives at 2400 dpi. Unfortunately Canon no longer makes any scanners with this capability. However, I think Epson does make them.

The approach of using a high-resolution digital camera and a light table can also work very well. I had to have a 16x20 inch enlargement made from an old hand-colored glass lantern slide. Our local digital shop (Cantoo in Berkeley CA) made one that way, and it turned out very well (and of course we also got the digital file back on CD. I'm not sure what kind of light source they used to get good color rendition, possibly a dichroic light source from a color enlarger.


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:57 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:12 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Tidewater, VA
I've read about the canon model, however all the epson's i've tried give poor scans... mainly because the image needs to have light shined through it, not onto it.

I've contacted a few local photo shops, and all gave me outrageous quotes for getting the images developed into prints. My method was sufficient in that I can now see details in the images, however I'd like to get better quality copies for my book when and if it gets published.

The light box I used was something scratch built for viewing slides on, sitting the negatives on a piece of off-white plastic. I've considered building my own using frosted glass and a low temperature 60 watt bulb... but was curious if there was another way before I attempt to construct that.

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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:21 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:29 pm
Posts: 353
I think my local photog shop charges about $8 per negative for a contact print...more if you want an enlargement. That is not bad at all considering all the work and materials that go into the end result.

When I see so many of these old images on Ebay it is always my hope that they are finding their way into the hands of preservationists and serious collectors. There are so many interesting images that have been showing up in the past decade.

T7


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:12 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Tidewater, VA
$8 bucks isn't bad. I called 3 shops in the area that can do negatives, all gave me quotes of $20-25 per negative, converting them to 4 x 6 prints.... I've got roughly 50 or so from various operations, both steam and diesel... several Piedmont Northern images, Beaufort & Morehead whitcombs... and more logging steam.

Edit: Just received an email response from a local community college that has a photo lab and teaches negative developing as one of their classes. The instructor who has been doing this for 20 plus years has offered to develop my collection if i pay for the class (don't have to take it but i'd like to see how this is done). The class is $250... Sounds like a deal to me!!! 50 images at $8 a piece would be $400 in the end.

Thanks for the responses, Once I start getting these developed i'll post a few more on here. I have a few SS&S negatives and one other negative from the Camp Manufacturing operation.

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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:22 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9109
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
You may not be familiar with flatbed negative scanners.They feature a top tray that passes a light bar in sync with the scanning bar. Because they are designed to handle anything from an 8x10" glass plate to 35mm slides, they have exceedingly high resolution, up to 9600 dpi,

The Md. Rail Heritage Library uses an Epson Perfection 4870. It cones with templates to handle anything from 35mm negative strips to mounted slides to 120 film to 116 film to 4x5 negatives/transparencies. Nikon still makes Coolpix scanners capable of handling film besides 35mm, last I knew.


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 Post subject: Re: Logging in the Great Dismal Swamp
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:13 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:12 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Tidewater, VA
Sadly such scanners are way out of my price range at the moment.

Just because i'm bored... i'll add some on the 36" Surry Sussex and Southampton RR... though it didnt run into the dismal swamp, it was logging other swamps in the three counties for which it was named. Owned by the Surry Lumber Co, the mill was located in Dendron VA, and the company was the largest producer of eastern yellow pine in the country.

Two locomotives remain. No. 6 (Operating at the Midwest Central RR in Iowa) and No. 26 (Stored OOS at the Pine Creek RR in NJ).

Below, the N&W underpass in Wakefield still remains, though has been rebuilt at least once since the RR shut down.
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Scotland Wharf, where the logs were exported down the James River, is now a car ferry operation, though the logging RR can still be traced down to the wharf site.
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Here, the Surry depot still stands as part of a gas station, being used as storage.
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In Dendron, the Dendron Historical Society has preserved not only mill equipment, but a box car from the railroad. The car was purchased by a local farmer in the 1930’s as a storage shed and was moved to Dendron by truck in the summer of 1997. Restoration work began in 1998, and the car, minus its doors, trucks, and couplers, was nearing completion in these images taken in July of 2008. Im searching for a pair of 36" trucks and wheel sets, preferably free as the group has little money. I'd pay to move them just to see the car back on wheels and off concrete blocks.
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Recently added to the collection (as of 2008) are the remains of the only SS&S baggage car. it was left abandoned at Scotland Wharf where a farmer used it as a tool shed. After he passed the remnants were moved to dendron. Nothing can be done to save the remains... measurements have been taken for future reference however.
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Also on site is the Bell from engine No. 2, and misc wheel sets... one appears to be a pony truck from the 2-6-2's much like No. 26. The other looks to be from a track speeder.
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