It is currently Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:40 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:45 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 6:40 pm
Posts: 79
A slightly different type of rail preservation:

Sections of both "O" and "P" streets in Georgetown have retained their original Belgian block paving and Capital Traction Company conduit tracks since shutdown of the system. Apparently the locals sought to retain the Belgian block paving at the time and so the streetcar tracks stayed as a consequence. The City is now doing a complete overhaul of the street including underground utility upgrades. The interesting thing is that the rails are to be returned along with the pavers! Check out this article from the Greater Washington blog: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/pos ... ar-tracks/

This blog has more detailed pictures of the elaborate yolks supporting the conduit track:
http://fullertography.blogspot.com/2011 ... racks.html

A few photos during a visit last week.
Image

Image

Image

Image

Interestingly, I observed something similar happening in Sacramento a few weeks ago, where "R" Street is being rebuilt to support ongoing development. To retain the historic character of this former industrial railroad corridor, the rails are being reinstalled (less flangeways) as part of the new pavement surface on the reconfigured street:

Image


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:35 pm 

The Georgetown trackage was the entrance/exit to the spectacular private right-of-way to Glen Echo amusement park(now abandoned). The line was on a palisade that overlooked the Potomac River. If reclaimed for replica streetcar service, DC would have a tourist attraction, IMO, rivaling San Francisco cable cars.

It's been a few years, but I suspect the right-of-way is largely intact, though a major steel bridge will need replacing. Perhaps the folks at National Capitol Trolley Museum can report on courant status.

Sloan


  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:01 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 12:15 pm
Posts: 991
Location: San Mateo California
The Georgetown and Sacramento “rail” preservation say a lot about how important history is. These are both preservation of the idea that a railroad once ran “here,” while not preserving the railroad its self. The project in Georgetown did not need to include the rails… they could have just reinstalled the paving blocks. I would have assumed that people liked the paving blocks and at least occasionally cursed the rails. The project in Sacramento is using non functional rails embedded in pavement to say something about the past uses of the place.

I think we collectively might learn something about how people view railroads (or street railroads)…

_________________
Randy Hees
Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources
Fremont California
www.spcrr.org


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6420
Location: Baltimore, MD
Actually, the biggest problem I've seen with surviving streetcar rails in or under city streets are the deluded beefwits who take one look at any such trackage--even if it's only a block or two long--and immediately fantasize that "all you have to do is put a car back on the tracks--it's already in place!" Or they think all you have to do is peel back the asphalt to find ready-to-run rails.

If I had a dollar for every idiot who has expressed that thought to me about the former "trolley tracks" (actually freight tracks) in Baltimore's Fells Point or Key Highway, Georgetown, etc., I'd be a pretty rich bloke.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:28 am
Posts: 1891
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Residing in the City of St. Louis the past several years has shown me that most of the tracks are still under the pavement, even for car lines abandonded before WWII, like in my present neighborhood. Though, the track is usually very deteroriated when it does poke through. Some streets, such as Olive St. near the Saint Louis University campus have only had one thin application of pavement since the end of service in 1966.

Another good clue, I've noticed is that as the rails and roadbed deteoriates, espcially on heavily-traveled streets, the pavement "sinks" where the tracks were.

_________________
David M. Wilkins


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:50 pm
Posts: 1350
If I recall correctly, when the Chicago Transit Authority abandoned streetcar service in Chicago, the Chicago Public Works Dept. took title to the track. For years afterward it was a requirement that contractors doing excavations for utility work either replace the rails, or substitute a cable bond between the ends of the track on either side of their excavation. The idea was that the streetcar rails formed a grounding grid that kept stray currents from causing electrolysis corrosion to the city water mains. Needless to say, it was cheaper by far to push the rails back in the hole and bond them to the system than to provide new cable.

I don't know when this practice ended; a cursory Google search doesn't turn anything up, so the requirement must have been quietly dropped at some point, likely when it was realized that the remaining parts of the system were so corroded that they were of little value.

As an interesting aside, years ago when a sewer contractor was digging up the intersection of Ashland and Lake under the "L" structure, to the side of the old streetcar rails were some even older horse car rails; cast (I believe) strap rail that was laid on wood stringers. I have some pieces... somewhere.

_________________
Dennis Storzek


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:03 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 6:25 pm
Posts: 1361
The DC government is taking great care and expense to extract the original rail from the street. This stuff is very brittle and much TLC is required to get the sections of track as shown in John's photo. As part of the planning, one of the project engineers visited our Museum to study the conduit yoke artifact we have on display.

The Cabin John right-of way has been broken just west of plow pit location by an entrance driveway for Georgetown University. It is heavily overgrown in other spots, and another major break exists where the line crossed through the Dalecarlia water treatment plant. The Clara Barton Parjway also crosses the R/W on the approach to Glen Echo. On the north end the Glen Echo loop is gone and the adjoining property owners have encroached on the R/W with gardens and parking. I have not walked the Cabin John loop in many years, but the grade was intact.

Wesley


Online
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:07 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2004 7:42 am
Posts: 361
Location: Haslett, Michigan USA
Thanks for posting the link to the Fuller Georgetown photos. The first time I walked this street, I was sure I was seeing cable-car conduit, although I knew about DC's blade-style current collectors. I thought I even spotted a former winding house/carbarn, with tracks running into it from the street. In the photos it's clear that this was not cable conduit. I think I recall reading that the cable conduit was used for current supply in some places in DC.

For a real cheap way to evoke former streetcar tracks, there's the design used on a brick section of Lansing, Michigan's Washington Avenue (the main shopping street and north-south trolley route in olden times): two lines of white bricks where each track once was.

Aarne Frobom
Trolley Park, Michigan


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:27 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:42 pm
Posts: 1700
It's amazing what terrible shape that street is in!

When I was a youngster growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, they had lots of streets of Belgian Blocks and also brick pavers. Obviously, they weren't as smooth as freshly laid asphalt, but they were a lot smoother than what you see there.

They were also easy to maintain. The crews would pull the blocks out, do whatever repairs needed to be done (replace a tie on the streetcar, fix a water main, cut in a new sewer connection) and then carefully place the bricks back in position. The blocks worked a bit like railroad ties in that you could adjust their height with a bit of fill like sand or slag. So once the repairs were done, the road was in as good or better shape than it was before they started the work!


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:28 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:25 pm
Posts: 147
I recall a lawsuit that was finally concluded in the early 1990s that involved the Cabin John right-of-way. If I recall correctly, DC Transit was sued for overcharging patrons on the line's fares, but clearly it took a very long time to go through the legal system. The court found in favor of the riders and awarded title of the right-of-way to the riders' lawyer. He didn't say at the time what he ended to do with a long but thin piece of property, and as far as I can tell, nothing has been done with it since then.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:54 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:01 pm
Posts: 1182
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Actually, the biggest problem I've seen with surviving streetcar rails in or under city streets are the deluded beefwits who think all you have to do is peel back the asphalt to find ready-to-run rails.
If I had a dollar for every idiot who has expressed that thought to me about the former "trolley tracks" (actually freight tracks) in Baltimore's Fells Point or Key Highway, Georgetown, etc., I'd be a pretty rich bloke.
Philadelphia, Pa.'s South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Dallas, Tex.'s McKinney Ave. Transit Authority have both done just that, although S.E.P.T.A. did replace the ties under the reclaimed rails. During the Gas Crisis of 1973, S.E.P.T.A. did investigate the practicality of scraping asphalt off 3 entire busy routes! 1 of those lines had been bussed because the rail was in bad condition, the other 2 had a good deal of relatively new rail.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:03 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:08 am
Posts: 196
Location: Western Railroad Museum - Rio Vista
In Fort Smith, Arkansas, streetcars stopped running in 1933. Tracks had wooden ties paved with bricks. Fort Smith had a large brick manufacturing industry. In the 1930's the WPA paid for removing the rails but had no money to pay for removing the ties. Over the years the ties rotted. Brick street surfaces took on the countour of a washboard. Today all the brick streets that had streetcar lines have been repaved with asphalt.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:37 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6420
Location: Baltimore, MD
JimBoylan wrote:
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Actually, the biggest problem I've seen with surviving streetcar rails in or under city streets are the deluded beefwits who think all you have to do is peel back the asphalt to find ready-to-run rails.
If I had a dollar for every idiot who has expressed that thought to me about the former "trolley tracks" (actually freight tracks) in Baltimore's Fells Point or Key Highway, Georgetown, etc., I'd be a pretty rich bloke.
Philadelphia, Pa.'s South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Dallas, Tex.'s McKinney Ave. Transit Authority have both done just that, although S.E.P.T.A. did replace the ties under the reclaimed rails. During the Gas Crisis of 1973, S.E.P.T.A. did investigate the practicality of scraping asphalt off 3 entire busy routes! 1 of those lines had been bussed because the rail was in bad condition, the other 2 had a good deal of relatively new rail.


Take 1973, and add 38 years of underground existence. It's not the same rail, by a long shot.

Baltimore's Department of Public Works apparently has orders to call in the Baltimore Streetcar Museum every time they have to cut out or pull up former streetcar girder rails from the street. This is primarily in case they find switchwork, cable car conduits, or other such stuff. I don't think the BSM has actually used any of the few pieces that have shown up intact in the past decade or more; it's just too brittle and/or corroded to come out in one piece.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:52 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:28 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Dallas, TX
In the case of McKinney Avenue and in Cole Avenue in Dallas, we found good rail and ties when we peeled off the pavement. In fact, a contractor for the City was given the job of putting in a utility line on St. Paul, in the same street used for MATA. His contract started before MATA was ready to lay new track at the curb lane. The poor contractor was not told of the double track that existed in the center lanes below the pavement and he discovered a serious problem when the back hoe started pulling up splinters of hard ties. It slowed his progress so much that he finally hired a power saw with a deep blade to cut through the pavement and ties so he could remove the material in time to complete the contract.

This was not the first time that contractors, including the city services and utilities, fought the old tracks all over Dallas. The City has contacted MATA on a regular basis on the possible rail locations before starting repairs and renewals to streets. Mata has recovered switches from several locations and knows where some more are located with plans to recover and reuse them in the future.

_________________
Harry Nicholls


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: DC Streetcars: Georgetown conduit track
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:56 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:01 pm
Posts: 1182
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
In the Philadelphia case, it was laid in 1948. abandoned and covered in 1957, and reused about 1998.


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: aswright, Bing [Bot], Chris Salmonson, Google [Bot], MSNbot Media, msrlha_archivist, wesp and 32 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: