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 Post subject: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I think this is in a way preservation related, but it's also non-technical enough that it probably belongs here.

One of the things that is really amazing to me is how strongly Pennsylvania Railroad fans feel about their road, in particular their road's steam power. Talk about a strong feeling! If only we could put it in a bottle, we would beat out the goat rejuvenation formulas and testosterone injections and all that other stuff and make a mint, not to mention free all the locomotives out of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. . .:-)

Which makes me wonder, where does this strong enthusiasm come from? It seems to be far greater in proportion to this road than any other, certainly generates more noise than about any other.

Now, I admit, I'm not really a Pennsy fan. The road seemed just a bit too big, too much like a bank in some ways, i.e., too institutional. Motive power was mostly on the old side, and relatively small compared with modern steam on the likes of a C&O or a Union Pacific. The road wasn't into Superpower much at all, and seemed to have a lot of "it's not invented here" mentality. I still don't understand why, after experience with Decapods that required stokers to get adequate steam from their boilers, that the Pennsy built a prototype 4-8-2 without a stoker, even though the engine had the same grate area, much more heating surface and very much more horsepower potential than the 2-10-0. How did they expect a fireman to keep that thing hot when he couldn't do it on something smaller? Then there was that passenger fleet in what appears to be a paint color reminiscent of Rustoleum red primer, much of it even appearing to be in flat colors.

Anyway, that's what this outsider would see, but he also admits he wants to see what the Pennsy fans see.

So, here's a chance to do a little market research, and have fun. Tell us what makes the Pennsy so special to you. . .

Floor open for comments. . .


Last edited by J3a-614 on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Entusiasm
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:14 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:47 pm
Posts: 475
I can speak for everyone, but my love of Pennsy steam comes from the fact that they built a good portion of their locomotives themselves. With other railroads, you can say "Oh that's a NYC locomotive or that's an NKP locomotive, etc" but in reality, it's more like, "Oh that's a Baldwin locomotive or that's an Lima locomotive." The Pennsy is one of the few railroads in which you can look at a PRR steam locomotive and be almost completely accurate when you say, "Oh that's a Pennsy locomotive."

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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Entusiasm
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:28 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:38 pm
Posts: 91
Obviously, as you can tell by my moniker, I'm a PRR fan.

In my opinion, what makes the Pennsy stand out from other roads was it's uniqueness.

I've heard people say "Pennsy motive power was so plain! Just dull, workaday engines, nothing special." But I disagree...everything about the Pennsy was unique. On the east coast, they were the only railroad to use a Belpaire firebox, their big keystone number plates stood out more than the B&O's or the NYC's, and let's not forget that raspy/throaty tone of their passenger whistles, (http://youtu.be/mTVjbeRBWWk) or the high-pitched wail of the Banshee. (http://youtu.be/pSjh2haBWdU) All elements that are uniquely, unmistakably Pennsy.

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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Entusiasm
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:06 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
At it's peak, the PRR was the largest business enterprise in the United States, and possibly the world. In 1917, the PRR employed more people than served in the U.S. Military, and had more money than the U.S. Treasury. It was certainly a grand undertaking.

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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Entusiasm
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:39 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:31 pm
Posts: 138
Location: Elizabethtown,PA
Pennsy steam had Left Hand Lead, i.e. the crankpins on the left side were 90 degrees ahead of the right side. This is opposite of standard practice. Just one of those tiny tidbits of obscura that indicate the PRR was unique in many ways.

In the region which it served, a high percentage of the population either worked for or had worked for the Pennsy, had family or neighbors working the Pennsy. It seemed like family, especially in the home state.

And what's wrong with Tuscan Red ? RustOleum red primer is one of my favorite colors to this day. I have even been known to mix some enamel with it to get a smooth finish. It doesn't show rust when things get banged, scratched or just in-need of some paint.

On one hand, there was the slow coal drag Pennsy. On the other, the electrified, tunnels under the Hudson, four track mainline with ubiquitous steel catenary towers marching through the heart of Megopolis. There were 100 MPH GG1's clocking along on hydro-electric sourced power from Conowingo, Holtwood and Safe Harbor's dedicated generators. Long distance AC power transmission and the Northeast Grid was born from lessons learned managing that power.

From Boston to St. Louis, from Chicago to Washington, D.C. and down the Delmarva to Cape Henry spanned he rails, but the influence and involvement reached the Gulf, Pacific and Puget Sound. Check into many Western rail's construction financing and ongoing management. The Philly and New York tycoons who sat in the Pennsy's board room also either sat in other board rooms or influenced what went on there.

The Pennsy is not dead. The railroad, along with rival and strange bedfellow NYC and others may have gone belly-up...on paper...who is the largest landholder on Manhattan ? the Pennsylvania company in new form.

Whether you look from a gandy dancer's or a president's viewpoint, the influence and share in nation building is still with us in many ways.


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:35 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:31 pm
Posts: 138
Location: Elizabethtown,PA
N&W was almost purchased outright by the Pennsy. From the New York Times:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F70D16FB385D12738DDDA80894DC405B808CF1D3

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F10915F73B5B17738DDDA10994DB405B868DF1D3


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:56 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2435
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
It's kind of like the old saying about model railroaders, you model what you grew up around...

I would wager there are more folks on here from PRR territory than other roads, I could be wrong!


Exactly right. Most folks like "the home team" and in the northeast, the PRR was the home team for a huge amount of people. Back to model railroading again, there's another joke that if you're modeling the 1920's to the 1950's, you're modeling the Pennsy. (Assuming you're modeling a common carrier interchange line.)

I can't find the exact numbers, but the short version is that there were so many PRR boxcars they were found pretty much everywhere.

So folks were familiar with them, even those folks far from Pennsylvania. The railroad became part of popular culture.


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Entusiasm
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:56 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2455
Location: S.F. Bay Area
wilkinsd wrote:
At it's peak, the PRR was the largest business enterprise in the United States, and possibly the world. In 1917, the PRR employed more people than served in the U.S. Military, and had more money than the U.S. Treasury. It was certainly a grand undertaking.

That's true. Today we look at it as quaint. It was not quaint. Donald Trump does not look at the PRR as quaint, but as a fearsome force.

The best analogy I can think of today is NYC/PRR = Verizon/AT&T.


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:31 pm
Posts: 138
Location: Elizabethtown,PA
" That's old news (literally) that we all know. "

Jeff,
There are possibly some fresh faces who did not know that.
The world does not revolve around you.

Relax, This is the Railfun side.

If you have your nose up and mouth open all the time,
You don't take in any new or entertaining information,
You might drown in a rainstorm.
Birds will poop down your throat.


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:43 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 392
Location: Bowie, MD
For some, it could be in the blood.

A great Uncle of mine saw a H class engine dropped from the over head crane in the 20th street shops in Columbus. Another took my father as a young boy down to the paint shop where he was able to climb into the cab of the S1. A friendly engine crew on a local took my father as a boy who was a familiar sight along the tracks on a "short" cab ride that turned into a six hour adventure.

An Uncle who was a conductor worked a local out Columbus into the PC era. When Buckeye yard came into play, he shimmed up a broken spring on HIS caboose to keep it out of the shop and in PRR paint until after he retired.

I have been blessed to see four N&W locomotives under steam. But never a hot PRR steamer. Maybe, just maybe!

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Entusiasm
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:24 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2444
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
robertmacdowell wrote:
wilkinsd wrote:
At it's peak, the PRR was the largest business enterprise in the United States, and possibly the world. In 1917, the PRR employed more people than served in the U.S. Military, and had more money than the U.S. Treasury. It was certainly a grand undertaking.

That's true. Today we look at it as quaint. It was not quaint. Donald Trump does not look at the PRR as quaint, but as a fearsome force.

The best analogy I can think of today is NYC/PRR = Verizon/AT&T.


It's a tad ironic that Robert and I are discussing the railroad as a business enterprise on the railfan side of the board. Thinking of Pennsy steam locomotives is fun, but then, think of the enormous financial resources embodied in that locomotive, the manpower and money marshalled to build it, operate it, and even preserve it. It boggles the mind.

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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:31 pm
Posts: 138
Location: Elizabethtown,PA
bbunge wrote:
But never a hot PRR steamer. Maybe, just maybe!,Bob


Try Williams Grove ... http://prr643.wix.com/wgrr1


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:31 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:56 am
Posts: 28
I am drawn to his vast and fascinating history. Locomotives and cars are important but actually a small part of the business. There is so much more that goes on to run a railroad and that’s what draws me to the Pennsy. They had their own way of doing things that set them apart from everyone else.

Pennsy Power


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:10 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:31 pm
Posts: 138
Location: Elizabethtown,PA
There is a lot of positive feeling in the wake of the old PRR.
Just to balance things and give a taste of the downside of an oligarchy,
I suggest delving into the history of the Philadelphia and Erie :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_and_Erie_Railroad

Recently, for my midwinter armchair railroading project, I waded through Homer Tope Rosenberger's monumental work on the topic:

http://discover.hsp.org/Search/Results?lookfor=%22%20Philadelphia%20and%20Erie%20railroad.%22&type=Subject

It is at times, tedious. For the true historian and scholar, it is Filet Mignon.

It is also a periscope onto a peculiar malady, the petty politics of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania disease, which infects us to this day.


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 Post subject: Re: Pennsy Enthusiasm
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:04 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:58 am
Posts: 55
Location: South Jersey
I started life as a child. A very lucky one as I see it now having been drug along on my father's photograhic persuits in the last days of steam. Most of them were locally on the PRSL as he worked for them and was able to get to places 'normal' people couldn't. Scenes like these left a life long interest in both PRR and Reading steam power. Later I myself would be employed as a block operator for the PRSL making 6 generations of railroaders in the family.

Image


Image

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