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Thursday, October 30, 2014

PHOTOS: Port Road Trips - HARBOR to MIDWAY

It's time to close out the month of October with another installment of Port Road Trips.  This time we are leaving the A&S and Safe Harbor Dam behind and striking out on our own on the road to Perryville.  Having passed CP-HARBOR this section will cover the next intermediate signal at MP28/29, the west end of the long signaled siding at CP-McCALLS, the crossover at CP-HOLTWOOD and finally the MP23 automatics in advance of the east end of the signaled siding at CP-MIDWAY.

The Milepost 28/29 automatic is split between Milepost 28 and 29 due to the signals being arranged around a curve to improve sight lines.  The C290 eastbound automatic has a lower head | for diverging movements at CP-McCALLS.  It also features an 'SP' plate that stands for Slide Protection.  'SP' plates were a PRR thing that called extra attention to signals that protected slide fences.  Any train passing an 'SP' signal at restricted speed had to look out for falling rock.

 In 2004 the C287 automatic has already been replaced by a Conrail style color light.  This has taken place early in the NS era when the Harrisburg area signal shop was still using US&S NR style color lights instead of Darth Vader tombstone signals.  C287 is shown here displaying Approach for a stop at CP-HARBOR.  This pair of split signal masts were ultimately replaced by a single bi-directional mast after the NS resignaling project.

The lower head is not for diverging movements at CP-HARBOR, which if you recall were Restricted speed, but for the short block length between CP-HARBOR and CP-WEST HARBOR.  The new signal was still outfitted with an 'SP' plate just like its predecessor, but was not given a coat of black paint on the upper half of the mast in the Conrail style.

 CP-McCALLS is one of the few Conrail interlocking names that contains a lower case letter in the name.  Like I said it is located at the east end of a long, 4 mile, signaled siding.  This contrasts with the two short restricted speed sidings at Pilot and Harbor. Here we see the interlocking and the eastbound 246L signal.

CP-McCALLS features a medium speed diverging route and as such features a full PRR PL mast signal with a lower head containing both | and / positions for Medium Clear and Medium Approach.  Stop and Proceed is displayed using the central marker in place of a Restricting \.  This economic "style" would later be adopted by Amtrak.  Because CP-HOLTWOOD is back-to-back with CP-McCALLS the lower head | was also used for Approach Medium.

CP-McCALLS featured an old school PRR remote interlocking relay hut.  Until its resignaling in 2009 this section utilized the US&S 504 code system delivered via the high density plastic wrapped telecom cables. The relay hut is constructed from sheets of galvanized steel on a concrete base.  This hut survived the re-signaling with the new relay box placed on the river side of the tracks (that floods frequently...).  The #245 switch machine is a US&S M23 dual control electric model.

Here is the westbound catenary style position light signal gantry with the 246RB (siding) and 246RA (main) signals.

No surprises here.  Siding signal has a lower head for diverging movements and the main signal has a "hanger" type marker light for call-on movements.  The signals would not get any new paint before they were replaced by an NS cantilever mast at the same location.

CP-HOLTWOOD was located adjacent to the Holtwood Dam, which back in the day was paired with a decidedly less "green" coal fired power station that required shipments of coal via rail.  CP-HOLTWOOD featured a single "trailing" crossover that partly split the long controlled siding into two halves.  Here is the southbound catenary style signal gantry with two PRR PL signals.  The 242L signal on the main track features an old style lower head with the backing applied only to the | indication for Medium Clear.  The Medium Approach / was not provided a backing as it was originally displayed Slow Approach before the 1956 addition of Medium Approach.  Like CP-McCALLS both the 242L and 238L use a lower head central marker light for Stop and Proceed indications, instead of a Restricting \.

'SP' plates make another appearance on both the 238L and 242L signals.

Here is a reverse view of the eastbound signal gantry taken in the fall of 2007.  The signal bridge looks a bit like a hack, but it was in place as far back as the 1980's.

 In addition to the crossover there was also an interlocked switch into the old Holtwood power station yard.  While the coal power plant had been demolished in the 1990's, the siding and PRR dwarf signal, were still in place.  Here is a photo of that dwarf taken from inside the old power station fence line in 2004.  I believe the designation was 242LS.

As this was considered a yard lead entering a main track it was equipped with a power operated derail.  Also because this interlocking had more than a single switch, the PRR went all out and equipped it with US&S A-5 pneumatic switch machines.

Closeup of the  #241 A-5 derail machine.

CP-HOLTWOOD is located precisely Milepost 25 and in its original incarnation featured a large cinder block relay structure that also housed the original air compressor equipment.  Next to the CP-HOLTWOOD structure is the 6600v power supply feed for the interlocking.  A big yellow square on the transformer indicates it is filled with PCBs.

 Rear view of the CP-HOLTWOOD relay hut showing the new, "compact" style air compressor and the air line pipe.

Here is another 2004 photo showing a westbound view of CP-HOLTWOOD with the derail equipped spur track, air line, crossover, milepost, power supply and eastbound gantry.

Opposite view showing the other end of the crossover and the air pipe that is running out to greet it.  The crossover, looking rather rusty in 2004, was controlled by lever 237 on the COLA machine.

The westbound position light signal gantry was pretty much the same as all the others, but the 242R signal on the siding had an interesting set of possible signal indications.CP-HOLTWOOD was resignaled in the 2009 project, but the rather goofball layout with the single crossover and power switched spur track were left as they were.

We'll get to that in the second because I first wanted to show the 238R which is pretty par for the course with a full high head and a lower Stop and Proceed marker.

Anyway, the 242R lacked an upper head | due to the single block to the manditory diverging route at CP-McCALLS.  The lower head is one of the very few on the Port Road to feature a Restricting \ for movements into the power plant spur.  After all there is no sense stopping a long heavy train just feet from its destination.  The lower | and / can also be used for Medium Clear and Medium Approach indications for diverging routes over the crossover.

Now logically I should try to cover the entire "Holtwood Siding" in one go, but as I am still trying to marshal some photos for CP-MIDWAY I figure this is a good place to stop.  But wait!  There was a single pair of signals that were actually missed by both the person who performed the comprehensive 2004 signal survey and myself in followup surveys.  In fact I only noticed it when watching the 1985 head end video.

This signal was located at MP 23 between CP-HOLTWOOD and CP-MIDWAY.  This explains why the eastbound 242L signal lacks a lower head | for diverging medium speed movements at CP-MIDWAY.  One might expect some sort of signal gantry with a nice set of four position lights on it, however the MP 23 automatic consists only of a pair of automatic signals facing the "normal" flow of westbound on the "main" track and eastbound on the "siding" (those are Conrail terms...the PRR may have had them both be main tracks).  These directional signals did not mean this part of the Port Road was running under Rule 251.  The blocks were simply asymmetric.

The 238 eastbound signal on the siding featured indications for Stop and Proceed, Approach and Approach Medium, all backed up with a SP plate.  It was a free standing mast as it sat on the opposite side of the tracks from the catenary poles.

The westbound 237 signal on the main track was a typical three position single head mounted on a catenary mast.  It was also equipped with an 'SP' plate.  In 2009a new bi-directional cantilever mast replaced these little oddities.

 Well that's it.  Tune in next time as we explore CP-MIDWAY and the two automatic signal locations between there and CP-WEST PILOT.


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  2. Mike, I'm researching the Port Road to recreate it in 1977 during Conrail. As of now, I'm having trouble finding pictures of the Coal Plant at Holtwood. I've been able to use historic imagery to uncover a few things along with an image here and there, but it still remains elusive. I'm asking if you could possibly send me a few screenshots from that 1985 head-end video around that area?