May 2010 Article

This Month's Article:  May 2010
Update on the Diesel/Motorcar Roster of the N&A Ry.
 
Back in November we started a series on the Diesel & Motorcar Roster of the Nelson & Albemarle Railway.  To summarize that article, there was little recent data on the diesels or motorcar and the limited outcome and disposition gave detail only into the 1980's.  Since November we've continued research with some interesting results.  Let's start with the missing motorized unit reported by Garth Groff and likely out of service by the 1940's.  In November I stated, "I'd like to mention the non-diesel, gasoline-powered railcar first.  I kept reading about this 'motorcar' in Garth Groff's Alberene Stone & It's Railroads as a vehicle primarily left in Rockfish for the benefit of H. L. Lane's use."  We originally attributed that reference to the Plymouth Model DLC Type 6 unit acquired through the acquisition of Standard Soapstone of Arrington, Virginia.  However, a recent review of the time frames with which this would have been in use leads us to conclude there must have been a separate motorcar in much earlier use than the Plymouth unit.  Now there are 2 motorcars to research and hopefully find photographs for reference.  From this point forward, I'll reference the earlier unit as the "H. L. Lane Motorcar" with a blank history except for the references that are currently understood.  As to the "Plymouth Model DLC Type 6 Motorcar", it appears there is now a known photograph of this unit.  In recent years, Kierk Ashmore-Sorensen purchased the Schuyler mill property and found original photographs taken by the commercial studio of Rufus W. Holsinger These photographs were taken during the steam era for advertising purposes and were probably from the 1930's around the time that the Holsinger Studio was being managed by Rufus Holsinger, Jr. (Click on Find N&A on these Websites in the left sidebar to find detail on what negatives are held by the University of Virginia Library in the Albert & Shirley Small collection from the Holsinger Studio Collection listed as reference year, 1917).  In 2008, Kierk made the collection of photographs available using Blurb.com as his self-publishing vehicle.  Page 9 of this photo book has a vista looking southward along the Schuyler quarries with a view of a 'critter' that may be the Plymouth gasoline-powered motorcar.  The configuration of the unit looks to have a cab that operated rear-facing and with a dump-body over the engine compartment.  Without some confirmation from another source, it is difficult to tell if this is the Plymouth unit or not.  I'll work to gain permission to show our blowup of the unit for the near future.  + 
Now to diesels..... 
+  At the end of April 2010, we traveled to Anderson, South Carolina to visit our daughter and son-in-law.  After 3 days there, we packed up and headed over to Augusta, Georgia to spend the night before driving on to Myrtle Beach for a 4 day reunion with my siblings and their spouses.  While in Augusta (on May 4th), arrangements were made to visit the TTX Company - Hamburg Division site in bustling, North Augusta, South Carolina (located at 1 Hamburg Road, N. Augusta, SC 29840) so that I could hopefully see "N&A #1, GE 44-ton #30856".  This site is along the route of the Best Friend of Charleston (dating back to Christmas Day, 1830) that ran from Charleston, SC to just west of the site in what was once Hamburg, SC.  I'd been in contact with TTX at their corporate offices in Chicago and while I was able to gain permission to visit, it should be noted that this is a private company facility and visitors are NOT normally welcomed nor able to roam about the property or take photographs.  This is understandable when you consider that they do heavy car repair operations that include welding, sheet metal operations, etc. with very loud operations going on at all times.  Needless to say, hearing protection, eye protection, and hardhat were required for my time there and I was not able to go into any of the repair shops because of insurance concerns.  As a courtesy and in respect of their privacy, I'm going to exclude the names of my contacts at TTX, but suffice it to say, they were more than helpful and went to great ends to assist in understanding the disposition of their #2 engine.  TTX had as many as four 44-ton units including #4 that has a faded number and now reads more as #1.  Their #1 engine, freshly painted, re-engined with Cummins diesel engines and sporting new TTX lettering with the number 1 on the sides was spotting cars when I arrived and I could hear the horn in the near distance as they moved past crossings within the TTX grounds.  I was taken down to visit the supervisor of engine operations who maintains the locomotives and also manages the use of the engines during day-to-day work.  Along the way, I received some background on the acquisition of the GE 44-ton #30856 from Georgia Marble.  Upon purchase of the diesel from Industrial Maintenance of Hammond, IN, rather than forwarding the unit by rail, it was trucked over from Gantts Quarry, AL (which was later annexed into Sylacauga, AL) to the Hamburg facility.  Sidebar note:  Gantts Quarry, AL is the birthplace of Jim Nabors of Gomer Pyle, USMC TV fame.  It's also known as a ghost town as the census showed 0 people in 2000. 
At the time, TTX was Hamburg Industries, and they made the secondhand diesel purchase.  Upon arrival, the unit was cleaned up, repainted into Hamburg Industries colors, numbered as their #2, and put to work spotting cars for repair and generally making movements on the site.  However, #2 was not selected to be re-engined with Cummins diesels and this led to it being set aside for parts for the other GE 44-ton units.  Issue 52 of Extra 2200 South magazine for May/June 1975 reported #30856 still at Hamburg Industries and the compilation book,  Comprehensive Guide to Industrial Locomotives, 3rd Edition showed #30856 still at the site in 2002.  At that time, #30856 was likely sitting static on the west side of the TTX property and being scavenged for parts to service the other 2 primary 44-ton diesels.  At some point, the diesel was shipped (likely by truck) off to Progress Rail in Patterson, Georgia for what was likely a trade-in on overhaul of another diesel and eventual scrapping.  I'd like to mention the Southern hospitality provided me while at TTX.  They were wonderful people that provided me close access to their diesels with permission to photograph AND climb into the cab (TTX #1 was operational while I was in the cab and that was an awesome feeling).  The TTX diesels were photographed (and video'd) and will appear on other railway photo sites soon.  It's certainly sad to learn your diesel search comes to an end, but this is the life of most locomotives so it is not a real surprise.  I've got mail out to Progress Rail and maybe the final disposition by them (be it scrapping or otherwise) can be learned.  +  At the same time as we discuss Gantts Quarry and the original N&A #1 diesel, we have to mention "N&A #2, GE 35-ton #31768".  This GE 35-ton diesel continues work at Gantts Quarry in Sylacauga, AL to this day.  Still numbered as #2, it's been nicely repainted into Georgia Marble colors and looks great.  There's even a thumbnail photograph in the Image Repository of this unit from January 1996.  Later in 2010 we'll try to get a NEW photograph of #31768 on the site.  +  For "N&A #3, GE 25-ton #31778", the outcome doesn't appear to be determined yet, however, the last disposition known is not encouraging.  If you remember back in the November article, the 25-ton diesel was stored unused in Nelson, Georgia at the Georgia Marble location as late as 1992.  Tom Lawson discovered that it was sold to Great Lakes Calcium Company in Woodville, OH.  In 2004, GLC sold the Woodville plant to National Lime & Stone which immediately closed the plant and moved all of the operations to its Carey, OH location.  We've been fortunate to get in touch with Ryan Phillips at NL&S who reached out to other NL&S employees who were involved in the acquisition of GLC and had first-hand knowledge of the deal.  On April 26th, Ryan called back to let me know that when NL&S purchased GLC, there was no locomotive present in Woodville, nor was any locomotive part of the acquisition.  Sometime before 2004, #31778 was either sold or scrapped (and from the condition seen in photos from 1992, it's likely it was scrapped).  +  So research goes on for diesel & motorcar updates.  We'll continue to look for photos of the original motorcar and press to find the information from Progress Rail on scrapping TTX #2 (nee N&A #1) GE 44-ton #30856.  As for N&A #3 GE 25-ton #31778, without finding any former GLC employee with knowledge of the locomotive, we may have reached the end of our search.  Our next stop will likely be to all of the scrap dealers in the Woodville, Ohio area to see if any remember this little diesel.  
 
Here's a recap of the diesel/motorcar roster:
 
H. L. Lane Motorcar: Unknown builder, unknown powered (assumed gasoline-powered), unknown build date.  Used by H. L. Lane between Rockfish depot on the Southern Railway and Schuyler, Virginia (and likely, Esmont, Virginia as H. L. Lane had a home there) in the earlier years of N&A Railway.  Disposition unknown - likely sold/scrapped.
 
Plymouth Model DLC Type 6 Motorcar:  Plymouth Model DLC Type 6 gasoline-powered motorcar, built by Fate-Root-Heath Company of Plymouth, Ohio as construction #1860 on 13 October 1924 as 42" gauge for Phoenix Stone Company of NYC with location in Arrington, Virginia.  Gauge changed to standard on 10 March 1926 and noted as property of Standard Soapstone of Arrington, Virginia.  Became the property of Virginia Alberene Corp. in Schuyler on 18 December 1930 coming to the mill sometime later.  Unknown disposition - likely sold/scrapped as no information on being sent to Georgia Marble.
 
N&A Diesel #1:  GE 44-ton unit, 400-hp, construction #30856, built by GE in Erie, Pennsylvania during December 1950, became the third #1 on the Nelson & Albemarle Railway; lettered to Nelson & Albemarle Railway as purchaser; ownership moved to parent company, Georgia Marble, upon abandonment of the N&A in 1963.  To Industrial Maintenance, thence Hamburg Industries, later TTX Co.-Hamburg Div. before being sent to Progress Rail in trade-in/scrap arrangement.
 
N&A Diesel #2:  GE 35-ton unit, 234-hp, construction #31768, built by GE in Erie, Pennsylvania during November 1952, became the third #2 on the Nelson & Albemarle Railway; lettered to Alberene Stone Corp. as purchaser; ownership moved to parent company, Georgia Marble, upon abandonment of the N&A in 1963.  Unit remains at Gantts Quarry in Sylacauga, AL in operation at facility.
 
N&A Diesel #3:  GE 25-ton unit, 150-hp, construction #31778, built by GE in Erie, Pennsylvania during January 1953, became the second #3 on the Nelson & Albemarle Railway; lettered to Alberene Stone Corp. as purchaser; ownership moved to parent company, Georgia Marble, upon abandonment of the N&A in 1963.  Sent to Great Lakes Calcium in Woodville, OH in 2004; later sold/scrapped, but firm disposition unknown.
 
Please note any comments on "This Months' Articles" in the comments section either on the MAIN page or in the sidebar archives section.  Copyright 2010 - Nelson & Albemarle Railway Historical Society.
 
   Editor's Sidebar Comments:  If you're reading this month's article over to the right, you might notice that the only remaining N&A diesel (that we can find) is the 3rd #2.  And it's still numbered as #2.  It matches up with the 2nd #2, the unit acquired by the N&A through merger; a steam tank engine that though no longer operational, is still in existence at Goshen, Virginia in the wood yard (albeit in not too good of shape). 
   So, the 2nd #2 and the 3rd #2 are the last surviving engines from the N&A Ry.  I personally would have hoped for the two locomotives from our site's masthead, Vulcan 2-6-2 #9 from 1920 and the 3rd #1 GE 44-ton #30856 from 1950 - the two mainline engines that served the N&A well during good and bad times - but alas, this was not to be.
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