locked Re: Need scan of Murphy Branch timetable page

George Eichelberger


You are certainly making good use of the material! Keep it up!

I would like for us to be able to organize a comprehensive study of various items in the SRHA archives. A point I have been explaining to people is that there are several completely different types of records and documents that may contain data about the same subject or loaction. For example, the Presidents’ files may include information, and authorization for AFEs (Authorization for Expenditure) that explain/justify the monies requested, the ICC reports from 1916 into the 60s give us very detailed costs and dates. And, we are very fortunate to have the Ben Roberts/Oscar Kimsey/Frank Ardrey collections of depot photos. Ben and Oscar obtained many photos taken with the ICC study and there are more in the ICC Field Notes we have.

Re: Turntables….

Researching the SRHA SR diesel book (a abridged portion of the FT introduction is in the TIES now at the printer), I found a reason so many turntables were removed at about the same time in the early 1950s.

GP-7s were marketed by EMD, and purchased by the Southern, for use on secondary passenger trains. As delivered they were NOT equipped for single engine bi-directional operation. When a passenger train reached the end of its run, on a line like the Murphy Branch, the engine used a turntable for the return trip. The problem was, turning a loco that way required a hostler per the union agreements. That led to turntables being replaced by wyes so the road crew could turn the locos.

To avoid even that process, and both wyes and turntables, the Southern asked EMD and Alco to rearrange the control stands, seats, deadman’s pedals, etc on GP-7 and RS-2 orders to permit bi-directional operation. A GP and RS were equipped and tested per the Southern design. All subsequent GP and RS orders were built per SR specs (cost was approx. $650).

The strategy was a complete success, so much so. As the bi-directional engines were introduced on different operating divisions turntables and wyes were removed as quickly as possible. Richmond was the first such division. Only bi-directional units were allowed and were to be kept on that division. Knowing this, we see a pattern, dieselization, removal of coal and water facilities, assignment of bi-directional diesels, then removal of turntables and wyes.

One more thing….
There is a letter in the archives from the B&O that starts something like “we understand the Southern has modified GPs and RS units to permit bi-directional operation”. The Southern responded with a full set of drawings. By that time the B&O had many units in service, and there is no response in the archives so we do not know if any of that road’s engines were modified.


On Jun 10, 2019, at 4:29 PM, Jim King <jimking3@...> wrote:

Thanks, Ike.  Now this really opens up a can of worms.  Turntables at Addie, Bryson and Epps Springs (about 5 miles west of Bryson)?  I suspect the first 2 were replaced with wyes about in the same location.  According to "legend" and confirmed by the 1948 t/t, light 2-8-2s (4500-class, most likely) were allowed to Addie, which might explain why the Addie turntable (too short) was replaced with a wye.  However, the 1945 retirement date of Bryson's table seems strange.  Only 2-8-0s and 4-6-2s (maybe 4-6-0s) were allowed there so if a turntable that was in-service in 1920 it would have handled everything still operating in 1945.  Maybe it just worn out?  Epps Springs would have been underwater by 1948 as a result of the Fontana Dam track relocation.  Balsam's coaling station retirement in 1949 seems to indicate that steam was gone from the branch by then.  Anyway to confirm that?

Another eye-opener is the multitude of "Retired 1951" dates related to water tanks and, especially, 1946 for Canton's water tank.  August 1952 was that last active steam in Asheville but, it appears, the Branch has already dieselized.  The 1946 Canton date is confusing because there was only 1 tank that I know of (west side of Pigeon River) and steam was still running in 1946.  Could "retired" mean "replacement"?  There was a water pipe of some sort for the yard engine across from the station.

The Bryson coaling station was HUGE compared to the Balsam installation.  Now where was it?  This description rules out the current coal trestle as doing double-duty ... it was likely only for the retail coal dealer.  According to the ICC sheets, the water tank was at MP 64.1 and is shown on the valuation map.  MP 64.0 is between the main road crossing at that station and the coal trestle.  MP 64.3, where the coaling station is noted on the ICC blueprint, would be about where  the 2 tracks become 1 west of town.  There is a stub siding shown on the val map with a "tool house" notation.  Interesting.

Good stuff, thanks again, Ike.
Jim King

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