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(erielack) Operations: EL in the 60s

At reading the many posts speculating about operations, I thought I would 
take a couple of minutes to provide an experience based answer to some of 
the questions. What has struck me is that beyond our memories, there is 
largely mystery. What I heard and saw was a reality, but what came before 
me, if I did not have access to the stories (told over and over) by the men 
who were there, remains largely a blank spot.  For example, Bob Collins was 
a storehouse of memories long predating my arrival on the scene.  When I 
look at current pictures of places on the EL I compare them in my mind to 
what I saw back in the day.  Bob, however, would visualize much farther back 
in the day.  Many of the questions which are raised on the list are efforts 
to solve the "mysteries" of others, and I'll do what I can hear for a 

Let's see: the ramp to the north at Lackawanna Grove Street (remember there 
also was an Erie Grove Street at first), was indeed for getting Erie bars 
back and forth from the Erie terminal area, and for out of the ordinary 
needs to get to the Weehawken branch.  At the time I worked Grove Street in 
1969, such moves were in frequent, but not unknown.  They were not part of 
any daily drill or operating scheme.

The Bergen County line was in practice the Erie freight cut off, similar in 
purpose to the Graham line.  Throughout the 60s and early 70s, the Paterson 
Man was a "do all the work" westbound to Port Jervis.  I don't know what 
time he was called, but by the start of third trick at SF you had to be 
concerned about when he was going to show up and get put into the mix of 
westbounds. This is all before Ford closed down at Mahwah. He would 
"disappear" at Paterson, usually without an effective radio, and you would 
wait to hear from him on the dispatchers line as to progress.  There also 
was a brief period of time in the mid-60s when HB-3 ran the Boonton line/you 
remain route in the early evening.

With regard to high and wide cars, they were restricted from the 
Paterson/Boonton line route clearances, but virtually all freight ran Bergen 
County line anyway.  If a high and wide car needed to go to Paterson, it 
would travel from Croxton via DB and the Newark branch. This was quite rare 
in practice.

When the Erie side was the principal freight route, a derailment which sent 
everything via Scranton and over the hill at great notch would require 
everything being "reversed" in Croxton with regard to blocking, with use of 
the New Connection.

Now then, train orders and the signal systems: after the closing of 
Greendell and interlocking machine for the cut off was installed at UN 
tower, which controlled the passing siding at Greendell.  The interlocking 
at Slateford Junction and Bell's Bridge was handled by East Stroudsburg 

Train orders were only necessary with the failure of the signal system (TCS) 
on the cut off. Extremely rare.  Otherwise, rule 261 etc. governed.

Telephone train orders signals such as all those at BT only allowed for 
instructions additional to the block signals to which they were attached. 
This included informing the crew to stop on the main track and report for 
instructions, taking the siding and a reporting for instructions, or to 
continue on regardless of following superior trains.  WJ tower controlled 
those signals..

To all who are interested in better understanding how the railroad 
functioned in moving trains during the EL era, a wealth of information, 
virtually a cognitive movie of how the railroad was run, can be gained by a 
careful reading of the Rules of the Operating Department October 25th, 1964, 
with a parallel reading of ETT number one, effective October 25, 1964. 
Enjoy..  Even now, I find it fascinating to do this, even having been an 
employee at the time.  Things changed so rapidly, but during most of the EL 
years railroading was entirely "traditional" in the nature of operations.

I hope this will be helpful.

Len VanderJagt

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