Tight clearances on B&O, was, Re: B&O Circle T stencil

Steve Lucas <stevelucas3@...>


Thank you for such a very informative post.

Steve Lucas.

--- In STMFC@..., "jim_mischke" <jmischke@...> wrote:

The B&O Parkersburg subdivision (Grafton - Parkersburg) had 21 tunnels, most of which were constructed in the 1850's. Mark Twain travelled this route once and dubbed it a subway in the mountains.

Most of these tunnels were deepened, heightened, daylighted, replaced or bypassed in three construction programs during 1953, 1957, and 1963. Completion of the 1957 program allowed the 50' boxcars. The 1963 program allowed full piggyback.

Prior to those programs, offending high clearance cars were segregated at upstream yards and forwarded on High-Car specials on a somewhat parallel Parkersburg - New Martinsville - Grafton routing. Extra time, extra cost. Not good for a railroad with an intrinsically inferior route in the first place.

Yard clerks were well versed in what cars cleared and which did not. Their jobs depended on it.

Nominally, one could squeeze a lot of the forbidden boxcars through, but not at track speed. There has to be an allowance for rocking motion, especially so in curved tunnels. High boxcars were vulnerable at the roof eaves, such as lateral running board hand holds.

With their curved roof profile, B&O wagontops cleared these tunnels while maintaining a full interior height. By design intent.

The circel T stencil meant that such boxcars could go anywhere on B&O, the Parkersburg Sub was a limiting factor to be addressed.

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