Re: Per Diem, the O&W, and slow freight movements...

Bill Schneider <branchline@...>

The 1953 ORER listing of 146 O&W cars was... ummm... perhaps a bit optimistic! While I have some photos of O&W hoppers with evidence that they DID get off line by having PRR and UP repacks (WAY off line in the later case, but it does explain the one O&W hopper that I insist Mike Brock have on his layout - he keeps it hidden under one of his coaling docks!), I have yet to see a photo of an O&W car that was TAKEN off-line in the 1950's. Almost certainly the few boxcars and gons were limited to on-line use, and I suspect that most of the hoppers were as well.

The labor intensive operations on the grades explains why the O&W was able to convince the bankruptcy courts to allow it to dieselize so early (1948) - doing so eliminated the need for pushers on both the Scranton and Southern division grades. (BTW, the limiting grade for Scranton-Maybroook trains would likely have been Young's Gap as Apex was off that route). 1950's train sheets that I have show these trains heading south from Scranton early in the morning, then returning late afternoon/early evening.

Still, the very terrain and operations that made the O&W such a pain to operate also make it a great road to model!

Bill Schneider
Modeling the O&W in HO, 1952


Another side note on the O&W and per diem. Scranton to Maybook might have, in concept, been covered in 16 hours. Even so, much of the O&W, because of when, how and where it was built, was composed of overly stiff grades and curves, that the route could have easily assumed the moniker of, "Over the Tops of the Mountains, and Never Around or Through Them".

I have to concur with the idea that the per diem payout was probably many times greater than what little might have been taken in. I was not around to see O&W freights in action, in 55-57, but have been told by a friend that was there, that it was a very labor-intensive process.

A classic example of slowing down the freight-forwarding process would be trying to get a train up, over the top of Apex Mountain, in NY state, also know as Cadosia Summit. MP 167.25, on the Southern Division Mainline. Tales of that location make mention of the fact that because the grade was so severe, and motive power so limited, that it was not uncommon to take a train to the top of the mountain, literally in sub-sections of 15-20 cars at a time.

Uncouple, take a section to the top, drop it, return to the bottom, grab another string, etc. Talk about a poor way of doing business, and a great way to lose money, especially when working against the per diem clock.

Matt Forsyth

Modeling Elmira, NY
in "O" Scale, 1951

Join { to automatically receive all group messages.