Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Macon Georgia Terminal Station

Before Terminal Station was built, Southern Railway passengers used this station built in 1886. On the left side of the picture is a trestle that took the Central of Georgia over the Southern tracks. 

Macon's 1916 Terminal Station, at the foot of Cherry Street downtown, is Georgia's grandest surviving railroad station. It was designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect Alfred Fellheimer (1875-1959), who with his partners also designed stations in Cincinnati, Buffalo, and other cities.
The 13-acre station was owned by the Macon Terminal Company, which in turn was owned equally by the Central of Georgia, the Southern Railway, and the Georgia Southern & Florida. Each of these companies, along with the Georgia Railroad, had offices on the upper floors. Other railroads using the station were the Macon, Dublin & Savannah and the Macon & Birmingham.
In 1926-27, the station handled as many as a hundred arrivals/departures each day. The eight tracks for through trains and ten tracks for local trains had platforms between each track. The through tracks were connected by a tunnel.

Terminal Station closed in 1975 and became offices for Georgia Power. The city purchased the building and refurbished it, completed in 2010.

Note the four eagles standing guard over the entrance.

Much more at

H/T to Dan in Georgia again.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mineral Bluff Depot

Mineral Bluff is located in Fannin County, GA about five miles NE of Blue Ridge.

The brick depot at Mineral Bluff was constructed in 1887 by the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad , a predecessor of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (now CSX). Located on the now-abandoned line from Blue Ridge, Georgia, to Murphy, N.C., it is only surviving M&NG depot in Georgia.
Using funding from the federal Transportation Enhancement program, the community rehabilitated the building in 2007. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. (News article on the listing.)
Source with more information and photos.

 Mineral Bluff depot April 2015

H/T to Dan for the link.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Peak Tram - Hong Kong

The Peak Tramway is a  funicular railway that goes to the top of Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island. I was lucky enough to ride it once in the early 1990's while there on a business trip. I was reminded of it by Chickenmom's post about the cog railway on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. 

The Peak Tram was opened for public service on 28 May 1888 by the then governor Sir George William des Voeux.[4] As built, the line used a static steam engine to power the haulage cable. In 1926, the steam engine was replaced by an electric motor. It has a maximum grade of 48% and is .87 miles long.

On 11 December 1941, during the Battle of Hong Kong, the engine room was damaged in an attack. Service was not resumed until 25 December 1945, after the end of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.
More information here
A funicular, also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. Funiculars of one sort or another have existed for hundreds of years and continue to be used for moving both passengers and goods. Its name derives from the latin, funiculus, diminutive of funis, meaning "rope". More information, history and pictures of numerous examples of funiculars can be found here

The only old video I could find didn't show the steam power but is pretty cool anyway. 

Here is a YouTube video by Luis Costa from December 2010 that includes the tram ride and spectacular views and a tour of Victoria Peak. (almost 15 minutes)

 From Luis' descripition:
 "Hong Kong skyline is nothing short of amazing, and it's best admired at Victoria Peak.
The city has more buildings above 100m and 150m than any other city in the world.
Hong Kong also holds the title for the world's biggest skyline with a total of 7,681 skyscrapers, placing it ahead of New York City, even though New York is larger in area."

The population of Hong Kong in mid 2015 was 7.3 million in an area of 427 sq. miles. (includes Hong Kong island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. See the Wikipedia entry for more information.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Radio Telegraph

After I did the Railroad Telegraphy post I thought I would mention another type of key and keyers. The electronic fully automatic keyer that uses "paddles". Instead of just two wires with bugs and straight keys, paddles have three wires, one for dit, another for dah and ground. They go the keyer. Close the contact between the dit wire and ground and they keyer generates dits for as long as the connection is made. Dahs are generated the same way, continuity between the dah wire and ground. To my knowledge, these keyers were never used with the railroad.

What happens if you close both contacts at the same time? Glad you asked. From Wikipedia:
"Iambic keying or squeeze keying creates alternating dits and dahs. This makes sending some characters easier, like the letter C, by merely squeezing the two paddles together. In single-paddle, non-iambic keying, the hand motion would require alternating four times for C (dah-dit-dah-dit).
Iambic keyers function in one of at least two major modes: Mode A and Mode B."

See the wiki article for the differences in modes. 

My newer ham radios have keyers built in.

Photos of my iambic paddles:

MFJ-564 similar to Bencher BY-1/2

Brown Bros Model BTL-A

dit dit

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Some Railroad Memorbilla

My very small collection of railroad collectables.

And a big Thank You to Ken Lane for adding to it.

Clinchfield Railroad Company
Enlarge to see the name. 

Playing cards from the Southern Pacific Lines.
I want to thank Ken Lane (Wirecutter) for giving these to me. And to Miss Lisa for coordinating everything. They belonged to one of his grandparents and have never been shuffled.

 The face of each card has a different picture.

Paperweight made from railroad track.
Approx 7" high, 6" across the foot and 1/2 " thick.
Weight 2 pounds
Track is graded by its linear density. This is at the highest
range of the usual pounds per yard at 141 lb/yd.

Track installation hardware. 
Spike, square head sleeper spike, e clip, railway anchor (top to bottom, left to right)

I don't have an original railroad lantern. This is close. It is a W. T. Kirkman #100 Watchman that is new. Red and green glass globes are available.

Sheet music from 1940.
See previous post here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Railroad Telegraphy

Something a little different, no train photographs. For the hardcore, there are some pics in the links. :)

The first ever railroad telegraph message was send and received in Orange County, NY in January, 1851.

Samuel Morse invented his telegraphic code in 1832. Originally magnets were used to mark the dits and dahs on paper tape with ink. The telegraphers discovered they could decode the letters by the sound made by the machine, later to be called the sounder.

Sounder with resonator. Note the tobacco tin to give it a distinctive sound.

The first ever railroad telegraph message was send and received in Orange County, NY in January, 1851. There is an interesting website with a nice telegraph page here.

In addition to the sounder the telegraph key was essential. There are numerous styles but basically there are two kinds. The manual "straight key" and the semi automatic key or bug. Descriptions follow.

This is called a straight key. It is a Speed-X model J-38. J-38 is the military designation from WW II.  Note the shorting lever, required for land line keys. No one mentions that the shorting lever was also required for some older ham radios that used cathode keying. It was closed when you wanted to use voice.

Next is the Vibroplex "bug". It is a semi automatic telegraph key which automatically sends "dits" but the "dahs" must be made individually. Vibroplex was founded in 1905 by Horace Martin and the basic design has remained unchanged.

I am also an amateur radio operator (ham). My straight key is pictured above.  Here is my Vibroplex Original Standard. It is not very old, the serial no. is 108708.

Close up of the nameplate and "dit" contacts. 

There are several versions of Morse code but the two that are important for this post. American and international Morse

American Morse Code — also known as Railroad Morse—is the latter-day name for the original version of the Morse Code developed in the mid-1840s, by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail for their electric telegraph. The "American" qualifier was added because, after most of the rest of the world adopted "International Morse Code," the companies that continued to use the original Morse Code were mainly located in the United States. American Morse is now nearly extinct—it is most frequently seen in American railroad museums — and "Morse Code" today virtually always means the International Morse which supplanted American Morse.

 Another excellent article with some great photos found here.

Ever wonder what all the wires on the poles that used to be next to the tracks were for?
- Carried telegraph communication, both railroad and public
- Dispatcher's voice communication
- Teletype communication
- Electrical power to run signals, switch machines, wayside detectors
- Wayside detector communication
- Vital signal information
Some of the lines were leased to companies like Western Union.
It has all been replaced by radio, satellite and buried cable / fiber.

EDIT: An article by Jim Thompson, a retired Frisco telegrapher. Long but really interesting. Some history plus personal experiences.(Moved here from my comment below)