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From: JG at graytrainpix graytrainpix AT hotmail DOT com
Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2009 15:00:58 -0400
Subject: Another 40th Anniversary
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All of the Woodstock nostalgia in the news this weekend reminded me of what I was doing at the time . . . which was mostly hanging out in BJ Tower in Rutherford (subject of two nice articles in the most recent Diamond). I recall that one of the employees had a summer house somewhere in NY State, and he was griping about all the concert traffic on the Thruway while he was driving back to Jersey that Sunday night. BJ only had two months to go at that point, as the EL had taken part of the TCS machine that had been used until 1967 in Grove Street Tower in Jersey City (on the Erie side), and reconfigured it to control HX, HB and BJ interlockings from HX Tower.
On October 17, 1969, the EL cut BJ into the machine, and BJ ended its status as a manned tower. I have attached a copy of the final block sheet. Interestingly, both operators that day were ex-Lackawanna men. The first trick guy, Harvey Wolverton, stopped recording trains right after the Rutherford Drill made a move west at 2 PM. By the time that Tommy Reagan showed up for the second trick, the operator at HX was in control of the signals and switches at BJ. So no more times were recorded at BJ. The rush hour went mostly OK, and by 8:30 pm the signal bosses were satisfied that the new set-up was working properly. So the dispatcher told Tommy he could go home. Tommy could have bid another tower job, but he decided to leave the railroad and work somewhere else. I believe that Harvey Wolverton retired soon after BJ closed.
Two other notes of interest on this sheet -- train 54 from Port Jervis had two 900 series Alco RS's that morning; by this date you rarely saw 900s on a Port Jervis passenger train, they mainly had E-8s or an occasional 1400 series Geep. Another Alco showed up on freight RI-100, the 612; I'm pretty sure that would be the D&H 612, as D&H power was seen on EL trains fairly regularly at this time (Dereco years). Not every day, but enough as not to be a surprise.
Those are my memories from 40 years ago. I loved the tunes from Woodstock, but those old EL engines were still singing great songs of their own at the time.
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