Potomac Yard clearance limitation, or was it the Baltimore tunnels?

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Jul 1 02:42:35 EDT 2005

Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 00:58:24 -0400
From: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Subject: N&W Shenandoah Division
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org

Routing traffic from Greensboro via Winston-Salem
and NW dates back to before the merger. When I was
working extra as an operator at Chamblee, Ga. on
Southern Railway, I billed out tri-levels of new
automobiles from the BOP assembly plant in Doraville,
Ga. Account of clearance restrictions near
POT Yard, the tri-levels were routed Southern via
Greensboro to Winston-Salem, then north on the
Shenandoah Division of the N&W on the Punkin
Line via Martinsville, Roanoke, Waynesboro, Luray,
and Front Royal to Hagerstown, Md. where they were
interchanged with other roads, thus by-passing Pot
Yard. The empty tri-levels were both billed and
stencilled "When Mty Return via Reverse Route to
Agent, Southern Railway, Chamblee, Ga." New
automobiles were hustled from Inman Yard in Atlanta
north to Greensboro, N.C. on Hot Shot train No. 222.
You could pretty well bet that train No. 155 would
stop at Pomona Yard daily to pick up a cut of empty
tri-levels and bring them to Inman Yard in Atlanta.
Loaded and empty tri-levels were run into and out of
Atlanta on an as needed Chamblee Turn.

During the early 70's I have personally seen cuts of
40 to 50 loaded tri-levels moving north through
Martinsville, Va. I once stayed at a Howard
Johnson Motel at Troutville, Va. that sat high on a
hill within sight of the Shenandoah Division north of
Roanoke, and watched a couple of slow drags in the
distance made up nearly entirely of new automobiles.
Southern eventually upgraded their line between
Manassas, Va. and Shenandoah Jct. on the N&W, thus
getting the long haul on the new autos and still
by-passing Pot Yard.

Although Pot yard no longer exists, Norfolk Southern
still depends heavily on the Manassas branch to
by-pass the congestion around Alexandria and
Washington, D.C., which CSX is still stuck with.

Bill Sellers

July 1, 2005

Good morning, Bill:

I'm copying James Foley who worked at Potomac Yard and
later headed the CSXT Clearance Bureau. While the
height restriction may have been partially due to the
overhead catenary at Potomac Yard, I think the real
limitation was the Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) tunnels
in Baltimore. I suppose other high and wide shipments
also went via the Hagerstown gateway for the same
reasons as the tri-level autoracks.

Good morning,


Dr. Frank R. Scheer, Curator
Railway Mail Service Library, Inc.
f_scheer at yahoo.com
(202) 268-2121 - weekday office
(540) 837-9090 - weekend afternoons
in the former N&W station on VA rte 723
117 East Main Street
Boyce VA 22620-9639

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