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Saturday, June 25, 2011

NECR ARRA Photo Project Rail Arrives!

Almost two weeks to the day from the rail's rolling at the Steel Dynamics Inc. Columbia City, IN mill and had our special stickers applied, it was laid in front of the White River Jct., VT depot.  The project, which followed the production of the rail for the New England Central's ARRA High Speed Rail project from scrap metal pile through the entire process, including the welds to load 1,640-foot strands on the delivery train.  Rail that I followed through the entire process was serial number identified, followed through the mill and welding and then had the stickers applied for this project.

Rail Train #11 is seen rolling through the sweeping curve at Royalton, VT with Eaton's Sugar House visible in the distance.

A few weeks back, when the NECR Rail Train #9 arrived on the property, I pulled out charts that I had for what rail was being replaced and the NECR track chart to start figuring on crossings that would be cut and tried to map out which train would deliver rail that would land in front of the White River Jct. depot.  My math calculations (and I made a whole spreadsheet up to do double check this!) forecast that Rail Train #12 would end at or very close to the depot.  As the train moved quickly from Chicago to Toronto and Montreal, I recalculated and contacted Project Manager, Ron Bocash to see how we could land these particular rails at the WRJ depot if the train didn't quite make it, but my confidence remained high that we would be in good shape.

Rail Train #12 crosses the East Alburgh Trestle in Vermont as part of CN train M32421-21 on June 21.  Several cars of freight are seen ahead of the loaded rail train, but from the shore of Lake Champlain, I noted the stickers we applied and realized that they had survived unscathed.

On June 23, the Rail Laying Gang from Railworks, headed up by Foreman James and under the oversight of RailAmerica's Foreman Mike Goad and LB Foster Co.'s Jerry Logston, began laying rail at mile 24.5 in Sharon, VT.  The train is seen crossing the White River and the tell-tale bridge as to who this line once belonged to.  I planned this shot for some time to promote the rebirth of the Central Vermont and a bright burst helped illuminate the passage of the Rail Train #12.

As the train progressed toward White River Junction on June 24, I watched as it crossed the White River at West Hartford, VT and the NECR train crew of Chris Des Lauriers and Kevin Cullanine made a back-up move to make a straight lay (we'll detail why this is necessary in the book later this year).

Nearing the end of the day on June 24, Rail Train #12 is rounding the curve off the bridge in West Hartford near Mile 19 on the Roxbury Sub.  By this point, the number of strands remaining on the train and conversation with both LB Foster's Jerry Logston and RailAmerica's Mike Goad, indicated that we were certainly going to be very close to getting the project rail laid at the White River Jct. depot.

In a phone briefing with Jerry on Friday night, it appeared that everything and all the planning had paid off to this point.   Despite several days of rain and inclement weather, enthusiasm was high by the entire laying gang that we were going to be able to pull off making the White River Jct. depot.  Several plans were formulated and discussed and, in the end - it was all coming together as I had calculated.  On June 25, Jerry Logston communicates with Foreman Mike Goad (out of focus on the crow's nest just ahead of the threader cars) to adjust the rail guides.

With less than three-quarter miles remaining on the train, the project rail is laid in front of the White River Jct. depot!  A VERY special thanks to all of the personnel involved in getting the project to this point.  Thanks to: Charles Hunter and Ron Bocash of the NECR for giving me the green light to move forward with this monumental task; to Fred Warner and Doug-Rees Evans at Steel Dynamics, Inc. for bringing me in to document the process of rolling the rail for the NECR project; Jerry Logston, Greg Lippert and Jake Fuellhart of LB Foster, Co. for providing me with logistical and transportation information and data; CF&E for their cooperation in supplying a corporate image with a clean locomotive; a variety of NECR train crews who handled these trains and were very hospitable at every step of the way; the RailWorks gang responsible for the unloading of these rail trains (specific names are needed...) and many more individuals that have contributed data along the way to help track these trains, including Mike Collins.  The project is far from over and there will be many more aspects that will be documented, joining the several thousand photos already on hand.  The book that will be released late this year will comprehensively cover the entire rebirth of the former Central Vermont territory.

Watch for future updates...  Again - not all photography is represented in these reports as many different and unique views will be presented in book format.

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