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2015 NRHS Convention Rutland-Burlington Trip and Roundhouse Tour 6/18/2015

by Chris Guenzler

I arose early and put in the corrections to yesterday's story then uploaded it before going for breakfast where Robin soon joined me. There we met many other NRHS members who were staying at the Days Inn. We left about 7:30 AM and went by the Vermont Railroad Rutland shops.

Vermont Railroad GP40-2 303, nee Maine Central 255 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1963.

Vermont Railroad GP40-2 303 and GATX GP38-2 2208, ex. EMD Leasing 756, nee Penn Central 7956 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1972.

Vermont Railroad GP40-2 308, ex. HATX 504, nee Boston and Maine 303, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1977.

One more picture of Vermont Railroad 303. I drove Robin over to Gookins Falls, also known as Mead Falls, so he could get pictures of it then made our way to Center Rutland to wait for Amtrak.

Amtrak Ethen Allen Express train 290 went through Center Rutland. We then drove to the Amtrak station and parked.

Here is the Rutland Amtrak station built in 1999.

The power for our train, Vermont Railroad GP40-2LW 311 (ex. HLCX 9662, nee Canadian National 9662, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1976) in the 50th Anniversary paint scheme and Vermont Railroad GP40 301 (ex. CSXT 6790, exx. Seaboard 6790, nee Western Railroad of Alabama 703) built by Electro-Motive Division in 1967).

NRHS Train Manager Bart Jennings.

Our power reversed down the siding to get our train set.

Next the Rutland Switcher was working by us.

Green Mountain GP40 304, ex. HLCX 400, exx. CSXT 6532, nee Baltimore and Ohio 3756, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971.

Our passenger train came up the siding as the Rutland Switcher came down the mainline then passed the Amtrak station and came back to it on the mainline.

Today's trip would be a Vermont Rail Service passenger trip from Rutland to Burlington and return, including a two-hour layover at the Burlington waterfront or a three-hour tour of the famous Shelburne Museum or a Roundhouse Tour. This whole trip would almost be new rail mileage for me from Center Rutland to Burlington.

Hoosick Junction (NY) to Burlington (VT) History

The largest of the Vermont Rail System railroads is the Vermont Railway (VTR), which includes track built by three separate companies, later operated by two different railroads. From south to north, this railroad includes the former Boston & Maine Bennington Branch between Hoosick Junction (NY) and North Bennington (VT), the former Rutland Railroad on north to Burlington (VT) and the Bennington Branch (former Rutland Railroad Chatham Sub-Division). The former Rutland track from North Bennington to Burlington was known as the Main Line Sub-Division, but it was built by two companies - the Troy & Bennington/Bennington & Rutland south of Rutland, and the Rutland & Burlington Railroad north to Burlington, as well as to the southeast to Bellows Falls.

After the Rutland Railway closed down in 1961, the State of Vermont bought most of its rail lines in 1963 in an attempt to preserve rail service. To operate the Burlington to Bennington line, the Vermont Railway was incorporated on October 25, 1963 and began operations on January 6, 1964. When the company was established, its first president was Jay Wulfson, who had railroad experience working at the Middletown & New Jersey Railroad. The first vice-president was Harold Filskov, former vice-president and general manager of the Raritan River Railroad. Wulfson and Filskov were also the controlling stock holders of the new Vermont Railway.

The Vermont Railway started up with a fleet of former Rutland Railway equipment operating on former Rutland Railway track. The first locomotives were 3 RS-1 locomotives (401-403) acquired from the Rutland on a lease-purchase arrangement. The company also rented a GE 44-tonner from the Middletown & New Jersey Railroad. The railroad's lease agreement with the State of Vermont was fairly detailed and included required train operating schedules, lease payments based upon operating revenues, and renewal requirements. The initial operating schedule included a Burlington yard crew, a Burlington-Rutland road crew, and a Rutland-Bennington crew that also handled local business at Rutland. As part of efforts to bring business back to the railroad, the now famous Vermont Railway mountain emblem was painted on everything possible, giving the railroad a new and prosperous image, even as it tried to survive on a nearly worn out infrastructure using twenty-year old equipment and hundreds of leased freight cars.

Business grew slowly throughout the 1960s, even as it shrank on the national rail network. To gain direct access to a major limestone plant near Florence, VTR bought the Clarendon & Pittsford in 1972 for $65,000 and kept it as a separate company. By 1979, the Vermont Railway began to exceed $2 million of yearly revenues, and it has continued to steadily grow ever since then. Over the years, the expanding volume of business both required and assisted the railroad in acquiring more modern locomotives, freight cars and track equipment, and in upgrading the track and bridges that the railroad operates over.

Harold Filskov left the railroad due to cancer in 1978 and in November 1982, Wulfson passed away after a long illness. John Pennington became president after having worked as the VTR's administrative assistant to Wulfson and Filskov. Jackie Burleson became the new vice-president after holding several other administrative jobs at the railway.

A noted event occurred in 1982 when the lease payment to the State of Vermont paid off the final bonds used to save the railroad back in 1963. This happened 12 years earlier than originally planned. In 1983, to save the hazardous material interchange business with the Delaware & Hudson, the VTR had its Clarendon & Pittsford subsidiary purchase the D&H Rutland Branch to Whitehall, New York. This line was in such bad shape that hazardous cargos were not being moved over the line.

During the 1980s, the Vermont Railway began to look like two railroads. The route between Burlington and Rutland saw heavy traffic, most of it heading to Whitehall over the newly acquired rail line. Traffic south from Rutland to North Bennington and on to the Boston & Maine route decreased greatly, and most of the online businesses closed down. This south end had once been looked upon as the potential route for a new Amtrak service across western Vermont, but it was a loser for freight as more than 90 percent of the VTR's business was Rutland north. During this time, the children of Jay Wulfson began taking on various management positions on the railroad, and more business allowed the railroad to hire more specialists to manage such areas as equipment maintenance and engineering.

The 1990s saw several more major accomplishments, including the acquisition of the Green Mountain Railroad, the formation of the Vermont Rail System, and the start of Amtrak service into Rutland over the former D&H line. Traffic had continued to grow, doubling about every decade. With the start of the Pan Am Southern, even the south end of the railroad is experiencing a rebirth. Today, the entire VTR has become known as the "Western Corridor" as it plays a part in the Albany-Bennington-Rutland-Burlington-Essex Jct. route. The State of Vermont is involved in a process of rebuilding the line to 59 mph to allow Amtrak to run to Burlington, and possibly over the entire length of the Vermont Railway. The VTR interchanges freight with the New England Central at Burlington, Pan Am Southern (Norfolk Southern and Pan Am Railways) at North Bennington/Hoosick Junction, and other railroads via the Clarendon & Pittsford and Green Mountain Railroad at Rutland. Traffic includes everything from petroleum products to feeds to stone products and much, much more. The railroad even operates a few excursion trains each year, all over track still leased from the State of Vermont. In 2014, the Vermont Railway celebrated its 50th birthday with a number of special events.

The Trip

After the NRHS Safety meeting on the train, I went back to the combine, flipped the seats and opened the windows for my passengers. The train was then opened to the passengers to board and soon I had an almost full car. I collected tickets and soon the train was on the way to Burlington.

A house after we started my new rail mileage at Center Rutland.

Some geology along the highway.

Beautiful and green Vermont.

Snowplow board along the track.

More of beautiful and green Vermont.

There is an old block signal seen in this picture.

The train took one of the many curves on this railroad.

We would be following Otter Creek for most of our trip north today.

Procter, Vermont.

Johnson Marble & Granite, Inc.

Vermont is the greenest state I have ever been in.

Otter Creek.

The Green Mountains.

The train took a slight curve.

Two views looking west from our train.

The new track on which I will ride to Omya tomorrow.

We ran by the Hammond Covered Bridge built in 1842, spanning Otter Creek, outside of Florence.

Tank cars waiting to go to Omya.

Blue Seed Feed in located in Brandon.

Vermont is a land of contrast with plenty of green in every scene.

The Rutland Railroad Middlebury station built in 1891.

Middlebury station code MD.

Former commuter rail staton in Middlebury.

Vermont never bores you with all of the verdant color she has to offer.

The Rutland Railroad New Haven Junction station built in 1868.

The land of silos and grain.

The Rutland Vergennes station, built in 1849, has been restored away from its location along the tracks.

We are reaching the end of the Green Mountains to our east.

Down at the end of the road. The train stopped at Charlotte at the old commuter station for a photo runby of a Vermont Railroad freight.

Bart Jennings, after he had removed plants, so people could get clear pictures from the photo line.

Photo runby with Vermont Railroad freight train at Charlotte.

Our NRHS passengers returning to our train.

View of our train at Charlotte before I reboarded.

We had to reverse to pick up our rear conductor.

There is a little yellow in the usual green Vermont picture.

The train dropped off the Shelburne Museum passsengers for their tour of this unique museum.

The train took a slight curve on the way north. I then decided to show you the private cars on my end of the train.

Interior of "Dover Harbor" with good friend Kenny Brooks in white. "Dover Harbor" is a heavyweight baggage-library car built by Pullman Company in 1923 as "Maple Shade". It was assigned to the Pennsylvania Railroad and rebuilt in 1934 and re-named "Dover Harbor" - one of eight cars to be designated in Dover Series. It was then assigned to Michigan Central Railroad and saw service on Cleveland Limited and Knickerbocker trains in the 1940s. In 1953, it was painted from Pullman livery to New York Central livery and assigned to Montrealer and Washingtonian. The car was retired in October 1965 and sold in 1967; the Washington DC Chapter of the NRHS purchased it in 1979. It is the only operational heavyweight Pullman revenue car for private use on Amtrak trains.

Interior of the Vermont Railway business car "Macintyre" with open platform and observation room, was built by Bethlehem Steel Company in 1923 as Erie 4. It was later sold to the Grand Trunk Western. The car moved to Bellows Falls when Glenn Davis, one-time head of the Vermont State Police, bought the car and moved it to Montepelier Junction where he lived in it. Mr. Davis became President of the Green Mountain Railway and moved it to Bellows Falls. He then sold the car to Rock MacIntyre and after he ran into financial difficulties, it became property of the Vermont Railway..

The rear view from the "Macintyre.

Click here for Part 2 of this story