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1998 Changes

Railroad:  Plans were made to change the upper end of the layout in the area of Hickery Lick.  The original plan was to change the curve from 1500 to 1600 curve track and to remove the outer reversing loop.  I originally envisioned making the remaining tunnel
The origional track plan used a curve of 1500 track and had a reversing loop which ran thru a long tunnel which had been closed and abandoned due to an animal burying the mainline with 6” of dirt.
double track but finally opted to double track the bridge instead.  The ends of the passing siding were outfitted with 1600 turnouts to improve reliability.  Construction of the new route began on Sunday June 14th.  After laying out the track on the ground it was decided that to “look right” the layout would need to be widened.  In response the Western Maryland Railway Company exercised its right to eminent domain and officially took title of 45 square feet of back yard to widen the layout 18”.   The new track plan also provided for two new spurs one for a new tobacco warehouse to be built next to themill and one for a log loading facility.  The reverse curve by the mill was eliminated and the ruling grade was decreased from 3% to 2.5% this combined with the change from a 5 foot to an 8 foot diameter curve increased the hauling capacity of my 10 wheelers 100%. In addition, since the minimum radius curve is now 8 foot all the way from spruce to Bergoo I can double head with a helper if I want to up the hill.  Finally, the new arrangement will allow for numerous new plantings and some expansion for the town of Mt. Airy.
The revised plan for the upper end, with its double track bridge and two new spurs. 
Planning the right of way and excavating the new tunnel.
The route has been laid out and plastic has been put down for weed block.  Mini sprinkler lines have been run and wiring for the lights rerouted. 
Roads: For years the roads on the GC&E consisted of clay kitty litter.  This required
constant maintenance and the clay had a habbit of washing up on the sides of the buildings
and sticking when it rained.  I decided to replace the clay roads with concrete.  First I did
the town of Webster Springs and then Mt. Airy.  I added an elevated roadway coming out
of Mt. Airy with a concrete retaining wall.
The new concrete road and the retaining wall at Laurel Bank.
This view shows the new road in Mt. Airy and the new track arrangement with the new siding and relocated turnouts.  The landscaping is still in progress 7/8/98. 
The arch bridge has been double tracked and most of the landscaping is completed.  A small “forest” of dwarf Alberta spruce hug the hillside beside the bridge abutment.
Operations: With the new track arrangement the Mower Lumber Co. can run logging trains out of
spruce, up the connection to the WM and use their trackage rights to switch the log loading sidings.
When the new mill is built at Spruce the MLC will switch it as well.  The two long passing sidings will make for more interesting operations as well. and the new sidings will add more industries to switch