SAL Operations of Local Freight Trains

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My question is about the Seaboard Air Line operation of Local Freights and in particular on the Georgia Division in the 1960ís.

I have previously learned that in addition to the scheduled timetable trains, the SAL operated local freights as extras. These extras were identified by the engine number of the lead engine. For example, a train led by engine 1603 would be identified as Extra 1603. The SAL never changed this practice. Once the SAL/ACL merger occured these trains were added to the timetable as third class freights and given fixed identifying numbers.

Can anyone verify these facts? In addition, did the SAL have any slang terms for these local freights or other terms used for them such as "turns" or "way freight" or "peddler" or any other names? Did the crews refer to them as just "locals"?

My particular interest in in the Georgia Division. I have been told that there was a daily local that worked out of Howells Yard, Atlanta, in each direction, one for the Atlanta sub and one for the Birmingham sub. When the local reached the end of the sub, the crew would layover for their rest, then return on the flip side run the next day with the local coming back to Howells Yard. Can anyone confirm that this information is correct?

I understand that in some intermediate cities a local engine and crew was permanently stationed to handle switch moves in their vacinity. The long distance local would drop cars at the intermediate yard, and these cars would be delivered by the local engine and crew. For example, Athens (Fowler Junction) and Rockmart had such small yards and local crews.

I know there must be someone out their familiar with these details. Thanks for your help.

Paul McGraw Lawrenceville, GA

-- Paul McGraw (paulmcgraw@charter.net), October 06, 2004

Answers

I went to work (as a trainman)for Seaboard in 1963, in Abbeville, S. C. My first regular job was on the local from Shops(one mile west of the Abbeville depot) to Winder. We ran extra to Winder and layed over and returned the next day. We always referred to the job as the "local". Later, I worked the local from Howells to Winder,Ga. This job went on duty at 7 am and made the trip to Winder and back six days a week, with Sundays off. It was a 16 hour a day job, and because of a clause in the contract wasn't eligible for road-switcher pay. It was always referred to as the Howells/Winder local. When business at Tucker, Ga. increased to a point that the job couldn't possibly get over the road, the job was re-advertised to run from Howells to Tucker and return daily excepting Sunday, with through locals established between Shops and Howells. Within a year, the job working Tucker was re-established with home terminal at Tucker. Business eventually increased enough to establish a night switcher at Tucker. I only worked the locals between Shops and Monroe a few times, but they were also run as extras. Shops was located at MP G441, and Abbeville depot was at the G440. All freight trains went on and off duty at Shops, while passenger trains, naturally, stopped at the passenger depot. I only worked passenger trains a couple of times, but I remember some of the train crews actually had home terminals in Monroe or Atlanta, and worked all the way through from those locations. Some men established homes at Monroe. There was another local that ran from Monroe, N.C. to the Bowater plant at Catawba, and from there down a branch line to Great Falls. This job was called, at that time, the C/V, for Catawba Valley. It was also a 16 hour a day job, as were virtually all the locals, and later became an outlying job with on duty point at Catawba. The job at Athens, Ga., was classified as a yard job, which was, at that time, an entirely different craft from the mainline jobs. We couldn't work a yard job, and they couldn't work a mainline job. Jim Baughman, Lawrenceville, Ga. jimbau63@yahoo.com

-- Jim Baughman (jimbau63@yahoo.com), October 14, 2004.

One interesting nickname SAL and SCL used for the local(s) and roadswitchers that operated or were based out of Tallahassee was the "Roustabout." CSX personnel in Tallahassee may still use this nickname. I am not sure how far outside Tallahassee the "Roustabout" worked, but I seem to remember that it maybe went as far east as Drifton and as far west as Quincy, but it could have worked the St, Marks and Bainbridge lines as well. Anyone with a scanner in the 1970's-1990's capable of picking up radio transmissions from Tallahassee Yard probably remembers the Yardmaster and clerks speaking about or to the "Roustabout."

-- Sherrod G. Patterson (sgpattersonatty@mindspring.com), October 13, 2004.

By the late 1960's, the SAL was operating a local freight between Atlanta and Monroe, NC; a road switcher between Howells and Winder; and, a local freight between Cartersville and Rockmart. Local freights were operated as either straightaway or turnaround assignments. A straightaway local operated between designated terminals and tied up at the away-from-home-terminal. A turnaround local operated from its home terminal to some intermediate point, then returned to the home terminal. The SAL also had agreements with its operating unions to provide for the operation of road switchers that could operate in and out of a terminal. Under the agreement, if the road switcher was to be operated in more than one direction out of the home terminal, it was confined to a radius of forty (40) miles. If the switcher was worked in only one direction from the home terminal, it was confined to limits not exceeding sixty (60) miles.

-- William E. Griffin, Jr. (Griffinwejr@aol.com), October 10, 2004.

I can't speak for Georgia Division practices. The Virginia Division regularly fielded an extra from Hermitage Yard (Richmond) known as the Ampthill Turn or the Ampthill Switcher. Ampthill is a siding on the south side of Richmond serving E. I. DuPont. In the early 60's, SAL operated a piggyback special, daily except Mondays as I recall. This, too, operated as an extra. An interesting note -- these trains operated in CTC territory (no superiority of trains) but extras displayed white signals and sections (except the last)carried green signals.

-- Harry Bundy (Y6B@aol.com), October 06, 2004.

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