Montour Railroad 

Montour Railroad


Bridges and Tunnels







Working on the Montour

Schaeffer Stories

Sposato Stories


Railroading 101



Working on the Montour

This selection of photos and stories tell of some of the life of those who worked the Mighty Montour.

Handwritten on the back of this Nick Jarina photo... 
Section Gang on the Montour RR at Hills Station, Dec. 28, 1976.Man in middle name is Tim. Tipple off on right.

After seeing this picture it came back to me that we were repairing the switch after a loaded hopper had “split “ the points. Several notes of interest can be seen in this photo. If you zoom in on the loaded hopper, just in front of it is a short phone pole stump next to the main track, that is where the W.E. Hills phone booth was located before it’s move to the #4 Supply yard. The tie down holes in the rear bed corners of RH2 was were the switch brooms were “holstered’ while working or cleaning snow.

The electric pole to the left of the truck was for the power lines to energize the circuitry to operate the two switch position indicator signals west of the loaded yard switch in Kamps Cut. On the loaded yard side, PCCo. transmission tower, this is one that branched  off main transmission line for the #4 supply yard usage. Big rail in the switch and main through there, 131 RE, if I recall correctly, used rail from the P&LE. Foreman Schmidt was wearing his traditional helmet liner hood that he wore all winter. He is holding a spike maul.

Bobby Dengler with his frizzy ‘Fro” look, rarely  wore a hat, regardless of weather it seemed and always with the Army coat. He was working the long wrench to tighten the new bolts that we installed. I am wearing my  striped RR cap  as usual, also this photo caught me at my  newly promoted position, burner/welder. I had cut off the derailment damaged joint bar bolts and was now holding a claw bar  (spike puller). Note the goggles on my head and the torch hose to the left of the truck. I was still taking night courses for welding, thanks to the MRR/P&LE, meanwhile John rattled management to pay me a higher rate, so I took over the welding job that John used to have before his promotion to Section Foreman. Oh did I mention, it was winter, snowy and cold…..Amazing how many thoughts can be regenerated by looking at one picture. Thanks Nick! - Tim Sposato


Great to see Dave Seymore, Rich Maga and Harold Sizer and George Gleason.

When working as Train Dispatcher I usually seen each of these guys daily.

Dave always had a cigar clenched in his teeth. I believe Dave was the Locomotive Inspector (?) When I talked with Rich (nickname "zing"), on many occasions I joked about giving the SW-9's a bath and a wax job. (I guess that's how they figured who was doing some cleaning of the numbers and lettering).

On page 128 in the book, it was Dave, Rich and Hostler Vince Shulin (not pictured) I was writing about. Hood doors on the SW-9's were opened as they guys gave them a detailed visual inspection every day. If a problem was discovered, that locomotive was switched out of the consist and put into the shop.

Harold was Pipefitter and was often called out when you had to couple or uncouple "M-U'ed" locomotives. Union rules...

George Gleason, worked in the Car Shops. He went to Champion and worked as daylight car inspector, their office was the former B&LE caboose that sat on the shove-up. I first met George in Mifflin Junction about 1973. All of those hoppers off the Union for the Montour needed inspected before Montour crews received them. George loved his O.T... And would come out most any time you called him. 

CAR - that 76 was sparkling in those photos. The 76 was one of the SW-9's that I started washing during those summer Saturday afternoons when the railroad was idle and I had nothing to do in the office, probably 78 or 79. I guess cleaning off all of the grime from the side of the cab of the 76, revealing that brilliant blue paint, the outstanding logo and its number caught someone's attention and I heard about it...

JES mumbled something about the Union and time slips... And if I knew anything about this, it needs to stop...... Another one of his 5 or 6 AM talks with me....  In the car shops...look at all of those PRR/PC hoppers...
- Gene P. Schaeffer

This one shows Chuck's son Chip loading wheelsets into a gondola. Notice the crane in the right background - It is not the X 1. This one has different ladder & windows and is lettered for P&LE. X 1 could be the one lifting the wheelset


Floyd 'Pee  Wee' Davy Crane Operator (Car Shops) at Montour Junction. Floyd was crane operator during my years with the Montour RR.
Floyd, when not running the X1, worked in the Montour Junction Car Shops as well as car inspector Champion. (Union Senority)
Gene P. Schaeffer


A photo of Gene P. Schaeffer taken at Brookside Lumber in October 1980 by Roy Parkinson.

I had acquired two new Canon camera's, one for black & white film and the other for Kodachrome color slide film and had given Roy my Mamiya/Sekor 35mm camera to use. I believe R.J. is running the 73. - Gene P. Schaeffer


Photos below are provided by George DeVault. Thanks George.



Eddie W. McMillan, Andrew M. Allen, George DeVault

David . Blackburn & Eddie McMillan

Eddied McMillan, Tim Sposato, Steve Russell

Dave Blackburn

Cornilious J. Walker

Charles E. Williams (Pete)

Eddie W. McMillan and James Beaver

Mark E. Broskey December 76 (deceased cancer 1999)

George DeVault

Comments by Tim Sposato:

These photographs show how the Montour was really about people. People that had families to support, people that had bills to pay, people that wanted to work, not collect welfare and assistance.

This group of Montour Men had fun, they worked hard when needed, long hours at wrecks, cold wet nights, hot blistering summer days, both the younger ones, side by side with the older ones, they worked as a family.

This was the last generation of Montour Men, some of us knew that but dreamed it would continue, some didn't realize, but all had committed to the effort to make it happen. These were all friends, I was present at their weddings, parties, family gatherings, hunting trips, and more.

Mark Broskey, fresh from college, his career sidelined for the moment, but tuition was due, the Montour helped him till that job opened up. Now he's gone.

Pete McMillan had his son Eddie (Capt. Neat) follow in his footsteps, becoming the Extra Gang foreman. As you can see in the photos, he is always 'neat'.

Pete Williams, a great friend, always stuck up for you, good guy to have on your side. Full of fun.
Loved the women.....

Corneil Walker, been around for ever, father figure to many, also known as the 'Grey Fox' or "Sly Fox'.

I can go on & on.

Most of these pictures were taken at Hendersonville spur, the one shows the white of the company house to the left. The Jackson Jr. tamper was a hand me down, retired from the P&LE, coupled behind it on the cart was the air compressor used for the spike hammer.

Also seen is the boom on the ancient rail crane, behind the compressor, used to pull lengths of rail from the six foot onto the tie plates. The adzer can be seen too, this was used to cut the ties surface so the newer, larger plates would have a flat base to sit on.

The rail was badly worn through Hendersonville and were being replaced with some used rail from the P&LE. Look close and the stacks of angle bars, plates, spikes and other components required for rail change out can be seen.

Now that hand pump car axle, well that lied around Hendersonville as long as I can remember. As usual Montour Men wanted to prove their strength, guess we all were competing for the finals that day.

January 21, 1977 MofW Roster showed;

Section Gang Two: Stationed out of Hills
JP Schmidt Foreman
FW Aitken Car cleaner #4 mine dayshift
CJ Walker Truck Driver
WT Lockart Car Cleaner #4 mine nightshift
CE Williams Laborer
TJ Sposato Laborer
RJ Dengler Labor

Extra Gang Four Stationed out of Hills
EW McMillan Foreman
DC Blackburn Laborer
G Devault Laborer
AM Allen Laborer
ME Broskey Laborer
SJ Russel Laborer

Many of their faces are shown that wonderful summer day, thirty years have passed, several of those fine gentleman have also passed, but the memory lives on through the pictures taken, a parking lot covers this ground, some landmarks thankfully remain for those who wish to linger for a bit, I will be the first to linger there next week, to reflect on those happy times as we enjoyed our youth and each other.

The heart of the Montour RR is not always a picture of its locomotives or passing coal trains.


mon_80_bnc.jpg (66583 bytes) I am pretty sure that the designers at EMD didn’t exactly have this in mind, but due to the handrails mounted on the hood, the Montour’s road name was kept prominently displayed.

As the crews would walk along the engine walkway, they would rub against the side of the hood, keeping a strip of the side, about waist to shoulder high, clean of dirt and coal dust. While wearing a winter coat, this would happen even more. I don’t imagine that the wives of these guys were all that happy about them literally wearing the Montour home on their sleeves, though, when laundry day came around.

Compare this with the MP15’s or other locomotives with railings on the outside of the walkways. These crews would tend to lean away from the side of the hood, toward the railing, to avoid the dirt and heat.

So, by purchasing the SW’s, the Montour was making sure that its name would always be kept clean and proudly displayed.
Bryan Seip

Heres a picture made at West End Hills with Dave Sherwood,  this was an early shot in 1973 as the Coal Run was ready to place the first loaded cut on the main against the hack.  Dave is throwing the Loaded Yard Switch prior to shoving back.  Note the "Repco" radio in his hand on this nice summer day. You can see  a PRR hopper sitting on the Transfer to the PRR, the phone shanty and wayside poles still standing. The bridge and Kamps Cut is behind me. Between the caboose and the hopper on the hillside is where the steel water tank once stood for the steam engines, the standpipe for this was to the right of the hack along the main. Gosh those days were wonderful. Tim Sposato

One winter day in 1979, I had to report to the Superintent at Montour Jct, prior to my shift at Champion yard office. As luck would have it a Champion yard crew was  on duty and preparing to leave as a "caboose hop" just when I had finished the meeting. Seeing that I had plenty of time before my 2:00pm  shift, I quickly decided to follow the crew to Champion.
I stopped at numerous locations for pictures or just to listen to the single note airhorn sounding for the crossings. A favorite spot over the years was to sit at McLaughlin crossing, and allow the train to get along side of the truck so I could pace it eastbound for about a quarter mile. his particular day was no different, but as the engine rounded the curve as I watched the side mirror, the sudden notion of shooting a picture came to mind.
The #83 was on its last whistle blast, the crossing directly behind my 77 GMC Jimmy, I fired this shot and dropped the camera onto the seat and started rolling as the engine caught up to me.  The clanking rail joints sounding with the rumble of the EMD in the lower throttle notch was music to the ears.
The usual good nature banter started as engineer Jack Harvard  and I hollered back in forth during the 15 mph chase to North Star Jct. After this short run  the track is on a higher grade as the road to Champion from here is on the opposite side of the valley until MP 13 as it enters the Boggs cut. I arrived at the YO just as the Crew pulled in. Then it was another typical day at the Coal Washer.
Note also the short  piece of 90# rail, a repair of an early break at one time.  These short pieces were a common sight on the 90# rail through out the system.  One can also see the general track appearance in regard to the ties and ballast condition.
I always enjoy looking at this shot, the only one I ever did one using the mirror,   but these unique shots make them more special.
Tim Sposato

Here  is a photo of Jim Lane taken at Boggs yard on the main.  They had just pulled clean coal off the Siding at Champion and were air testing the train for the trip to Montour Jct.
The recent posts of free use of Montour hauled coal allows me to relate another human interest story about Jim Lane.  Jim was working as a fireman in late 1930's on a run, late one winter evening out of Montour Jct, he thought  it might have been locomotive  #33.
As they headed east they passed through Greer Tunnel, over the PRR in the through truss bridge and around the left hand curve.  Here they exploded a track torpedo used for signaling a obstruction ahead.  They slowed down and caught sight of a flagman giving them a stop signal with a red lantern.  After stopping the flagman said his train ahead of them was having air trouble with a pick up off the PRR Transfer at Hills, but expected they would be moving East shortly.  The flagman climbed aboard as the engineer (George Barefoot) eased down to stop behind the flagman's caboose.
At this point they had stopped on a short straight stretch east of Greers crossing above what later became the water purification plant for #4 mine along Chartiers Creek. This was also next to an old frame/ log dwelling belonging to an old  widow woman.  Her husband was a miner all his life, but had past away. I can only believe the miner used to walk either the Montour,  or PRR that crossed the creek at this same point,  to work every day.  Depending  if he worked the tipple or entered  the mine at the supply yard along the PRR.
Well, Jim living in Hills station,  knowing all his neighbors decided to toss some coal out from the tender into her front yard.   He said he had tossed coal as he passed by on moving trains before, usually a shovel full or two if he was quick enough.   After he supplied her yard he climbed down into the cab and was confronted by the trainmaster.  Seems the TM had been lurking around the train stopped in front of them and walked back for a visit.   He asked Jim what he had be doing  on the tender and Jim replied he was shoving coal closer to the bunker doors and trimming the loose coal so as not to have it fall from the top of the tender. Well the trainmaster knew the real story and wondered why he saw coal landing in the widow's yard,  no reply from Jim would have changed the verdict.
The TM reported Jim and disiplinary actions where given in terms of more "brownies" to his record,  but the coal remained for the widow. Guess the TM may have had a soft spot himself. I easily imagine the scene of the #33 sitting there  shrouded in steam on a cold evening with its headlight illuminating a wooden caboose and the silhouette of Jim against the night sky  making sure the old widow woman would be warm for another night.
As you walk east today from Greers Crossing when the foliage is dead you will be able to see the remnants of the old dwelling foundation of the widow's  home on the right side of the grade.   
I have stood there , looking around, listening, recalling of this story...........
Tim Sposato

Summer of 1976, I have had about 15 months employment by now when we started to safety tie sections of the main  between Hills and Library Jct.
Standard procedure was to spend a day or two spreading new ties through a section, then coming back to install them. Most work was done by manual labor, MRR was lean on the mechanized equipment.   We would load 30 ties on a push cart
and hi-rail to the drop points.  The foreman would be walking ahead with a yellow lumber crayon and  "X" the tie end to be replaced.  The truck would follow slowly as we walked next to the cart, one man on one side, one on the other.
As we reached the bad tie, one man would snag a new tie with his hands  as the other  man gave it a push and this would "torpedo" the tie along the six foot.  This momentum would allow a man to carry the tie clear of the cart.
This picture was take as we installed the new ties and were tamping them with ballast & cinders against the rail bottoms. The picture was taken east of Turkey farm crossing and  west of mile post #34 in Peters Twp.  The truck is the RH-2. The man on the left was Jim Beaver, John P Schmidt, foreman in the center and Bobby Dengler on the right.  This was a  portion of the Section Gang Two based out of Hills Station.
I was a proud member of this gang at the time, since this section covered the eastend by my home grounds.  I got the boys to line up for a couple of shots that day including some  of the tie distribution action and a shot of a younger me posing with them.  Guess I need to copy those to share sometime.
Since that time, JP Schimdt was killed in a construction accident, Bobby Dengler was killed in an automobile accident, I last  heard Jim Beaver was in jail.
Amazing how we never know what the future holds......
Tim Sposato