Working on the Montour
|Working on the Montour
|This selection of photos and stories tell of some of the life of those who worked the Mighty Montour.
|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.
McMillan, Andrew M. Allen, George DeVault
Blackburn & Eddie McMillan
McMillan, Tim Sposato, Steve Russell
Cornilious J. Walker
Charles E. Williams (Pete)
McMillan and James Beaver
Broskey December 76 (deceased cancer 1999)
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
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.
I am pretty sure that the designers at EMD didnít exactly have this in mind, but due to the handrails mounted on the hood, the Montourís 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 donít 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 MP15ís 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 SWís, the Montour was making sure that its name would always be kept clean and proudly displayed.
Heres a picture made at Scott Siding 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
if he worked the tipple or
entered the mine at the supply yard along the
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
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
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
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
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
Amazing how we never know what the future