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Montour X-1 Crane

Montour MoW Crane X-1 and X-3 Idler 1981

The X-1 whistle has been restored, click here (movie) for a listen. 

Builders Sheet for the X1.

Repair Parts Catalog for the X-1`

A photo tribute to Montour Industrial Brown Hoist X-1. Seen here in the West End Disco near the Champion Yard Office. Crane Operator F. Davy has justed started her up and is allowing her to warm before beginning a day of ditching around Champion. The West End Disco was referred to  "L&C" Siding by the Coal Company... Or Louis & Copeland Siding.
"C.A.R." you just arrived in the burgundy station wagon seen just above the X-1s coupler.
Agent "Gene" McCuen's blue Monte Carlo is also in scene, as well as R Maga pick up and E. McMillans vehicle parked in the m of w parking  lot. The front fender of that junky 1980 Ford Pinto I owned is in front of the doorway at the Yard Office. I guess the X-3 "idler" met her fate years ago...Arch Bar trucks included.
The date is June 25, 1981

Gene P. Schaeffer

Montour Crane X-1 at Montour #4 Mine, 1981

Its a rainy August 16, 1981. Standing in the former Loaded Yard at Montour 4, the camera captures the tipple for Montour 4 being dismantled by a private contractor. The rail for all four tracks in the Montour 4 loaded yard have already been removed.
Up on the Main Track of the Montour Railroad, Montour Crane  X-1 is idle this day, but come Monday, work will resume on pulling up the 115 pound rail of the Montour RR Main Track. Between Pennsylvania Company Transfer Hills and the West End of Montour 4 Loaded Yard, the 115 pound rail is being re-allocated for use in the curve at the East End Champion.
Time were not good at Montour 4 in 1981.
Gene P. Schaeffer

Farewell to the X-1...
This was the last time I saw Montour X-1. September 6, 1983 the X-1 carries B&T 001. With boom removed and inside a gondola, "B&T001" was  photographed at the East End Montour Junction Yard...
Conductor J. Marvin Conley is working the Yard at Montour Junction. B&T 001 will be delivered to Conrail at McDonald later this day.
Gene P. Schaeffer

X-1 in 1988 (Click image for higher resolution)

Around 1988 the X-1 was the only working crane for the Briggs & Turvis Company at Dennision. When B&T moved from the MRR property at Lotus they shipped their crane that was painted bicentennial colors to the Dennison location when both locations merged.

This crane was being dismantled at Dennison when I stopped by in '88' to visit X-1. The employees there said they removed the CAT engine from the bicentennial crane and placed it in the X-1. The original MRR engine was scrapped account of a crank failure. At the same time the mag-motor (Westinghouse) was removed.

B&T also had a third crane in Dennison. It also was being dismantled in '88'. Times were tough for business and B&T was slowly devouring itself to make ends meet. By early '90s' B&T was no more.

The mag-motor allowed the MRR to lift loose scrap around the railroad. X-1 would slowly propel itself along and sweep the RoW for spikes, plates, bars, bolts, ect. The mag head would be 6 to 8 inches about the ground. At that height you could watch the ballast and cinders quiver as the metal would be plucked from beneath the surface.

This mag head was also strong enough to lift full sections of 90# rail, but the balance when lifting rail was critical otherwise it would drop the load.

The above photo was taken in 1988 when the yard was being cleaned up for the shut down. The third crane is visible minus parts including the engine. The MRR markings are still bright and rust was minimal. Note also the oil stains present on the rear of the cab showing her still full of life. Also the mag-head still hanging on the boom was the MRR magnet. This was not to be found when I prepared the crane for movement to OC tracks. I trust it may be part of the scrap cash B&T received.

As Bryan just posted, Ohio Crane not Brown Hoist is the correct terminology for X-1. The "Brown Hoist" nick name was used by all us MRR employees, still referring to the earlier crane maker, until the RR shutdown. 

Guess that proves just how hard it is to re-train Railroaders when their faced with changes.
Tim Sposato


Restored milepost 32 and the X-1 Photo Gene P. Schaeffer

Under the mighty X-1 Photo Gene P. Schaeffer

By Bryan Seip 21-Oct-2007

On my way home from my # 71 visit, I stopped at Dennison to check out the Montour crane X-1. It sits on a spur along the road at the edge of Dennison. The Ohio Central main line runs through Dennison and right past the crane.

I don't think it has moved in quite a while. The track has been removed behind it, and the tree at the side of the tank car in front of it is growing between the running board and the tank. The tree is about as big around as my wrist, so it has been growing for a while. Bring an axe if you want to get X-1 out of there...

Gene's book says X-1 was retired from the Montour in 1983 and sold to Briggs & Turvas, who had moved to Dennison, Ohio by that time.  Tim says X-1 was purchased by the Ohio Central from a fabricating company that succeeded B&T at Dennison. It had numbers re-stenciled onto it, but still retains the Montour lettering and markings.

The left side shows the Montour logo and number. X001 has been added below them. On the side frame, MONTOUR is still visible.

The right side is in poorer shape due to sun & weather, but the logo, number and lettering on the frame is also evident. 

On this detail of the front of the cab, MTR is stenciled - a similar one is on the other side. So, there is no doubt as to where this crane came from.  

I don't know when the last time it was operational. It is no longer working - and probably never will - but it is still in existence. Just off of Rt250 along State Rt800 as you come into Dennison. There is also a rail museum at the old station in Dennison with some PRR coaches, freight cars, an 0-4-0T and a C&O steam engine on display. The station is from the old PRR Panhandle days and has been refurbished.


X-1 Builders Plate

The Move Back to Home Rails

The Montour X-1 crane has been donated to the Montour Railroad Historical Society by the Ohio Central Systems.

Due to the impending sale of the Ohio Central Systems to Genesee & Wyoming Inc. - the X-1 was requested to be removed from Ohio Central property before the transfer of ownership on Sept 12. Century Steel Erectors have graciously offered to make the move from Dennison, Ohio to the TAR Storage Facility on Valleybrook Road in McMurray - the site of Montour Mine #4. 

Our sincere thanks to the principals involved in making the X-1 Project a reality.

- Jerry Joe Jacobson - CEO, Ohio Central Systems

- Donn Taylor and the Taylor Family - Century Steel Erectors

- Tom Robinson - TAR Storage

- The Montour Trail Council

   and - to all the MRHS Members who have given their time and efforts.


Restoring Montour Rails

August 30, 2008

The X-1 project began Saturday with the MRHS Tie Gang laying down the base for the X-1 at TAR Storage.

Thanks to Stan - Bill - Dennis - Ken & Gene - and also Tim & Pete for everyone's helping hands.

We were unsuccessful at getting the rail out of the cut nearby - but are hopeful that we will recover rail on Monday.
Here is a genuine Montour Section Gang - plus 30 something years - working at getting the ties down - as Gene & Tim go for another tie. Somehow - the ties got heavier in the past 30 years........


Two Montour former Employees, Gene Schaeffer and Tim Sposato work the tie tongs.


September 1, 2008

Today the MRHS laid rail for the X-1 at Montour #4 Thanks to Joe Lane and to Bill Errera Truck Fabricators for supplying the truck and the expertise to recover the rails and transport them to the X-1 site.

The track gang was busy - as RJ - Carter - Gene - Dennis & Ken made sure the rails were in gauge. 

Then the track gang went to work spiking down the rails. Gene still has the knack after 30+ years.

Bill gave it a whack.

And Ken tried his hand at it, too - with RJ holding things steady.

So, with a few achy muscles - we now have a section of track at #4 for the X-1 to live on. A few more spikes have to be driven & some ballast put down - that should happen in the next couple of days.

Tuesday - Carter & I will go to Dennison and meet with the guys from Century Steel Erectors and with Tim to check out how the X-1 needs to be disassembled for the ride home. X-1 will also get moved for the first time in about 10 years - as it must be re-positioned for Century to be able to work on it and load it on their trucks..

3 more days until X-1 comes home.


Move From Dennison


September 2, 2008

Today the X-1 took its first step in the journey back to home territory. At Dennison, Ohio the X-1 was moved for the first time in 7+ years as it was relocated onto a siding where Century Steel Erectors can disassemble it for the move to its destination at Montour #4.

Ohio Central engine 2912 and crew coupled up to the X-1 with a flat car and tank car to move it from the spur where it has been sitting for years.

Nice and easy – over some old switches and broken rail that had to be wedged into position – keep checking to make sure everything stays on the track – it is rolling easily.

It was really neat to watch it move and walk along with it down the track.


X-1 clears the switch – now the shove back can begin to push it down the siding.


Shoving back along the siding to be spotted. 

Tim keeps an eye on the proceedings.

Almost there – only a couple of car lengths to go.

It seems only fitting that it is shoved next to a string of coal hoppers waiting to be loaded at a coal mine nearby.


September 2, 2008

Then Conductor William Dick gives the call, “2912 – that’ll do.”

Tim takes care of uncoupling. 

The next step will be a move by trucks over a 90 mile journey.

This is the Ohio Central Crew that gave the X-1 a nice ride. 

Conductor William Dick– Engineer Clarence Miller – Track Dept. Gary Gerber – Supervisor Tim Sposato


Thursday morning – Century Steel Erectors will take over and X-1 will be loaded onto 4 semi-trailers to continue its journey.  A ride east on Rt 22 – the Parkway West – and South on I-79. Hopefully all loads will be in or near McMurray by Thursday evening. 

Then Friday morning the X-1 will be placed on its new home track – back in Montour Country to stay.


September 4, 2008 Moving Day!!

Things started early in Dennison.  A bright sunny day ahead of us. It seemed appropriate that the X-1 lay snuggled up to a string of coal hoppers.


Eddie climbs the boom to set the first piece of rigging and get the day started. The boom comes down with no problems.

The cables are cut and the block & hook removed. The first step is done by 8am.  The boom is loaded onto a trailer and moved aside for its trip home later in the day. Things are really looking good.


As we take a quick coffee break, the Century Steel Erectors crew is anticipating a good, fast move. “The Hammer” John Cecchine heads up the move – along with Eddie George – Bill “Buck” Desko – Virgil Carver – Ryan Shipley – Jake Simcic – and Stan Indyk, who manned the crane.  Look carefully – as this was probably the last time of the day that Buck had a smile on his face.


The ol’ X-1 wasn’t about to go quietly.  I guess it just didn’t want to leave the rails – because at this point of the day, it started to give the crew a bad time. What everyone thought would be a simple lift to pull the cab house off the frame turned into a 7 hour marathon of cutting – torching – lifting – and cursing as X-1 refused to let go. Calls were made to the American Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. asking for any advice and a look in the old manual – but they couldn’t come up with that “secret magic step”

Buck and Eddie took turns with the torch – up underneath the frame – cramped quarters  – sparks in their face – fumes in their eyes – molten metal at their feet. Still, the X-1 refused to budge. Finally – at 4pm the cab came free & that lift was completed.

Buck had the last laugh anyway.


When Stan gave it a lift, we found out that the Cab weighed in at 68,000 lbs. Next it was the frame – an easy lift.  63,300 lbs. The X-1 had given up its fight for today and finally said “Take me home”


After that – the X-1’s trucks were loaded onto the last trailer. The boom load and the trucks load were sent on their way – arriving at Montour #4 at 7:30pm The Cab and Frame loads started their journey – but were stopped by the curfew put on the permit for those loads.  They will finish their journey in the morning and the X-1 will finally be in Montour territory again. Friday morning’s show – like Humpty Dumpty - put it all back together again.

Thanks to the Century crew for all their work in getting the X-1 back where it belongs.

September 5, 2008  

The X-1 is finally home!!

What a sight – as Century Steel Erectors’ truck rolls down the hill on McMurray Road & under the Montour Trail Bridge.  The X-1 is ready to make the last turn towards home.


Meanwhile – Matt – Don – Eddie – Eric & Stan set the first truck on the rails at Montour #4 – the new (or should we say old) home of the X-1.

Gene’s rail gang had made sure everything was set and in gauge.


The frame arrives and is placed back on the trucks.

Then the big one – as the cab house is swung into position on the frame. It goes much easier than yesterday – no trouble as the X-1 behaves itself and goes right into place with only a little friendly persuasion needed.  


The final step – the boom is reseated. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men – but the Century guys got the X-1 together again.  “The Hammer” and his crew wrap up the final lift – and the X-1 is once again on Montour rails - Home to stay!!  



Century Steel Erectors crew for this day - the final step of the journey - strike a pose. Jake Simcic – Eddie George – John Cecchine – Stan Indyk – Matt Green & Don Shuttleworth got the move done.  Somehow Eric Graziano escaped the picture taking chore. Thanks fellas – for a job well done!!



Perhaps the biggest smiles were on the faces of the MRHS members who joined us today. The X-1 Project will continue – as we clean – scrape – fix – paint  & renovate the crane for permanent display. Still a lot of work to do – but the biggest step is now done.

The X-1 is Home!!

Our sincere thanks go to those who helped make the X-1 Project come together.

-       Jerry Joe Jacobson & the Ohio Central Railroad System

-       Donn Taylor & the Taylor Family of Century Steel Erectors

-       Tom Robinson of TAR Storage

-       Bill Errera Truck Fabricating & Joe Lane

-       Tim Sposato – the guardian angel who saved the X-1 years ago –

-       Our ex-Montour guys, Gene, RJ & Carter for putting in their time with the X-1 – both in years past and now.

-       And – to all who helped with the “grunt work” – lifting – cutting – digging – dragging - spiking  and all the other chores that were necessary to bring the X-1 home!

Thanks to one and all.

The Montour Railroad Historical Society

The X-1 Caterpillar Engine (Click image for higher resolution)


Recently a couple of work sessions have given the X 1 some new paint & logos & lettering. We are trying to get a sense of progress showing on X 1 for the Trail Opening Ceremony this Saturday. I think things are looking good.  Priming & painting a couple of panels - closing up the missing windows - new stirrups & air hoses - all make X 1 look like a piece of equipment needing a paint job & cleaning instead of just a rusting hulk sitting beside the trail.
Thanks to all who gave a hand to these pieces of the X 1 Project. Tim posted a couple of pictures a few days ago of Tyler doing all the work reinstalling the stirrups & air hoses.  Well - Tim did supervise....
Last week, Gene put on a couple of Montour Logos & lettering. Today - Gene & Bryan did another logo & some lettering  -
Here, Bryan starts to spray the logo on the left side - well, most of the paint went on the logo....
Meanwhile, Gene is touching up the logo on the other side.
We also added lettering to the radiator cover - so it is ready to go.
There were lots of people out on the trail again this morning.  Many of them stopping to read the displays and to chat with us about the X 1 and the Trail - so we are still getting lots of attention. Now that the leaves are starting to fall - and the newly painted logos are in place - X 1 is very noticeable from Valley Brook Road. 

Files documenting the X-1 from Bryan Seip

Track Gang
Moving Day
Home at Last
Toot 1
Toot 2