Friday, October 31, 2014

Mainline And Siding At Malaga

Gus Christ photos. Courtesy of the Wilson Creek Museum.

Gus was a Roadmaster out of Ephrata, and a few of his photos have recently turned up. Most seem to date from the 1950s.

An interesting discussion has appeared on the GNGoat list:

There have been many posts and inquires of foreign equipment on the GN. Recently there was one on SFRD reefers. While looking at some photos on the Big Bend Railroad History website, I noticed a picture of Malaga looking west that was taken by Gus Christ who was a roadmaster out of Ephrata. According to the website, the picture was taken in the 1950s, but it does not give an exact date. In the picture, that I have posted below, there are four box cars. I can see the first two box cars are CB&Q and NP. The third car from the camera is quite interesting. Although blurred when the picture is digitally enlarged, the New York, Susquehanna and Western (NYS&W) "S" logo appears on the upper right. The car also has the correct door and lines above and below the reporting marks, as well as the reporting mark location for a NYS&W PS1 box car (see the NYS&W PS1 car photo below). I have forwarded the Malaga photo to some friends in New Jersey who model NYS&W and they have confirmed my opinion that is from a group of PS-1 box cars the NYS&W bought in the early 1950s and it is painted in the as delivered paint scheme. Most of the cars were sold off by the NYS&W by the late 1950s to the Monon. I believe at the time this picture was taken the car was still owned by the NYS&W because the fourth initial for the road looks like it could be a "W" for the NYSW; whereas, the initials for the Monon was CIL.

I am not surprised to see the CB&Q and NP cars in the picture, but the NYS&W car is not expected. Although, the PS1 box car is not rare, a NYS&W painted PS1 box car is rare because there were not too many of them, and the car is clear across the country from the NYS&W. In the 1950s, the NYS&W was a fairly small railroad in New Jersey. I believe back then, it had less than 100 route miles, but it served some heavily industrial areas in eastern New Jersey. Today the NYS&W has taken over some ex-Conrail lines and has more than doubled. What is also unique about this picture is that according to my friends who model NYS&W say this is the only picture of an NYSW PS1 box car taken on a foreign road that they have seen.

The next question the picture leads to is why the NYS&W box car was so far from home? From past posts on this forum, I have seen statements that trains to the Alcoa plant at Malaga were doubled up the spur to the plant with some cars left at Malaga. I have also read that if a box car of bauxite ore (in the 1950s the ore was delivered in box cars) was delayed and did not match the ore being processed at the time, the box car was stored at Malaga. However, I wonder if the car was being used to transport equipment to the Alcoa plant or an empty waiting to be loaded to head back east. One thing that I have been told is that on the Susquehanna's Edgewater branch there was an Alcoa plant as seen in the following link Alcoa Plant Edgewater NJ The Edgewater, NJ plant looks like it was a finishing plant and not a mill that coverts ore to aluminum such as the mill at Malaga. So it could be plausible that ingots were being shipped east in the car. Or, was it just a coincidence that there is an Alcoa plant on the NYS&W and one in Malaga where a Susquehanna car was seen? We may never know. But, if you are modeling the Wenatchee area in the mid-1950s, a Susquehanna box car would not be a stretch from the prototype. Kadee has made some PS1 box cars that are spot on for the NYS&W.

- Mark XXXX


The car is clearly marked NYS&W. Reweigh Stencil date is 10 55. As I recall cars had to be reweighted every 18-24 months. Given snow on the ground, I suspect time is winter of 1955-56 or 1956-57.

As to why it is in Malaga, I would answer that today no one knows. The car hire rules required that plain (free runner) railroad owned car was to be loaded to or toward its home road. The rules were not always strictly observed, particularly if cars were short. The question is how it came up empty on the GN in Washington State.

The photo of Edgewater Alcoa plant looks like it probably a fabrication facility. It is possible that the previous load was from Edgewater to Boeing in the Seattle area. It is also possible that some railroad, some where, furnished the car for loading to somewhere in Western Washington. If the car came up empty on the GN in Western Washington, sending it to Wenatchee made good sense because Alcoa at Malaga loaded many carloads of ingots to 'Official Territory' which was/is east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio. Yes, it could have been loaded to Edgewater, but was more likely sent somewhere else.