Monday, September 12, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- Slim Pickens, September 12 2011

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the South Carolina-based Pickens Railway. The Railway was chartered in 1890 to operate between it's namesake of Pickens and the town of Easley, SC- just under 10 miles. The little shortline ceased passenger service in 1928 as improved roads were built throughout the region and instead the Pickens focused on freight. At various points, the Pickens was controlled by the Southern Railway and Singer Manufacturing before expanding operations some 100 years after its original charter.

In the 1990s, the Pickens expanded from their original trackage to the Norfolk Southern line between Honea Path and Belton, SC- and then on to Anderson, SC- some 28 miles total. At Anderson, the Pickens interchanges with CSX, Norfolk Southern and Greenville & Western

Up until that the 1990s expansion, the Pickens had operated with same Baldwin road switcher that the railroad dieselized with in the late 1940s- a second Baldwin was added in the 1970s and an EMD that had since been sold to another Carolinas shortline. With the expansion, the Pickens sidelined the Baldwins for a pair of caterpillar re-engined ALCo S2s. Those were in turn sidelined when the Pickens purchased eight former CSX U18Bs in 2000.

Here, Pickens U18B #9500 is caught by contributor Anthony Davis crossing US Highway 29 just outside of Anderson, SC after picking up a cut of ballast cars from Belton in August 2011. Interestingly, the bright orange paint scheme wasn't from the Pickens. In the late 1990s, CSX set aside their remaining U18Bs (U = General Electric's Universal Series, 18= 1800 hp, B = 4 axles) for MofW service, painting them all in a distinctive orange paint scheme. Pickens simply relettered them shortly after acquiring the GE's from CSX.

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