Thursday, March 26, 2015

Today's Train Of Thought- Batten Down the Hatches! March 26th, 2015

With today's train of thought, we bid farewell to a particularly eventful and record-setting winter with this Christmas-card like scene in a quiet corner of upstate New York.

Interchanging with Pan-Am's former Boston & Maine Fitchburg Main at the tiny hamlet of Eagle Bridge, NY, the Batten Kill operates some 30 miles of track in rural Washington County on the ex-Delaware & Hudson 'Slatepicker' line between Eagle Bridge and Salem, NY [which used to run further north to Rutland, VT- NANESB!] as well as the former Greenwich & Johnsonville line between Greenwich and Greenwich Jct, NY.

The primary source of traffic for the Batten Kill is a feed mill around Greenwich Jct, but in recent years the line has also made some extra money storing freight cars on the seldom-used line to Salem during the economic downturn. Up until 10 years ago, the Batten Kill also offered passenger excursions and an intact-but-disused line to the eastern shore of the Hudson at Thomson from Greenwich once made it an attractive candidate for hauling unit trains of PCB contaminated sludge from the river as part of a multi-year dredging project undertaken by GE.

The railroad is best known among northeastern railfans for their historic all-ALCo roster, though. Technically the railroad owns three RS3 roadswitchers- the youngest of which is 62 years old. BKRR #605 started out life on the Lehigh and Hudson River before winding up in Vermont- first as part of the St Johnsbury and Lamoille County and then the Vermont Railway- before being sold to the Batten Kill upon its 1982 formation. The Batten Kill also inherited RS3 #4116 from predecessor Greenwich & Johnsonvlle and is still painted in the orange and black scheme. The third RS3 was also purchased secondhand from the Vermont railway and is kept as a parts supply behind the Greenwich enginehosue.

However, the Batten Kill has also been known to borrow motive power from the nearby Vermont Railway, Canadian Pacific or Pan Am if there are problems with the #605 and #4116 simultaneously or the enginehouse has been cut off from the rest of the line. Most recently, a burly Pan Am SD40-2 was brought in to help the two ALCo raodswitchers with removing more than 40 COFC spine cars that were in storage on the line in February 2015.

Here, Batten Kill #605 is seen with the tiny railroad's flanger at the Pan-Am interchange in Eagle Bridge, NY in the last rays of sunlight on Valentine's Day 2014. According to photographer Colin Buckoski, the #605 headed down with the flanger to clear the line and headed back to the feed mill in Greenwich Jct with five cars from Pan-Am later on that night.

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