Who owns the diamond?

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On a recent trainwatching adventure, I talked with an NS track foreman who was doing maintenance work on the diamond at Crawford, FL. This is where the EX-SAL Baldwin-Callahan line crosses the EX-SOU JAX-Valdosta line. I asked how it's decided who maintains an at-grade crossing to which he replied,"it's whoever got there second. The railroad who laid tracks over an existing line is responsible for the upkeep of the diamond." Can anyone confirm or dispute this? I'm guessing the NS has maintenance duties at Crawford because the G,S&F (SOU,NS) got there after the FLorida RR (SAL,SCL,CSX) ? As always thanks very much for any info. Danny Harmon Tampa

-- Danny Harmon (Distsig@aol.com), January 06, 2001


FYI the diamond at Crawford is indeed in good use, it is the ex-GS&F main from Valdosta to Simpson Yard in Jax. I believe the maintenance is mutualy agreed upon, each may maintain it on a rotating basis.

-- walt rogers (wjriii@gte.net), June 07, 2001.

Larry Goolsby suggested via email that the senior railroad not only gets paid but also gets to dictate the design of the tower. He went on to say that he recalled seeing wording to this effect in some of the AB&C/ACL contracts he reviewed while researching his AB&C book. He suggested that there are likely contracts between the ACL & SAL regarding this same subject in the ICC archives in Washington DC. This could explain the interlocking tower exceptions noted above.

-- Buddy Hill (palmettoLTD@hotmail.com), January 08, 2001.

BTW-in looking up the rules of crossings at grade, I noticed in a line regarding Register stations-the requirement for crews to use a form 329 1/2 properly filled out. I guess forms 329 and 330 were already used for other purposes and this form had to be placed in its proper location!

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), January 08, 2001.

The Norfolk Southern Railway came long after ACL and its preedecessor Wilmington & Weldon. At Wilson Tower, NS supplied the operators and maintained the diamond. An NS maintenance man was welding the frogs when an ACL freight slipped up. It wasn't a near miss, but the welder thought he needed protection against the ACL traffic. He approached the operator and the operator contacted the ACL dispatcher. As the dispatcher transmitted the order, the NS operator copied for benefit of the welder. It read in part: "Reduce speed to 70 seventy MPH over NS crossing Wilson".

-- Harry Bundy (y6b@aol.com), January 08, 2001.

Harry is correct. The second road at the crossing was responsible for bearing the costs of the construction and maintenance of the crossing. If a tower was required, then the secondary road was responsible for bearing those costs. Depending upon the relative split of traffic, the costs may have been proportioned, but in most cases, the second road bore the majority of the costs. Some busy towers were jointly staffed, with duties shared on a regular basis- from monthly to yearly.

As for priority of trains, it was a case of who pays the wages. If the towerman was an employee of the ACL, he would give priority to ACL trains, even though SAL paid his wages. The towerman did not get a check from SAL-SAL paid ACL an amount equal to his wages, plus an amount covering his overhead costs-vacation, health care, insurance, etc. This overhead cost was at least equal to the wage amount, and in most cases was almost double the amount. Keeping track of this kept several clerks busy at headquarters-which explains why each railroad had an army of clerks.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), January 08, 2001.

MISTER HILL: I'll tell you right away, I don't know the answer. I suspect that the junior road did have the obligation to maintain, build and staff the crossing. However, I suspect the agree= ment between the intersecting railroads was the governing factor. I was a leverman at an inter- locking for the senior line. The junior line had built the tower, maintained the crossing, but reimbursed the senior road for only 90% of the levermen wages. Apparently the thought was that the senior line derived a 10% benefit by having their employees staffing the tower.

-- Harry Bundy (y6b@aol.com), January 07, 2001.

I am sorely mistaken... i was referring to the southern railway crossing of the SAL at lawtey... my bad

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), January 07, 2001.

As information, I believe the diamond Troy is thinking of is at Lake City where the NS crossed the SAL Tallahassee line. The crossing at Crawford, FL is alive and well. In December, 2000 I watched four NS trains pound across. Thanks,

-- Danny Harmon (Distsig@aol.com), January 07, 2001.

Troy: Unless I am thinking of another diamond (the one I'm thinking about is at Crawford which is 5 miles or so "south-southwest" of Callahan), the diamond mentioned by Danny Harmon was operational as late as May 1997, which was the last time I was down that way. As a matter of fact, I shot some video and have on tape an NS train crossing the diamond.

-- Raymond Smith (wwf_shirley@hotmail.com), January 07, 2001.

I've always read and heard the same thing. Not sure if this is related but I also read in the "good old days" where the second railroad was also responsible for building and manning the interlocking tower. However there are examples where that doesn't hold true. At the Callahan,FL SAL/ACL crossing, the SAL was the junior railroad, but the interlocking was controlled from an ACL tower. The same situation occurred at the ACL/SAL crossing in Charleston, SC (Town Creek Tower)- yet one quarter mile away at the SAL/Sou crossing, junior railroad SAL built and manned the tower. Seems either the senior railroad had the option to control the interlocking or the railroad with the busier line controled the crossing-hopefully someone (Mr.Bundy?)can clarify how that was determined and what effect it had on who maintained the actual trackwork. As a side note, in the case of Charleston's Town Creek Tower, I recall my grandfather saying the ACL towermen always gave preference to ACL trains over SAL trains.

-- Buddy Hill (palmettoLTD@hotmail.com), January 06, 2001.

I was unaware that that diamond was even still in existance... the NS trackage from lake city -> palatka was removed in 1989... and NS now gets to Palatka over CSX former ACL line... i dont see why the diamond would stil be there

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), January 06, 2001.

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