Modeling the Seaboard : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Here's a question for many of you out there to consider. If you were to model the Seaboard Air Line, circa 1963-65, which line or line segment would you say had the best scenery, with a good traffic mix (freight and passenger) and some operational interest?

-- John V. Pasquariello (GRIZZLETOAD@AOL.COM), February 22, 2001


In the 1980s,SCL at least once tried using pushers North out of Raleigh to boost unit coal trains (Wheelwright - Petersburg?)up the grade towards Wake Forest. A railfan friend that lived in North Raleigh said that they used two crews instead of slave units like Southern and that they had a problem co-ordinating movements. He could hear the slack running in and out two blocks away at his house. The pusher idea didn't last long.

-- Richard Lasater (, June 15, 2001.

Your Seaboard modelling question reminded me of why I model the area I do. I like things like oil spills down the middle of the track and trash near the mainline (both human and otherwise) kidding! I really pride myself on the "scenery" along my route. I wanted to pick the worst-looking, most economically-depressed state that the Seaboard operated in and I wanted to have my layout represent 1964. That way I could get in some low-nose power to go along with my first- generation stuff. 1964 seems like a good transitional year because the new green 50' boxcars were coming out, but there was still a lot of the old 40' stuff left. I operate a fictional "subsidiary" of the SAL that has terrible and most-unflattering initials. I consider my "creation" a dismal success, and I have better operational interest on it than in any layout I've yet had.

-- David L. (Bud)Leggett (leggettd@dartnet.peachnet), June 09, 2001.

South from Raleigh Tower, it's 1.08% uphill to Pullen Park. This isn't exactly a Saluda, but in the early 50's, I did see an SAL Santa Fe as a pusher.

There's also a pimple northbound between Aberdeen and Southern Pines. Norfolk Southern's No. 39 had arrived at Aberdeen one morning and was switching when an SAL conductor came over to ask for help. His northbound freight had stalled on the hill. Arrangements were made with the SAL dispatcher. The NS shoved the SAL train to Southern Pines and the dispatcher protected the NS movement back to Aberdeen. Today, that would result in several bushel baskets of penalty time claims. Tonnage ratings for Q-3's were quoted "With Helper over Southern Pines Hill -- 2500 tons"

-- Harry Bundy (, March 03, 2001.

There were some good grades and several interchanges in the Sandhills of North and South Carolina. The Seaboard North-South passenger trains used this route. Golf courses, too. The Petersburg idea already mentioned has a lot of stuff in a small area.

-- Tommy Arthur (, March 01, 2001.

I love this web site! One answer raises three questions which then raises even more!. In my statement yesterday, I did not mean to imply that PRR units never ran south of Jax-I have seen photos of them south of there, especially after the FEC strike, which caused a massive disruption in locomotive utilization. I meant as a regular thing-day in day out. PRR and ACL had mileage equalization agreements- based on what I was able to dig out so far. These applied for runs between Jax and Chicago. ACL did not like to have its units go to Chicago-they would then be subject to the not so tender mercies of PRR maintenance. I remeber talking about this one day in Jax in 1963 with representatives of Jax Union Terminal. They indicated that typically, PRR power stayed north of Jax, and that ACL ran its own units south of there.

Now as for the days after the strike-massive chaos. ACL was suddenly forced to find power for trains which were turned over to the FEC and which used FEC power. The rule then was if it ran-run it.

As for AMTRAK, in the early days there were no rules and anything went. Previous locomotive operating districts were wiped out and new ones established. Also, by that time, most of the train control/train stop/ cab signal installations had been de-commissioned, with the exceptions of the IC and RF&P.

What would be interesting is to find copies of the run through/mileage equalization agreements between IC-CofG-ACL, and ACL- L&N-PRR for use of locomotives.

Secondly-as for SEABOARD modeling-Seaboard purchased several FEC lightweights which were in City of Miami service. Initially, they kept the orange and chocolate, except they had a "Seaboard" replacing the previous City of Miami. Now did they run on the City as such, and if so, who did the SAL lease the cars to? Any photos of these cars in City service lettered Seaboard? So, if some misguided modeling company every puts out a Seaboard car in Orange and Chocolate-there were precedents!

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, February 27, 2001.

To elaborate on Michael's answer regarding the possibility of PRR E units south of Jax., Yes! They did operate on the South Wind south of Jacksonville. I am not sure if they every showed up on the FEC but but I saw them on the Seaboard (after the FEC strike) on several occasions.

-- Jim Coviello (, February 26, 2001.

Wow! This is really turning into something. I have to look at some topo maps of the regions listed in all these E-mails.I was wondering, were there any helper districts on the Seaboard? I have track charts of most of the system, courtesy of the Society, and the steepest mainline grades I've seen are less than 2%, mostly on the line to Atlanta/Birmingham. Grades usually mean nice scenery. I'd rather model the main line to Florida. Are there any other decent grades on that route?

-- John V. Pasquariello (GRIZZLETOAD@AOL.COM), February 26, 2001.

Actually,the first L&N E units I ever saw south of Jacksonville. On the first Amtrak run of the "South Wind" two of them lead the train into Auburndale.The lead unit was suppose to go to St.Pete and the trailing unit to Miami,but some sort of trouble caused them to reverse the move.This was on May 2,1971.What really amazed me,one of the units had been painted at Mobile on April,28,1971! Just four days prior.Which meant it went all the way north,just to come south again on a different route.

-- J.Oates (, February 26, 2001.

Regarding the City of Miami-IC was very particular about their trains and insisted that everything be painted in their colors. This applied to not only the City of Miami, but the Seminole also. Several ACL and FEC lightweight cars were painted in IC colors, as were some of C of G's lightweight carss. Similarly, several ACL heavyweights were painted in IC colors. As for locomotives,several C of G units were apinted in IC colors, and in some cases, made it as far a Souix City on the IC! IC repainted the NP sleeper-domes it leased every winter to its colors and then back to NP paint after the lease.

I am sure that rarely a non IC color scheme C of G unit made it to the City or the seminole, but that was due to operational emergencies and was not a normal thing. IC units ran down to Miami regularly. I have seen PRR and L&N units in Jax, but I do not think that they ran south of there. ACL and PRR had a mileage equalization scheme, where ACL units ran to Chicago on the South Wind, but L&N did not have many E-units to spare and it was rare to see an L&N unit too far off its road. Train control was not an issue. L&N had cab signals betwen Etowah Tenn. and Corbin Ky., as well as between Mobile and New Orleans ( per the 1923 ICC orders-two indication cab signals-red and green). These were not on the South Wind's route. PRR territory did not have cab signals, nor did the portion of the ACL north of Jax have train stop. IC did have cab signals between Champiagn and Branch Jct. Ill. This required that all leading units have operable cab signals. The C of G units were equipped with IC cab signals, and thus could operate in the lead on the IC. (This also explains why these C of G units also appeared on the IC's western route as it to was equipped with cab signals between Waterloo and Ft. Dodge Iowa. Interestingly, the IC system was similar to the L&N system as both were by Union Switch and signal, and were two aspect systems. IC did not utilize wayside permissive signals in their territory however. This is probably the reason why there were no ACL units painted in the IC scheme. ACL units already had the GRS inductive train stop, some also had the RF&P cab signal system after 1964, and the addition of yet another type of system would have been too much.

More on this in a future article in Lines South.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, February 26, 2001.

Hi John, I've been planning to model the Petersburg, VA area for years (although I don't have a current layout). Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time! I chose Petersburg ca. 1950 because the area has interchanges with N&W and ACL, has nice scenery and has both an industrial and small-town "feel" to it, plus offers the possibility of modeling almost all of SAL's big passenger and through-freight trains. In earlier times there were also lumber railroads, inter-urban lines, and narrow-gauge lines which crossed and/or interchanged with SAL in the area which further enhanced operations. Generally, I feel the best areas to model are those smaller main-line towns with interchanges, such as Aberdeen NC, Athens GA, Petersburg VA, etc. I'd say the area north of Raleigh and west of Hamlet offer the best scenery, operations, interchange and point of interest for your railroad. Good luck! JG

-- John Golden (, February 24, 2001.

Good point Joe, on the L&N units. I can't say I remember seeing one on the South Wind but L&N equipment did run on the SW. Anyone out there have a photo or memory of L&N units on the SW in Florida? Also, as for CofGA, they had a few E units painted like IC's to match the City of Miami. Does anyone have evidence that they ever used the other CofGA units on the Miami?

-- Jim Coviello (, February 24, 2001.

Well.I try to model that era and location,with some slight discourse. I model,roughly,1955-1966.Jacksonville Terminal,Wildwood,Tampa,Auburndale.I have E4's and SDP35's, and JGJ GP40's that do not go together,therefore,they can be used in different time periods.I want people to look at my layout and say,that's Wildwood or Tampa,etc. I love passenger trains and can model trains that ran on the FEC prior to the strike in 1963.I have PRR,IC,FEC,RF&P,ACL,MKT,SOU and SAL E units.Also,NP and B&O domes,L&N sleeper-obs and lots of other passenger cars that ran to Florida.No,it is not mountains or plains but it is still pretty.BTW,as far as I know L&N units did not run into south Florida.

-- Joseph Oates (, February 23, 2001.

I suppose is all depends on your primary interest. If you like passenger then, for this time period, the best place would be anywhere south of Aburndale. Where else could locomotives of all these railroads be represented on the same track prototypically?: SAL, ACL, IC, PRR, RF&P, L&N, CofGA. As far as operation goes, how about 12 passenger trains per day on single track with CTC passing sidings? Not to mention long Freights and Local turns. Scenery? Not much but you won't have to deal with all those mountains, hills, rock cuts, and trees on a typical layout. There were lots of varied industries in S Florida to keep your freight crews busy all night: Citrus, Phosphate, building materials, feed, cement, TT's, Car depots, Chemical, Warehouse, Ports, etc. To me, this is the perfect railfan's model railroad setting. I have been thinking about this for several years now and someday I'll bite the bullet and get started on mine.

-- Jim Coviello (, February 22, 2001.

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