Thursday, November 27, 2014


Thanksgiving at the shore as usual.   A recent nor'easter had uncovered some railroad tracks buried in the sand at Cape May Point, so we shifter our Thanksgiving Day walk on the beach from Avalon to Cape May.    The tracks were associated with a sand mining plant at the point which closed in the 60's or 70's.  Sand was dug along the beach and hauled by rail to the wash plant and rail car loader located about a 1/4 mile east from these tracks.  The plant was effectively the southern end of the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines trackage.  Located in the dunes, a hundred feet or so from the ocean, you couldn't really go any further south in New Jersey.     This looks to be only a section of track and not a continuous line that got buried.  My guess is either a storm buried the track and they just removed the unburied trackage and shifted the line, or they were in the process of moving the track sections to mine another strip of beach and this one got caught in a storm.    It looks narrow gauge in this shot, but the rail has just shifted off the ties.    The section of rail is in a tidal outflow which generates mini-rapids during the outgoing tide.    Who knows how long it will be before it is covered again

Sunday, November 2, 2014


A few weeks ago I received an announcement from Wayne Cole that his newest Ghost Rails - Volume XI was finished and available for purchase.   Like Volume X this is another large hardbound box devoted mostly to the steel industry in the Shenango Valley.    I promptly ordered and received a copy last week.

If you aren't familiar with these books, Mr. Cole I believe self-publishes them.  Most are related to forgotten railroads, traction lines, and industry in western PA/easter OH.   Because they are self published I've heard some criticism on things like photo quality, organization and editing, and lack of maps and visual aids.  These are valid issues - Mr. Cole even goes so far as to acknowledge them.  In his preface he writes: "Volume 11 is complex and confusing in areas" and suggests having the content guide and a topo map handy while reading.   Despite this, these books have been my favorite steel industry related reading.  The books are full of photos and descriptions of processes and rail movements within the mills.   At a base level, this is what I personally want to know about the steel industry.   For example, the history of a certain mill, say a rolling mill is interesting - when it was built, who designed it,,...etc...  but I also want to know how the raw steel for that mill is delivered and handled, and how the rolled products are shipped and where too.  These books are full of this sort of info.  So far I've leafed through twice and read most of the captions and looked at the photos.  Like Volume X it will take me a month or two to really go through the book.  Well done again Mr. Cole.

Forthcoming Volumes are to cover Youngstown (XII) and Warren (XIV)