Iowa Traction

1. It was foggy in Emery, Iowa on the morning of August 22, 2006. As I arrived at the Iowa Traction shop and yard, only an indistinct orange blob gave any indication that any of the railroad's ancient electric locomotives were present. As the fog lifted, little by little, IATR Baldwin-Westinghouse type B steeplecab # 50 came into view. Here it is pictured as the mist retreated into the background.

1. It was foggy in Emery, Iowa on the morning of August 22, 2006. As I arrived at the Iowa Traction shop and yard, only an indistinct orange blob gave any indication that any of the railroad’s ancient electric locomotives were present. As the fog lifted, little by little, IATR Baldwin-Westinghouse type B steeplecab # 50 came into view. Here it is pictured as the mist retreated into the background.

Today, we are featuring more fine photography from guest contributor Kenneth Gear, from a trip he took to Iowa in 2006. We thank him for this, and his many other contributions to this site.

Here is what the Wikipedia says about the Iowa Traction Railway, which is keeping a long tradition of electric freight alive:

The Iowa Traction Railway Company (reporting mark IATR), formerly the Iowa Traction Railroad Company, is an electrically operated common carrier railroad running between Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa, United States, and also serving Rorick Park near Mason City. It can trace its roots back to the Mason City and Clear Lake Railway, which was founded in 1896. The shops were situated in Emery, the midpoint between the two namesake towns. Passenger service began on July 4, 1897. Freight has been the major source of income since the beginning and has been the only source since the charter for trolley service in Mason City expired August 30, 1936. The Mason City and Clear Lake Railway’s name was revised slightly to Mason City and Clear Lake Railroad in 1950, when new owners took over.

The name was changed to Iowa Terminal Railroad in 1961 when new owners from Michigan took over. They acquired the Charles City Western on December 31, 1963. The Charles City Division was dieselized after a tornado destroyed much of the overhead wire on May 15, 1968. Several years later the remaining trackage at Charles City was abandoned. Meanwhile, the Mason City Division continued to operate as usual. The Charles City equipment was transferred to Mason City to replace equipment burned in the November 24, 1967 shop fire. On April 13, 1987, the Iowa Terminal Railroad was sold to Dave Johnson and renamed to Iowa Traction Railroad.

Today, the Iowa Traction continues to actively operate the track between its Emery headquarters (southwest of Mason City) and the Clear Lake Junction with Union Pacific Railroad. Though track exists beyond Emery to Interstate 35 in the west and from Clear Lake Junction to 15th Street Southeast in Mason City to the east, the active portion is Emery to Clear Lake Junction.

2. IATR # 51 with the car barn in the background.

2. IATR # 51 with the car barn in the background.

3. Iowa Traction # 50 at Emery. It was built in 1920 for the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad.

3. Iowa Traction # 50 at Emery. It was built in 1920 for the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad.

4. Iowa Traction # 50 at Emery 8/22/06.

4. Iowa Traction # 50 at Emery 8/22/06.

5. Iowa Traction # 51 in the Emery IA yard. #51 was built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in 1921 for the Northeastern Oklahoma Railway. 8/22/06.

5. Iowa Traction # 51 in the Emery IA yard. #51 was built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in 1921 for the Northeastern Oklahoma Railway. 8/22/06.

6 & 7. Iowa Traction interurban coach # 727 (formerly Chicago North shore & Milwaukee # 102) is just inside the Emery Car barn on August 25, 2006.

6 & 7. Iowa Traction interurban coach # 727 (formerly Chicago North shore & Milwaukee # 102) is just inside the Emery Car barn on August 25, 2006.

7

8. IATR interurban car # 727 is all decked out with flags and marker lamps because it will be out and running the next day on a fan trip, the "Mason City Limited". Unfortunately my travel plans did not allow for me to remain in Mason City for another day so I missed seeing this classic interurban running down the rails. August 25, 2006.

8. IATR interurban car # 727 is all decked out with flags and marker lamps because it will be out and running the next day on a fan trip, the “Mason City Limited”. Unfortunately my travel plans did not allow for me to remain in Mason City for another day so I missed seeing this classic interurban running down the rails. August 25, 2006.

9. IATR # 54 was built in 1923 for the Southern Iowa Railroad. Here it is inside the Emery shop.

9. IATR # 54 was built in 1923 for the Southern Iowa Railroad. Here it is inside the Emery shop.

10. Iowa Traction Steeplecab # 51 and Interurban car # 727 inside the shop at Emery.

10. Iowa Traction Steeplecab # 51 and Interurban car # 727 inside the shop at Emery.

11, 12, & 13. Iowa Traction # 51 at night in the yard at Emery, IA The sky being illumined by bright flashes of lightning. Soon a thunder storm rolled through cutting short my attempts at night photography. 8/25/06

11, 12, & 13. Iowa Traction # 51 at night in the yard at Emery, IA The sky being illumined by bright flashes of lightning. Soon a thunder storm rolled through cutting short my attempts at night photography. 8/25/06

12

13

14. Iowa Traction flanger # 32 at Emery, IA

14. Iowa Traction flanger # 32 at Emery, IA

15. Iowa Traction snow plow # 40 at Emery, IA.

15. Iowa Traction snow plow # 40 at Emery, IA.

16. Iowa Traction Steeplecab # 60 is dwarfed by the silos at the AGP soybean processing plant. Mason City, IA. 8/22/06

16. Iowa Traction Steeplecab # 60 is dwarfed by the silos at the AGP soybean processing plant. Mason City, IA. 8/22/06

17. IATR # 60 pulls a cut of hoppers away from the AGP plant at Mason City.

17. IATR # 60 pulls a cut of hoppers away from the AGP plant at Mason City.

18. Iowa Traction Baldwin-Westinghouse type C steeplecab # 60 switching cars at the Mason City AGP plant. This locomotive was built in 1917 for the Youngstown & Ohio River as their # 5.

18. Iowa Traction Baldwin-Westinghouse type C steeplecab # 60 switching cars at the Mason City AGP plant. This locomotive was built in 1917 for the Youngstown & Ohio River as their # 5.

19. IATR # 60 moves light over the 19th Street SW crossing in Mason City. This locomotive remains in revenue service to this day and it was built in 1917. Next year it will be 100 years old and still going strong!

19. IATR # 60 moves light over the 19th Street SW crossing in Mason City. This locomotive remains in revenue service to this day and it was built in 1917. Next year it will be 100 years old and still going strong!

20. Number 60 takes yet another string of hoppers away from the AGP plant. 8/22/06

20. Number 60 takes yet another string of hoppers away from the AGP plant. 8/22/06

21. Steeplecab # 60 also worked for Iowa Traction predecessor Mason City & Clear Lake as # 52. In 1961 the MC&CL was sold and renamed Iowa Terminal. In 1987 abandonment was close at hand when it was purchased by local interests and renamed again, this time to Iowa Traction. The word "traction" was included in the new name so there would be no doubt that the line would remain electric

21. Steeplecab # 60 also worked for Iowa Traction predecessor Mason City & Clear Lake as # 52. In 1961 the MC&CL was sold and renamed Iowa Terminal. In 1987 abandonment was close at hand when it was purchased by local interests and renamed again, this time to Iowa Traction. The word “traction” was included in the new name so there would be no doubt that the line would remain electric

22. Here is one last shot of IATR # 60 hauling a cut of cars at AGP in Mason City on August 22, 2006.

22. Here is one last shot of IATR # 60 hauling a cut of cars at AGP in Mason City on August 22, 2006.

23. August 25, 2006 was grey and overcast in Mason City but the sight of a 1917 built steeplecab electric locomotive in revenue service sure brighten up the day. Cloudy weather afforded the opportunity to get a shot of # 60 leaving AGP from the opposite side.

23. August 25, 2006 was grey and overcast in Mason City but the sight of a 1917 built steeplecab electric locomotive in revenue service sure brighten up the day. Cloudy weather afforded the opportunity to get a shot of # 60 leaving AGP from the opposite side.

24. Steeplecab electric locomotives aren't the only ancient pieces of railroad equipment used on the Iowa Traction. In Mason City this old semaphore signal protects the IATR crossing of the Union Pacific Railroad. 8/26/06.

24. Steeplecab electric locomotives aren’t the only ancient pieces of railroad equipment used on the Iowa Traction. In Mason City this old semaphore signal protects the IATR crossing of the Union Pacific Railroad. 8/26/06.


New Book Project

We are now working on a new paperback book Chicago Trolleys, that we expect will be published in 2017. Original research does cost money, so please consider making a donation to cover our costs. We will keep you updated as we progress, and thank you in advance for your help.


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 169th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 226,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a contribution there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

New Railroad Record Club Discs

RRC23

Trolley Dodger Records
is making considerable progress towards our goal of releasing the entire output of the long-gone Railroad Record Company on compact discs. Today, we announce the availability of six more RRC LPs in digital form. Now there are just seven remaining RRC LPs that we are still looking for (see the list at the end of this post).

We have found several of these titles thanks to the generosity of collector Kenneth Gear.

Most of the 40 or so RRC discs were 10″ records with a running time of about 30 minutes apiece. Therefore, we have paired up various RRC recordings, since two will fit on a single CD. So, today we are offering three new CD collections. One previous release has been expanded.

Perhaps the rarest Railroad Record Company LP of them all is #23, Pennsylvania Trolleys. This disc showcases two of the smaller trolley systems in the Keystone State, as they existed in the early 1950s– Altona & Logan Valley and Johnstown Traction. We are excited to add this to our list of available titles as one of the “crown jewels” of the RRC collection, of which there are many.

This has been paired with RRC #30, Sound Scrapbook – Traction. This includes additional recordings from Johnstown Traction and the Altoona & Logan Valley, and adds to them the Rochester Subway, the old US Senate Subway, Grand River Railway, and Scranton Transit.

It’s worth noting that Johnstown Traction car 311, featured on these recordings, is now preserved at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

Even by 1953-54, when these recordings were made, it was apparent that the traction era in many of the smaller cities of Pennsylvania was fast coming to an end. The last Altoona & Logan Valley streetcar ran on August 7, 1954, and the final Scranton trolley on December 18, 1954. Johnstown, the smallest US city ever to purchase new PCC streetcars, was the last to go on June 11, 1960.

Today, there is an effort underway by the Electric City Trolley Museum to restore Scranton car 505, an “Electromobile” built in 1929 by Osgood-Bradley. Its sister car 506 can be heard operating in Scranton on these recordings.

The Altoona & Logan Valley recordings on discs 23 and 30 feature car 74, which was also an Osgood-Bradley Electromobile, built in 1930. There is a picure of the car on Don’s Rail Photos:

Unless you are a Canadian traction fan, you may not know much about the Grand River Railway, an Ontario electric interurban. Passenger service was abandoned on April 23, 1955. While we do not know when the Grand River audio was recorded for RRC disc #30, most likely it was around this time. There were two final fantrips, the last of which took place on May 1, 1955. Electric freight service continued until October 1, 1961. According to the Wikipedia, parts of the old Grand River right-of-way are going to be used in the next few years for light rail.

RRC LP #28, with both Charles City Western and Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern, has been added to our previous CD release of #11, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, a Cleveland area interurban.

Some of the cars on this CD are also preserved. Charles City Western car 50, now 100 years old, still operates in Iowa on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railway & Museum. Box motor OX is at the Northern Ohio Railway Museum. SHRT car 306 (formerly of the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric) is now being restored at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Sadly, WCF&N car 100, which survived that interurban operation, was itself destroyed in an unfortunate fire on November 24, 1967 at the Iowa Terminal Railroad. As Don’s Rail Photos notes, “It had been the only car saved from the WCF&N roundhouse fire on October 31, 1954, when the other two cars of its class burned.” While the car itself is gone, at least these audio recordings remain.

Turning to steam, we have paired RRC LPs #03 and 16, since they are both narrow gauge recordings. These feature the Denver, Rio Grande & Western, East Broad Top Railroad, and the Westside Lumber Company.

RRC #20, which mainly features New York Central steam from the early 1950s, was almost entirely recorded in the state of Illinois. Here is where these records bring some unexpected personal stories to light.

The late William A. Steventon, founder of the Railroad Record Club, was the son of a railroad man. This record includes audio of his father operating a New York Central steam engine for the very last time in his career.

Although the RRC was based out of Hawkins, Wisconsin, Steventon himself grew up in Mt. Carmel, Illinois, in the southern part of the state, very close to the Indiana border. Therefore it should be no surprise that Steventon’s voice, as featured in the narration on the East Broad Top recordings, has a decided southern Indiana twang.

The liner notes to the Altoona & Logan Valley recordings were written by Walter Evans, who was blind from birth, but very much tuned in to the sound of Altoona trolleys. His recollections of these streetcars dated back to 1916.

I did some Internet searches and determined that Mr. Evans was born in 1910 and died in 1999, apparently living his whole life in the Altoona, Pennsylvania area. He taught at a school for the blind and retired in 1975 after having done this for 31 years.

RRC #20, which also has steam recordings of the Chicago & Illinois Midland in addition to New York Central, has been paired with an LP called Railroad Sounds. This late 1950s release came from another obscure and long defunct small record label, and includes both steam and diesel sounds from the Illinois Central.

Following up on an earlier post, one of our readers reports that the model of Chicago Surface Lines car 7001 was imported to this country by Ken Kidder. You can read more about his line of models here. Apparently, Mr. Kidder worked in the shoe department of a San Francisco department store. He was, it seems, more concerned with getting these fine models into people’s hands than he was in making money.

We are still looking for the following Railroad Record Club recordings, which are needed to complete our collection:

#19 – Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range
#21 – Duluth & Northeastern
#22 – Buffalo Creek & Gauley
#31 – Sound Scrapbook – Steam
#32 – New York Central
#33, 34 – South Shore Line (freight)

All other RRC recordings, including LPs #1-19, 20, 23-30, 35-36, plus Special releases 1-6, are available now in our Online Store. These come with free shipping within the United States.

-David Sadowski

RRC30


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 96th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we received more than 91,000 page views from more than 26,800 individuals.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.


RRC23 RRC30

RRC #23 and 30
Pennsylvania Trolleys
Sound Scrapbook – Traction
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Record #23:
Car No. 311 of the Johnstown Traction Company running in city streets, going over switches, and the thump of the compressor. You can almost “feel” the sway of the car over low joints! Side Two is car No. 74 of the Altoona and Logan Valley on track work in Altoona.

Johnstown Traction car 311 is now preserved at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania.

Record #30:
A wide selection of traction sounds including Rochester Subway, Senate Subway, Grand River Railway, Scranton Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley and the Johnstown Traction Company compressors, air horns, flange squeal, and even trolley seats being turned.

Total time – 61:22


Screen Shot 05-06-15 at 12.28 AMRRC28

RRC #11 and 28
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit
Charles City Western
Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Record #11:
Shades of the past with Shaker Heights Rapid Transit Nos. 30 and 306 sporting air horns and whistles from the Lake Shore Electric and Cincinnati & Lake Erie. Box Motor OX on rusty rail with lots of whistling. Even line car 101 puts in its appearance! If you like traction, you’ll like this.

Record #28:
An “on train” recording of Charles City Western No. 50 on the Colwell branch. A whistle that varies in pitch, controller notching and motor hum. Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern city car 381 leaving the Waterloo station for Cedar Falls. Also loco 184 and compressors on No. 100.

Total time – 64:45


RRC03 RRC16

RRC #03 and 16
East Broad Top Railroad and Coal Company
Denver and Rio Grande Western
Westside Lumber Company
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Record #03:
Trackside recordings of the East Broad Top while it was still a common carrier. Scenes from Rockhill Furnace to Robertsdale, including an upgrade struggle near Kimmel. Side Two is a trackside scene of No. 499 and 481 fighting upgrade at Cumbres Pass on the Denver and Rio Grande Western.

Record #16:
The exhaust of a Shay is soft and rapid. Here are soft, stuttering exhausts and whistles echoing along rocky hills. This is lumber transport in rough country with Westside Lumber Company Nos. 8, 9, and 10 picturing the indestructible Shay in action!

Total time – 68:48


RRC20CoverRRSounds

RRC #20 and RRS
New York Central
Chicago and Illinois Midland
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Record #20:
New York Central locomotives 5382, 1599, 3140 and an “on train” switching scene at Cairo, Illinois on the 1441. Side Two is Chicago & Illinois Midland No. 701 southbound, and the No. 540 switching. Gulf, Mobile & Ohio diesel No. 1110 presents an unusual program with the 540.

Record #RRS:
The steam and diesel sounds of a vanishing era… they become dimmer and dimmer as the sounds of a new and greater power age grow to be more of a reality with every passing day. They are part of the romance of America that will always be with us, in spite of atomic power and new technical wonders. for here, through the process of full frequency range recording, every nuance of this sound world of railroading is captured with earth-shaking dynamism. Here is a galvanic auditory experience for high fidelity enthusiasts to enjoy as they contemplate the rich pageantry of railroading and its mighty impact on the growth of an industrial world. Featuring the sounds of the New Orleans Division of the Illinois Central Railroad.

Total time – 55:37