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Apr 23 15

Massachusetts & Maine Coast Joins the Saturday Rotation

by Mike Costello

Starting in July, the M&MC will be holding operating sessions for the Second Saturday operating group. I’m looking forward to becoming a permanent host layout in the rotation. There will also be occasional op sessions on some 4th Saturdays. They will be announced via emails as the opportunities arise. Since my layout is only about 40% complete at this time, I can only have around 8 – 10 operators. So the 7 regular Saturday night members and the 3 other host will max out my current capability. For this reason, if you know you can’t make it please let me know and I will contact the spare board to fill out the spots.

Looking forward to the first op session in July. Stay tuned for a possible 4th Saturday session prior to that.

Mike Costello

Mar 23 15


by Webmaster

Oft, when I feel my engine swerve,
As o’er strange rails we fare,
I strain my eyes around the curve
For what awaits us there.
When swift and free she carries me
Through yards unknown at night,
I look along the line to see
That all the lamps are white

The blue light marks the crippled car,
The green light signals slow;
The red light is a danger light,
The white light, “Let her go.”
Again the open fields we roam,
And, when the night is fair,
I look up in the starry dome
And wonder what’s up there.

For who can speak for those who dwell
Behind the curving sky?
No man has ever lived to tell
Just what it means to die.
Swift toward life’s terminal I trend,
The run seems short to-night;
God only knows what’s at the end —
I hope the lamps are white.

Cy Warman. “Will the lights be white?” 1897


Deeply saddened by the news of Don’s passing. Our heart felt condolences to the Howd family.


Dec 24 14


by Carl

A while back I had enough with the way the Atlantic Shoals crews communicate with the train dispatcher and each other. We had been using radio units with head phones for years. As much as I tried to enforce “proper radio procedures” (see rules of the rails) it never failed at each session to hear people talking over each other, causing the train dispatcher, and the owner, to become very frustrated. Has this ever happened to you?:

My battery just went dead, I caught my head set wire and ripped it off my head, my ear hurts, someone is on vox, someone forgot to bring a radio, what       frequency are we using, hey Charlie turn on your radio, at least one person sometimes more, refuse to us the radio, the list goes on.

One day I was looking at the Best Buy web site and came across portable home telephones, VIOLA, a plan was hatched. I found a set of Panasonic phones model KX TGA421 (there are literally 25 other brands and types available) with a base station and 5 extensions. I placed the base station on the train dispatchers desk and located the 5 extensions on the layout near vital locations such as yards and local switching areas. I printed user info and extension numbers on the back of each hand set. Intercom mode requires no hard wiring into the home telephone system, thus making the whole system independent. The whole set cost me about $135.00!


The next OP session was unlike anything I had ever seen! The room was quiet, trains could not talk while in motion as phones are imaginarily only located at switches signals and yard offices. The train dispatcher could not change track authority as he couldn’t call the train. Once a clearance was given the train was gone and unless a problem was encountered en-route, would only call upon arrival at it’s final clearance point. If the train dispatchers phone is busy the caller gets a busy signal. Peace was restored!


I have had the system in use for over six months and everyone loves it. No one has to bring a radio to the Shoals. The instruments are rechargeable and do so while the layout is turned on. Other owners are contemplating a similar system and I hope they follow through. By the way if you need more then 6 phones you can buy two systems, thus 10 handsets and two base stations. If you do this make sure you can change the ring tone on “intercom” as I can’t with my model.


Now if only I could get the operators awaiting assignment to stop hanging around the train dispatcher (a modest crew lounge is in the works) total tranquility may prevail, nah that ain’t gonna happen.



Nov 11 14


by Carl
Nov 3 14

Did you know there was a real Shoals Railroad?

by Carl
Acronym Year Chartered or Incorporated Year Line Operational Year Service Ended Original Starting Point Original Ending Point
WSRR 1905 1905 1985 Shoals Junction, SC Ware Shoals, SC

Built and owned by Southern Railway. Tracks removed 1987.

In the northern part of Greenwood County a textile center developed at Saluda River shoals. Nathaniel Dial of Laurens County and six other investors began construction of a textile mill to be operated by a hydroelectric power station, but they soon encountered financial difficulties. They persuaded Benjamin Riegel of New York to invest in the project. Riegel moved to South Carolina, completed the mill, and built the model town of Ware Shoals for his workers.

The Ware Shoals Railroad was a short line connecting the town of Ware Shoals, SC, to the Southern Railway and the Piedmont & Northern Railway (later Seaboard Coast Line) at Shoals Junction, SC. The train carried goods to and from the textile mill located in Ware Shoals, but its main use was the transportation of coal. The railroad was built in 1905 by the Southern Railway, which supplied locomotives to operate the line with during the steam era. By the late 1950s, the railroad dieselized with a single ex-Southern General Electric 44-ton locomotive, numbered 1955.

The railroad ceased operations in 1985 when the textile mill begin to curtail operations. Trackage was pulled up in 1987.