8 • December 2012
Teen enjoys memorable week at NRHS RailCamp Northwe
(About the author: Grant Lilly is a sophomore at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City, Md., where he is an honor student. In 2011, he attended the NRHS Steamtown RailCamp in Scranton, Pa., on a scholarship sponsored by the Middle Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. Grant has been a member of the Washington, D.C. Chapter NRHS (DCNRHS) since 1997 where he occasionally volunteers on DCNRHS projects. Grant enjoys fishing and ornithology and is an avid fan of the BalGRANT LILLY timore Orioles and Ravens. He also plays the oboe in concert band and percussion in the Mount Hebron Marching Band. Grant has made several trips on Amtrak, ridden many excursion trains and tourist railroads, and been a passenger aboard the DCNRHS Pullman Dover Harbor and restored coach Franklin Inn). By GRANT LILLY Washington D.C. Chapter NRHS This year I was lucky enough to be one of the 12 senior high school students to attend the inaugural NRHS RailCamp Northwest camp in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area July 29-August 5. This was truly one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. The entire week was filled with a variety of experiences that I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy without my enrollment and participation. I predicted on the first day, from the brief encounters I had shared with the other campers and the orientation and general synopsis of the plans for the week, that it would be fantastic. This was a dead-on assumption. Our first event was an interesting and detailed presentation about
the history of Tacoma and how intertwined the railroad was with the development of the city. The week truly started on Monday. Waking up bright and early, we were treated to a ride on The Sounder, Sound Transit’s commuter train to Seattle. We then rode the train into the Amtrak shops in Seattle and were given a detailed tour. This included a walk through a locomotive and a tour of the newly-built engine shops. After this tour, we rode one of Amtrak’s Cascades Talgo trains back to Tacoma. The Talgo is a Spanish-designed and built train that utilizes advanced technology to reduce the need to slow down on turns. Upon arrival, we walked first to the Tacoma Link, the Tacoma lightrail system, where we received a tour of both the electricity controls and the trains themselves. We then walked to the office of the Tacoma Chapter NRHS, where we were given the chance to look over an old map of Tacoma so we could observe how the railroad impacted the growth of the city. Later that evening, we went to a model train museum that represented of the city of Tacoma in the 1950s. After the busy schedule of the previous day, I was not sure that anything could compare. I would quickly learn as the week progressed, however, that it was unfair to compare any two days because each one offered such a different experience. On Tuesday we departed from our dorms at Pacific Lutheran University for Tacoma Rail, the company that deals with an immense number of containers coming in and out of the country via the Port of Tacoma. While we were there, we were provided with many hands-on experiences, starting with a cab ride with their most experienced engineer and conductor crew. The crew switched the cars around the yard, setting up trains that departed later. After returning from the yard, we went up in the tower to learn more about the “office side” of railroad operations. We also had a chance to talk one-on-one with all the employees that help keep the railroad running smoothly from behind their desks. The next part of the day, which consisted of hands-on work with two amazing mechanics, Kasey and Kimo, was the most exciting. They gave us so much knowledge about locomotives and how to keep them running properly that it was mind boggling. In just a short period of time, they taught us how to change a brake shoe, check the oil and change it if needed, and adjust the pistons on a GP-9. They also gave us a tour of the GP-9 on which we were working. I was able to operate it in the yard and couple it to another locomotive so that they could be connected to a train later. On Wednesday, our focus changed from the world of modern maintenance to the world of historic maintenance. We were thrown into the world of train car restoration, renovation, and rehabilitation at the Northwest Railway Museum (NRM) in Snoqualmie, Wash. While we were there, we learned how to replace ties on a track. The first step is pulling out the spikes and tie plates. The next step is digging and sliding out the old tie, then sliding in the new one. Finally, to finish the job, the worker must tamp up the tie to set it against PHOTO BY KEVIN PHALON the rail, spike it back in place and replace the gravel. PUTTING THEIR BACK INTO WORK -- Melissa Bauer, right, and Mitchell SmithBau- Later, we also received an in-depth lesson in couer, left, shovel ballast in order to replace ties at the Northwest Railway Museum. pling and uncoupling a locomotive. In order to do this
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est in Seattle-Tacoma with 11 other high school students
safely, we had to learn many of the hand and arm signals that allow communication between a man on the ground and the engineer such as “come forward,” “back up,” “stop,” and “I’m going in between the car and the engine.” These are very important for the crew to know because it is a simple way to prevent injury. We also learned to operate a switch in the yard and the difference between the restoration, renovation, and rehabilitation processes. To end the day we operated their diesel locomotive and rode in the cab of a locomotive, at one point having to flag a four-lane highway. The next day, Thursday, was our first day at the Mount Rainier ScePHOTO BY KEVIN PHALON nic Railway (MRSR). CLASS PHOTO -- The “Class of 2012” from RailCamp Northwest takes a break for a photo on a After our arrival, the first thing restored diesel at the Northwest Railway Museum. Pictured, left to right, are: Kevin Phalon, James we did was go under a steam loco- Haley, Doug Capuder, James McKinley, Noah Morrison, Tyrus Wood, Mitchell SmithBauer, Jessica motive so we could see how exten- Fleming, Melissa Bauer, Grant Lilly, Erica Bauer and John Grocki. sive its on-going restoration effort the heat of the fire. truly is. It seemed they were rebuilding it almost from scratch. After During the preparation of the locomotive, I helped clean and fill the the insight on their restoration work, we helped an MRSR crew clean sand domes, as well as clean several dirty, gritty oil cans. I also flushed Baldwin steam locomotive No. 70 and prepare it for operation. I was water out of the boiler in an attempt to even up the water temperature. in the cab when they fired the gas-burning engine and was shocked at After we prepared the engine sufficiently, we learned how to replace how fast the cold and humidity in the cab seemed to disappear due to a stretch of rail, which must be done by pulling up all the spikes attached to the rail and removing the anchor on each end, using tongs to pull out the rail. The steps in replacing the new piece of rail were explained, but unfortunately the replacement rail had been expanded by the heat of the sun and was therefore too long, so the job could not be completed. By the time the track work was completed, the boiler pressure in Baldwin 70 was high enough for safe operation, so to end the day each camper received the unforgettable and rare experience of operating a steam locomotive. On Friday, we returned to Snoqualmie, but this time it was to the NRM’s Snoqualmie station because we were to work a public trip that ran from Snoqualmie to North Bend and then to Scenic Snoqualmie Falls. During the portion of the ride from Snoqualmie to PHOTO BY KEVIN PHALON STEAMED UP AND READY TO GO - Baldwin No. 70 awaits departure at the Mount Rainer North Bend, the group of campers I was Scenic Railway public facilities during the visit of the NRHS RailCampers. See TEEN EXPRESSES, Page 15
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Teen expresses thanks to NRHS for RailCamp Northwest experience Continued from Page 9
the week and packed for our early departure the next day. with rode on the vestibule of the back car, which was also the lead The week I spent in the Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., area was of the train. When we arrived at the station at Ridge Bend, the connothing less than life changing. I have made several friends that I ductor called me off the train, handed me his radio, and gave me hope I will remain friends with for a lifetime, and also learned so instructions on how to communicate with the dispatcher to obtain much about trains and railroading that it wouldn’t be possible to permission for the train to leave the station. recall it all in an NRHS News article. Once our group returned to the train, we punched the tickets of It is mostly the hands on experiences that I will remember and all the passengers before returning to our seats and enjoying the will be the most helpful to me if I choose to pursue a career in railscenic ride to the waterfall. roading, but I know that everything else will also have a tremendous After the train returned to Snoqualmie, we drove back to the impact. I am truly thankful for the privilege of attending NRHS NRM, where we participated in two more activities. The first RailCamp Northwest 2012. I know it is a week I will never forget. was restoration work on a 19th century chapel car. We learned how to strip finish off a wall and also to shellac wood. We then each made a small bookshelf with one end including a piece of rail mounted on wood. To complete this project, we had to use many power tools such as sanders and power saws. We also had to countersink a hole to screw into the board and tap a piece of rail. Saturday, our last true day of camp in Washington, included another trip to MRSR, but this time to the public station. Our group of 12 campers split into two groups. My group began the day with an extremely remarkable ride through the scenic Washington Cascades, including an incredible view of Mount Rainier. However, it got even better in the afternoon. Just after lunch, I rode with two other campers in the cab on the first leg of the journey. We enjoyed the thrilling sounds of the locomotive working uphill. On the return trip, we assisted the conductor as he detrained the pasPHOTO BY RICH LUCKIN, INTERMOUNTAIN CHAPTER sengers. Additionally we assisted the passengers of the COLORADO CLASSICS — A classic 1941 Packard model 160 is shown next train in boarding before heading back to our dorms at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colo. next to an equally for the last time. At the dorms, we held a debriefing about historic Colorado & Southern caboose.
Volunteers provide Capitol narration Continued from Page 4 work. Volunteers were scheduled to ride the Capitol Limited every Friday and Saturday between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. The program did suffer from schedule disruptions caused by tunnel work between Pittsburgh and Cumberland for the National Gateway project, which will allow the CSX route to handle double-stack intermodal trains. The Trails & Rails program was suspended for three weeks in August because Amtrak temporarily shifted the schedule for the eastbound Capitol Limited to accommodate tunnel work. Volunteers interacted with diverse groups of passengers, including British tourists, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, bikers, railfans, and Civil War buffs. “The British tourists singing ‘John Brown’s Body’ was definitely a highlight,” commented one volunteer. Rita Knox, park ranger at the Cumberland Visitor CenPHOTO BY CHERI YOST ter of the C&O Canal park, oversaw the program. She said, “The initial season of Trails & Rails on the Capitol Limited SET TO NARRATE – Trails & Rails volunteers Tom Dulz, Bill Hibbard, and Lyle proved very successful. Response from riders and Amtrak Nordstrom await the eastbound Capitol Limited at Cumberland.