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Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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   Author  Topic: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19  (Read 275 times)
ehbowen
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Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« on: Sep 3rd, 2015, 12:24am »
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As a volunteer at the Galveston Railroad Museum, I have been invited to come along as a passenger on their upcoming special train from Galveston to Bellville, TX (and return) via Rosenberg.
 
This train is a kind of "dry run" for a possible hurricane evacuation scenario. Hurricane Ike devastated the museum's collection back in 2008, so for the past few years emergency preparations have centered around the idea that in the event another major hurricane threatens the Museum will hook all of its equipment that is capable of running up to its own locomotives and haul it off the island to a safe parking location 25 or 30 miles inland. In order to pull this off the Museum has been doing more than simply putting on fresh paint; for those exhibits that are capable of operating they are greasing axle bearings, testing brakes, and performing the other maintenance that the host railroad requires to run in a "hospital train".
 
This excursion coming up on September 19th is kind of a dry run for familiarization although they are not running the freight and other exhibits. The rolling stock will be the Museum's two "Warbonnet" engines; actually two ex-SP F7 units which were repainted into the ATSF Warbonnet paint scheme (under license from BNSF). They have been rebuilt with new prime movers and HEP generators to replace the old train-line steam units. Passenger cars will be two Budd-built ex-Pennsylvania/Amtrak coaches and a Budd ex-ATSF/Amtrak diner. All of this equipment is Amtrak certified and will be operated by an Amtrak crew with a BNSF pilot.
 
While the trip is not open to the public, if anyone out there wants to come down to trackside and snap some photos of the classic equipment, here is the published timetable:
 
O-GALGAL2-19 208 miles
0900 DP Galveston
1045 AR Rosenberg; board BNSF guests
1100 DP Rosenberg
1215 AR Bellville; change ends
1230 DP Bellville
1345 AR Rosenberg, BNSF guests detrain
1400 DP Rosenberg
1600 AR Galveston


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ClydeDET
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #1 on: Sep 3rd, 2015, 9:07pm »
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That should be interesting, Eric. Give us a report when you have it. I'd consider coming down and getting some line-side pictures except - just a little close to some more important things. Got to go to Tyler the 20th so we can check wife into hospital on the morning of the 21st (c.0600) for a cardiac ablation procedure.

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petey
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #2 on: Sep 4th, 2015, 9:03am »
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Hello  Clyde,
Hope all goes well for your wife and you.
Denis


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ClydeDET
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #3 on: Sep 4th, 2015, 7:49pm »
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on Sep 4th, 2015, 9:03am, petey wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Hello  Clyde,
Hope all goes well for your wife and you.
Denis

 
Thanks for the kind thoughts. Expect things will go fine with Carlie, know several people in the area who have had the procedure with same doc (more than we realized, soon as they find out she is having the procedure, somebody in the group seems to pop up "oh I had that"). They all say "Nothing to it, you check in, you go to sleep, you wake feeling fine".
 
Now me - I expect I'll be nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs until it is all over and I've seen her all waked up in recovery.


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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 6:40pm »
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I've been away too long.... I log in, and the first thing I see is a message from Clyde asking how the excursion went. Well, from the "Better Late than Never" department, here's a trip report:
 
Rather than chance the early-morning traffic on I-45, my father and I came down a day early on Friday, September 18th and checked into the Tremont House, an upscale Wyndham property which is one block's walk from the railroad museum. I understand that the Amtrak and BNSF crews were also booked there. We had dinner at Joe's Crab Shack just off The Strand, and followed that up with an ice cream sundae (for Dad) and a banana split (for me) at La King's Confectionary. We then retired to the Tremont House's rooftop bar for a drink as the sun set before going back to the room for the night.
 
In the morning we had a quick breakfast at the Tremont House's cafe before walking the short block to the museum and boarding the train. From all accounts there had been some late nights on the part of the museum staff to ensure that all of the historic rolling stock passed its Amtrak annual inspection...the crane which had been used to lift the cars while the trucks were rolled out for inspection was still parked at the north end of the yard. Everything had been sorted out, though...there were no breakdowns or problems of note during the trip, which was just fine.
 
Rolling stock was the museum's two F7s in "Warbonnet" paint back-to-back on the north end of the consist; two ex-Pennsy, ex-Amtrak coaches with an ex-ATSF diner sandwiched between (converted to a tray meal buffet car by Amtrak some years back); and a modern BNSF freight engine on the south end. The F7s had been converted to HEP with a separate HEP generator installed in place of the former steam generator; they have both been rebuilt with new prime movers and they pulled the consist northbound to Bellville. Once in Bellville the crew "swapped ends" and used the BNSF freight loco to pull us back to Galveston while the F7s continued to provide HEP.
 
We boarded shortly after 8 and found seats in the first coach. There was a "goodie bag" on each seat which contained some informative brochures and a souvenir coffee cup. I'm not 100% sure on this but I believe the first coach passenger seating was assigned to museum staff, volunteers and guests while the second coach's seating was assigned by BNSF, largely to "first responders" (fire, police, military), many of whom boarded and detrained at our enroute stop in Rosenberg.
 
We had a Union Pacific pilot and conductor aboard for our trip across the island...I heard one crewmember say that BNSF's route between the museum and the only access off the island has excepted track...no occupied passenger cars permitted. Here is a look off the west side of the old (1910) causeway:


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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 6:42pm »
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Here is the new (2013) lift bridge control tower. The original lift span was replaced in the late 1980s after it was damaged by a barge allision and subsequent fire; the replacement span was itself replaced after the Coast Guard deemed the narrow (100ft) channel a "hazard to navigation".

http://Forums.Railfan.net/Images/PassengerTrains/IMG_20150919_093036_816x459.jpg
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--------Eric H. Bowen

Now 200 classic timetables online, transcribed into machine-readable and searchable format:

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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 6:45pm »
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A view along the shore of Galveston Bay as we passed the junction to/from Texas City:


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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #7 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 6:49pm »
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A GPS screen capture as we rolled through downtown Alvin at track speed:


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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 6:52pm »
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The depot in Alvin; once a boarded-up eyesore but now restored as a visitor's center:


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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #9 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 6:57pm »
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The depot in Rosenberg where we made our stop to pick up the BNSF passengers; there was a festival going on for the first responders and their families:

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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #10 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 7:07pm »
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The old interlocking tower next to the depot as we pulled away from the station in Rosenberg:

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« Last Edit: Jan 10th, 2016, 7:08pm by ehbowen » Logged

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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
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« Reply #11 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 7:16pm »
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Once away from Rosenberg with the BNSF guests aboard, lunch was served in the diner: A cold cut buffet with sandwich fixings, chips and sodas with little cheesecake squares for dessert. Continental breakfast items had been available departing Galveston; juice, coffee and mini sweet rolls. The food was catered by the "Whistle Stop Cafe" which runs the snack bar at the museum; they kept us well fed.
 
Unfortunately the pictures stop here; I took all of them with my BlackBerry Z10 smartphone and as I did not have a spare battery or a place to recharge mine I had to conserve power on the return trip...the GPS drinks a lot of juice. However, we were early into Bellville and after a short stop to walk the train and have the crew change ends we began our return trip to Galveston. The trip back was also quick and uneventful, and there was just enough juice left in my phone to take the last picture of the day with Dad posed at the nose of F7 No. 316:


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Now 200 classic timetables online, transcribed into machine-readable and searchable format:

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Henry
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #12 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 8:16pm »
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Thank you for the comprehensive (and belated) report!
 
Henry


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George_Harris
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #13 on: Jan 10th, 2016, 11:34pm »
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on Jan 10th, 2016, 6:42pm, ehbowen wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Here is the new (2013) lift bridge control tower. The original lift span was replaced in the late 1980s after it was damaged by a barge allision and subsequent fire; the replacement span was itself replaced after the Coast Guard deemed the narrow (100ft) channel a "hazard to navigation".

"Allision"  Loved that term ever since I first saw it.  Assume that it is based on the concept that only one side of the contact is in motion.  If one of the object is fixed, then there can't be a collision as that means that both sides of the contact have to be moving.  However, have only heard this used in relation to navigation.  
 
Clyde:  How is your wife doing?
 
The 1980's navigation span is now in position in the SMART tracks in California.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #14 on: Jan 11th, 2016, 10:47am »
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on Jan 10th, 2016, 11:34pm, George_Harris wrote:       (Click here for original message)

"Allision"  Loved that term ever since I first saw it.  Assume that it is based on the concept that only one side of the contact is in motion.  If one of the object is fixed, then there can't be a collision as that means that both sides of the contact have to be moving.  However, have only heard this used in relation to navigation.  
 
Clyde:  How is your wife doing?
 
The 1980's navigation span is now in position in the SMART tracks in California.

 
First - great report, Eric. I find myself with some envy. Thanks. I reckon there could have  been one improvement: a dome,,,
 
George, things went fine with the ablation. Complicated procedure though. Scary stuff. She tolerated it well, and things were fine when she was released in the 22nd after rounds, However she was skipping beats by her first follow-up, estimated to be one of her meds. Took her off that, and then she went back to having a-fib episodes. Had a cardioversion procedure last week, and she was in proper rhythm after that. We shall have to see if that holds up - if it doesn't, will have to see what  is recommended at that point. But she feels good and all that.
 
Didn't mention I was scheduled for surgery on my left thumb, for fairly advanced CMC joint arthritis. That was on 9/29, and went well. It is just wonderful to not hurt all the time, and especially not when you do something like open a jar. Suspect will have the right one done as well sometime later this year - will see how it does and how well treatment of  non-surgical nature continues to work.


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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #15 on: Jul 29th, 2016, 9:50pm »
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The Museum is doing it again this year; this time a round-trip from Galveston to Brenham on Sunday, October 2, 2016. This time it will be a fund-raiser, $250 a seat. Tickets go on sale (first come, first served) on August 24th. Check the  museum's website for more information.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #16 on: Aug 4th, 2016, 7:36pm »
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Well, that wouldn't be, exactly, new trackage for me, but been a LONG time since the last time I was on it (mid- or late 1950s). May have to massage the budget and see if we can bid a pair of tickets. Better decide quick, nie?

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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #17 on: Aug 6th, 2016, 11:37pm »
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on Aug 4th, 2016, 7:36pm, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Well, that wouldn't be, exactly, new trackage for me, but been a LONG time since the last time I was on it (mid- or late 1950s). May have to massage the budget and see if we can bid a pair of tickets. Better decide quick, nie?

 
I'll be willing to bet a cold soda that the stretch between Alvin and Rosenberg will be new mileage for anyone here who hasn't been on the previous museum specials...aside from those who may have been employed in Train & Engine service on the ATSF/GCSF. Back in the day the passenger routing was Galveston-Alvin-Houston-Rosenberg (via T&NO/Southern Pacific trackage rights) and then north to Temple....
 
ETA: Some preliminary advertising stated that the tickets would go on sale August 1. Those posts are premature; I confirmed with the museum's director today that the sale begins on the 24th. They do expect that it will sell out within a few days, so you would do well to decide quickly.


« Last Edit: Aug 6th, 2016, 11:43pm by ehbowen » Logged

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ClydeDET
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #18 on: Aug 7th, 2016, 7:40pm »
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on Aug 6th, 2016, 11:37pm, ehbowen wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 
I'll be willing to bet a cold soda that the stretch between Alvin and Rosenberg will be new mileage for anyone here who hasn't been on the previous museum specials...aside from those who may have been employed in Train & Engine service on the ATSF/GCSF. Back in the day the passenger routing was Galveston-Alvin-Houston-Rosenberg (via T&NO/Southern Pacific trackage rights) and then north to Temple....
 
ETA: Some preliminary advertising stated that the tickets would go on sale August 1. Those posts are premature; I confirmed with the museum's director today that the sale begins on the 24th. They do expect that it will sell out within a few days, so you would do well to decide quickly.

 
 
Yes, the Alvin to Rosenberg would be new miles if we decide to go. Be fairly expensive - $500 for tickets and probably three nights at either Galvez or Tremont house.


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ehbowen
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Re: Rare Mileage Excursion: Galveston-Bellville, TX 2015-09-19
 
« Reply #19 on: Aug 8th, 2016, 10:57pm »
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I'm looking to stay on the island myself that weekend...possibly the Galvez, maybe Moody Gardens. When I checked rates for the Tremont House it looked like they were nearly booked up.

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