• The origin of stack service on LV

  • Discussion related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad and predecessors for the period 1846-1976. Originally incorporated as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company.
Discussion related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad and predecessors for the period 1846-1976. Originally incorporated as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company.

Moderator: scottychaos

  by Matt Langworthy
Going thru my RR books for research on other questions in this forum, I noticed that LV was running stacks/containers (single, not double) in the early '70s. When did this service start? Was the LV the first RR to offer it?
Hey Matt.....

I believe, like you said, that you would be more correct in calling it container/intermodal traffic (I don't even think that term had come into use yet, let alone "invented", but I could be wrong)
The Apollo/Mercury trains were the ones to carry this traffic (I am not a "late LV" historian/modeler, so please corrct me if I'm wrong), since this was, in the 1970's, starting to replace box car frieght, and especially in how frieght was handled at major ports, ESPECIALLY NY Harbor.
Did the other area rr's handle it? I think the EL did, and I want to say you might have seentraffic like that on the CNJ towards the end, like on trains ES-100/SE-99 to Scranton.
Keep in mind, tractor trailer on flat car traffic was NOT a new thing, going back all the way to the 1930's........However, things like the EL's UPS trains, and PC's marriage of PRR's Truk-Train and NYC's Flexi-Van services into TrailerVan (continued by CR), were probably stepping stones to containers, and then stacks.
As a side note, I'll never forget my first "Stack Pack" experience - It was on a rainy Sunday in Port Jervis behind a NYS&W C-430 and BN-green SD-45....OK, not LV related, but a fond memory none the less.

Ralph AKA CF
Ah, just thought of this.....Stack trains ARE the reason why we have the pleasure of being able to see the original (1872) Pattenburg/Musconetcong tunnel in Pattenburg/West Portal, NJ today, because when they (Conrail) lowered the new (1927) tunnel's floor to accept stack trains a few years back, they needed a quick and effecient way to go back and forth to each end to work. If you are at all familiar with the area, you will know that the local roads ARE NOT an efficient means of doing this!
It can been seen/gotten to, but it either equires tresspassing (the easy way in), or a repell down a steep hillside (doable, but not easy) to see the west portal. I have done the later, and I didn't think I was getting back up the hill!


  by wis bang
Mixed COFC & TOFC was popular on the EL while I was in college [1972 to 1976] and the Erie had a circus ramp down where Steamtrain is now located. It was made from an old piggyback car w/ one truck removed and they used to load/un load TOFC. Lots slower than using a top lift.

Back then the term intermodal was more about the transfer of dry-flowables from rail to truck.

Definately not "stack service", the LV did run "piggy-back" and container service, using flatcars and gondolas. As CF stated, the premier service was run on the Apollo and Mercury trains, although truth be told, a "pig" could, and did run on any Valley train, as scheduling required the movements. The Apollo and Mercury were intended as piggy-back/container only trains, run intact across the system, at passenger train speeds. Over time, they carried anything that needed to move quickly, between Buffalo and Newark, but the service also started to service any yard, with a pick-up, or set-out, kind of defeating the purpose of a "hot-shot" pig train, streaking across the Valley. Regards... :wink:

  by johnpbarlow
While I believe Conrail single tracked Pattenburg Tunnel to improve clearances, it was NS that further improved clearances for double stack service. The story I heard/read was that Conrail didn't want CP trackage rights intermodal trains to/from Oak Island to carry double stacks. Meanwhile, CR was able to route double stacks via ex-Rdg through Norristown/Mannville.
  by Matt Langworthy
Thanx one and all for the help, as always. Of course, I was already aware of TOFC trains- I vividly remember them on LV, EL, CR, D&H and even the tiny B&H back in the '70s. So I gather that stack is not the proper term but container or COFC is. So did LV run this before anyone else or did another RR (EL, PC, etc.) beat them to it?

I don't recall many (any ?) containers on the Valley. lots of trailers, some cement containers, and even some LCL containers, shipped in gons, but I could be wrong. I am on the road right now, and don't have access to my photo/slides, or books, so I can't be sure.I don't even remember a "packer" being present at Oak Island, until the D&H brought one in. The Valley used to drive the trailers right up onto the flats, backing them down the train, cutting off, then driving the truck off to grab another trailer, on the 4 ramp tracks they had @ O.I. There was another facility around Johnson Ave., but I never got to see it under Valley operation. If the valley was loading containers (not cement or LCL) at O.I., I don't recall seeing it, but again, my pix are at home. Maybe Fred, or Ralph can shed some light on this :wink:

  by wis bang
GOLDEN-ARM wrote:The Valley used to drive the trailers right up onto the flats, backing them down the train, cutting off, then driving the truck off to grab another trailer,
That's called Circus style the ramp is called a circus ramp. I shipped an empty RORO tanker TOFC to the Gulf area around 1986 and the closest ramp left was in Conrail, Allentown, PA.

The stacker's caught on in a hurry; less overall damage & no need to maintain the ramps between piggyback cars...used the same unit for COFC and TOFC. Remember the containers rode on ex. piggyback cars for along time until the growing volume forced stacks, etc.

The containers started apearing in ever increasing numbers while I was in college [72 - 76] and there were often some mounted on chassis riding TOFC for a destination without a chassis pool...

  by Zeke
Back in the 1972-1976 period the LV would run a solid Sea-Land container train from Oak Island to Buffalo and vice versa at least several times a month. The symbol heading west was Advance AP-1/ eastbound Advance AP-2. It usually ran several hours ahead of the Apollo. Around 1975 we started running it over the Penn Central infrequently, I think it was a Santa Fe land bridge train to/ from the west coast. IIRC when run over the LV it terminated in Oak Island. When the PC ran it, the final terminal was Port Newark and it may have been handed off to the CNJ and grounded in Portside yard or grounded in PC's own Port Newark yard.

It may be possible the N&W initially held the contract to run it from Chicago east handing off to the LV at Tifft terminal. The PC had a big say in running the LV at this late date and may have contracted the job from Chicago later on via an all PC routing to Port Newark.I ran it once down from Harrisburg, my memory is a bit foggy after all these years but I think it was symboled SEL-2. It definitely was a hot train because it ran straight thru with diesels, back then very few freights to North Jersey ran thru Harrisburg without changing engines, diesel to electric. When CONRAIL took over and we PC men worked out of Oak Island those LV crews were right proud of the fact the APOLLOS could make Oak Island - Tifft in 12 hours and Chicago in 24. A feat we could'nt perform on the traffic congested PC.

  by David Hutchinson
I remember seeing Union Carbide containers in Perth Amboy yard around 1975. These were the same type of containers that I also saw at the Bakelite plant in South Bound Brook. I know these were not on stack trains, but I thought it might be good to mention in this thread. I think the containers had round unloading ports on the ends. The containers were plain gray... I do not remember Union Carbide markings..... just thought they were their's because of seeing them at Bakelite.
David -

The crane for off loading them still stands! It actually looks like a miniature version of the big Howland Hook machines, in my opinion.
The light green structure was there last time I looked, but who knows, with all the condos being built, it may come down real soon. A good friend of mine who was, I believe, management in Conrail, said the operation never really took off, if at all. Quite amazing considering all the piers and wharfs that the LV once had on the Arthur Kill.

Car Floater

  by David Hutchinson
Do you know where the loaded containers came in from? Did they go from Bakelite in South Bound Brook to the LV? I remember the crane also... the day I was there I shot an RS3, which was a little unusual for the Perth Amboy Branch. I had only seen EMD and Alco switchers prior to that along with a 44 tonner that was stationed in Perth Amboy.