Scrap Yard

This is a labor of love, an attempt to archive the paper history of the Penn Central Railroad online. Follow the links above to the archive pages.

The “unlikely” part of this site’s domain name derives from the fact that your very amateur archivist resides in Northern California, 3083 miles and at this writing 34 years from a spot East of the Wellesley, MA station where he and a friend sat with cameras, two beach chairs, and the hope of another train before Mom came to bring us home. As an example, your archivist (then age 14) took this pic of “better than some” U30C 6536 on July 30, 1975 westbound at this favorite spot. Beach chairs evident on the right in the distance.

The Penn Central was a gritty, far flung railroad that some people believe to be very forgettable. It had neither the romance of the steam era nor the thrill of the streamliner era to allow it to take root in the hearts and minds of railfans. In fact, deferred maintenance resulted from a lack of profits, and “our” PC was one of noisy diesels belching thick black smoke, making a bunch of noise, and rarely did the paint disguise the former lineage of the unfortunate diesels that seemed so tired.

But for those of us whose formative railfaning years were as teens in the early 70’s in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Massachusetts, it was our railroad, and regrettably to us it did not survive into a future of prosperity that graced the industry’s leaders. Some of us even doodled away their time in school trying to replicate the perfect, tight fit, mating worms logo. The songwriter Paul Simon said in a song (around that time in fact) that “One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor”. So here, in the countryside of SP Daylights and Big Boys, UP Streamliners and Santa Fe Warbonnets, we have launched this small basement archive dedicated to the long dead Penn Central.

As I reconnected with the PC from a distance of time and geography, and sought to gather prototype data for my modeling efforts, it became clear that not many resources of real use were available on the web. What was clear was that a ton of PC paper floated around on eBay, and I have been buying up stuff for literally a few bucks here and there. I was also armed with a new Mac and scanner. Upon learning from my first acquisition of PC Employee Timetables that they were conveniently screw bound for easy assembly (at the printing plant) and hence “dissembly” (by an archivist more than 30 years later), well, I guess it’s best just to say: there we began, and we seem to not want to stop.