PRR Sights & Sounds

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Video From Don Krofta

The following nine minute YouTube snippet of video is from the Herron Rail Video Steam and Diesel on the PRR, Vol. II. The full 52 minute DVD is available from Herron Rail Video, click here for their website.

         Video - PRR J1's and Santa Fe Class 5011's on the Sandusky Branch - 1956

Audio of Pennsylvania Railroad Steam Locomotives

        First you will hear a Pennsy J1 followed by a Santa Fe class 5011. Both 2-10-4 's are passing the tower at Bellevue, Ohio. Each has a unique sound starting with their whistle followed by their exhaust.
        The sounds of Numbers 6410 and 5035 are from the LP album Power of the Past! The Working Sounds of Steam 1954-1957 by Howard Fogg, OWL Records ORLP-17, monaural, Boulder, Colorado, 1971. Recording from the Ryan Hoover Collection.

        Recording - PRR J1a 6410 and Santa Fe 5035 at Bellevue, Ohio - 1956

         In the late 1950s PRR I1sa's around Columbus were mostly used as hump and transfer engines. Elsewhere on the Pennsy, where these recording were taken, they were still used on the road. I1's had a very distinctive sound caused by loose drive rod bearings that showed up when they were drifting. It is easily heard on the second piece with an I1 going down hill on Horse Shoe Curve. Recordings by John M. Prophet III from the Ryan Hoover Collection..

         Recording - Double Heading I1's Shamokin, PA - 1957
         Recording - Coming Down Hill at Horse Shoe Curve -1949
         Recording - Soft Whistle Action - 1951
         Recording - A Short Freight

         The Sandusky Bay Side Yard was the northern terminal of the Pennsy's Sandusky Branch. In the 1950s Coal was delivered to Sandusky from Columbus by big J1's. The Pennsy kept eight to twelve 2-8-0, H10 consolidations busy at Sandusky moving those coal hoppers between the yard and the dock on Lake Erie.
         Al Shade, Jr., made this recording of an H10 switching cars in the Sandusky yard in 1957. The little but mighty H10 was equipped with a "banshee" whistle. The listener should be able to imagine just how haunting that whistle sounded going through the mountains of Pennsylvania, when the H10 was the main line freight engine. In the 1950s H10's were used in Columbus for switching and on the locals that served businesses along the lines out of Columbus. One would come through Worthington usually once a day.
         The very last banshee sequence is an M1 2-8-4 on a freight in central Pennsylvania. Banshee whistles were once common on all H, I1, L1, N, A, B, C, and CC2 class locomotives. Post war many engines had these replaced with the 3-chime "K4" type whistle. Recording from the Ryan Hoover Collection.

         Recording - PRR H10 at the Sandusky Bay Side Yard - 1957

         While this recording was made in New Jersey on the New York and Long Branch in 1954, the listener will hear sounds that echoed around Columbus for forty years when the Pennsy K4s pulled passenger and mail trains through town. The wistful, haunting PRR 3-chime passenger whistle says “Pennsy” more than any other sound in railroading. Made in PRR’s own shops, the round-topped whistle sounded the notes of E-G-B, a minor triad. This whistle was standard equipment on passenger power from about 1875 through the end of steam. It was used on all modern power, including M1, J1, Q2 and T1. As engines were retired, their “K4” whistle was often used to replace the high-pitched “banshee” on older freight power. — Recording from Howard Fogg’s Power of the Past, an LP released in the 1970’s, Ryan Hoover Collection.

         Recording - PRR K4s #5410 at Brielle, NJ - 1954