PH&W pannier tank #8 switching at Plattsburg

The Plaster Hills & Western Railway runs from gypsum mines & a gravel pit in the Adirondack Mountains east to connections with the Montreal Terminal and the Delaware & Hudson in Plattsburg, NY. It is not controlled by the Parsons Vale, but owns the ex-LT&L Baldwin VO660’s and eight LW&C hopper cars (LW&C 50-57, renumbered 340-347.)

In 1966, the Baldwins are out of service and the PH&W is using a handful of small steam engines to pull minerals out of the mountains.

PH&W locomotive roster (1950-1966)

No. Type Builder Purchased Disposition
1 0-6-0 ST Baldwin 1920 scrapped 1956
2 0-6-0 MLW 1925 scrapped 1956
3 0-4-0 ST Baldwin 1928 in service
4 0-6-0 ST Baldwin 1929 in service
5 2-6-0 Alco 1932 wrecked 1945
6-7 VO 660 Baldwin 1955 6 OOS 1958 (broken crankshaft),
7 OOS 1961 (generator failure)
8 0-4-0 Pannier Tank Porter 1959 in service
9 2-8-0 Alco 1961 in service

PH&W route map

The PH&W's full route map

None of the mines or quarries on the PH&W are hugely productive. A handful of cars are loaded at the granite quarry on Hazeltine Hill, the gravel pit on the ramp down to Altona sees the occasional trainload to hand over to the D&H or MTRR, and the Plaster Hills gypsum mine sees 2-3 trainloads a week (the gypsum is processed at a facility just north of the yard and interchange with the D&H at the southeast end of the railroad.)

Despite all this the mainline from the Plaster Hills mine to Plattsburg is maintained to allow 40mph trains, which some of the steam engines are able to make on the way up the mountain, and which all of them are able to make on the way down. (This is thanks to the way the railroad is run; dieselizing was a financial disaster which forced the PH&W into bankruptcy, so the employees bought it out, went back to steam, and are running it as an anarchistic commune. A railroad is much cheaper to run if there are no stockholders or management.)

Future notes:

In the 1970s, the PH&W got some notice when it dieselised a second time with a handful of leased ex-LT&L S2s, which were then replaced with used RSC2m’s (CMStP&P #576 in 1976, followed by #578 in 1987 after the Brillion & Forest Junction went out of business.)