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Thread: Steepest Mainline Rail Grades?

  1. #1
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    Default Steepest Mainline Rail Grades?

    Has anyone ever come across a list of the steepest mainline railroad grades in America? A good list would help me plan a new project.
    Thx

  2. #2
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    I know of a tourist railroad with the steepest standard gauge grades in the US! The Black Hills Central Railroad in Hill City, South Dakota.
    My layout: A 10x7' HO layout depicting the AT&SF in Kansas from 1940 to 1960.

  3. #3
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    The steepest standard gauge mainline is the United States was Saluda Grade. I'm not sure what state it was in. I want to say South Carolina. I'm probably wrong though. It was closed in the past few years. I believe it was 4.73%.

    Steve

  4. #4
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    Well , how about the following Places:

    Raton Pass
    Cajon Pass
    Tecapachi Loop

    and btw , theres also an extremely steep rr called the MT. Washington Cog Railway and the grade is on average 25% and the steepest is 37.5%
    Im back but pressing the reset button...

  5. #5
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    The US Class 1 mainlines normally never go more than 2%, anything above that and extra help is tacked into the train in various places.

    Cass Scenic Railway and other logging/NG RR's go up much steeper paths sometimes up to 11%
    Last edited by GP_38-2; July 2nd, 2007 at 01:32 PM.

  6. #6
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    A correction *Saluda is in North Carolina*

    here is some info i pulled a site...


    What is the Saluda Grade? Saluda Grade is the length of Norfolk & Southern mainline rail between Saluda, North Carolina and Melrose, N.C. The total length of the track between these two points is 3 miles. The vertical distance however, is 600+ feet. The steepest portion of the grade is 5.03% That makes Saluda the steepest grade on a mainline track in the United States. When the grade was in operation, there were between twenty to thirty coal trains using it each month. Each train averaged one hundred cars. Each coal car weighed around 135 tons. So, each train carried about 1,300 tons of coal. That means the grade carried close to 32,500 TONS of coal a month. That is 390,000 tons of coal a year.

  7. #7
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    surely not the steepest but what about NS's mainline from Altoona PA to Cresson Pa? Track rises 91 feet per mile on that mainline.. Or how about the Boston and Albany Mainline from Hunnington to Pittsfield MA. The west side of the mountain has a grade of that almost 2%. another one I thought of just now is the line that runs to Upper Hudson. Its only 3 miles or so but at its southern end of the line its roughly a 3% grade-Nothing but Feed cars on that line though.

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  8. #8
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    The Tehachapi Loop averages 2.2%, even though it climbs 3500' to an elevation of 4000' in roughly 30 miles. That's the reason for all of the twists and loops in it. Here is a link if you are interested in more information.
    http://www.letsgoseeit.com/index/cou...loc01/loop.htm

  9. #9
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    Dont forget sherman hill on the UP, 4% if I remember corectly...


    UP fan, I couldent stop myself.
    Proud mate to the most wonderfull person in the world.

  10. #10

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    the grade around horshoe curve in Pennsylvania is about 3%
    is there anybody alive out there
    now working for
    http://z11.invisionfree.com/Trainz_C...ex.php?act=idx

  11. #11
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    Actually, The Madison Incline is the steepest 'mainline' grade in the US, at just under 6%, it's steeper than Saluda and Raton pass.



    Saluda is pretty steep though.
    Santa Fe All the Way from the Windy City to L.A

    AT&SF 1859 - 1995
    Greatest Railroad ever, R.I.P

  12. #12
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    The grade around horseshoe curve is 1.8 percent...the whole point of the curve was to get the grade down from over 2 percent.

    I don't have the Sherman Hill grade offhand, but I would doubt it was more than 2.2 percent since that was the max the feds would pay for when the line was built. (If I remember my history, 2.2 percent just happened to be the ruling grade the B&O built during its first crossing of the appalachian divide and it became a kind of de facto standard, written into contracts and such.)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookiemae View Post
    Actually, The Madison Incline is the steepest 'mainline' grade in the US, at just under 6%, it's steeper than Saluda and Raton
    How the bleep to they pull a 6% grade? One engine and 3 cars at a time?

  14. #14
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    I am not the one who ran trains over it!
    Santa Fe All the Way from the Windy City to L.A

    AT&SF 1859 - 1995
    Greatest Railroad ever, R.I.P

  15. #15
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    I hope we are not counting rack railways, in which case the Mount Washington Cog Railway would win

    But seriously, some of the steepest grades were from the logging railroads. As GP_38-2 said, the Cass Railroad Branch (formerly Mower Lumber Company) contained grades near 11% or more near the switchbacks.

    The reason they could negotiate these grades were simply because of the locomotives used. Geared locomotives, such as Shays, Climaxes, and Heislers were slow buy effective, and push out a lot of tractive effort (generated by the gear ratio for the driving wheels).

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    John

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