VRS: Barre Granite Loads To Run All Winter

VRS Crews Keep Barre Granite Moving To Keep Up With USACE Lake Ontario Breakwater Project

Barre VT – Vermont Rail System has extended operations on the Montpelier & Barre Division, or “Granite District,” well past the normal Fall shutdown, in order to complete a 3,000-car granite order for the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Loaded trains running from the Rock of Ages Quarry near Barre, Vermont, must descend the toboggan-run “severe grade” between Websterville to Barre through a switchback or reversing maneuver that separates two of the steepest stretches in the east: Mile M8.74 to M9.59 includes grades of up to 8%, and mile M9.59 to M10.64 includes grades of up to 6%.

Barre – Graniteville VT

Moses’s descent from Mt. Sinai was likely less treacherous than the VRS granite crews’ steep zig-zag slide into Barre from the Rock of Ages Quarry (and his payload was much smaller). Grade averages 6% from the siding (M10.64) to the switchback (M9.59), and dives to 8% from the switch to M8.74 {VRS Guide Book}.

Complex move

VRS crews will pull 5-6 loaded gondolas from the loadout site roughly a mile to a siding track adjacent to the old Bombardier plant. Empty gondolas are then shoved back to the loadout site and spotted for the several hour loading process. The power returns to the siding, and ties on the to east/upgrade end of the loaded cars. The cars’ handbrakes are all tightened down and the consist is backed down to the switchback, where a reverse move then puts the locomotives on the west/downgrade end for the descent into downtown Barre.

Ten to 20 loaded cars are accumulated in Barre, and then moved to to interchange with the New England Central at Montpelier Jct. for transfer to Palmer, MA, where CSXT ( soon to be CN/B&LE or FGLK -Ed. ) takes over and gets them to the Oswego, NY, via the Fulton branch of the St Lawrence subdivision. The granite is being used to construct a new harbor breakwater on Lake Ontario.