Classification Yards

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sun Sep 17 22:33:26 EDT 2006

I suspect the height and grades in a hump yard are determined by
length of bowl tracks and tracks in the bowl. The mountain at
Bellevue certainly was higher than the pimple at the Portsmouth
time freight hump, but Bellevue had more bowl tracks. Bellevue
had computerized car retardation and Portsmouth did it with a
car retarder operator. At Bellevue, a hump engine pushed the cars
to the apex and bowl crews pulled the classified cars from the
opposite end. At Portsmouth, the same crew that humped them,
also pulled them out of the bowl. Despite the computerization and
the army of clerks that staffed the Bellevue hump, the Portsmouth
time freight hump was just as efficient. Just don't pull the antics
that Bison Yard did. The pin-puller uncoupled a cut of 10 liquid
sugar tanks. The cut went through the designated track and were
last seen en route to Canada.
Harry Bundy

Gee Harry,

I hope you did not mean to insult Portsmouth by calling its hump yard a pimple, and Bellevue a mountain. There is no need to call one a pimple and one a mountain. Taller vs smaller would have been more appropriate.

But to clarify things a little more Bellevue was not a part of the pre 1964 N&W. Portsmouth at one time boasted two hump/classification yards. I believe one was for coal and the other was for freight. Portsmouth classifed both east and westbound coal and at one time was the largest classification yard in size and volume on the old N&W. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. Portsmouth also had somewhere between 100 and 120 tracks at its widest point and was almost 5 miles long. It was a proud railroad town along with a steel making town too.

Granted after the 1978 strike and the antics a few strikers pulled, really stained the reputation of Portsmouth, but Portsmouth does have a proud past and there are still some good railroaders, working and retired in that town. Granted, that after the strike, Bellevue took on more importance and Portsmouth lost a lot of its importance. Of course the hardest blow came when the Scioto Division ceased to exist after 1982. Yeah, Portsmouth probably got what it deserved. N&W's pullout really hurt that town and several business that depended directly on its work-force. My father owned a small grocercy store that had a lot of N&W workers as customers. They were good customers, and he would spot them credit from time to time and everyone of them paid their credit in a timely fashion. After the 78 strike and the downturn in importance of Portsmouth, my father decided that he could make more money retiring at 62 then making money on the store, mainly because all of his customer
base w
as going away.

A.J. Gemperline
Native of Portsmouth Ohio

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