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NEW CASTLE, Pa – Two workhorse locomotives shuttle back and forth along tracks that bisect the heart of this city's industrial sector as another car, recently purchased, sits housed in a large maintenance shop waiting to be commissioned for service.

Each day, these locomotives navigate 16 miles of rail tracks as they haul freight to and from some of the largest employers in Lawrence County. The spider-web network of tracks encircles New Castle, feeding into two major rail lines that provide access to markets throughout North America. Scrap steel, aggregate, salt, plastics, and more recently sand (a result of hydraulic fracturing), are among the many commodities shipped and loaded onto trucks every day, thanks to what Dale Berkley Jr. calls "the best-kept secret in New Castle."

New Castle Industrial Railroad provides a vital link to the region’s industrial sector, affecting hundreds of employees, says Linda Nitch, executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp. "They're certainly an important component in our ability to retain our businesses here as well as working with them to attract new business," she says.

"They're a great asset. Dale Sr. recognized the opportunity in the early 1990s and he's invested back into the rail itself. His son also understands the industry and sees how the short line can provide service into the heavy industrial corridor – where the Class I carriers won't go."

The Business Journal

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ncir_state Regular freight interchange is made with CSX Transportation in their New Castle yard, with Norfolk Southern on an interchange spur along their Fort Wayne line, and occasionally with regional Buffalo & Pittsburgh through the CSX yard. Commodities handled include steel products, scrap metal, recycling, plastic pellets, fracking sand, road salt, and Kasgro specialty railcars. A shop is maintained off Moravia Street in New Castle, where three locomotives are maintained and a company office is housed. The company is independent, owned and operated by three generations of the Berkley family.

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NCIR trackage map / Google Maps / RWH markings

tag_motiveMotive Power

New Castle Industrial #41

  • builder:Electro Motive Division
  • model:SW1500
  • type:B-B yard switcher
  • built:Oct 1968, EMD #7128-13
  • series:807 produced 1966-74
  • engine:EMD 645 (12 cyls, 1500 hp)
  • notes:
  • blt St. Louis - San Francisco #327
    to Burlington Northern #32
    to Burlington Northern Santa Fe #3412
    to New Castle Industrial #41, via dealer
  • builder
    ncir41a ncir41b ncir41c

    New Castle, Pa / Apr 2013 / RWH

    New Castle Industrial #46

  • builder:Electro Motive Division
  • model:SW1500
  • type:B-B yard switcher
  • built:Jan 1973, EMD #71605-8
  • series:807 produced 1966-74
  • engine:EMD 645 (12 cyls, 1500 hp)
  • notes:
  • blt Burlington Northern #317
    to Burlington Northern Santa Fe #3463
    to New Castle Industrial #46, via dealer
  • builder
    journal_rwh
    January 2016

    sisters Bing Crosby in his 1954 White Christmas introduced us to the lovely Haynes sisters. Now the New Castle Industrial hosts two BN sisters, thanks to the latest motive power addition to the blue house off of Moravia Street. NCIR recently purchased a second SW1500, giving them a matched pair of high-vision end-cabs that both trace their lineage back to the Burlington Northern roster. (41 goes back to the Frisco.) Two SWs in MU lashup will mean more pull for the bigger hauls up from the Class Ones, and a third unit will no doubt bring that greatest of shortline luxuries: a backup locomotive when another goes offline. Despite CSX missing the mark and shipping 46 all the way down their line to Baltimore, and then having to send it back this way, the men of the NCIR have wasted no time in applying the road's handsome red-on-black with-a-white-stripe paint scheme. A few more odds and ends to tend to and they tell me she'll be up and running for them in no time. It'll be Rosemary and Vera all over again.

    "Sisters. Sisters. There were never such devoted sisters."

    Off Roster

    New Castle Industrial #77

  • builder:Electro Motive Division
  • model:GP9
  • type:B-B road switcher
  • built:June 1954, EMD #19554
  • series:3436 produced 1954-59
  • engine:EMD 567C (16 cyl. 1750 hp)
  • notes:
  • ex Bangor & Aroostook #77
    to New Castle Industrial #77
    to Youngstown & Southeastern #77
  • builder
    See more #77 roster shots in our Youngstown & Southeastern shortline collection

    New Castle Industrial #4032

  • builder:Electro Motive Division
  • model:GP9RM
  • type:B-B road switcher
  • built:Dec 1956
  • series:3436 produced 1954-59
  • engine:EMD 567C (16 cyl. 1750 hp)
  • notes:
  • blt Canadian National #4517
    ex Ohio Central #4032
    to New Castle Industrial #4032
    sold, off roster
  • builder
    ncir4032c ncir4032e ncir4032f

    New Castle, Pa / Aug 2009 / RWH

    New Castle Industrial #4094

  • builder:General Electric
  • model:B23-7R "Super 7 series"
  • type:B-B road switcher
  • built:Jun 1972, GE #38404
  • rebuilt:Nov 1989
  • series:17 rebuilt 1989-91
  • engine:2250 hp
  • notes:
  • blt Western Pacific U23B #2258
  • to Monongahela #2303, later Conrail #2033
    to Norfolk Southern #4094
    to New Castle Industrial #4094
    to Ohio Central #4094
  • builder
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    The General Electric Super-7 series was a variant of the "Dash 7" line. There were two types of Super-7s; the Super-7N built from C30-7s and C36-7s for Mexican carrier Ferrocaril Nacionales Mexicano and the model best known by us here in the United States the Super-7R. The latter model included several variants itself and was rebuilt from many earlier GE U-boat models like the U23B, U30C, and U36C that were first released by the company from the early 1960s through the 1970s. The primary difference in these rebuilt locomotives were upgraded components and electronics that extended their running years and increased operational efficiencies. Only one American line went on to operate the Super 7s and today a few remain in operation on regional Providence & Worcester as well as Ohio Central and Arkansas & Oklahoma.

    American Rails

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    New Castle, Pa / Dec 2016 / RWH

    tag_pinEnginehouse

    Click to see the New Castle Industrial enginehouse plotted on a Google Maps page
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    2-stall engine house, pre expansion / New Castle, Pa / Jun 2009 / RWH

    journal_rwh
    April 2013

    Sometimes persistence pays off. For many months I drove by the New Castle Industrial enginehouse, 15 minutes from my home, hoping for (a) sunny skies and (b) a shot with a locomotive near the building. In western Pennsylvania, sunny skies can be a rare treat. I've always been impressed that this little road took the time to build a great looking blue metal shop that included their name on it for the public to see. It's a nice touch for a pike the plies the otherwise spartan industrial sections of this former steel town. Well, one summer my persistence paid off. Railfan pal Ben Wells and I rolled up on the shop on a sunny July afternoon and found Canadian Geep rebuild #4032 idling just outside, paused from daytime switching duties.

    tag_pinCollections

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    Tanker Time

    New Castle, Pa / Sep 2017 / RWH

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    journal_rwh
    July 2015

    ncir41eTurns out that the folks who own and operate the New Castle Industrial are wonderful hosts, generous in their hospitality to this local railfan. I've very much enjoyed getting to know them this year and appreciate their invitation to be on the property and in their cabs. Riding the NCIR is like moving around in a jigsaw puzzle all day long; spurs and siding run in every direction, and every move requires thinking through the next five. It is like running a 12" = 1' switching shelf layout. What's more, I now have a new favorite locomotive. When as a kid I spent a day in the cab of Columbus & Greenville road switcher, my father joked that the otherwise ugly CF7 was my new favorite locomotive. Too true. Now, thanks to the men who make the NCIR move every day, their well-dressed SW1500 is my new favorite locomotive! To be sure, I've long loved switchers; that's not new. What can beat the lines of a late model SW body? But to ride along in the cab of this 45+ year old veteran while she plies their 10mph pike, shunts the day's loads and empties from here to there, and grabs on to long cuts of sand and salt and pulls them up grade with all her might -- well, #41 is on the top of my list for now. Thanks to Dale and crew for allowing me to hang around the blue house from time to time. A great mover in the care of great people.

    And word is, a sister SW1500 arrives soon. Can't wait to meet her.

    tag_click Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2017-09-04