On this winter day, the operator at Smith is sitting snuggly inside his tower. The brisk air is a sure sign that snow is not far away.
Smith is located along Pennsylvania Railroad’s electrified Atglen & Susquehanna Branch near Martic Forge. The wooden structure is notched into the side of a river hill, and except for freight trains, only an occasional rabbit or deer offers any movement to this desolate landscape.
The mighty M1 steam locomotive No. 6857 is blasting its way westward with an empty string of coal hoppers. This locomotive is one of more than three hundred 4-8-2’s built for freight and heavy passenger service. In the distance, a peddler freight is heading eastward with its wooden N6b caboose bombing along, vibrating the coffee on the pot-belly stone.
For many years Smith Tower was important along the low grade line, but as motive power was improved, helper engines were no longer needed on eastbound trains and Smith became obsolete. During the Sixties, the tower was taken out of service and later torn down.
You can read more about the Enola Low-Grade by clicking here as well as more about the tower at Smithville by clicking here.
Drawing by JA Ruof. See other drawings by JA Ruof here.