Sunday, September 9, 2012

Appalachain Timber Services-Sutton, West Virginia

Our second trip on Thursday was to Appalachian Timber Services in Sutton, West Virginia. They primarily make railroad ties, wooden bridge timbers and mine timber systems. Their largest railroad tie buyer is the New York City Metro. Their mine timber supports are patented systems using technology originally pioneered in South Africa.
Timbers that are already kiln dried and milled arrive at Appalachian
Timber Services. They are then graded and sent on for processing.
One of the problems with natural wood is it splits as it continues
to dry over time. To control the the splitting, the stack of blades
pictured above cut slits the length of the railroad timber.
Timbers then have metal screens tacked over the ends to further
prevent and control splitting. From here the timbers go into a chemical
bath that pressure treats the timbers to prevent rot and decay.
Here workers custom shape a timber for a bridge replacement project.
Saws and knifes are used to mortise the timber to exact specifications.

Wood Products Follow Up-Weyerhaeuser OSB Plant

In the words of the immortal Joliet Jake Blues, "we're getting the band back together." We may have been on a mission from God, but we definitely were almost in heaven, in West Virginia! And heaven would be my description of our dining experience at Cafe Cimino. Steve, Dennis, Karen and Annette outdid themselves with our meal and the overall dining experience with my traveling friends.

First we traveled to the Weyerhaeuser OSB Plant in Heaters, West Virginia on Thursday.

The Heaters plant accepts the tree tops and other undersized
trees that otherwise would be waste that is left in the forest.

Trees are washed, debarked, dried and then enter a cylinder that strands
them. Stranding is the process of cutting the wood up into strands
pieces that are 5-7 inches long.
The strands then come together in mats. The mats are layered,
7 inches here for a OSB board that will be 23/32 thick. The process
involves using glue, heat and pressure to compress the strands
and create a product that is similar to plywood in its strength.
Every step of the process is monitored by highly trained workers.
Here we see an employee monitoring the OSB boards as they are
pressed to the desired thickness.
Freshly compressed OSB, ready to be cut into 4x8 sheets.

The finished product ready for transport.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Water Quality Analyis on the Greenbrier River

Water quality was tested on the Greenbrier River three different times on our trip (results below). At the beginning of the river where the Kanawha's backwater enters the river, the overall water quality was 65.53. This would be a a medium or average reading on the water quality scale. Water supplies achieving only an average rating generally have less diversity of aquatic organisms and frequently have increased algae growth. It was raining the day we did this test. Do you believe this may have had an effect on our results?

Members of our group sampling at Durbin.

The middle location we checked was at Durbin. We found the overall water quality to be 74.085. This falls into the good category on the scale. Water supplies with ratings falling in the good or excellent range would able to support a high diversity of aquatic life. In addition, the water would also be suitable for all forms of recreation, including those involving direct contact with the water. 

The end location for our analysis on the river was at Cass. We found the water quality here to be 49.97. This is in the fair category of the scale. Water supplies that fall into the poor category may only be able to support a limited number of aquatic life forms.
Brian calibrating our instruments prior to performing water analysis.
The Greenbrier River at Cass.
While I would expect and did see various forms of life ranging from fish, snakes and crayfish, there are sections that lead me to believe their are contaminants entering the water source. What types of contaminants do you think may be present? 
Water Quality

Test Sample Q-Value Weight Total Q-Value

DO (actual) 5.37      

Saturated DO reading from chart 7.67      

DO (% saturation) 70.01 75 0.32 24

Temperature Celsius) 26.46 15 0.19 2.85

TDS (actual) 114.54 85 0.13 11.05

Turbidity (actual) 17.23 61 0.15 9.15

pH(actual) 7 88 0.21 18.48

          Date: 7/21/2012
    Overall Quality 65.53 Location: Lewisburg

Water Quality

Test Sample Q-Value Weight Total Q-Value

DO (actual) 6.7      

Saturated DO reading from chart 7.22      

DO (% saturation) 92.80 97 0.32 31.04

Temperature Celsius) 27.5 12.5 0.19 2.375

TDS (actual) 59.3 89 0.13 11.57

Turbidity (actual) 20.5 61 0.15 9.15

pH(actual) 7.4 95 0.21 19.95

          Date: 7/19/2012
    Overall Quality 74.085 Location: Durbin

Water Quality

Test Sample Q-Value Weight Total Q-Value

DO (actual) 5.3      

Saturated DO reading from chart 7.2      

DO (% saturation) 73.61 29 0.32 9.28

Temperature Celsius) 26.1 15 0.19 2.85

TDS (actual) 81 88 0.13 11.44

Turbidity (actual) 11.2 78 0.15 11.7

pH(actual) 6.38 70 0.21 14.7

          Date: 7/18/2012
    Overall Quality 49.97 Location: Cass

C & O Railway Heritage Center- Clifton Forge, Virginia

       We finished our trip on Friday with a visit to the C & O Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia. Our trip was an up close look at the history of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and its history from its beginnings as a part of the James River Company to its modern day existence as part of CSX. Being that George Washington was the former President of the James River Company, C & O is considered to be George Washington's Railroad.

C&O Railway Heritage Center
The newly restored JD Cabin. This is where the trains in the yard were controlled. Why would it be important to have a high vantage point?
Tom Hefner was our tour-guide for the day.
This is the 614, a 4-8-4 locomotive built by the Lima Locomotive Works.
The 614 was repainted as the Presidential Express for display at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Notice the distinctive Lima red diamond emblem on the engine.
Notice the wheels and how they are powered on the 614. How are they different than those we saw on the gear-driven Shays and Climax? Why would these be different?
This is the Gadsby's Tavern dinning car. It was a part of the famed George Washington Route that ran from Washington, D.C. to Cincinnati, Ohio. It was one of the first two trains to be air conditioned.
This is the inside of the Gadsby's Tavern dinning car. We had the privilege of eating our lunches in the dinning car!
This is a hand-powered cycle to inspect sections of the railway. We were told this particular car was ridden each day to survey an 84 mile section of railway. The operator would pump the handle back and forth to propel the cycle.
We traveled over 200 miles to find out about the founder and namesake of Huntington, West Virgina, Collis P. Huntington. Huntington was the president of the C & O Railroad when Huntington, WV was founded.

The Durbin Rocket-Durbin, West Virginia

The Durbin Rocket is a Climax steam locomotive running out of Durbin, West Virginia. It is part of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

This is the 55-ton number 3, originally built in 1910 for the Moore-Keppel Lumber Co. in nearby Randolph County.

The number 3 is a Climax, gear-driven engine designed by the Climax Manufacturing Company of Corry, Pennsylvania.
The Climax, like the Shay and Heisler, is a gear-driven locomotive. As you can see in these pictures, the Climax has a massive piston on either side of the boiler in a horizontal position. How is this different than the Shay? Can you think of any advantages or disadvantages of this design over the Shay?

The Durbin Rocket's path parallels that of the Greenbrier River.
A traveling option on the Rocket is a 1920's caboose.
Another unique option at Durbin is the availability of caboose that are sleeper cars. These can be rented and are left at various positions on the trains route. Just in case you were wondering, the plural of caboose is caboose!

This is the inside of the caboose above, ready for camping!

Gaudineer Knob


Gaudineer Knob is a virgin spruce forest on Cheat Mountain in Randolph and Pocahontas counties in West Virginia. It is one of only two virgin forests in West Virginia, the other being Cathedral State Park. Gaudineer Knob is the result of a surveying error and was later incorporated into the Monongahela National Forest. One of the things we noticed was that this forest contained several species of trees not just red spruce. There were many varieties of birch, oak and other trees present. This was a vibrant forest where the flora and fauna is quite diverse.

We started our visit to Gaudineer with Steve discussing what we expected to experience in this virgin forest. Having visited Cathedral, a virgin hemlock forest, gave us a reference point. We had also visited Bald Knob, a second or third growth red spruce forest.

One of the first things we noticed at Gaudineer is the amount of moss, fungi, lichens and other organisms that live in moist environments. As you can see here, moss covered the ground like a carpet in many ares.

One of the things that surprised me about this forest was the number of trees that had fallen in the forest and how shallow their root balls were. This is caused by the proximity of bedrock to the surface. Many small saplings grew from rocks. Above you can see how the rocks are incorporated into the root balls.

Ferns were ubiquitous in the forest.

Fungi and Lichens growing on the side of a tree.

Cass Senic Rail Road- Cass West Virginia

We traveled to the Cass Scenic Railroad today for the 11 mile trip back to Bald Knob. Along the way we saw some breath taking views of mountains and wildlife. We were privileged to be transported there via the number 11 Shay locomotive.

11 Shay Engine
The Shay is a geared locomotive. The gear driven locomotives
were necessary to traverse West Virginia's mountainous terrain.
It was the Shay and other gear driven locomotives that enabled
the logging of West Virginia's virgin timber starting in the early
1900's. The 11 took us from Cass to Bald Knob. Along the we we
experienced breathtaking views of Cheat Mountain,
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and forests for miles in all directions.

These are the mighty pistons that transfer the
Shays power to the gears and eventually the wheels.

The gears that drive the train. Each truck has gears that drive
the engine making it all wheel drive.

While trains and logging sound like masculine
jobs, that is not always true. The Bald Knob
 fireman is actually a woman. She shovels coal into
the firebox to fire the engine. When the train is
climbing the mountain she will place a shovel of
coal in the firebox every 30 seconds. She shoveled
over 3 tons of coal during our trip alone!
The result of using a coal fired engine to power
the train are the by-products of burning, including
smoke and small cinders. Sitting too close behind
the engine will result in the seed sized cinders
pelting you. Keep in mind that coal power was
a technological advancement over wood. While
it would be replaced by diesel engines and today's
modern diesel-electric engines, but it was the best
technology of the day. Coal was readily available,
especially in West Virginia.

From Bald Knob you can see into two states. At center you can make out the Observatory (white dish). Bald Knob is 4,842 feet above ground level.

Bald Knob was given its name because of clear-cutting that took place there in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was replanted with red spruce trees. The elevation is perfect for the spruce forest to grow.
Because the red spruce trees were planted very close together, the canopy of the trees blocks most all sunlight from reaching the ground. As you can see, there is no vegetation at ground level. What do you think that means about wildlife in this spruce forest?
The canopy of the spruce forest only allows a little sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor.