PIEDMONT & NORTHERN 2102
Piedmont & Northern Interurban Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) No 2102 was built by the Southern Car Company in 1914 as a 2500 class heavyweight interurban trailer (unpowered passenger car with control stand for operating a powered EMU's engine via cables). After an increase in traffic necessitated more interurbans, the 2500 class trailer was rebuilt as No 2102 with 600 volt motors and a trolley pole on the roof, which connected to an overhead electrical wire. In 1924 the 10 foot baggage section was added along with a steam heater, making 2102 completely self-sufficient!
The 2102 saw service on the South Carolina section of the P&N, between Greenwood and Spartanburg, and later on the North Carolina line near Charlotte, The two segments were never connected as the larger Southern Railway did not want the competition, and as such used their political power to block any connection from ever occurring, also requiring P&N equipment being transferred between lines to be shipped over Southern rails, for a fee.
In the 1940s, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) required the P&N to upgrade its voltage to 1500 Volts DC, at which time the trolley pole was replaced with a stronger steel structure, called a pantograph. As part of this change the 2102's clerestory roof, with its ventilation windows (2102 was never air conditioned) was sealed over, and the car most likely updated inside, the rattan seats being replaced with wood slats.
On the 31st of October, 1951, the final P&N passenger train pulled out of Greenwood, with the 2102 and business car "Carolina" bringing up the markers. Until the P&N was absorbed into the Seaboard Coast Line(later Seaboard System, and today CSX Transportation) P&N used ALCo diesels. 2102 was retained by the P&N as a buffer car in consists for 3 years, until 1954. 1954 saw the conversion into an instruction car and future use for crew training. Rather than being scrapped like its fleetmates, 2102 had all its seats removed and desks placed inside. Today this is done with computer simulator, but back then a real "dummy cab" was needed, and 2102 was perfect. 2102 could be pushed or pulled by a diesel and had plenty of room for trainees in the passenger compartment, whereas taking a "dead" engine only allowed 4 or 5, and the round baggage area windows offered a perfect view. Once the P&N merged into the Seaboard Coast Line, 2102 was retired.
By 1969 the Piedmont & Northern (then part of Seaboard Coast Line) had no further use for the 3 ancient P&N cars: 2102, 2201 "Carolina", and caboose X-23, and the Railroad Historical Center obtained them in late 1969, moving them to Greenwood, where the 2102 sat untouched until 2014. Following the external restoration, 2102 has been returned to P&N red, but awaits a replica control stand as well as electrical components, to be truly restored, however the reinstallation of reversible "walk-over" seats was a major step forward.
A few facts:
- 2102 was built as 63 feet long, as an interurban car, as opposed to 85 feet as was
standard for locomotive hauled coaches of the period.
- 2102 was built to operate on 600 volts Direct Current, later altered to 1500 volts. Most
electric locomotives today operate on 2500 volts Alternating Current, whilst 3rd rail
subways and multiple units use 500-750 volts Direct Current.
- 2102 features a small smoking section with its own toilet and water cooler.
- 2102 has its own steam heating unit to supply steam for the radiators.
^ Fleetmate Interurban, 2108 in Service ^ ^ 2102 in 1947 ^
^ 2102 as used as a Classroom, post-1954 ^ ^ 2102's restoration progresses ^ ^2102 in original condition, 1920s at left, and early 1940s on right ^
^ Restored No 2102, Last of the P&N Interurbans ^
Historical Images Courtesy the Don Ross Collection and Smithsonian Archives