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 Coastline(later Seaboard System, and today CSX Transportation) P&N used ALCo diesels. As for 2102, in 1954 she was converted into an instruction car and used for training. Rather than being scrapped like her sisters, 2102 had all her seats removed and desks placed inside. 2102 was used by the P&N as a buffer car in consists for 3 years, and to train new crewman after 1954. Today this is done with computer simulator, but back then 2102 was perfect. 2102 could be pushed or pulled by a diesel and had plenty of room for trainees, whereas taking a "dead" engine only allowed 4 or 5, rather than 50, and the round baggage area windows offered a perfect view. Once the P&N merged into the Seaboard Coastline, 2102 was retired.
The Piedmont & Northern (then part of Seaboard Coast Line) donated the 3 ancient P&N cars, 2102, 2201 "Carolina", and X-23 to the Railroad Historical Center purchased 2102 in late 1969 and moved her to Greenwood, where she sat untouched until 2014. Following her external restoration, 2102 has been returned to P&N red, but awaits replica seats and a control stand as well as electrical components, to be truly restored, a to whether it will be 1500 Volt 1940s condition or 1920s condition with rattan seats, is unknown.
^ 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