Thursday, September 6, 2012

Extension: Forest & Rail Trip

The first stop was Weyerhauser in Heaters, WV, which develops OSB sheets used in many application's in construction. The business is sound in their environmental stewardship, by recycling used water, use scraps to heat up the oil furnace, using the particulate (mud) waste for landfills, and the burning of fine particulates. All the businesses that we came across on this project were all concerned about the community and the environment they live in. It makes me proud to be a West Virginian, to see people take pride in their community and the environment.

  • How does  using all aspects of waste help the ecosystem?
  • Research for a business in West Virginia that is not as environmentally concerned and develop a letter that expresses concern for the ecosystem and financial benefits.

The last stop was to Appalachian Timber Services which primarily develops cross ties for short lines of the railroad industry, beams for coal mines, and lumber for railroad bridges. What is amazing about the place is that they are the number one supplier in cross ties to the New York subway system. Instead of using kilns to dry the ties, the company employs the use of a vacuum and applying pressure from creosote (a tar byproduct from oil and coal applications used in treatment of cross-ties and telephone poles) to replace the water. The reason the company doesn't employ the use of a kiln is the turnover time. Another interesting aspect of the company is the development of the cross beams for coal mines. The cross beams are able to bow under the weight, due to how they are engineered and the use of yellow poplar (soft timber).

Click here to check out the updated pictures from the trip.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

WV Watersheds

As we journeyed up Cheat Mountain on Shay #11 during our expedition on the Cass Scenic Railway to reach Bald Knob, I wondered about the watersheds of West Virginia. It was pointed out to us as we were coming down the mountain, there was a plateau in the far distance that divided the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Citizen Science: Water Quality

Today, I will be taking part of a citizen science experiment on water quality. Using adaptive technology called a WaterBot, we will be able to gather information on temperature and total dissolved solids within a water source. WaterBot is a way to bring water quality data to citizens in monitoring the health of an aquatic ecosystem. The technology is meant to stay within the water source and collect data on a 12 month battery life. The data will need to be collected every two weeks, before it is copied over through collection of new data. Installing the device is very simple and should be a great way to collect data on temperature and conductivity.


EPA: Water Quality Conditions - This site does a great job in explaining the importance of collecting data on water quality. It also explains a little background on why you are collecting the measurements.

Tampa Bay Aquarium Society - This is a newsletter that talks about the proper maintenance of fresh water fish aquariums. Look around page 5-7 for the total dissolved solutes and conductivity. The great application of this article is the calculation of the osmoregulation of fish.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 6: The Last Hoorah

Upon our last day for the WV Forest & Rail trip, we finished strong with the final water quality test and a trip to the C&O museum in Clifton Forge, Va.
Greenbrier River near Lewisburg, WV

The data of the water quality may be skewed due to the rain. The data appears the same as the upstream spots that were tested. We visited a spot on the Greenbrier river near Lewisburg, WV. Click here to view the data collected from all the water quality sites.

The final stop was to the C&O museum. This is a great place to learn the history if the railway. What I found interesting is the ad campaign that employed Chessie the cat. The famous logo and statement () helped the C&O achieve prominence with customers in using rail travel. Upon our visit to Cass & Durbin railway, I understood the significance of the campaign. Click here for more information on the ad campaign and the C&O railway. Why do you think the ad campaign was so successful.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 5: Water Quality on Greenbrier River

Upon our arrival at Gaudineer Knob, we discovered similarities and differences between the virgin forests (previous was Cathedral State Park).

Similarities: The limited diversity in the forests. There wasn't as many organisms as compared to a second growth forest. The dominance of ferns and mosses was prevalent through both virgin forests. This tells us that there is water stores within the soil.

Differences: Gaudineer Knob contains more species of hardwood trees and understory growth. It appears to me that within 109 years the forest will be mainly composed of broadleaf trees than evergreens (red spruce). The soil pH was not as acidic as Cathedral State Park. The pH for Gaudineer Knob was 5.

What are some reasons for the red spruce to become less dominant and for broadleaf trees to become the dominant species.
Describe the type of environment in which ferns and misses need to survive?

Greenbrier River near Durbin, WV

The next test was water quality test on the Greenbrier river near Durbin, WV. The data collected shows that the water is good for living organisms. There were brown water snakes, crayfish, and an assortment of fish living in the waters of the Greenbrier. The data we have been receiving has shown that the river fair for organisms to live in the ecosystem. The water is very shallow and with small rapids in some areas and stagnant in others. Click here to view the data that was gathered from previous sites across the Greenbrier river.

The last and final stop on the trip was train ride along the Greenbrier river in a Climax engine in Durbin, WV. The scenery was beautifully as we followed the twist and turns of the river. Below is a picasa web album that contains pictures form the Cass & Durbin Scenic Railway.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 4: Timber Train

All aboard said the train conductor, we loaded up on Shay number 11 to head up the mountain to Bald Knob. Located in Cass, WV one can take the Cass Scenic Railroad to view a stunning site and have ride like no other. The technology and mechanics of the train are engineered for torque and tractive force to climb the mountain.
Shay 11

Shay engines are popular trains that were used in the logging industry. The fireman tries to keep the pressure around 200 lbs., one needs to anticipate when to stock the boiler with coal. The train is different in that it's an all wheel drive train that has multiple pistons to supply the torque needed. If the track is slick they are able to place sand on the rails ahead of them to get traction. For more information on the train that changed the timbering industry click here.

We also performed a water quality test at the Greenbrier River. We tested for pH, conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity. Click here for the following results gathered from the Greenbrier. looking over the dissolved oxygen data, the level is extremely low for organisms to live in. It would be interesting to see if any benthic macroinvertebrates may be living in the water.

Why is torque needed when trying to go up a 8% percent grade?
What would happen if the boiler pressure went above or below 200lbs.
Why must the fireman must anticipate to place coal in the boiler?
Shay - firebox

Shay #6 (largest shay built)
Shay - three pistons that rotate the drive shaft, this is the reason for an increase in torque

Shay - here we notice the drive shaft that supplies energy to all the wheels, similar to four wheel drive

Bald Knob