Monday, May 24, 2010

Railfanning 5-21-10

Hi, Friend Rudy Volin and I went out on Friday to check out some locations in the Arlington/Alexandria, VA area for shots of VRE (Virginia Railway Express).

Our first stop was just north of Crystal City where a new park is being built next to RO interlocking. We had seen a photo of the construction area by our friend Mike Schaller showing two piles of dirt and I wondered if there was a shot to be had from one of the piles. Unfortunately, the dirt piles were located within a fence surrounding the park construction area, which was posted. So we moved on.

Our next stop was the US 1 bridge across CSX. We arrived there about 2:00 PM, just as a CSX freight headed north. This was one of 11 trains we saw in 2 hours. As we were walking up onto the bridge we heard L173 call for permission through a work area near the new park. The train is shown below.

Amtrak's northbound Silver Star was next up but I had not yet found an acceptable northbound angle from this side of the road so I passed. The next southbound train was Q703. The smell of garbage was really rank.

Amtrak #95 ran next followed by the southbound Silver Star (shown below).

Next VRE got into the act with two reverse moves into DC, one each from Manassas and Fredericksburg, VA.

Rush hour VRE service began with train #303, which was scheduled to depart the Alexandria Station at 3:57 PM.

CSX ran Q415 on Track 2.

The second rush hour VRE train we photographed was #327 for Manassas which was scheduled to depart Alexandria at 4:04 PM.

We then attempted to relocated to the station for the rest of the afternoon. However, there were no parking spots there so we looked for a location west of the station. As we were unable to find one we quit and went to dinner. All in all an interesting afternoon.

For interest I have included scans of the area taken in the 1975 - 1976 time frame. The first photo shows the same general angle as that for L173, above. In the view below Crystal city can be seen on the left above the slug, which was built from an Alco S-2.

Looking to the south from the Duke Street bridge AFT #1 (former Reading #2101) brings the American Freedom train into Alexandria in June 1975 after a run up the Southern RY. At his point #4449 would take over the job of powering the train.

AFT #1 and the American Freedom Train were back in Alexandria in December of 1976 at the end of its tour. I am not sure exactly where this was taken from.

I hope you enjoyed the photos.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Railfanning 5-14 to 5-16-10

Hi, I spent the weekend of May 14-16 visiting with friend Dale Diacont in the area around his home in the Shenandoah Valley. You may recall that Dale and I spent 10 days in February in Nevada and Utah. After I arrived a few minutes before 10:00 AM we got in gear and headed out. Our destination was East Alleghany, VA on CSX's former C&O route over the Alleghany mountains. Here the route down the mountain goes from double track to single track until Moss Run, VA.

We had good sun for awhile. Unfortunately during that period CSX ran an eastbound grain train,

Amtrak #50, the eastbound Cardinal,

and a westbound with a poorly painted GE dash 8 leading. At least the signals are neat.

Then they ran an eastbound coal train.

Finally, a westbound empty coal train with decent power but no sun.

On our way home to Dale's we heard a westbound calling the signal at Callahan so we headed in a few miles west, at Moss Run, for the final shot of the day.

Saturday dawned clear so we headed for a spot I have been wanting to photograph ever since I saw a picture by friend Stan Short at this location. While we waited for the expected eastbound (we had obtained information before we went there) some clouds began to gather. Finally the train showed up and the clouds gave us a break. U793 at Lyle, VA.

Next we decided to take another shot at East Alleghany. On the way we checked out the yard at Clifton Forge and I was able to shoot this C&O geep. It is part of the collection of the C&O historical society and on display.

Dale suggested we check out Low Moor, VA, at the west end of Clifton Forge yard to see if anything was happening. Sure enough empty coal cars were getting ready to head west.

We got ahead of the train at Callahan. Dale thinks the signal bridges along this route will be replaced in the next few years.

Our final shot, just barely, was taken as the train blasted through White Sulfur Springs, WV.

After lunch we went back to East Allegheny. First up was G701.

Then we doubled back to Covington, VA to see if we could find something. Spotting a green signal on the west side of town we set up and shortly E500 came along.

E500 stopped at Moss Run to wait for an eastbound coal train to clear the single track. Meanwhile, Q302 was waiting at East Alleghany. It seemed, based on radio chatter and a conversation with the engineer of Q302, that the dispatcher planned to run a light helper which had descended the hill with the eastbound coal train west and then run either E500 or Q302. However, as we were standing around waiting we heard the sound of locomotives working hard and rushed to set up. Needless to say we were not in our desired position when E500 came into view.

Finally the light helper came up the hill. We did not wait for Q302 to leave as it was too late in the day to shoot an eastbound. We stopped in Covington and shot a yard job before heading home again.

Sunday dawned cloudy but by the time we reached Balcony Falls, VA on the James River line the sun was out. We learned an eastbound coal train was out of Clifton Forge with a grain train about 2 hours behind so we waited and got N660.

Our last planned stop was at Wasp Rock Tunnel, VA where we photographed G958.

On the way back to Dale's we got off I-81 at Buena Vista because there was a traffic problem ahead of us. Thus we stumbled upon a northbound NS manifest which we shot at Midvale, VA and

at the south end of Vesuvius siding.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. It was a very enjoyable weekend and I am grateful to Dale and Audrey Diacont for their hospitality and to Dale for his excellent guiding.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ships and River Boats of Holland and Belgium

Hi, Below I posted photos of some of the trains and trams I saw during a river boat trip my wife and I took in Holland and Belgium. Here I would like to share some of the ships and river craft we saw. The River Aria was our ship for the trip. She is just shy of 410 feet long, 37 feet wide and has a capacity of 164 passengers on 4 decks.

We started our journey in Antwerp, Belgium. The traffic on the rivers and canals of Holland and Belgium is dense. The variety is amazing. Most of the river traffic consists of boats that function as barges do in the US. They carry bulk commodities, e.g., coal and sand, petroleum products and containers.
When loaded some can sit very low in the water. They look like they might sink.

Other river craft, such as this work boat on the left and the police boat on the right, also are present. Antwerp is the worlds 3rd largest port and a container ship is docked in the background.

After spending the night at the dock in Antwerp we left the next afternoon. The next few photos were taken before dinner as we left Antwerp.

It was difficult to identify some of the ships we saw. However, I believe this is a large dredge.

This is actually a barge being shoved by a tow boat. We saw very few of these.

This is a tanker and it carried flammable cargo.

Amsterdam was the official end of our trip. Note the car carried on the deckhouse in the rear of the boat. All but one of the river boats we saw were set up this way and many carried cars. I think this boat is carrying compressed natural gas.

This is just what it looks like, a huge yacht.

I was told by one of our tour directors that this boat no longer sails but is used as a floating restaurant.

Ferries constitute an important part of the transportation system as there are very few bridges; and none in either Amsterdam or Antwerp. The ferries in Amsterdam are for passengers only and are free.
Other ferries, such as the one below in Schoonhaven, carry vehicles too.

A fire boat frequently patrolled the river in Amsterdam.

Tankers generally were much wider than other river boats. This one was taken from the top deck of River Aria as we transited one of the canals.

Another boat photographed from the River Aria is carrying containers.

The smaller ports we visited had an interesting array of sailing ships and power boats. Some were available for charter and some took parties out for cruises of up to a week on the huge bodies of water that have been diked off from the North Sea.

Because of the ash coming from the volcano in Iceland we stayed on River Aria for an extra week; actually leaving the ship in Rotterdam. I photographed the old side wheeler below as we approached our dock. I am not sure of its use today.

These 2 excursion boats are tied up at what we were told is the original harbor for Rotterdam.

Here is the only boat I saw with the pilot house and deckhouse at the front. When I first saw it I thought it was backing out of a dock.

I really enjoyed the diversity of river traffic we saw and I hope you enjoyed the selection of photos.