Thursday, February 17, 2011

Richmond Railfanning, 2-12-2011

Hi, I had the opportunity to railfan in Richmond, VA a week ago with friends Stan Short and Jack Bruce. Being with native guides who know the territory is really nice. I could just go with the flow.

We met at Great Shiplock Park, at the west end of the former C&O Fulton Yard. A loaded coal train went west and then headed up the hill toward the former RF&P Acca Yard. This train could have been going south via the former ACL or it could reverse direction, cross the James River on the former SAL bridge, and head for the Wheelwright power plant, which it did. Fortunately, as we were about to give up on the shot Stan noticed a clear signal for a southbound on our side of the bridge resulting in the photo below.

We returned to Great Shiplock Park but shortly after we arrived we heard Q303 in Fulton Yard. It sounded like it was getting ready to leave and it is a unique train as it operates WB on the normally EB river line. So we moved west to photograph it from across the river on the viaduct the C&O built along the Richmond waterfront. Shortly after getting to our spot we heard a horn to our west, but nothing happened. After waiting another half hour the horn sounded 2 short. A loaded coal train crawled into view and moved toward the yard.

About an hour later another coal train showed up. By this time we had relocated to a spot along the west end of the flood wall, again on the south bank. We stayed in this location for a total of four loaded coal trains trying a variety of slightly different angles and focal lengths.

Finally, after sitting in Fulton Yard for about 6 hours Q303 departed WB. Note, the train originated in Acca yard so it was hauled down the hill and into Fulton by a Yard Crew before it was ready to head west. Q303 would not get very far before requiring a recrew.

By this time it was getting late but we went looking for a location along the Powhite Expressway even though there were still 2 or 3 more loaded coal trains to come. We found the spot but the shadows had already encroached so Stan and I headed north. We stopped at Doswell, VA where a 3 unit set of Buckingham Branch GP-16s sat idling. Too bad the second unit was not leading.

Thus ended a great day. Good weather, good trains, good friends.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Railfanning 1-27 and 1/28

Hi, The Washington, DC metro area got roughly 8 inches of snow between about 4:00 PM on 1/26 and 4:00 AM on 1/27. Friend Dale Diacont arrived the morning of 1/27 for a 2 day visit so we headed out to see what we could find. I decided the roads could be dicey so we stayed pretty close to home.

Our first stop was at Washington Grove on CSX's Metropolitan Sub, in the southern part of Gaithersburg, MD. About 11:30 AM we photographed D765 leaving the trash transfer station on the north side of Rockville, MD heading for the steam generating incinerator in Dickerson, MD. The steam is sold to the Morant Energy power plant at the site. About 12:20 PM, with the radio quiet we quit for lunch.

After lunch we headed for downtown Gaithersburg. However, it was quiet for most of the afternoon. Finally, about 4:00 PM Q415 came east/south. As there was supposed to be a flagman just north of the depot and the train could not raise him, the dispatcher ordered the crew to stop the train at the point where the flagman was supposed to be, and then proceed looking out for contractor equipment. Without telling anyone the flagman had gone home. Thus the train was stopped just short of a summit, which occurs in front of the station and could only get up to crawling speed as it passed us.

This gave us the opportunity to beat the train to Washington Grove even though we had to travel over a mile and the train had to go less than a 1/2 mile.

In fact, even at this point the train was going so slowly that I was able to take the photo above and run down the platform to get the photo below.

On the block of Q415 was Q138, also at Washington Grove.

The first commuter train of the day roared west through Washington Grove as Q138 crawled east. This was our last train of 1/27.

Dale wanted to go to New Carollton to photograph MARC trains. His thought was to shoot from the Metro platform. However, when we got to New Carollton we found we would be parking in a structure and I suggested we check out the view from the top deck. He found that perspective satisfactory so that's where we shot from for about 45 minutes. The following photos show a few of the angles available.

I had mentioned earlier that one could photograph the throat of Washington Union Station legally from the back porch of the old REA building and Dale asked if we could take a look. While we were there I was approached by Amtrak Police officers. They merely wanted to know what I was doing. They were careful to explain that I was not on Amtrak property and taking train photos from that spot was perfectly legal. However, in light of 9/11 and subsequent events they needed to be aware of what was happening.

After leaving Washington Union Station we headed to the BWI Airport station to pickup Dale's friend, Robert Richardson. I had met Robert briefly a few years ago but this was my first opportunity, which I thoroughly enjoyed, to get to know Robert. After lunch Dale asked if we could take a look at the Canton Railroad and Severstal. In the photo below a former CP SW1200 is switching Canton's former CSX Penn Mary yard.

We caught a CSX yard transfer just outside Penn Mary.

Then we headed for Severstal. This is the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. Sparrows Point mill. Most of it currently is shut down. We shot 2 SW1500s. As we were about to leave a mill employee pulled up behind us and asked what we were taking pictures of. We told him but he informed us that as we were on private property we would have to wait to talk to a security person. The security guard showed up a few minutes later and, after ascertaining we were not either terrorists or out to commit industrial espionage, told us we should leave and not come back without permission.

Our next last stop was to shoot the first Camden Line DC bound commuter train as it ran from MARC's Riverside facility to Camden Station.

Finally, Dale asked if we could check out West Baltimore. We spent about 1/2 hour there and saw 4 trains. The train immediately below is eastbound and will soon making its station stop in Baltimore.

This train has just stopped for a passenger and is now headed for DC.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.