3 Trains, 5 Minutes, Then the Sounds of Cicadas and Traffic on a Summer Afternoon in North East

A woman captures a westbound CSX stacker in North East, Pennsylvania, as her young children eye the approaching train.

A woman captures a westbound CSX stacker in North East, Pennsylvania, as her young children eye the approaching train.

The westbound cleared just in time for an unobstructed view of the eastbound.

The westbound cleared just in time for an unobstructed view of the eastbound.

The NS local completed the trio of trains in slightly less than five minutes. And none of them blocked each other.

The NS local completed the trio of trains in slightly less than five minutes. And none of them blocked each other.

The buzzing of cicadas and periodic muffled sounds of nearby street traffic hung in the otherwise still mid-afternoon air on a late summer day of sun and clouds in North East, Pennsylvania.

It had been nearly three hours since the last CSX westbound had rolled past the Lake Shore Railway Historical Society Museum and more than an hour since there had been an eastbound CSX train.

Norfolk Southern had been quiet since just before noon.

All of that was about to change. The first clue was the scanner inside the museum coming to life with the chirps of what sounded like trains calling signals at a distance.

In due time, the transmissions became strong enough to pick out the location of the signals being called on both railroads. Then there were headlights to the east and west on CSX.

The westbound stack train arrived first. Its rear well car had barely cleared on Track No. 1 by the former New York Central station when the lead locomotive of an eastbound manifest freight came rushing past on Track No. 2.

The scanner barked out the transmission of a detector on NS situated nearly three miles away.

No sooner had the eastbound CSX train cleared, but a headlight came into view of an eastbound NS local, which would later work at the Welch plant in North East after another eastbound NS train had passed by.

It all played out over slightly less than five minutes and when it was over the only sounds in the air were the buzzing of cicadas and the periodic noise of nearby street traffic.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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