Coming Full Circle With NS 1700 and the EL

Norfolk Southern No. 700 in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, in October 2015.

Norfolk Southern No. 1700 in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, in October 2015.

Erie Lackawanna No. 3669 at Marion, Ohio, in August 1975.

Erie Lackawanna No. 3669 at Marion, Ohio, in August 1975.

I had been in the Altoona, Pennsylvania, area over the weekend of Oct. 17/18 and had planned on photographing the first excursion runs of the Everett No. 11 out of Holidaysburg on Sunday. Norfolk Southern had recently repainted a former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2 back into EL colors, a dream come true for this die hard EL fan.

The 1700 was in Conway on Saturday and word filtered in that NS 1700 would lead the 10N east on Sunday.

I had to return to Ohio by Sunday night, so I elected to catch the Everett No. 11 a few times then book west and intercept the shiny 1700 somewhere.

The weather had been crazy all weekend with a lot of clouds and rain and snow, so I didn’t hold much hope for any sun.

I picked a spot just off Route 22 in Blairsville and had less than an hour wait before I heard horns in the distance.

The EL gods were with me as the clouds parted just as the train arrived. The clean gray, maroon, and yellow on this original EL unit took me back to the very beginnings of my interest in this hobby.

Right there in, of all places, Blairsville, Pennsylvania, I was seeing my railfan career come full circle.

I had photographed this engine sitting in Marion back in 1975 next to some Milwaukee Road power.

It had been a grubby day and I was using grainy old print film at the time. But my interest in the EL (and railroading) was cranking up big time.

Conrail was on the horizon but I didn’t understand any of the reasons why it was; I just liked the railroad.

Little did I know the life that EL 3669 . . . and me . . . would have in the following years and that a little over 40 years later we would meet again. How cool is that!

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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