Last Saturday my friend Adam Barr and I headed for Pittsburgh for a morning of railfanning Norfolk Southern in the steel city.
We had been in town about a half-hour when an an online report popped up that the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit was headed west past Manor, Pennsylvania, with a load of sea cans. That turned out to be stack train 21Q.
Manor is east of the Pittsburgh where the Pennsylvania Turnpike crosses over the NS Pittsburgh line between Pittsburgh and Altoona, Pennsylvania.
We headed for California Avenue with the idea of getting an image of the locomotive paying tribute to the PRR on a structure that was built by the PRR, the Ohio Connecting Bridge that today carries the NS Mon Line.
When I think of railroads in Pittsburgh, structures such as this come to mind. I also think of the former Pennsylvania Railroad.
We were able to get ahead of the train and catch it at CP Leets in Leetsdale. Although I had my scanner on, we didn’t get any warning of the train approaching because I didn’t pick it up calling any signals.
Our “heads up” was another railfan bolting from his car and running toward the bridge over the tracks that carries a road leading into an industrial park. I was barely able to get the shot I wanted of the Pennsy heritage unit passing former Pennsy position light signals.
We weren’t sure if we could beat the 21Q to East Conway because it was moving along at a good clip. But it turned out the stacker would have a long wait there because of traffic working in Conway Yard that needed to come out to East Conway for head room as well as the need for the 21Q to change crews.
Our last photo op of the 21Q was planned for the bridge over the Beaver River in Beaver Falls. But things did not go according to plan because Adam, who was driving, could not find a parking spot in a timely manner.
He dropped me off at the east end of the sidewalk of the bridge and I walked as fast as I could toward the river. I wouldn’t make it.
The 21Q had already called the signal at the Brighton and I could see its headlight illuminating the sides of the containers of an eastbound stack train that was slowly making its way toward Conway.
I noticed the Fort Wayne Line bridge had an old, but faded Pennsylvania Railroad keystone and decided to make that the focal point of my last photograph of NS 8102, thus ending my chase of the 21Q with an image of a pair of Pennsy keystones.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Tags: conway yard, Leetsdale Pennsylvania, Norfolk Southern, NS 8102, NS Conway Yard, NS East Conway, NS Heritage locomotives, NS in Pennsylvania, NS in Pittsburgh, NS locomotive power, NS locomotives, NS motive power, NS Pennsy heritage locomotive, NS PRR heritage locomotive, NS PRR Heritage unit, NS stack trains, OC Bridge, Ohio Connecting bridge, Pennsylvania Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit, Pittsburgh area railroads, Railfanning in Leetsdale Pa