Quest For Keystone Fall Foliage: 2

Overall, the fall foliage was good at Cassandra. Shown is the 25Z.

Second of Three Parts

A group of about 10 guys were standing on the bridge over the Norfolk Southern tracks at the railfan park in Cassandra, Pennsylvania, when I arrived.

They were waving and I couldn’t figure out what that was all about. There was no train coming and I didn’t see anyone at track level. Maybe someone was on the hillside, but that wasn’t the case, either.

It turned out they were waving at a drone hovering overhead to the west.

It didn’t take long before an eastbound intermodal train showed up, the 26T. It had the only “foreign” locomotive I would see all day. Tucked in behind the lead NS unit was a CSX locomotive.

On Saturday evening, I had checked the site to see if any NS heritage units were setting up to come through central Pennsylvania on Sunday. None appeared to be.

I struck up a conversation with a guy who was checking the HU site and nothing looked promising.

I never learned where this railfan was from, but he wasn’t from Pennsylvania.

During my time at Cassandra, I would meet railfans from Ohio (Lima), Illinois and New York. Earlier I met a couple guys from New Jersey.

My new railfan friend had arrived the day before and said the fall colors were the best he had seen in a long while in this region.

But he said that locals had said the color was nice, yet not as intense as it had been in the past. Indeed, the foliage colors in many places seemed muted.

I had been to Cassandra once in October,  several years earlier. But that was early in the month and the foliage was just starting to turn.

I wouldn’t say Cassandra on this day offered a riot of color, but it was good and I was satisfied with what there was.

The next train up was the eastbound 25Z. It would meet the westbound 20T a little west of the Cassandra rail park.

I was mildly annoyed that the guy with the drone who had taken the group portrait was flying his machine just over the trains. I would either have to live with having a drone in my photographs or remove it in Photoshop.

Actually, there were two drones in the air during my time in Cassandra. The other drone though, was not flying right over the top of the train.

My new railfan friend had a scanner and heard the Pittsburgh East dispatcher give track time and authority to a signal foreman in Cresson on Tracks 1 and 2.

The railfan falsely thought that meant traffic was about to die. I reminded him that the foreman had not been given authority on Track 3.

Someone mentioned having seen trains going “wrong way” on one of the mainline tracks in Gallitzin the day before.

I was somewhat surprised that most of the trains that passed through Cassandra during my time there were either loaded coal trains or empty coal hopper trains. Interspersed among the coal train fleet were helper moves.

I decided about noon that it was time for lunch, which was a little later than I expected to be eating considering that I had eaten breakfast at 4 a.m.

I sat at a picnic table that someone had painted black and applied a white NS horse heads logo to the top. More coal trains passed as I munched on lunch.

After polishing off my Tastykake cupcakes, I decided it was time to move further east down Pennsylvania Route 53 to Lilly.

There wasn’t as much color there as I would have liked. In fact, the best color was on the west edge of town at the curve.

By now the sun position was unfavorable for that angle. More promising was a stand of trees on the north side of the tracks with some good color.

What I needed was a westbound but my first train was eastbound 22W, an intermodal train.

Unfortunately for me, as the 22W lumbered past so did a westbound auto rack train and I got hosed.

After a short wait, NS sent a help set westward and I got my train with fall foliage shot. The results were OK, but not great.

I decided to wait for another westbound, which turned out to be a coal train that came along 30 minutes later.

Satisfied with the results, I decided it was time to continue my eastward progression.

Another view of the 25Z in Cassandra with the power all running elephant style.

Helpers running light at Cassandra in the first of a two-shot sequence.

Helpers on the rear of a coal train at Cassandra.

Here comes the 26T in the first of a four-image progression.

A meet between the 25Z and the 20T in a two-shot sequence.


Another eastbound coal train.

First of two of a westbound coal train at Lilly.

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One Response to “Quest For Keystone Fall Foliage: 2”

  1. James L.Leasure Says:

    Very nice Craig!

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