Where Was a Westbound When I Needed it?

Photographers crave late day light. It casts a golden glow and hence the hour before sunset is often called the golden hour.

Although the golden hour can be found all year around, we are now in a time when there is also a low sun angle as we move toward the December solstice, which this year will occur on Dec. 21.

On a recent walk on the Portage Hike and Bike trail I took my camera in the hopes that CSX would send a train my way when I reached the portion of the trail that runs alongside the CSX New Castle Subdivision just north of Kent.

The light was, indeed, very sweet, and it favored a westbound.

I sat on a bench and waited. It took awhile before I heard what sounded like a CSX locomotive horn. Alas, the sound was coming from town, which suggested an eastbound.

I got into position and sure enough the sound of the locomotives of an approaching train confirmed that I was about to get an eastbound, which turned out to be the Q016.

That is a stack train that runs from Chicago to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and usually passes through Northeast Ohio in daylight hours.

On this particular day, though, it had more bare tables than containers.

I made an image of the last bare table going away and was pleased, overall, with the results.

It was nearly 4 p.m. and I knew that only about an hour of daylight was left and even less time for that light to illuminate a westbound.

I found an open location that was high above the tracks and waited.

I didn’t have my scanner with me so I would have to hope to hear an approaching train in time to be ready to photograph it.

That would be a challenge because across the tracks a worker was doing some work at the Standing Rock Cemetery that involved the use of a loud power tool.

As luck would have it, the worker quit for the day just after 4.

I was hoping to get the Q015, the westbound counterpart to the Q016. I’ve seen it in late afternoon passing through Kent.

The minutes continued to tick by and the sun continued to move. I noticed that it was slowly edging out onto the tracks.

Even if I got a westbound there would be little, if any, light on the side of the train. It would be all nose light.

I was fine with that because that can create an interesting effect of light and shadows.

It was getting to be 4:30 and the temperature was becoming noticeably colder. The wind had an increasing bite to it.

As my “drop dead” time approached, I decided to admit defeat and begin the mile-long walk back to my car.

The trail veers away from the CSX tracks and into a grove of trees. Then the former Erie Railroad mainline comes back alongside the trail to the right.

If a CSX train were to pass I’d be able to hear it but not see it. Yet all I heard was the wind.

I paused on the bridge that carries the trail over the double-track CSX New Castle Sub.

The intermediate signals that the crews refer to as “Davey Tree” were dark. They are approach lighted so nothing was imminent.

I didn’t go home empty handed. I had the going away image of the Q016 and I had the top image of the tracks and my long shadow to remind me that some days all you get is air over the rails.

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