The hogger at the throttle of Amtrak P42DC No. 12 gave me a toot of the horn as he blasted past at track speed on Track No. 2 of the Erie West Subdivision of CSX.
Unlike the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Sunday followed a tightly scripted plan. I got up before dawn and drove to North East, Pennsylvania, to catch Amtrak 48 at Bort Road.
My motivation for doing that was multi-fold. First, I have only seen Amtrak just once in 2016. Yes, that’s right. The guy who lists Amtrak as his second favorite railroad behind the Illinois Central, has hardly seen it this year.
Second, I have not seen the Lake Shore Limited since it went to single locomotive operation last spring.
Third, there are reports that the Bort Road bridge may be razed and not replaced. That might be a year or more away, but you never know.
The character of Bort Road as a place to photograph trains would change even if a replacement bridge is built because it likely would have fences.
The existing bridge is a throwback to an earlier era when the tracks belonged to the New York Central and the Nickel Plate Road and each had a fleet of steam locomotives.
I made better time than expected, arriving at Bort Road before the sun rose over the horizon. That turned out to be a bonus because I was able to get good sunrise images.
My first train was a short Norfolk Southern No. 145. It had two locomotives and that was it.
It was the second time that I’ve seen the 145 this year running light. That also might have been on a Sunday.
There was just enough light from the rising sun to create an image, one of the more interesting photographs that I’ve created this year.
I was hoping to get a CSX westbound with the rising sun behind it. I sort of got that, but the sun was higher in the sky than I would have liked. But it still turned out well.
Two CSX westbounds passed by before Amtrak began talking on the radio. Amtrak Julie had reported that No. 48 was expected to arrive in Erie on time at 7:20 a.m. but depart three minutes late. I don’t know how she knew that.
After Amtrak blew past, I hung around until 9 a.m. There were no trains on NS during that time and two westbounds ran on CSX. Nothing ran east, which was too bad because the light favored eastbounds.
I did some experimenting with the westbound trains and was able to produce some images that I liked.
My plan was to drive to Westfield, New York, and add another Great Lakes lighthouse to my collection.
This one stands over Barcelona Harbor and is a stately stone structure. It is the eighth new for me lighthouse I’ve photographed this summer.
I wound up at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East where I spent the rest of the afternoon.
The light was not favorable for photographing any NS trains, so I just watched them go by. I was able to do a little photography with CSX despite some tough lighting conditions during my time there.
Interestingly, I was able to make two images I had wanted to do during my last visit to the museum but couldn’t due to a lack of westbound traffic.
With CSX these days, it is difficult to tell if it is having a good or bad day traffic wise. There seemed to be more auto rack trains than I expected and, by the end of the day, about the same level of intermodal traffic as I would have expected.
But the manifest freights seemed fewer in number and longer than usual. The first CSX train I saw, the Q393, had 696 axles according to the detector at Ripley, New York.
About 3 p.m. I decided to heading for home, stopping at a Wegman’s grocery store in Erie on the way for a couple of items I can’t get in Cleveland.
Despite some miscues on Saturday, it had been a good weekend with sunny skies and warm but not hot temperatures. I could not have asked for better weather.
There had been some unexpected and pleasant surprises and I came away pleased, overall, with what I was able to find.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
NS train 145 is running light, really light, as another day dawns in the northeast corner of northwest Pennsylvania.
Here comes the sun, which is just climbing over the horizon and casting the first light of day on CSX rails.
A golden glow to the rails of the NS Lake Erie District.
The sun rises above the head end of CSX Q393, which was a monster-size manifest freight.
Conditions were ideal for early morning light glint shots. Note the second unit of this westbound CSX grain train is from BNSF.
The grain train passes grape vineyards. Not much grain is grown around here.
Auto rack cars catch the early morning light.
How much longer will vehicles be able to traverse this old one-lane bridge over the CSX tracks?
I’ve always like the panoramic perspective afforded from the Bort Road bridge of the grape country of Pennsylvania along Lake Erie.
There were no private cars on the back of Amtrak No. 48 today.
An eastbound CSX auto rack train chugs through North East.
Three museum visitors inspect an eastbound CSX auto rack train.
A CSX stack train passes the baggage cart on display at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station in North East.
It’s a meet. An eastbound CSX manifest freight clears just as a Canadian Pacific run-through train arrives.
A CP unit passes a former Great Northern dining car. Both seem to be out of place in Pennsylvania.
This Erie-built New York Central until probably never hauled a passenger consist that looked like this.
A caboose is supposed to be red, right? I end this report with this caboose in the collection of the Lake Shore Railway Museum.