Posts Tagged ‘fall color’

Quest for Keystone Fall Foliage: 3

November 2, 2017

NS westbound 19G approaches the east portal of the Gallitzen tunnels as fall color fills the hillsides of the east slope.

Last of Three Parts

My next destination was Cresson, where I didn’t plan to stay long, but NS had other ideas.

But first I had to find my way out of Lilly. I had no trouble getting onto Pennsylvania Route 53, but I missed a turn in downtown.

I swear there was no sign showing that you have to make a right turn at the intersection where Route 53 juts eastward.

I went straight and wound up on a dead-end street. I had to zig zag my way back.

I had brought maps of all the towns I planned to visit, but hadn’t studied the map of Lilly enough determine how to get out of Lilly other than to stay on Route 53.

There is a large parking lot next to the railfan viewing platform in Cresson. I parked and walked up onto the platform. There was just one other person there and he spotted me and came over.

He was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we had a nice conversation about railroad operations in Pennsylvania and the highways in the Keystone State.

He been headed toward State College on U.S. 322, but got into heavy traffic of football fans leaving town. Those would have been the fans who stayed overnight after the conclusion of the Saturday night game.

That traffic led him to go another direction on his motorcycle and he wound up in Cresson.

We had plenty of time to talk because NS decided to go on siesta again. My radio was silent for a long time until the 21M showed up around 2:30 p.m.

Across the tracks from the viewing platform were three R.J. Corman locomotives that weren’t going anywhere. At least I got to see some bright color on a locomotive.

Not long before the 21M showed up, the Pittsburgh East dispatcher called the signal gang foreman to report that he couldn’t get switch 11 to show as having been thrown.

There was a good reason for that. The crew that had been digging around that switch earlier in the day inadvertently had severed a cable. They found some spikes and spiked the switch into position.

Think someone on Monday morning was going to have to answer for that one?

After the 21M headed for points west, I bid farewell to the guy from Lancaster and headed for Gallitzin.

As had happened in Lilly, I made a wrong turn coming town and had to zig zag to where I was going. I knew I was going the wrong way when the street on which I was driving went beneath the NS tracks. Had I followed the proper route I would have remained north of the tracks at all times.

I parked at the railfan park at the west end of the tunnels, but my stay here was brief. Nothing was going on so I motored up the hill to an overlook just off Tunnelhill Street.

The overlook offers an expansive view to the east, although it is somewhat obscured by trees and other vegetation.

But it is open enough to get decent photograph of trains on the east side of the tunnels.

By now the temperatures had finally reached the 70s and I no longer needed to wear a jacket.

I looked up to see a jet high overhead. I had my longest telephoto lens on my camera and snapped a couple of image.

When I enlarged the image on the camera screen I could see that it appeared to be a Boeing 747. But I could not make out any airline markings.

The radio came to life with a detector going off to the east and a westbound 19G calling signals. It was what I wanted to hear.

I could make out the outline of a train through the trees and waited until the head end came into an open area.

As much as anything, it was this image that I had driven to Pennsylvania to get. I wanted a photograph of a train grinding along with the mountainsides in the background wearing their palette of autumn colors.

I got it even if the colors were more muted than I would have liked. But the image says autumn and the lighting was good.

Having gotten “the shot,” it was time to slowly begin making my way west toward home.

I spent some time at the park by the tunnels, getting the helpers on the 19G, a westbound helper set and an eastbound intermodal train.

There was one last spot I wanted to check out and it would turn out to be the one with the brightest color.

I had been told by a guy at Cassandra that the color by the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge over the NS tracks between Cresson and Gallitzin was particularly good. It was.

Shortly after I arrived, an eastbound trash train came along. I photographed it from both sides of the Route 53 bridge.

I noticed that an abandoned bridge abutment would offer a better place to stand on the south side of the tracks.

I walked over there and caught an eastbound intermodal train. A couple of young railfans joined me and we talked some.

What I really wanted, though, was a westbound. The light favored westbounds and there was good color at the bend where the five-track mainline curves as it heads into Gallitzin.

I had planned to leave for home at 5 p.m. NS had about a half-hour to send me a westbound. But the railroad wasn’t cooperating.

As I walked to my car I heard a scratchy voice on the radio say something like “3 west.” Was it west of Cresson or somewhere east of Gallitzin?

I thought about going back, but the day was getting late and I had a long drive ahead of me.

As I got on U.S. 22 at Cresson, I saw another eastbound coal train passing below.

The skies began clouding up the further west I went. But shortly after cresting ridge of the Laurel Highlands in Jackson Township of Cambria County, I looked to my right at the open view of the valley below and saw the best autumn color I had seen all day.

I was going too fast to pull over, so I found a ramp to reverse direction. I then had to go up and over at an exit to head westbound again.

This time I was able to pull over, put on my flashers and get out for some photographs of color on the hillsides.

Dinner was at a burger and beer joint in Murraysville named Crave.

By the time I left it was nighttime. I had entered Pennsylvania in the dark and I would leave it the same way.

But at least I didn’t have to contend with any more “highway robbery” incidents at the state line.

One of Pennsylvania’s many quirks is that you pay through the nose to enter the state on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Ohio, but they let you leave without paying a dime.

Come back soon Buckeye and don’t forget to bring $7 with you to get in.

A broader perspective of the east slope as the 19G makes its way uphill toward Gallitzin.

Westbound intermodal train 21M splits the old signals and the yet to be turned on new signals in Cresson.

The helpers on the rear of the 19G in Gallitzin.

A westbound helper set running light is about to emerge from Gallitzin Tunnel.

An eastbound stack train casts shadows in the late day light as it passes through Gallitzin Tunnel.

An eastbound empty trash train in the first of a seven-image sequence. The view is looking west off the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge just outside of Cresson.

 

Last train of the day in a four-shot sequence. The view is near the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge at Cresson .

Advertisements

Quest for Keystone Fall Foliage: 1

October 31, 2017

Eastbound stack train 20A would be the first train that I photographed at Summerhill, Pennsylvania, but actually the second train that I saw there.

First of Three Parts

My quest for color began in pitch black. It was just before 4:30 a.m. as I backed down the driveway of my home for a one-day trip to central Pennsylvania in a quest to photograph trains and fall foliage.

The VisitPA.com website reported that foliage in the area around Cassandra was at 80 to 90 percent peak.

The weather forecast for Oct. 22 was promising with high temperatures in the region expected to reach the low 70s. The following days would see clouds and rain moving in.

I needed an early start in order to catch Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian.

No. 42 is due out of Pittsburgh at 7:30 a.m. and I figured it would take about four hours to get to my first photo location in Summherhill.

The trip down the Ohio Turnpike was uneventful. Ditto for my journey on the Pennsylvania Turnpike other than a highway robbery incident at the state line.

No, it was robbery in a legal sense. I was shocked that nowadays it costs $7 to get into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

When we traveled through here last summer I thought the toll was about $2 less, but the toll booth attendant insisted it has been $7 at least since he began working there last April.

So I entered the Keystone State $11 lighter, counting the $4 toll I had paid to get out of Ohio. I got off at the U.S. 22 exit east of Pittsburgh. Dawn’s early light had yet to break and I already had paid $15.75 in tolls.

I had stopped at the turnpike service plaza at Oakmont, Pennsylvania, to stretch my legs. I needed to refuel but the price of gas there was sky high so I ended up getting gas at a Sheetz in Murraysville shortly after exiting the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

It wasn’t cheap there either, some 30 cents a gallon more than what I last paid in Ohio.

Aside from high tolls, no trip on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is complete without construction zones. I was not disappointed, but at least I was able to cruise at 70 mph for most of my time on the self-described “America’s First Super Highway” which is perpetually under construction.

The sun began rising somewhere east of Blairsville and I pulled over to get a photograph of a better than average sunrise.

I tried to judge how much fall color was on the adjacent hills, but that was tough to do in the dark.

As the sky got brighter I got a better feel for the autumn leaves and they looked promising.

Few people were out and about in Summerhill as I arrived, parked and walked up the bridge that spans the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern.

This is former Pennsylvania Railroad territory and the PRR-style position light signals in Summerhill just east of the bridge are still standing.

But probably not for much longer. Just behind the U.S. 219 overpass to the west an NS crew was at work putting in new signals. Another signal crew was working in Cresson.

I had not come to Summerhill to get the PRR signals, but it occurred to me this might be the last time I see them.

It was quite cooler in Summerhill than it had been at home when I left. The foliage was nice, although not quite as colorful as I would have liked. Many trees had already lost their leaves.

I chose Summerhill rather than Cassandra to photograph the Pennsylvanian because at the latter the train would be coming through a narrow cut that was likely to be in shadows. Besides, I’ve already photographed Amtrak at Cassandra.

As it turned out, the cut in Summerhill west of the bridge was also in shadows due to the low sun angle. Gradually the sunlight began creeping over the trees.

A westbound stack train was going through town as I arrived and it had helpers on the rear. It would be the only intermodal train I saw all day with rear-end helpers.

I had arrived in Summerhill shortly after 8 a.m. and other than the stack train, NS was as sleepy as the town.

I thought there might be some early morning fog, but that wasn’t the case other than a thin layer to the east. There was in the air the scent of wood smoke and maybe that was what I was seeing.

The signal heads on the east side of the bridge were lined clear for Track 1 and displayed a stop indication for Track 2. There is no eastbound signal for Track 3. I didn’t see it, but as I waited on the bridge the signal for Track 2 went to clear.

I heard a horn to the west and a headlight came around the curve belonging to intermodal train 20A.

About 10 minutes later a set of helpers went west and 10 minutes after that eastbound manifest freight 38Q came grinding past.

Amtrak No. 42 is due out of Johnstown at 9 a.m. and a couple of railfans from New Jersey said it usually comes through Summerhill about 9:30.

Another set of helpers went west on Track 3 at 9:28 and No. 42 showed up two minutes later barreling along on Track 2, having left Johnstown six minutes off schedule.

With Amtrak gone, I strolled down to ground level to get an image of a train passing beneath the PRR signal bridge.

It was not a long wait. Twelve minutes after Amtrak went shooting past came an eastbound loaded coal train on Track 1.

I got the images I wanted and decided it was time to head for Cassandra.

But not before stopping at the Sheetz in Portage to get a tuna salad wrap, potato chips and a set of Tastykake cupcakes to have for lunch.

No visit to Pennsylvania is complete without Tastykake, which traces its heritage to the Tasty Baking Company that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1914. Today, though, Tastykake is based in Philadelphia.

I also bought a copy of the Altoona Mirror and learned that Penn State had defeated Michigan the night before in Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley.

I had watched part of that game on TV and listened to some of it on the radio after going to bed. But I turned it off in order to get more sleep.

I had bought a copy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the Sheetz in Murraysville, but it was the early edition and didn’t’ have the Saturday college football scores.

I was most pleased to learn the Nittany Lions had bested the Wolverines 42-13.

A closer view of the eastbound 20A.

Helper sets coming (above) and going (below)

Here comes the 38Q in the first of a two-shot sequence.

Another set of NS helpers and the PRR signal bridge.

This could be the last time I see, let along photograph, this PRR signal bridge in Summerhill. Is that fog or smoke clinging to the hillside in the background.

An SD80MAC leads a coal train past the PRR position light signals in Summerhill.

 

Where Have You Been CVSR 365?

October 30, 2017

CVSR Alco C420 No. 365 leads the National Park Scenic at Brecksville station on Oct. 21.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad locomotive No. 365 was the railroad’s first locomotive that I ever photographed.

The date was June 19, 2004, and the location was at the Lincoln Highway station in Canton. It would be the southern-facing unit on a trip I made to Akron, which was the second time that I rode the CVSR.

I would encounter No. 365 a few times in subsequent years, but I wasn’t making many images of the CVSR then.

No. 365 was on the north end of an Akron Railroad Club CVSR excursion of Sept. 22, 2007, behind Ohio Central steam locomotive No. 1293. The 365 pulled us back to Rockside Road station from Botzum.

The C420 would perform the same duties a year later on Sept. 27 on another ARRC outing on the CVSR behind OC 1293, this time returning us to Rockside from Indigo Lake.

The 365 began life in June 1965 when it was built by American Locomotive Company for the Seaboard Air Line.

It would later work for Seaboard Coast Line, the Louisville & Nashville and a handful of short-line railroads before being acquired by the CVSR in 2001.

No. 365 was a CVSR mainstay until 2010 when it was sidelined with a bad generator.

The 2012 CVSR annual report said the 365 was awaiting being sent out to be rebuilt with “green technology.”

But it didn’t move until June 2013 when CVSR interchanged it to the Wheeling & Lake Erie in Akron en route to Ohio Locomotive Works in Lorain.

The W&LE handed the 365 off to Norfolk Southern in Bellevue, which took it to Lorain.

For the rest of 2013, the 365 underwent a thorough rebuilding. That work continued through September 2014 when the unit began getting a new paint job in the current CVSR livery.

Photographs made by Fred Stuckmann and posted at rrpicturearchives.net documented the rebuilding of the 365. It was displayed at an open house held in late September 2014 at OLW.

Among those on hand to view the 365 on that day was Siegfried Buerling, one of the men who incorporated the Cuyahoga Valley Preservation and Scenic Railway Association in February 1972.

And then it is was though the 365 vanished into thin air. No more photographs of it were posted online and the unit apparently still needed more work.

In the intervening years, the CVSR leased motive power from LTEX and Horizon Rail but no word emerged on the 365.

A couple of weeks ago I heard a report that the 365 was back in the Valley. I don’t know how long it has been there.

I didn’t see it when a CVSR train I rode in mid September went past the Fitzwater yard and shops. Maybe it was inside getting prepared for revenue service.

I finally caught up with the 365 in Brecksville on Saturday, Oct. 21. Fellow ARRC member Todd Dillon had caught the 365 the previous day.

On the north end of the Scenic was B&O No. 800. Gotta say that it’s good to see you again 365.

 

 

Starting to Look Like Autumn

October 24, 2017

These images were made on Oct. 20 and you might think that by then fall foliage would be peaking in Northeast Ohio.

But this autumn has been anything other than ordinary with several runs of warm weather.

Still, there is color if you go looking for it even if it is muted and/or variegated.

In the top image, a Canadian National EF-6441 leads a light power move eastbound on Track No. 1 with some back-lighted gold leaves on the other side of the tracks.

In the bottom image, an eastbound coal train passes some foliage that shows hints of autumn color but is still largely green. Maybe in another week this will be a more colorful location.

Colorful Autumn Sunday on the CVSR

October 26, 2016
The Cuyahoga River looms behind CVSR No. 1822 as it makes it way southbound toward Boston Mill.

The Cuyahoga River looms behind CVSR No. 1822 as it makes it way southbound toward Boston Mill.

I went to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park last Sunday in search of autumn color. What I found was a mixed bag.

There were places where the foliage was at its peak. There were places where most of the leaves were gone.

And then there were places where the leaves were still quite green, most notably on the hillsides surrounding Peninsula.

Nonetheless, the park had the look of fall and it even had the smell of fall. It was a good day to be out.

I didn’t get to the park in time to catch the first southbound Scenic train, so I drove along Riverview Road scouting for color.

Unlike in previous years, the Scenic did not have a double-headed motive power consist. RS18u No. 1822 was pulling on the south end while Horizon Rail GP10-1 No. 8420 was on the point on the north end.

You can count on the Scenic running late during the fall foliage season due to the high number of leaf peepers and bicyclists aboard.

Yet the first pair of trips of the day ran pretty much on time. That was the case with the second trip of the day until it got to Brecksville.

Brecksville is a popular bike stop and the Scenic starting losing time from there southward.

One of the most colorful locations was at Everett where a number of trees at their peak color stood on the west side of the tracks.

Otherwise it was a matter of finding spot color. I skipped Brecksville because the trees around the station are past peak and the forest north of the Ohio Route 82 bridge had yet to reach its peak.

Likewise, I bypassed Peninsula because the rich colors that I know can be found there every year have yet to show up.

So it was a matter of getting the 1822 next to a colorful tree near Ira Road and a small stand of color near the Valley Picnic Area south of Peninsula.

I also tried something new at Jaite, shooting down Vaughn Road looking west toward the grade crossing.

That shot would have worked better with the first southbound trip when the sun was more to the east.

It also works best if there are no vehicles waiting at the crossing. That was the case when the train arrived. Then I saw an SUV approaching from the east.

The driver must be a photographer because he or she stopped behind me so that I had a clear road leading to the crossing.

I had to get back home by 3 p.m. so I didn’t spend as much time in the valley as I would have liked.

With any luck at all there will be more sun and plenty of color this weekend.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Everett proved to be the most colorful location that I found on the CVSR on this day.

Everett proved to be the most colorful location that I found on the CVSR on this day.

Finding some spot color north of Ira Road.

Finding some spot color north of Ira Road.

Along Riverview Road near the Valley Picnic Area.

Along Riverview Road near the Valley Picnic Area.

This is an angle I've never tried at Jaite before Sunday.

This is an angle I’ve never tried at Jaite before Sunday.

Looking west down Vaughn Road at Jaite.

Looking west down Vaughn Road at Jaite.

cvsr-october-23-06-x

The Cuyahoga River winds along the CVSR tracks near Columbia Run Picnic Area.

Steamtown to Have 10 Fall Excursions

September 16, 2016

Steamtown National Historical Site has announced it will sponsor 10 diesel-powered foliage excursions. They include:

Park service• Round-trip excursions from Steamtown to Gouldsboro on Oct. 1 and 29. Train leaves at 11 a.m. and returns at 3 p.m. on both days.

• Round-trip excursions from Steamtown to Moscow on Oct. 2, 10, 15 and 22. The four round-trip excursions will depart at 12:30 p.m. and return at 3 p.m.

• East Stroudsburg excursion on Oct. 8 to the borough’s annual Fall Foliage Festival and fireman’s picnic. The round-trip excursion departs Steamtown at 9 a.m. and returns at 5 p.m.

• Tobyhanna Station excursion on Oct. 9 will depart Steamtown at 11 a.m. and return at 3 p.m.

• An excursion to the Delaware Water Gap Station will take place on Oct. 16. It will depart Steamtown at 9 a.m. and return at 5 p.m.

• Round-trip excursion from Steamtown to Cresco on Oct. 23 featuring live entertainment and light refreshments.

The 30-minute Scranton Limited excursions will operate during weekends in September and October on the grounds of Steamtown.

Tickets for the foliage trips go on sale on Sept. 23. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/stea