Posts Tagged ‘NS Pittsburgh Line’

Ed’s Pennsylvania Adventure: Day 5

August 25, 2018

On Wednesday, Aug. 15 we made our way home to Ohio, but made a stop at Lilly, Pennsylvania, in the hopes of getting something at the position signal bridge before it disappears. I was there for 30 minutes and had good luck. Shown above are an eastbound and two westbounds, all of which arrived in the span of 28 minutes.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

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Ed’s Pennsylvania Adventure: Part 1

August 21, 2018

Last week Ursula and I did a six-day trip to Pennsylvania that focused on Altoona and Hershey.

Our first stop was Horseshoe Curve. During our time at the curve from 1:30  p.m. to 6:15 p.m. we saw 21 movements, including 18 trains and three helper movements. Several times there were two trains at the same time.

In the top photograph, the Penn Central heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern paces from Track No. 2 another train on Track No. 3 in late afternoon.

In the top photo below, a stack train eastbound on Track 2 passes a train on track 1. In the next image an eastbound meets a westbound late in the day.

That’s the back of Ursula’s head in the next image of her making a video of the westbound Amtrak Pennsylvanian.

Most of the time the crews are friendly when Amtrak goes around the curve as was evident today from the Amdinette.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Chasing Steam, Amtrak, NS in Pennsylvania

April 25, 2018

Here are a few are a few highlights from this past weekend. Jeff [Troutman] and myself left about 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Since I drove I made reservations for a Microtel in Clarion, Pennsylvania. We got there about 5:15 p.m.

I wanted to be on the road by 7 a.m. Saturday so we would get to Summerhill to get Amtrak No. 42 since it would depart Johnstown at 9:03 a.m.

Breakfast started at 6:30 a.m., which was perfect. But ice and fogged up windows from overnight delayed our departure by 20 minutes.

Jeff kept checking Julie as we were heading on Pennsylvania Route 219. We were on the far bridge and guess who was about to go under us.

I knew it was P42DC engine No. 86 on head end. And exactly like Agent 86 Maxwell Smart we missed it by that much.

As you can see in photo No. 1 the lighting was perfect of the empty tracks.

Photo No. 2 is of the Everett steam train at Brook Mills on the line heading to Roaring Spring.

Photo No. 3 is at Roaring Spring. There are two photo lines including the road crossing where I shot last September with the station and the Pennsylvania Railroad caboose.

Where I am and looking down to my right I was amazed at what I saw that I never noticed twice last September and last May: A double semaphore turned with slight foliage somewhat hiding it.

Photo 5 shows Everett No. 11 on the return trip from Martinsburg at Route 36 just southeast of Roaring Spring.

After eating lunch we went to Tyrone, Pennsylvania, where we photographed the cabooses located on what used to be the east leg of the wye.

The beautiful stone memorial is in a park between the cabooses and the station.

Saturday afternoon found us in Fostoria, Pennsylvania, along the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern. This time Amtrak did not elude us.

On Sunday morning it was back to Fostoria to catch Amtrak No. 42 passing beneath the PRR position light signals.

We then spent a little over three hours at Horseshoe Curve before heading home. We saw eight trains and two helper movements.

What was unusual was that the first three trains were two eastbound loaded coal hoppers and one empty hopper train.

Again, the weather was perfect and it was tough to leave.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

 

 

No Injuries in NS Derailment in Pennsylvania

April 4, 2018

No injuries occurred when five cars of a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday morning.

The cars landed in Stone Creek, a tributary of the Juniata River.

NS said that two of the cars were carrying hauling peas while the other three derailed cars carried dried potatoes, pulpboard, and plastic pellets.

The train was en route from Altoona to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and had 75 loaded and 10 empty cars.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

The Wheels on the Car go Round and Round

February 16, 2018

Shown is a set of wheels on an empty well car in the consist of an eastbound Norfolk Southern stack train in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. The car and train are going through the tunnel that can be seen from the railfan park in town.

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 .

Quest For Keystone Fall Foliage: 2

November 1, 2017

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 HeritageUnits.com 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.

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.

 

Six Minutes Down in Summerhill

October 26, 2017

 

Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian is six minutes off the advertised as it rushes down Track No. 2 of the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern through Summerhill, Pennsylvania.

Track work to cut in new signals going on in the area probably accounted for most or all of the delay.

Pulling the train today is P42DC No. 160 with a consist of Amfleet coaches and a cafe car.

That is U.S. 219 crossing over the tracks in the distance in the top photograph.

On the other side of the street bridge on which I’m standing is a signal bridge with Pennsylvania Railroad style position light signal heads that are living on borrowed time.

As for No. 42, it could continue to lose time as it proceeded eastward. It arrived in New York Penn Station a half-hour late.

NS to Create Second Stack Route in Pittsburgh

April 28, 2017

Norfolk Southern plans to use a grant from the Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission to create a second route through Pittsburgh for double-stacked container trains.

The railroad sought the funding after a landslide on Mount Washington last June adversely affected traffic between Cleveland and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for 11 days.

The grant will fund $22.7 million of the $28.6-million project, which will involve 14 bridges. Many of those bridges were already in need of renovation. Crews will lower tracks or raise roadways to create additional clearances for stack trains.

The route to be upgraded involves the Fort Wayne Line and Pittsburgh Line, which cross the Allegheny River north of its confluence with the Monongahela River and travels through Pittsburgh, Swissvale, and Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Currently, stack trains must take the Mon Line, which bypasses downtown Pittsburgh.