Posts Tagged ‘Ohio Connecting bridge’

An Unexpected and Pleasant Surprise

December 12, 2016

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Railfans go to great lengths to determine when something special is coming down the tracks that they want to photograph.

They’ve set up Facebook pages, online chat lists, websites and texting networks.

Yet there will always be a place for dumb luck in getting something out of the ordinary.

Such was the case during a recent trip to Pittsburgh. We had set up at California Avenue to get Norfolk Southern train 21Q as it came across the OC bridge on the Mon Line.

Leading the 21Q was the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit, a fact we had learned about through the website HeritageUnits.com.

We had only been there a few minutes when a coal train came rumbling out onto the bridge.

The trailing unit of the coal train was DC to AC conversion No. 4004. There are thus far only a handful of these conversion locomotives in revenue service wearing one of the special liveries that NS designed for them.

No. 4004 features the a black nose, gray body and blue lighting accent stripes. Yes, it would have been nice it had been leading, but I was still quite pleased to get it as it was.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Pair of Pennsy Keystones

December 6, 2016
It's a Pennsylvania Railroad keystone rolling over the top of another Pennsy keystone in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. NS No. 8102 is leading westbound stack train 21Q.

It’s one Pennsylvania Railroad keystone rolling over the top of another Pennsy keystone in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. NS No. 8102 is leading westbound stack train 21Q, which is passing an eastbound stack train on the Fort Wayne Line.

Last Saturday my friend Adam Barr and I headed for Pittsburgh for a morning of railfanning Norfolk Southern in the steel city.

We had been in town about a half-hour when an an online report popped up that the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit was headed west past Manor, Pennsylvania, with a load of sea cans. That turned out to be stack train 21Q.

Manor is east of the Pittsburgh where the Pennsylvania Turnpike crosses over the NS Pittsburgh line between Pittsburgh and Altoona, Pennsylvania.

We headed for California Avenue with the idea of getting an image of the locomotive paying tribute to the PRR on a structure that was built by the PRR, the Ohio Connecting Bridge that today carries the NS Mon Line.

When I think of railroads in Pittsburgh, structures such as this come to mind. I also think of the former Pennsylvania Railroad.

We were able to get ahead of the train and catch it at CP Leets in Leetsdale. Although I had my scanner on, we didn’t get any warning of the train approaching because I didn’t pick it up calling any signals.

Our “heads up” was another railfan bolting from his car and running toward the bridge over the tracks that carries a road leading into an industrial park. I was barely able to get the shot I wanted of the Pennsy heritage unit passing former Pennsy position light signals.

We weren’t sure if we could beat the 21Q to East Conway because it was moving along at a good clip. But it turned out the stacker would have a long wait there because of traffic working in Conway Yard that needed to come out to East Conway for head room as well as the need for the 21Q to change crews.

Our last photo op of the 21Q was planned for the bridge over the Beaver River in Beaver Falls. But things did not go according to plan because Adam, who was driving, could not find a parking spot in a timely manner.

He dropped me off at the east end of the sidewalk of the bridge and I walked as fast as I could toward the river. I wouldn’t make it.

The 21Q had already called the signal at the Brighton and I could see its headlight illuminating the sides of the containers of an eastbound stack train that was slowly making its way toward Conway.

I noticed the Fort Wayne Line bridge had an old, but faded Pennsylvania Railroad keystone and decided to make that the focal point of my last photograph of NS 8102, thus ending my chase of the 21Q with an image of a pair of Pennsy keystones.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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Coming at you on the OC bridge.

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When I think of Pittsburgh I think of massive bridges and the Pennsylvania Railroad. This is as close as I can come to recreating the golden age of the PRR in the steel city.

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For the second time in 2016, I caught the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive passing by former PRR position light signals.

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With a new crew on board, the 21Q gets underway at East Conway.

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A roster-type shot at East Conway of NS 8102.

Pittsburgh Winter Journey (Part 2)

February 20, 2014
A westbound stacker rumbles across the Ohio Connecting bridge from the Mon Line to the Fort Wayne Line. It would be the last westbound we saw on this day.

A westbound stacker rumbles across the Ohio Connecting bridge from the Mon Line to the Fort Wayne Line. It would be the last westbound we saw on this day.

In the last installment, Peter Bowler and I had decided to strike out for Pittsburgh. Our destination was West Park.

Peter had brought along a portable GPS, but it wouldn’t start up right away and we ended up stumbling around not knowing where we were going as he tried to get the GPS to work. We ended up in Homewood.

The GPS finally came to life, but not when I needed it to do so. As I approached an intersection where I had to go left, right or straight, the GPS went silent.

I saw that going to the right would take me to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I didn’t need a GPS to tell me that I could go east on the Pike and then south on I-79 toward downtown Pittsburgh.

As we approached Pittsburgh, it began snowing. This was something of a surprise because the forecast called for a 30 percent chance of snow showers. I saw the snow as a positive because it would give a fresher appearance to the existing snow on the ground.

What we didn’t expect is that it would snow off and on, but mostly on, for the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon.

I posted earlier this week some images from West Park. We also spent time at California Avenue to get trains on the Ohio Connecting bridge over the Ohio River.

Traffic there was more sparse that we would have liked. As we sat waiting for trains, a 17G passed beneath us, but we couldn’t see it.

We only heard it on the radio and the sound that I made. I found out later that the 17G has the Nickel Plate Road heritage unit in its motive power consist, but it was trailing.

I guess that means that we failed twice. After our second trip to West Park we head north on Pennsylvania Route 65 in search of food and drink.

We found both at a Subway. Our final stop of the day would be at Leetsdale. It had been cold, but not uncomfortable at West Park and along California Avenue.

But as we stood on the bridge spanning the NS tracks the wind was whipping around a bit and it had a bite.

We could clearly hear two CSX trains across the Ohio River, but NS was silent. It was getting dark and we were feeling defeated.

Peter mentioned that he’d never been shut out at Leetsdale but today appeared to be that day.

We began walking toward the car when Peter spotted an eastbound tank car train in the distance headed our way.

We scrambled to reach the place were the concrete wall is low enough to step over. Traffic across the bridge had been higher than normal during out stay at Leetsdale and many of the vehicle had been automobiles rather than trucks.

No traffic was coming we rushed to get into position as the tank train was closing on us fast. It didn’t help that the pavement was slippery.

I elected for more of a side angle shot of the head end, which I was able to get whereas Peter wanted the most coming straight on image.

The tanker train was kicking up a snowy mist as it passed by. What a beautiful sight. With that our railfanning in Pittsburgh came to a close.

We would later spot the Nickel Plate Road heritage unit near the fueling rack in Conway Yard and spot a few more trains as we made our way out of town. We had not seen a high volume of trains but made nice images of those that we had seen.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A work train makes it way into Island Avenue Yard. It was the first freight train I had seen use this leg of the wye.

A work train makes it way into Island Avenue Yard. It was the first freight train I had seen use this leg of the wye.

An eastbound stack train heads out onto the bridge. We both liked the effect the snow clinging to the bridge made. It transformed the scene into something we had never seen before.

An eastbound stack train heads out onto the bridge. We both liked the effect the snow clinging to the bridge made. It transformed the scene into something we had never seen before.

Plenty of snow coated the trailers on the rear of the intermodal train.

Plenty of snow coated the trailers on the rear of the intermodal train.

The tanker train passes the iconic position light signals at CP Leets. How much longer will these signals continue to stand guard here?

The tanker train passes the iconic position light signals at CP Leets. How much longer will these signals continue to stand guard here?

Its winter in the Pennsylvania hills as snow has settled everywhere in Leetsdale.

Its winter in the Pennsylvania hills as snow has settled everywhere in Leetsdale.

Snow is flying as the tank train crosses over at CP Leet. This is a color photograph, but the grays of winter predominate. Only the red "snake eyes" of the position light signals add much color to the image.

Snow is flying as the tank train crosses over at CP Leet. This is a color photograph, but the grays of winter predominate. Only the red “snake eyes” of the position light signals add much color to the image.