Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

PA Short Line Sets Traffic Record

January 11, 2018

The Pennsylvania-based Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad reported this week hauling a record 8,572 revenue carloads in 2017.

The broke the previous record of 8,048 cars handled in 2015. Larry Malski, president of the Pennsylvania Northeast Railroad Authority, said in a statement that last year’s traffic figure is indicative of economic growth among the 20-plus industries served by the DL.

Malski said the 2017 carload figures represented a 31 percent increase over 2016.

Helping fuel the carload traffic growth was the addition of two new customers, Scranton Transload and Northwoods Paper.

The DL also handled more than 100 special high-and-wide carloads of components for the new Invenergy Jessup Power Plant.

Major commodities handled by the DL include wheat and flour, sand, plastic, lumber, propane and consumer products.

DL is seeking a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grant to fund double-tracking its Carbondale Line because of “rapidly increasing” carloads on that line, Malski said.

“Since 1982 when the authority was formed to save the approximately 100 miles of rail lines that the private sector railroad were abandoning and liquidating, a true rail renaissance has transpired in northeastern Pennsylvania with thousands of jobs saved and created by the many industries that need freight-rail service to stay competitive,” Malski said.

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R&N Set Freight Traffic Records in 2017

January 9, 2018

Rising coal traffic helped the Pennsylvania-based Reading & Northern set a traffic record in 2017.

The Class II railroad said it handled 31,175 carloads in 2017, a 15 percent increase over 2016.

The figure is a 50 percent increase over the past five years.

The company credited 40 percent growth in anthracite coal traffic for playing a major role in the traffic increase.

“This unprecedented growth came across all of the many commodity lanes handled by R&N,” the railroad said. “Once again, R&N is ‘The Road of Anthracite.’”

Much of the increase in coal traffic involved hauling Pennsylvania anthracite bound for markets in the Ukraine, where it replaced Russian coal.

R&N said that during 2017 it added hundreds of new cars of business at its transload facilities and warehouses. The forest products group handled more than 10,000 carloads in 2017.

“At year end, we had more employees, track, locomotives, freight cars, facilities and customers than at any point in our history,” said CEO/Owner Andy Muller, Jr.

Narrow Gauge Combine Moved to EBT

November 29, 2017

A combine car from the former Tuscarora Valley Railroad has been moved to the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania.

Car No.101 is in temporary storage on the EBT at Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, where the Friends of the East Broad Top are helping to restore the car, which ran on a narrow-gauge line in another part of the state.

The car is the last remaining piece of rolling stock left from the 3-foot-gauge Tuscarora Valley, which ran for 27 miles from Port Royal to Blairs Mills in Juniata and Huntingdon counties between 1891 and 1934.

The Tuscarora Valley had intended to connect with the EBT’s Shade Gap branch at Richvale but never did.

The combine was built as a coach in the 1880s by Billmeyer & Small of York, Pennsylvania, and converted into a combine in 1916. The Tuscarora bought the car used in 1895.

In recent years, the car has been serving as a woodshed on a farm whose owner, Bernie Rowels, donated the carbody to the Friends of the East Broad Top.

After the Friend group was unable to move the car from Rowels’ property, the Darrow family acquired it and began restoration work.

The car has since been bought by Stephen Lane, a part-time steam engineer on the Everett Railroad, who arranged to have it sent to Rockhill Furnace.

The EBT is for sale and a long-term storage agreement cannot be achieved at this time. The EBT has not carried passengers since 2011.

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.

North Shore RR Names New CEO

October 25, 2017

North Shore Railroad of Pennsylvania has named Jebediah Stotter as its president and chief executive officer effective Oct. 19.

Stotter joined the Northumberland-based company in 2001 and most recently served as its vice president and chief operating officer.

He also has served as customer service manager and director of administration and customer service. He was named vice president in 2013, and vice president and COO in 2015.
Stotter will succeed the retiring Gary Shields.

The North Shore operates six short-line railroads using 247 miles of track in central Pennsylvania.

No Injuries in CSX Derailment near Pittsburgh

September 29, 2017

More than 15 cars of a loaded CSX coal train derailed near Pittsburgh in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday.

The derailment resulted in closed streets, spilled coal and damage to the locomotives, but no major injuries.

Rail traffic was halted on the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad route. The train was traveling from Grafton, West Virginia, to Monaca, Pennsylvania.

Two years ago another CSX train derailed in the same area, leaving some cars hanging over the Youghiogheny River.

Ed’s Trip to Pennsylvania (Part 2)

September 22, 2017

Everett Railroad No. 11 crossing the Little Juniata after departing Hollidaysburg.

After spending some time catching Amtrak and Norfolk Southern trains in downtown Altoona, we motored out to the Everett Railroad where we rode and chased.

After the train arrived at Roaring Springs, I drove back to Duncansville to an antique mall to check out the Alto Model Railroad, which is open on Saturday and Sunday. It was worth it with all scales represented with fabulous operating layouts.

Afterwards it was back to the Everett where the train returned and we got No. 11 heading to the wye to be turned.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Passing through Roaring Spring.

At Roaring Spring.

Nearing Martinsburg in the first of a two photo sequence. I talked with Jerry Jordak at this spot. He was chasing, also, then working his way to the Penn Central Historical Society Convention in Harrisburg.

Turning the locomotive on the wye.

Just west of Martinsburg on the return.

Arriving at Roaring Spring for water and ice cream stop.

Heading to the wye on the old Pennsy main, which used to head toward old Muleshoe Curve.

Heading into the wye. This track goes north to Altoona to connect at Alto tower.