Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Pittsburgh’

A Pittsburgh Saturday

May 21, 2016
An eastbound stack train rolls through Glenfield, Pennsylvania, on a nice spring day. The day had begun rather cloudy, but had cleared up by mid afternoon.

An eastbound stack train rolls through Glenfield, Pennsylvania, on a nice spring day. The day had begun rather cloudy, but had cleared up by mid afternoon.

The day after the April meeting of the Akron Railroad Club I ventured to Pittsburgh with my friend Adam Barr. Neither of us had been there in a while so we were overdue to make a trip.

Adam had seen a location that he thought was promising in Glenfield. We parked next to a ball diamond where a game was progress when we arrived.

Our arrival coincided with a lull in traffic that lasted more than an hour. But in time things picked up and after getting a few shots, we motored up to Leestdale.

Here is a selection of what I was able to record.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

This might be train C88, which operates from Conway Yard to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and ferries motive power with it.

This might be train C88, which operates from Conway Yard to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and ferries motive power with it.

A grab shot of a westbound auto rack train that I made as we were making out way toward Leetsdale.

A grab shot of a westbound auto rack train that I made as we were making out way toward Leetsdale.

A westbound stack train passes beneath the former Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals in Leetsdale.

A westbound stack train passes beneath the former Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals in Leetsdale.

A coke train rumbles through Leetsdale. The train originated at in Clairton, Pennsylvania, and is headed for either Chicago or Detroit.

A coke train rumbles through Leetsdale. The train originated at in Clairton, Pennsylvania, and is headed for either Chicago or Detroit.

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.

Chasing the AVR in Pittsburgh

January 16, 2014

Last Sunday we went to view the Pittsburgh Model Railroad club. As we were leaving we heard an Allegheny Valley Railroad train going by, their track being just down the street.

It was moving slowly, about 10 mph, so we gave chase.  Our first stop was an overpass with a wide open view.

Next was an open area at Glenshaw, Pa.  It wasn’t a great location but it was open. The tracks that the AVR uses is the Baltimore & Ohio original line between Pittsburgh and New Castle, Pa.,

There are several tunnels along this route. I know where the Elwood City tunnel is and another is located in Pittsburgh proper. But the others I’m not so certain of their location.

Anyway, the train was coming and I took some roll by pictures.  As I turned to get the going away shot I discovered where one of those tunnels was located (did I feel dumb).

We continued to chase the train into Pittsburgh, finishing with some views of the Alleghany River bridge approach.  I found out later that this was train AVR1 which interchanges with the B&P railroad near Evans City, Pa.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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State of the Union

July 3, 2013
Sometimes going away shots are the best you can do. Here is the power on a coke train headed for the Duquesne Yard.

Sometimes going away shots are the best you can do. Here is the power on a coke train headed for the Duquesne Yard.

On a recent Saturday I was in Pittsburgh with my friend Adam seeking to photograph the Union Railroad.

We hung out on a trail in Duquesne that runs next to Norfolk Southern’s Mon Line and over which the Union passes near its Duquesne yard and the Edgar Thompson Works in Braddock.

We could hear Union trains talking on the radio, but didn’t see anything. After waiting for awhile and getting a few NS trains, it was time to move on.

We thought we would check out the Duquesne yard, where we had seen nothing but freight cars when passing over it earlier.

I saw a puff of white diesel smoke coming from what appeared to be the southern end of the yard, although we couldn’t see anything other than the tops of the trees.

We headed for the Grant Avenue crossing, where there is an S curve. The smoke I had seen was a train and was the job we had heard talking the most on the radio.

We got ahead of it, but were puzzled to see diesel smoke ahead of us. That smoke ahead of us belonged to a coke train that had originated at the USS Clairton Works.

The best I could do was jump out of the van, dash toward an opening in the vegetation and get this grab shot of the motive power going away.

The first train whose smoke I had seen was a hot slab train bound for the USS Irvin Works in West Mifflin. It met the coke train by the crossing where we were waiting.

Unfortunately, the coke train blocked any possibility of getting a head-on shot of the power of the slab train.

I settled for getting the caboose of the coke train passing the slab cars. Those slab cars were labeled “hot” and they were quite warm from several feet away on an already hot day. There was a grittiness to the images I made that said “steel mill railroad.”

We chased the slab train, catching up to it along Bettis Road. Here, the highway crosses over the tracks, which enter a tunnel at Dravosburg.

The power about to enter the tunnel was the best I could do at Bettis Road because the head end was past us.

We were finally able to get ahead of the entire train and parked next to the bridge carrying Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard over the Union tracks. At last I was able to get some head-on photos of the lead locomotive.

We then motored over to McKeesport to check out the CSX mainline there and find the URR switcher assigned to the former McKeesport Connecting Railroad. It was parked next to the CSX tracks that themselves parallel a hiking and biking trail. 

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A meet at the Grant Avenue crossing.

A meet at the Grant Avenue crossing.

The slab train's caboose and train lean into a curve.

The slab train’s caboose and train lean into a curve.

The slab train is passing beneath Bettis Road and about to enter Dravosburg Tunnel.

The slab train is passing beneath Bettis Road and about to enter Dravosburg Tunnel.

Cabooses used to be common. But not anymore except in a handful of placed. The Union Railroad is one of them.

Cabooses used to be common. But not anymore except in a handful of placed. The Union Railroad is one of them.

Another one of the train in Dravosburg Tunnel.

Another one of the train in Dravosburg Tunnel.

At last I was able to get a shot of the train coming toward me.

At last I was able to get a shot of the train coming toward me.

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Doing the ‘burg Early Last Month

June 20, 2013
An eastbound stack train rounds the curve and enters Highland Cut on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

An eastbound stack train rounds the curve and enters Highland Cut on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

Back in early May I made a trip with my fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler to Pittsburgh to check out some new locations as well as visit some old ones. We began our Pennsylvania sojourn at the pond north of New Galilee which I had photographed before but Peter had not.

He had been here, but never on a day with good weather.

After catching a “meet” there, it was on to Highland Cut, which was new territory for both of us. I had seen photos taken by Marty Surdyk and Richard Thompson and knew that I had to check it out some day.

The vantage point is the bridge carrying Shenango Road over the tracks of Norfolk Southern’s Fort Wayne Line, the same rail route that passes through New Galilee.

The bridge has no fences, just concrete walls that can easily be worked with.

We did not have to wait long for a train. In fact, we didn’t have to wait at all. An eastbound manifest freight that we had caught at New Galilee was grinding its way upgrade through the cut.

We then moved on to California Avenue in Pittsburgh and its vantage point of the Ohio Connecting Bridge that carries the NS Mon Line over the Ohio River. I’ve photographed here a few times, but it was Peter’s first visit. I didn’t get anything out of the ordinary.

After lunch at an Eat ‘n Park, we left my car in a neighborhood and walked down to the McKees Rocks bridge on the Pittsburgh side. The NS Pittsburgh Line comes alongside the Ohio River here and there is a sweeping vista of the river valley.

We were there in the afternoon and the lighting works best for eastbounds. But we got just one of those.

We returned to my car and drove across the bridge to check out McKees Rocks. One of our objectives was to get a CSX train coming through the truss bridge carrying former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie – on which the Baltimore & Ohio had trackage rights – over Chartiers Creek.

That shot would work best in late afternoon light.

Before doing that, though, we photographed the power laying about in the Pittsburgh & Ohio Central Railroad Company yard. The former Pittsburgh Chartiers & Youghiogheny Railway is now owned by Genesee & Wyoming, but on this date all of the power was still wearing its Ohio Central colors. No G&W orange to be seen.

I had unfinished business here. In early June 2011, Peter and I had made a trip to Pittsburgh and photographed here. But I was shooting  film them and my images of the P&OC had been on the two rolls of slide film that Dodd Camera had botched during the processing.

That incident was the nudge that got me into buying a digital camera and leaving film behind.

We then moved on to finding the Bessemer & Lake Erie steam locomotive No. 643 that is resting in a materials yard in McKees Rocks hoping for a future.

The 2-10-4 Texas-type is the only B&LE survivor of its kind. For several years it sat in a P&LE shop in McKees Rocks but was moved to its current site across the tracks.

The 643 has been rebuilt and its owner would like to pull excursions behind it. But no railroad will allow that thus far and the 643 sits out in the open awaiting a better future that may or may not come.

We talked to a guy who claimed to know the owner and said that the brass fixtures and other vital parts that some might want to steal have been removed and placed where they are safe.

I had heard about this locomotive but never seen it until this day.

In talking with a woman whose home is across the street from the place where the 643 sits, railfans routinely come to this neighborhood in the bottoms area of McKees Rocks looking for the locomotive.

I guess that makes it one of the top “tourist attractions” in McKees Rocks.

It had been a good day. We had met all of our photo objectives, which is not common for a trip of this nature were had a long list of things we wanted to accomplish.

With that, we headed back to Ohio where a future railfan outing awaits us some day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A westbound intermodal grinds its way through Highland Cut. Note the flowering trees on the side of the cut on the fireman's side of the lead locomotive.

A westbound intermodal grinds its way through Highland Cut. Note the flowering trees on the side of the cut on the fireman’s side of the lead locomotive.

An eastbound manifest freight crawls up the grade. I-376 crosses over the tracks in the distance.

An eastbound manifest freight crawls up the grade. I-376 crosses over the tracks in the distance.

A westbound snakes past a sewage treatment plant in a view from the McKees Rocks Bridge on the Pittsburgh side of the Ohio River.

A westbound snakes past a sewage treatment plant in a view from the McKees Rocks Bridge on the Pittsburgh side of the Ohio River.

An eastbound container train approaches. That is Neville Island in the distance in the river.

An eastbound container train approaches. That is Neville Island in the distance in the river.

A closer view of the eastbound stack train on the NS Pittsburgh Line.

A closer view of the eastbound stack train on the NS Pittsburgh Line.

A westbound local pauses at the signal bridge before the dispatcher lines the route.

A westbound local pauses at the signal bridge before the dispatcher lines the route.

A westbound CSX manifest freight "pours on the coal" as it crosses the bridge over Chartiers Creek in McKees Rocks.

A westbound CSX manifest freight “pours on the coal” as it crosses the bridge over Chartiers Creek in McKees Rocks.

The closest we are likely to get to seeing a CSX steam program.

The closest we are likely to get to seeing a CSX steam program.

No orange to be seen yet on this corner of the Genesee & Wyoming empire.

No orange to be seen yet on this corner of the Genesee & Wyoming empire.

The Ohio Central colors and markings will live on a little longer in Pittsburgh.

The Ohio Central colors and markings will live on a little longer in Pittsburgh.

The downtown Pittsburgh skyline as seen from the P&OC yard.

The downtown Pittsburgh skyline as seen from the P&OC yard.

The Bessemer & Lake Erie 643 sits in McKees Rocks waiting for a better future.

The Bessemer & Lake Erie 643 sits in McKees Rocks waiting for a better future.

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Although not apparent here, there is a track leading to that gate.

Although not apparent here, there is a track leading to that gate.

Pittsburgh Saturday Part II

January 23, 2013
A CSX westbound train is passing under a Union Railroad train that was having some air problems.

A CSX westbound train is passing under a Union Railroad train that was having some air problems.

After photographing the Lackawanna heritage locomotive last Saturday during my foray to the Pittsburgh area, we ventured back along the Mon Line to photograph the other two tied-down empties that we had seen on the way down.

Then we headed for the overlook in Duquesne. There wasn’t much traffic, but we did photograph a CSX train under an NS train on the Port Perry bridge that included a half-hidden Union Railroad caboose.

We also shot a CSX train passing below a set of four Union Railroad engines. It was getting late so we called it a day and headed back to Ohio. All in all, it has been a good day.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

CSX train K380 passes under an NS stack train. Note the Union caboose in the new colors tucked away in there.

CSX train K380 passes under an NS stack train. Note the Union caboose in the new colors tucked away in there.

NS 8096 tied down at Dravosburg.

NS 8096 tied down at Dravosburg.

NS 8115 tied down at Clairton.

NS 8115 tied down at Clairton.

 

I Didn’t Mind Missing the INT Unit to Get This

January 22, 2013
Norfolk Southern No. 1074 is at Wilmerding with a mountain full of houses in the background.

Norfolk Southern No. 1074 is at Wilmerding with a mountain full of houses in the background.

Last Saturday I was down in the Pittsburgh area in search of Norfolk Southern’s  Lackawanna heritage unit leading NS train No. 591, which had empty hoppers for Shire Oaks.

I set up for my first photo at Wilmerding, Pa., for what I consider a “classic Pennsylvania Railroad” look with a hillside full of houses as a backdrop.

I was able to get several views, including a roster view, due to the train slowing down a bit to take the switches at CP Wing for the Port Perry branch.

After making these photos it was off to try and catch it again on the Mon Line. We got to the Route 837 crossing in Dravosburg ahead of the train and caught it passing a tied down empty man.

Radio chatter indicated that West Elizabeth would be it for this train. The crew tied it down under the bridges and departed in the jitney.

With all of the shadows at that location, a tight nose on view was about all that could be had. It brought back memories of when I was on the Altoona to Shire Oaks pool and did my share of spiking trains down here.

I would later learn that the Interstate heritage locomotive came through Cleveland. All things considered I didn’t mind at all missing the Interstate to nail my favorite H unit.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

A closer view of the train at Wilmerding.

A closer view of the train at Wilmerding.

Roster grab, but one of the cleaner H units that I’ve seen lately.

Roster grab, but one of the cleaner H units that I’ve seen lately.

Passing a tied down empty train at Dravosburg.

Passing a tied down empty train at Dravosburg.

A closer view at Dravosburg.

A closer view at Dravosburg.

The nose on view under the bridges at West Elizabeth.

The nose on view under the bridges at West Elizabeth.

Luck of the Lackawanna

November 26, 2012

With the less than ideal sun I went for the “in your face” look.

Be it good timing or just plain lucky – I’m going with lucky – I was able to catch Norfolk Southern 1074, the Lackawanna heritage unit, on the point of a parked empty hopper train.

As luck would have it I had to be in the Pittsburgh area on Saturday for a yearly railroad slide/digital show.

Since some Internet reports had the 1074 still sitting at Wilmerding, Pa., I took a short detour to check it out. Sure enough, there it sat.

The problem was the weather, which was everything from some snow flurries to cloudy bright. It didn’t matter. I was just happy to see and photograph this elusive to Ohio unit.

Here are a few samples of what I shot. I will say I liked the “in your face” photo best, but others said the one with the stack train passing in a light snow was their favorite. You decide 🙂

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

The reds and greens of Christmas roll by the 1074 in a light snow.

That DL&W scheme fits the nose of an ACe pretty good.

The new nose of the 1074 with the old Westinghouse building in the background.

An eastbound stack train passes the 1074.