Daylight Encounter with the Capitol Limited

Nearly 11 hours late, the westbound Capitol Limited leaves Alliance, Ohio. (Photographs by Roger Durfee)

By Roger Durfee

On December 18 and 19, 2009, a Nor’easter went up the coast and dropped a lot of snow in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area. Travel was very restricted by the wind and snow, with all airports closed and many interstates and roads closed or a very slow go.

The snow also played havoc with the railroads, too, both freight and Amtrak. Train No. 29, the Washington to Chicago Capitol Limited, was delayed out of D.C. and all along its route west through Cumberland, Maryland.

Through Internet reports and e-mails from people in the East, it became clear that the later Saturday departure out of Washington would be daylight here in Ohio, allowing for a somewhat rare chance to photograph the Capitol in daylight.

On Sunday morning the 20th, after checking with my sources and the Amtrak website, I determined that No. 29 would be at Alliance, Ohio, around 11:30 a.m. So I dressed for the weather, grabbed the camera, and pointed my Jeep toward Alliance.

NS ran a couple of freights, but traffic was slow as the western edge of the big storm had dropped a fresh coat of snow in eastern Ohio, too. There were a few people arriving to pick up passengers off the train, and after listening to one guy complain about how late the train was I finally chimed in and pointed out the fact that everyone flying out of D.C. was still in D.C., but those on the train would be home soon.

I think he got it, but who knows. Anyway, after a waiting a bit more, I hiked up to the bridge over the diamond for my first photos. At 12:25 p.m. the snow encrusted train pulled into the station with P42DC No. 153 and P32-8 No. 513 (a nice surprise!).

After getting the bridge photos, I quickly hiked down off the bridge (easier said than done on that snow) to grab a photo of the ice-coated P32, then drove to the west end of CP Alliance and caught it crossing from Track 1 to Track 2, passing a pair of former PRR position light signals in the process.

One last “going away” photo was it, for after it cleared CP Allince it took off, and I headed for home. Photographing this train was a treat for me, as “the Cap” has always been a night time train in eastern Ohio, plus I really enjoy photographing trains in winter conditions, a “win-win” situation in my book. As a note, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring was a few miles west of me and filmed a video of the Capitol Limited at speed.

Stopping at Alliance to discharge passengers. The track heading straight from beneath the train is the Fort Wayne Line, once the route of the Broadway Limited.

Another view of the westbound Capitol Limited at Alliance. The diamond in the foreground is the crossing of the Fort Wayne Line and the original Cleveland & Pittsburgh route to Pittsburgh via Bayard, Ohio. The train is on a pair of connecting tracks built by Conrail.

P32 locomotives seldon operate on the Capitol Limited so seeing it today was a rare treat.

The last look the author would have of the tardy Capitol Limited. Next stop is Cleveland.

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