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Sunday, November 12, 2006

06-11-12 PHOTOS: C&O Cardinal

If you remember my post about the rare millage detour on the Lake shore Limited you might have wondered how I got back from Chicago. Well, I booked a sleeper on the Cardinal with the intention of photographing out the back of the train along the C&O Main line especially the New River Gourge.

Now I booked the sleeper primarily because the sleeper is typically on the rear of the Cardinal, but this time it was on head end. Another issue was that out of Chicago there were two private cars on the back, but luckily they were cut off in Cincinnati. Unfortunately I didn't notice this until nearly Charleston, WV, but the morning was dark and shitty anyway so I didn't really miss much.

My interest in the C&O main line is that it is almost completely unresignaled from C&O days with big old elephant ear US&S colour light signals with big 5" lenses. Also, the C&O was a noted user of pneumatic switch machines and I wanted to see if there were any pneumatic interlockings left.

Now, due to the shitty weather I missed some of the neatest part of the line between Russel yard and Huntington where you have 3-4 tracks with massive C&O signal bridges. I started taking pictures at the famous St. Albans railfan hotspot and while there were railfan out on the ground, from my motiving train the pictures weren't turning out so good yet.

Still, between there and White Sulphur Springs I took a great deal of exciting, yet rather gray photos. My ultimate goal was to photograph the 2200 foot Allegheny summit of the C&O main line, but a number of other ppl had come back to the last car for pictures and the conductor got pissy and kicked us all out :-(

Still, the crew was generally cool and I had carte blanche to take pics from the vestibule window of my Viewliner. Because the Cardinal has been operating without diner cooked first class food for some time now they did a much better job via a vie preparation than I had seen on the LSL a day earlier. of course like always the other travelers in the sleeper were very nice as were the geese back in coach (as opposed to my last Cardinal trip where I was stuck with a family from the no-fly list who thought it reasonable to bring 3 screaming children on a 23 hour train ride.

We were only about an hour down of our scheduled arrival time into DC, which is pretty good for a train that takes a full day to get from Chicago to DC. I had just enough time to grab my kit and run over to the regional train that we were normally scheduled to be tied up behind for the trip to NYC. The other interesting bit was that Amtrak seems to have made a serious scheduling error in that the westbound train is more than 50 min down then they can't re-crew in Charlottesville. We had to preform a flying re-crew at a small siding about 12 mines east of there.

Anyway, all the photos are posted at:

Most are listed by subdivision and then milepost. This means they go in reverse order of my trip and you go west (as I go east) as you scroll down and they you go back east again :-\ Heh, oh well.

Here's a quickie photo tour.

The cantilever signal is a C&O trademark and the old C&O main line through WV and KY is littered with them.

A little further along the main line splits with one track on each side of the New River. Not the walkway to keep locals off the tracks.

A little past that is WV's most famous tourist attraction, the New River Gourge bridge.

Next is Thurmond with its downtown which uses the railroad RoW as its main drag.

Had we had a longer stop there I could have made use of this Post Office Shack.

Prince, WV is the last surviving station with that crazy C&O Font lettering from the 1950's. Stops in small population centers like these is why the train is often called the Senator Byrd Special.

Past prince I caught the westbound cantilever signal at SANDSTONE interlocking displaying Approach Medium.

And hey check it out...a pneumatic interlocking complete with tower. This is CW Cabin.

The 1.2 mile long Big Bend tunnel had been single tracked so CSX could save money on tunnel maintenance.  The tunnel cuts 8 miles off a 10 mile long bend in the Greenbrier River. This is the tunnel where John Henry phyrically won his contest against the steam powered drilling machine.

A little past there were the Riffe main line scales for weighing coal cars.

The sun popped out for a quick photo of C&O signal gantry 3385.

Here's a cool photo. From foreground to background is a mast signal, equilateral switch, cantilever signal, tunnel, bridge and another tunnel!!  The far tunnel is the Fort Springs tunnel, the near tunnel is the Second Creek tunnel and the interlocking in ROCKLAND.

The best photo I could get at the Allegheny Summit. There is an old tower there, but the interlocking was removed some time ago. The sign marking the summit it out of view in the distance.

Hey, ever wonder where all those LD Budd cars NJDoT used on the coast line went? Well they ended up in Clifton Forge West VA...probably as low income housing or something.

Here's where we leave the James River line to get on the lightly used and slow North Mountain Sub. Note the Medium Approach on the dwarf.

The CSX, NS diamonds at Charlottesville. If a connection was installed between the track on the right and this track the cardinal could save 30 min bypassing an extremely slow section of old C&O trackage. One part only sees The Cardinal, has a 40mph MAS and jointed rail!

Our train takes the restricting signal into the Lindsay siding...

...for the flying crew change, due to the lateness of the eastbound Cardinal headed up by P42DC #52

Last thing of interest was G Tower at Gordon, VA where we move onto the 40mph jointed track.

Hope you all enjoyed the tour!!

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