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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

07-12-26 PHOTOS: SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip VII

SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip VII consisted of an R5 trip to Lansdale, photo layover at Lansdale, R5 to Fern Rock, BSS to Center City, lunch, Rt 11 to Darby CSX grade crossing, Rt 13 special through Darby TC and then back to 30th St, Rt 10 to Girard, Rt 15 to Richmond, photo layover and then Rt 15 back to the MFL.

I don't really think that this trip needs much more preamble so I'll just cut to the photos. Feel free to browse the full gallery at:

Now its time for the ever popular photo tour. Hold onto your hats.

First we'll start with a little housekeeping to keep everyone up to date on the SEPTA RRD Reading Main Line. Here's the new layout at NEWTOWN JCT with an LED home signal displaying *G* for Cab Speed.

...and the same at JENKIN.

...and the recently rebuilt DALE.

Here are some videos of the new JENKIN and CARLMEL interlockings. At least SEPTA kept the Movable Point Diamond at CARMEL.

CSX Yard at Lansdale with GP38-2 #2813 and GP40-2 #6160.

Rude New York City trip participants hogging the mini-high in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 while Silverliner IV #139 stands by.

Train to Doylestown departing from the station track.

Silverliner II #909 laying over at Lansdale.

 S-II #9015 was also in the yard along with Silverliner III #225.

Friday, November 23, 2007

07-11-23 PHOTOS: Port Road Trip

Don't worry, I have been getting better about processing my photos, but I just haven't had time to write up all of the new sets for public consumption. I now have three sets awaiting writeup so I might as well get off my duff and get one done with.

This set catalogues one of my railfanning triumphs from 2007. For those of you who don't know, the NS (nee-PRR) Port Road Branch is one of the most photogenic and also inaccessible rail lines in the east. Built as the Columbia and Port Deposit railroad, it hugs the east bank of the Susquehanna River between Port Deposit, MD and Columbia, PA, before turning into the Enola Branch from there to the Enola Yard near Harrisburg.

The Port Road contains many feats of engineering including 3 tunnels, a flying junction, electrification, 3 hydroelectric dams and perhaps the most interesting, three water shoeflies that direct creeks over the trackbed. After the Atglen and Susquehanna low-grade cuttoff was built around 1910 three creeks that ran under both adjacent RoW's began to periodically washout the Port Road trackbed. The solution was to build three overpasses for the troublesome creeks, channeling them under the A&S line and then over the Port Road to fall harmlessly into the Susquehanna River. The three creeks channeled were Mann's Run, Fry's Run and Fisherman's Run and it took place sometime in the 20's or 30's.

The problem with the Port Road is twofold. First, it is extremely hard to reach most of the locations as the Port Road is located between a cliff and the river and also about a mile from the nearest public road. Second, due to restrictions on the NEC most of the freight traffic runs at night. Now I wasn't going to even try to catch a train, but I was interested in taking some photos of some interesting Port Road locations. CP-HOLTWOOD, COLA tower and CP-SHOCKS were all generally assessable from public roads, but the shoeflies were another story. The southernmost, Fry's Run, involves a 2.5 mile walk along the RoW from the parking at the Safe Harbour Dam. Fishermans's run involves a half mile walk down a private driveway and then a farm field. Mann's Run was about half a mile from a public little league park and involved a walk through a landfill and a forest so with the parking problem solved my friend and I chose this as a exploration target.

As I mentioned before I also stopped by CP-HOLTWOOD, CP-SHOCKS and COLA tower to take pictures of the surviving all amber PRR Position Light signals and pneumatic switches. I also drove by the Safe Harbour Dam to take pictures of the large step-up substation where 25Hz power from the dam is sent into Amtrak's 25Hz transmission network.

You can see the whole batch of photos at:

and the COLA tower pics at:

Alright, sit back and enjoy the description of the whole trip.

My morning started poorly on a SEPTA R5 train to Exton as the train ahead of us had some sort of problem and we were stuck on signals all the way from Bryn Mawr to Frazer. Here's my train taking a RESTRICTING on the 12L signal at PAOLI interlocking. Fortunately, once the slowpoke cleared the Main Line at FRAZER we got back up to line speed.

From Exton I met my friend and we drove out to LEAMAN block station at Leaman Place, PA (near the Strassburg RR junction). We were lucky to line up this shot of a Keystone train pulled by AEM-7 #934 with the block station shack.

Next stop was CP-HOLTWOOD, adjacent to the Holtwood Dam
. A security guard bitched me out about taking pics of the dam, but had no problem with me taking pics of the railroad interlocking. Nice to see that terrorism concerns only go so far. CP-HOLTWOOD is a crossover in the middle of siding on the Port Road complete with authentic PRR Amber PL's and pneumatic switches.

Here is a view of CP-HOLTWOOD showing the leftover kit from the electrification days.

Next stop was the Safe Harbour Dam where there are two dedicated hydro-electric turbines generating up to 60MW of 25Hz power for the PRR Electrified lines. The dam is dominated by the massive viaduct for the Atglen and Susquehanna lo-grade line where it passes over a local creek. The A&S takes about 10 miles to ride out of the river valley before it can turn east to join the Main Line at Parksburg. The lower bridge is the Port Road.

Next to the dam is the large Safe Harbour step-up, where 25Hz power from the dam is stepped up to 132,000 volts for transmission to the Amtrak electrified lines. There are 7 active 132kv circuits running out of Safe Harbour and one inactive circuit. 2 run east along the A&S RoW to Parksburg. One (formerly two) run north along the A&S to Harrisburg and 4 run south on commercial hi-tension lines to Perryville on the NEC. Remember, you can tell the 25Hz lines because they come in sets of 2, not 3 as typically seen in the 3-phase 60Hz grid. Each pair is a single circuit, one at +66Kv, the other at -66Kv.

Finally we get to the Shoefly. The creek is grafted into the shoefly channel right above the A&S RoW.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

07-11-20 PHOTOS: Harrisburg PRR Trip

The Harrisburg area is a mecca of railroad activity. A major hub on the PRR with the start of electrified service, Enola Yard and the Rockville bridge. It also had a significant Reading presence and to this day there is both an Amtrak terminal and a large Norfolk Southern presence. Harrisburg also has a lot of classic signaling and PRR artifacts and so a road trip to the Harrisburg area has been on my hit list for sone time now.

I finally got a chance to go out there with Chuchubob over Thanksgiving week in 2007. The weather was crummy, but we had a great time and got pretty lucky at all of our stops. On our way out to the 'Burg we stopped at Leaman Place and Conestoga on the Amtrak Harrisburg Line. As Amtrak re-signals the line, the old PRR signals are becoming increasingly endangered so it was good to get out and photo document them before Amtrak ruins things.

After that we stopped for lunch at a diner in Middletown, which was right on the Middletown and Hummlestown's segment of street running.

While nothing went by while we were eating, we did amble down to the M&H's yard and discovered an ad hoc trolley museum. While the M&H usually performs the duties of a shortline and tourist railroad, they are also still classified as an Electric or Interurban line and so can run non-FRA compliant trolleys and transit vehicles. As SEPTA has held fire sales over the yards, a surprising amount of this equipment had ended up on the M&H.

Finally, we drove up to the famous Rockville Bridge area. We took pictures at the east end at CP-ROCKVILLE and CP-WYE, then drove up to take pictures at a position light signal bridge on the Buffalo Line, then crossed the river to take pictures at the west end of the bridge at CP-HIP and CP-MARY.

At this point it was getting dark so we decided to call it a day, but now all of you can browse through all of the pictures I took.

Of course here's a photo tour that will hit all of the highlights of the trip.

It's not quite a tower and not quite a block station. The shack at LEAMAN has a small control board inside for two signals and two hand throw electrically locked turnouts.. LEAMAN is located just west of Rt 30 and the Strassburg connection. Note the Penn Central nameplate with PC slanted lettering.

LEAMAN consists of just a pair of semi-automatic signals and a hand operated crossover.  This is the 2R signal protecting the crossing for eastbound trains.

Here an Amtrak Keystone lead by Metroliner cab car #9634 train blasts through LEAMAN at 110mph in the drizzle.

Amtrak AEM-7 #935 is providing power on the rear.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

07-11-10 PHOITOS: Adirondack Dome Car

Way way way back in November I took an advantage of an opportunity to team up with friends Lexcie, Amanda and Will D to travel to Albany and catch Amtrak's Adirondack, which was running with a special ex-Great Northern full length dome car. Amtrak only has one of these cars so it runs on odd days northbound and southbound so we would be catching it Northbound. Due to operational constraints the dome was attached at Albany so the choice was made to save money and take Alex's variable-cost-mobile (now dead) all the way to the New York State Senate President Joe Bruno Station at Albany.

So there the dome car was attached and all the passengers filed on. After about 10 minutes the car was opened and we all stampeded to the front of the dome car. While the rear of the dome had better dome oriented seating, the windows were more grungy and I wouldn't have been able to get good looking ahead shots of signals. Speaking of, I was excited about photo documenting the signals on the old D&H Main Line, especially in the forward direction.

We only rode the dome as far as Port Henry, as that was the farthest North we could go and still reliable catch the southbound Adirondack. I was expecting a nice little downtown akin to those in the Keane Valley with a plethora of lunch options. What we found was a virtually deserted main rode with lunch options consisting of a closed diner and a gas station convenience store. Luckily there was a truck in the parking lot selling fresh venison, but unfortunately they were out and I had to settle for two Elk steaks. Thanks to the time of day I got a really good deal on them.

On the return trip the asshole crew has closed the rear car so we were relegated to playing card games in the Cafe car. At Albany I met up with another friend to go and enjoy the Elk steaks and allowed Alex et all to drive back to NYC via the Taconic parkway. You can see why I am so far behind processing my photos by looking at the plethora I gathered on this trip here.

 Now lets see if I can pick out a good sample of photos for a photo tour.

We begin with the hapless Albany Amshack which is unfortunately slated for demolition.  Never thought these buildings would become historically significant. 

Domeless Adirondack making a diverging move into Albany Station with P32AC-DM.

700 Series DM's waiting around at Albany yard.

Among these was #702. 

Here comes the dome, being pushed by the non-DM locomotive used after the normal power swap.

Inside of the dome with Subchatters Will D and Amanda. I'm already taking pics while the rest of the geese are still filing into the dome. 

Saturday, October 6, 2007

07-10-06 PHOTOS: The SPRING in Springfield (Or How I Learned To Stop Railfanning and Love The Cold War)

This photo set is a little bit of a mishmash, but there weren't enough photos to really justify multiple posts. There are three, count'em three topics. The first is a routine survey of SPRING tower in Springfield, MA. The second pushed the "on topic" definition of "fixed guide way" by profiling Lock #2 on the Champlain canal. The third abandons it all together with my visit to an Atlas Missile Silo dating from the heydays of the Cold War.

SPRING tower, or SSE-274 in New Haven parlance, was the last tower on the Springfield/Hartford Main Line. It stood at the junction of the Boston and Albany and the throat of the Springfield Union Station in Springfield, MA. At some point in the 1970's I-91 was built right over the junction and SPRING became like that little lighthouse under the great gray bridge...only somewhat more ignominiously has its top chopped to fit in the close clearance. Used by Amtrak until the 90's, SPRING now sits as an MoW hangout, invisible to all except those passing by on a Springfield Shittle or the 44x LSL Shittle.

The Champlain canal is a contemporary of the Erie Canal and like the Erie is run by the NY Thruway Authority. It connects Lake Champlain with the Hudson River a little north of Waterford. Lock #2 is slightly south of Mechanicville and has the distinction of being paired with the oldest operating hydro-electric power station in the country, which has been making use of the 20 foot drop to generate 5MW of power since 1897. Lock number 2 is special because it is one of only three locks on both canals to still have its original power station for powering the locks. The small hydro turbines are kept in a high state of repair as a living museum by the locktenders. The locks are worked by their original GE motors and control equipment, which looks like it just came out of a trolley museum. The tender on duty was nice enough to give me and my friend a personal tour of the equipment. There wasn't much canal traffic in October so he had plenty of time :-)

The last piece of living history I visited was a disused Atlas F missile silo located up near Plattsburg, NY, within the Adirondack Park and just south of Pocamoonshine. It was one of only 12 missile silos ever station east of the Mississippi River and marked the final evolution of the Atlas SM-65 ICBM system. The other Atlas models used soft launch or so called "container" launch systems where missiles had to be raised into position. The Atlas F was placed in a 130; deep by 80' wide silo where it could be fueled below ground and then raised vertically up to the surface for launch.

The Atlas F system was only used for a few years before it was replaced by more reliable Minuteman and Titan II systems. All of the silos were generally sold off for $1. Today most sit idle and flooded, but some have been turned into homes. I had gone to this one expecting to find an abandoned field, but was surprised to find it looking inhabited and a guy raking leaves. Instead of being some sort of survivalist with an assault rifle, I found an artist from Vermont who offered to give me and my fiend a personal tour (Wow, I'm pretty good at getting surprise tours).

Aside from the silo there is also a two story control centre. This has been renovated into a living space that preserves most of the original 50's look, with some modern touches like plasma TV's. The silo itself is being cleaned out. It suffered some damage by scrappers who owned it before and sat flooded for nearly 40 years. The launch doors are stuck open and because a local scrap yard is holding the pneumatic rams hostage for $17,000 each. The Australian owner bought the place for a meer $186k and wants to turn it into a multi-level rave venue. The next step is to blast all the lead paint off and then seal over the sludge with several feet of concrete. Then they'll install 3 rave levels and a deep swimming pool in the bottom. They even have a website, its pretty sweet.

You can view all of the fun and exciting pictures at:

And of course you know there's going to be a photo tour.

SSE-274 aka SPRING tower. Then the freeway came the tower stayed the same, but everything around it changed.

SPRING tower, side and rear.

The diamonds at CP-98. The searchlight signal is controlled by the CSX Boston Line dispatcher. The modular stack by the Amtrak Springfield Line dispatcher. The the modular stack recently replaced an older New Haven H-5 searchlight.

Jumping over to the Champlain Canal, here is the lock #2 tenders house and power house.

The fixed dam at the lock.

Here are the two house power turbines. The front one is spinning lazily due to a leaky valve.

Friday, October 5, 2007

07-10-05 PHOTOS: J/Zmaica El Westbound

 Well here is Part 2 of my Columbus Day weekend trip to Albany via Mineola and the J/Z. In Part 1 I showed off my photos from the LIRR's Mineola Station and interlocking, here I will show photos from my Railfan Window enabled survey of the Jamaica EL.  Because the NYCTA is foolishly scrapping its American Built, railfan window equipped rolling stock after ONLY 40 years, I had to document the J/Z Service before it was ruined for good.

Once again you can find the full set of pics at:

Now for the conclusion of my trip to Long Island.

Outbound J-Train of R40/42's heading over the LIRR Montauk Branch on the Jamaica El.

Bulb lit GT's at Crescent Street.

Approach Medium at the 432 signal at Broadway Junction.

Ramps and R40/2's abound as we pass another Approach Medium on the 380 signal at Broadway Jct.

Single slip switch ladder at Bway Jct.

07-10-05 PHOTOS: LIRR Mineola

Last October over the Columbus Day weekend I decided to take a layover in New York for a few hours on one of my trips to Albany. I arrived in NYC in the morning then hopped the Large Island Rail Road out to Mineola in order to take some pictures of NASSAU tower and its environs. After waiting two headways I returned to Jamaica and there transferred to a J/Z for a trip back to Chinatown to have lunch with fellow Subchatters Lexcieeee and Amanda.This will be split into two parts with the first part covering the LIRR trip and the second the J/Z trip.

Not much more to say that can't be better illustrated with photos so I'll just cut to the chase. I have included some videos with this batch so please let me know if you like them self-hosted or it I should put them up on U-Tube.

You can find the full set of pics at:

Now for the incredibly awesome and super cool photo tour!

Here is NASSAU's west home signal displaying a CLEAR signal for the train I came in on.

My train departing Mineola Station with LIRR M7 #7563 on the rear. Note the operator has fleeted the signal as it drops to STOP and PROCEED.

NASSAU tower used to have a mechanical lever frame and was built in the style of POND and the old DIVIDE tower down the way. Today it has an NX machine for the local and several remote interlockings.

NASSAU interlocking proper is a simple two track divergence where the Oyster Bay line branches off the Main Line proper. Here is C-3 cab car #5004 leading a train off the OB.

The twin turnouts are cut midway through by a level crossing. Here DE-30 #502 pushes a train off the Oyster Bay Branch.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

07-09-29 PHOTOS: Harrisburg Line Trip

Last September I went with Chuchubob out to Harrisburg to visit the preserved HARRIS tower. I also wanted to check out how Amtrak was ruining the Harrisburg Line with its slow motion re-signaling project.

Unfortunately HARRIS tower was closed that weekend and the Amtrak crew kept the cab car closed on both trips so no railfan view :-(

I didn't get to take many photos but you can see the ones I did at:

Short photo tour here.

P42 #57 with AEM-7 #941 at Harrisburg Station.

AEM-7 #941 and the Harrisburg station train shed.

 AEM-7 #925 waiting on an adjacent track with a Keystone trainset.

Metroliner cab car #9650 next to preserved GG-1 #4859.

Old HARRIS tower now fully restored and turned into a Museum.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

07-09-01 PHOTOS: Abandoned South Jersey

Last Labour Day I spent some quality time roving around South Jersey checking out a number of interesting "Forgotten" locations interspersed with more standard Railfan locations. So the photos here will include something for everyone.

First off is the old Dydee Service building in Westmont. For years cloth diapers were cleaned there and delivered back to peoples houses. Shuttered by the advent of disposable diapers the building stood vacant for decades before being razed for a new development. I sort of regret not getting in there for a look around before it was demolished.

Next is SOUTH RACE interlocking at Utica Ave in Westmont. Despite being the closest interlocking to my house I had never bothered to go out and take a complete photo set.

After SOUTH RACE I popped over to the adjacent abandoned Westmont sewage treatment plant. This was actually the first of two Sweage treatment plants in this area before things were centralized with the CCMUA. The old plant only had primary treatment, while the second plant had secondary treatment. Today it sits decaying in the woods.

After the jaunt around Westmont I took a jump to the the legendary Haddonfield Waterfall. This is located on the Cooper River deep in the bowls of the Crows Woods recreation area. The river drops over about an 18" clay pan creating a little waterfall. Over the years the fall has retreated some 150 feet.

Next I ventured a little farther afield to the Winslow Junction area. After a bit of railfanning I took off down the RoW to a tip I had on something called Ancora Village. This was a community of assisted living houses for low-risk patients of the Ancora Psychiatric Hospital. Closed probably due to cost reasons the houses stood for several years before all being demolished. Now the site is left to be reclaimed by nature.

Finally, I walked back to Winslow Jct in time to catch an unannounced employee special labour day train as well as the new Alco C420 in its NYO&W Paint.

That was a little whirlwind summary and you can find the full set of pics at:

And more of a guided tour below in the same order as described above.

Here is the landmark Dydee Service building with the demolition fence already erected. This building has literally stood vacant here for 20 years or more.

In the forest next to SOUTH RACE interlocking the original Westmont sewage plant. Probably in service until the 1950's. Here is the primary settling tank.

Here's the input channel. Hard to believe this setup managed to "treat" anything at all.

Moving on to the Haddonfield Waterfall. Cute ain't it.

Here's where it used to be 10 years ago.

Also saw this on my way out. Nasty surprise for any lineman.

Finally some railfan stuff. WINSLOW Tower 2008. The bay windows have finally been boarded up from the inside.