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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.