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:
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.
Next stop was CP-HOLTWOOD, adjacent to the Holtwood Dam
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.