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Monday, November 10, 2008

08-11-10 PHOTOS: A Capitol Limited November

So, why have I gotten a year behind in putting my photos online. Well I pin the blame on the size of the memory sticks available to my new camera. While having several cards with 1GB of storage allows me to take a great deal of video, it also permits things like this set of photos which contain over 300 pictures taken from the back of the Capitol Limited as it traveled from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. In fact counting the other two sets of photos I have posted from this trip I came away with over 500 photos, all of which had to be individually improved in a post production process that added up to many hours of effort. Now I have to invest another hour writing up a useful description for the best of those photos, which few people will end up reading.

I guess someone's got to do it.

So, back to the Capitol Limited. What could be so important that I would end up taking about one photo per mile traveled between Pittsburgh and Washington? Well in fall of 2008 CSX was in the process of converging the last remaining segments of B&O signaled Rule 251 trackage on the Keystone Sub to Darth Vader traffic lights. Moreover on the Cumberland and Metropolitan Subs I felt it prudent to take photos of all the CPLs there just because you never know when some dickhead might feel the need to "improve" things in those places as well.

The trip was largely gray with a few spots of sunlight, but I didn't let this stop me as I had history to document!! I'll try not to bore you too much with some of the more bland signal pix, but I did manage to capture other things as well.

You can see the huge massive collection here:

Give it a click so you can see the result of large capacity memory cards!!

So at this point the only section of classic signaling left on the Keystone sub was between SINNS interlocking near McKeeyport, PA and Connelsville, PA. I had previously traversed this route in 2007 on a trip back from Chicago in June where I got considerably more light, but due to the impending replacement I couldn't be picky.

Here is basically what the signaling consisted of. Simple B&O CPL block signals driven from a pole line with hand operated trailing crossovers every 10 miles or so. Here is a video montage of some of the Keystone Sub CPLs because video mode worked better in the low light.

Back in the day most railroad main lines consisted of miles and miles of simple automatic block trackage with hand operated crossovers and no interlockings anywhere to be found. The Keystone sub snakes for about 30-40 miles along the Youghiogheny River in this fashion until it nears Connelsville, PA where a large B&O classification yard used to be located and a string of interlockings were under the control of VI Tower, located in the yard office.

Principal among these was the squickly named SODEM interlocking, with its 3-track CPL signal gantry seen here in this video.

The westbound bracket CPL mast was located directly adjacent to the platform of the Connelsville Amshack and was a well known railfan hotspot. Here we see that famous mast with the track 1 signal displaying a Clear signal. The cantilever of death equipped with new darth vader signals is in already in place.

The SODEM bracket was popular due to its collection of 5 orbital lamps on the track 2 signal.

At the east end of the yard is the still safe for now GREEN JUNCTION, complete with tower and CPL signals. Here the track 1 mast signal is displaying a Stop and Proceed indication behind a freight movement that had been waiting for my train to complete its work at the Connelsville Station.

Due to the lack of CPL signals between here and Cumberland, MD this is the point in the journey where I head off to the Diner for breakfast as the train slowly snakes its way up and over the Allegheny front. The emphasis is on slow and I finished breakfast well before the train reached Cumberland and so after taking a few pictures of tunnels and darth vaders I took a nap.

Fast forward to the Cumberland, MD Amtrak station which appears to be part of the port office.

The sun popped out briefly to illuminate a MoW rail replacement train.

At MEXICO tower as crossed over to the right rail interrupting an MoW crew that were working on the switch frogs there.

Finally we were onto the un-resignaled portion of the Cumberland Sub with all my old favourites such as the modern CPL gantry at DANS RUN.

The CSX railroad tie factory.

There were what seemed to be some newly painted CPL's at LONGS CROSSING.

Moving onto the famous Magnolia Cutoff I switched to some video and captured the curving Cathothers Tunnel.

And then the Graham Tunnel complexMagnolia CPL bracket signals.

In this stretch I got a good pic of the CAROTHERS CPL bracket displaying Approach Medium along with its pole line.

Later I got a pic of the GREAT CACAPON gantry with an MoW crew repairing the pole line.

GRASSHOPPER HOLLOW interlocking had been controlled from the model board of HANCOCK tower, but the closing of the latter fortunately did not affect the former and its 3-track CPL signal gantry.

Unfortunately by this time HANCOCK tower had not only been closed for over a year, but demolished as well. Here is the new HANCOCK interlocking now completely sterilized. The steel coil cars on the siding were in storage due to the economic collapse.

Back in the non-CPL territory I generally lost interest, but did take a couple of FYI shots. For example as late as 2000 WEST CUMBO interlocking had a manned tower and CPLs. Today, nothing.

Endangered in their own right, MARC GP-40WH #62 was sitting as protect power in the Martinsburg Yard.

Some of you might be aware of the tunnel at Harper's Ferry. Well here it is in video form.

Many people are familiar with WB Tower and interlocking that's near the Brunswick MARC station. Well that interlocking also has a back side on tracks 2 and 4, shown here. Note the rear of WB Tower and pneumatic point machine.

Next comes a video through the still CPL'd EAST BRUNSWISK interlocking.

Then its along the Potomac River and through the Point of Rocks tunnel.

Followed quickly by Point of Rocks Interlocking, where the Old Main Line to Baltimore and MARC Frederick trains diverge.

Now we're on the Metropolitan Sub all the way into Washington DC. Although as always my trip on what should be a 70mph raceway, was beset by speed restrictions.

Here is the MARC Dickerson Station, yes THE MARC Dickerson Station.

At Rockville and old CPLs had been replaced by two sets of new signals to overcome issues pertaining to the Delay in Block rule. Here an adjacent WMATA Red Line train departs the Rockville station next to one of the new signals.

After GEORGETOWN JCT at Silver Spring, the Metro returned this time in the middle of the two former B&O tracks. Here we see the Metro's Ft. Totten station and Green Line Ramp visible just behind the TERRA COTTA signal at MP 4.

All that was left before we finally returned to Amtrak territory was QN TOWER interlocking. I was blessed when my train broke into the sunlight mid-way through the interlocking to bathe the westbound signals in daylight.

My train snaked past the VRE ready yard.

And then entered C Interlocking adjacent to Metro's Brentwood yard.

We traversed the two double slip switched in the terminal area with movable point frogs.

I was again fortunate to have a MARC local pulling in on an adjacent track with bi-level K-Cab Car #7848.

The MARC local had to wait at the J Bridge while we were cleared ahead of it into Track 25 on the lower level.

Under the K bridge and over the doubleslips to the track 25 ladder.

The golf cart had to wait as my train pulled into track 25 in front of K Tower.

We came to a stop next to the platform on track 25 having covered about 300 miles in a bit over 8 hours.

Anyway, sorry for the avalanche of photos, Be prepared for the same when I post photos from my May Pittsburgh trip. Next week I'll move onto something completely different with the first of a series of trips involving the NYC Subway in its twilight before complete lameness.

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