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Saturday, August 21, 2010

10-08-21 PHOTOS: Point-of-Rocks

Point of Rocks, Maryland is located at the the point where the Catoctin Ridge crosses the Potomac River. It is also the junction between the Baltimore and Ohio's Old Main Line to Baltimore and its Metropolitan Branch to Washington, DC. The junction takes the form of a Wye with an interlocking at each apex and a station building/MoW base in the middle.

The Old Main Line is exactly that, the original B&O Main Line between Baltimore and Ohio constructed in the years after 1831. Today most traffic heads to and from the double track Metropolitan Branch as the OML has a large number of tunnels and is not cleared for double stacks. Furthermore to improve clearances from their 1830's design the line was single tracked in the 1950's further restricting capacity and combined with its slow curvy track it made the Metropolitan-Capitol Sub route the preferred one even if it is several miles longer.

Point of Rocks remains a passenger station on the MARC Brunswick Line and sees weekday directional service to Washington, DC. It also sees the daily passage of Amtrak's Capitol Limited with the eastbound Train 30 passing around 11am and the westbound Train 29 passing around 5:30pm.

This selection of photos was taken on a trip to Point of Rocks last August and highlights the various rail action as well as the fixed infrastructure available. The presence of the station makes Point of Rocks a very accessible railfan location with platforms and walkways that put you right in the middle of the action.

You can find the full set of photos here. As usual I will be posting a variety of select photos, but the train shots will be down at the bottom to encourage you to read through the entire essay :-P

We begin with the Point of Rocks station building. It was constructed in 1873 and is a Nationally Registered Historic Place. I believe it is still staffed by a CSX ticket agent, one of the last in the entire company and the job position probably stretches back to the early days of the B&O, nearly two centuries ago. A newspaper article profiled the woman who worked there and at the time CSX had opted not to bid to continue running the MARC commuter service and there was a big thing about her finally going into retirement. However with CSX continuing to run the service I am assuming that the agent position was saved and with it a piece of living history.

The station also serves as a crew base for local CSX track and signal maintainers and there is a large parking area for CSX owned trucks and hi-rail vehicles. The south side platform canopy was damaged in the February 2010 blizzard, but as of January of 2011 work had been started to restore it.

Of course as a railroad crew base the required motivational safety poster was present.

The inbound platform had been provided with rather austere bus type shelters for waiting passengers, but in 2008 these were replaced with a new design that matched the look and feel of the 1873 station building across the tracks.

The main island platform between the two main lines is still equipped with its original brick paving as well as cast iron lampposts and signs. (Alert Forgotten NY!) Still a second, modern type sign has been provided at a lower level, probably for ADA reasons.

POINT OF ROCKS interlocking comprises the west apex of the wye and is a double-track flat junction between the Old Main Line and Metropolitan Sub with the OML being given the straight route and the Metropolitan Sub the diverging. As the Metropolitan Sub begins a few miles to the west at Brunswick trains taking the same logical route at the junction must actually make a diverging move. In this case looking east we see a Medium Clear indication displayed on the #2 track mast for a diverging route from #2 track to...#2 track.

A conveniently placed set of duckboards allow one to stand right in the middle of the interlocking. Here we are looking west at the parallel set of crossovers for the double track main line split between the OML and Met subs. While each individual interlocking that makes up the Point of Rocks Wye only contains a half crossover, combined there exist a full set of crossovers for all tracks.

Here we see CSX C44-10W #939 splitting the westbound OML mast signals as it moves from OML track #3 to Met Sub track #1.

Behind 939 was fellow AC4400 #501 at the head of a long strong of empty coal cars headed westbound.

Friday, August 13, 2010

10-08-13 PHOTOS: Along the Waterfronts

Well that's the best title I could think of for a compilation of random photos taken in August of 2010. Yes I will visit at least two waterfronts in this series, but there's not much more binding things together. Also, because there are not enough train photos available I'll sprinkle in some gems of Baltimore's outer harbor. That's right, outer harbour. Think bigger and much more industrial.

You can see the entire potpourri of photos right here, but if you don't feel like looking at some thumbnails strap yourself in and feel the burn of large photos downloading!!

We begin driving along the NEC on I-495 in Delaware. I was probably heading home for the West Jersey NRHS Chapter Picnic. A friend had decided to drive me so my hands were free to shoot from the side of the car and was lucky enough to capture Acela Express power car #2013 as it blasted southbound.

Not far south I got a great picture of BELL tower.

And the old PRR freight flyover...made obsolete by the replacement of the center freight tracks with express passenger tracks.

Since the picnic no longer includes any rail related action we now cut to Haddonfield, NJ where I was waiting for a PATCO train when NJT Geep #4212 showed up in the trench with a Philly bound Atlantic City train. It was actually pretty common to catch ACL trains here given my schedule so instead of stills I went for video.

And zoomed in for a shot of its C-IV cab car #5023.

Then much to my surprise another ACL train showed up about 5 minutes later. It was sequentially lead by NJT Geep #4211 and this time I decided to go for some some stills.

And the trainset had Conet IV cab car #5031 on the rear.

Later that week I was in Washington, DC for a conference and the MARC MP36PH-3Cs were just starting to become commonplace. Here is #14 waiting to lead a train outbound.