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Friday, January 16, 2009

09-01-16 PHOTOS: Schenectady Interlockings

Up until a year ago I had a friend residing in the Capitol District of New York and when I visited I would usually end up forcing him to take me around to various locations to railfan. You have seen some of these photo sets before, but when I learned that he was going to be moving I stepped up my efforts to cover some of the historically interesting signaling locations in his area. The fact that this mission came right after a healthy snow storm only made things better from a photographic point of view.

During this trip over MLK Day a year ago, I managed to cover two interlockings on Amtrak's Hudson Line, CP-156 where the old NYC Carman Branch diverges and CP-159, which is at the east end of Schenectady station, and CPF-483, formerly known as GE interlocking, at the southern end of the D&H Mohawk Yard.

In addition we took a little trip along the Selkirk Branch looking for any surviving searchlight signals as well as the notable railfan location at French's Hollow.

So yeah, these photos are mostly all signals so I'll assume most of you will tune out at this point, but for those of you who are interested the full set of pictures is here.

Alright, I am going to kick things off at CP-156, which, as I mentioned, is the junction of the Hudson Line with the Carman Branch. I have already been to the other end of the Carman Branch at CP-SH back in my fall photo set. The Carman Branch serves as a connection between the Selkirk Branch (which is the Albany freight bypass route) and the Hudson Line, which is Amtrak's high speed passenger line between Albany and CP-169. It is currently used by local freight trains running from Selkirk yard to the West Albany bulk loading facility. CP-156 is also the east end of a controlled siding that runs between here and the Schenectady station. So looking west one would see from left to right, main track, controlled siding, Carman Branch.

Looking back the other way we see the interlocking with the stacked dwarf searchlights for movements coming of the siding and carman Branch. If you notice in the foreground there are vehicle tracks over the rails. This is from persons unknown bypassing the locked gate to the RoW access road.

The 6E stacked searchlight dwarf is in need of a new paint job as it governs movements off the controlled siding. These dwarf arrangements are surprisingly large when you get right up next to them.

The 6W signal governs movements off of a stub track that used to be a second mainline track and now turns into the controlled siding. All the other signals at CP-156 are approach lit, which means that they will only illuminate when a train is approaching, but because the stub track is not track circuited the 6W dwarf must be continuously illuminated.

There was an old building at CP-156. I don't know if it used to be an interlocking cabin or what.

The westbound mast signal at CP-156 has three heads because on the Carman Branch there are no intermediate signals between here and CP-SH so this signal must be capable of displaying Medium Approach Medium.

Zoom shot of the interlocking's ladder arrangement showing the #1 and #3 turnouts to the controlled siding and Carman Branch with the eastbound mast on the left.

Moving onto CP-159 the weather was sunnier, but was much, much colder, probably around 10 or 15 degrees with a wind chill. CP-159 was special for having a surviving New York Central signal gantry for westbound movements.

Because CP-159 is back to back with CP-160, the signals on thew gantry have 3 heads for the Medium Approach Medium aspect.

After Europe was almost completely shut down this winter due to snow I like to use these pictures to illustrate how point haters are supposed to function.

The eastbound mast looked as if it could use a new coat of paint.

While the eastbound 6E dwarf stack not only had fresh paint, but was also plainly labeled.

Moving on again this time a few miles north into D&H territory we have CPF-483 at the southern end of Mohawk Yard. this interlocking has 1 main, 1 siding and 2 yard tracks filtering down into a stub track and a main track. The yard is now owned by Canadian Pacific, but sees traffic from NS and the Guilford Rail System.

Here we have two large target searchlight masts governing northbound traffic. The track on the left is the main track, the track on the right is now only a stub and ends a few hundred yards behind. unlike the former NYC interlockings these use large targets for the searchlights and are not approach lit.

Closeup shot from the rear. You can tell by the age of the equipment that these signals were probably installed new in the 80's or early 90's.

Both direct burner point heaters as well as the forced air kind are in use.

The southbound signals at the interlocking are mounted on a classic D&H gantry, although they have seen some modification over the years. On the far right the single searchlight head actually counts as a dwarf signal despite its gantry mounting.

Closeup of two of the signals on the gantry. The one on the left looks almost brand new, while both mountings appear to have had some OSHA-friendly modifications.

In the yard we see two Pan Am painted boxcars with Main Central reporting marks.

Also in the yard was Maine Eastern FL-9 #489.

A historic railroad atlas indicated that this yard office looking building was aptly named 'GE' tower.

I took a trip back to CP-RJ to make sure that CSX hadn't re-signaled it since the last time I had been there. Fortunately they had not. Here are the eastbound searchlight masts and dwarf stack.

Some maintainers were out an about with a a CSX GP-30 based road-slug combo on the D&H interchange track.

The access road running past CP-RJ is actually a public right of way used by local traffic. The road passes under the Selkirk Branch via a small single lane overpass. I can't necessarily agree with this message scrawled on one of the abutments, and according to the comment, I'm not alone XD

Most of the Selkirk Branch was re-signaled with additional interlockings and crossovers were added. However I was determined to find some surviving searchlight signals and I did. The MP 37 distant signals to CP-RJ were untouched and illuminated.

Other signals were not so lucky like these at MP 26 which have been hit by the Darth Vader syndrome.

The railfan hotpot at French's Hollow features two high trestles passing over a waterfall in front of a dam. the reason for the two trestles is because this is where the Selkirk Branch tracks divide for the approach to fullers Flyover where one track crosses over the other as back in the day NYC freight trains ran left handed on the 4 track NYC main.

Popular at all times of the year, the effect at French's Hollow in winter is spectacular.

Of course I wasn't about to freeze my nuts off waiting for a train.

The final stop on my journeys was CP-VO in Vorheesville. CP-VO was built as a diamond crossing with the D&H Albany branch. On eother side of the interlocking had been two hand operated crossovers and a connection to the D&H line. Around 2000 the diamonds were lifted as CP Rail decided to abandon the line and CP-VO soldiered on as a literal Controlled Point with no interlocking appliances. I had visited CP-VO during this configuration in 2006 and all was well, but the bastards at CSX just couldn't leave well enough alone and rebuilt the interlocking with a power crossover. Of course that also meant the distant signals to CP-VO had to get replaced with Darth Vaders. >:-O

Anyway, that's it for this winter installment. Next week stay turned as I take a trip to always sunny (and sometimes on fire) San Diego.

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