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Monday, October 14, 2013

13-10-14 PHOTOS: Shoofly Two

The Port Road Shoo Flys were once considered the holy grail of railfan locations in the Eastern Pennsylvania area. These three structures were built by the pennsylvania Railroad as part of the 1915 Atglen and Susquehanna "Low Grade" project that bypassed heavy grades on the PRR Main Line between Parkesburg and Harrisburg by cutting across hill and dale to join the Columbia and Port Deposit alignment just south of Columbia, PA. When trying to fit in the A&S next to the C&PD between the cliffs and the river the PRR ran into some issues with three local streams that would risk washing out Port Road if they were left to drain under both rights of way. The solution was an innovative "Shoo Fly" structure (I know that the correct term is "flume", but I have seen these called shoo flys) that carried the streams over the Port Road after passing under the A&S. From north to south they were Mann's Run, Fisherman's Run and Fry's Run.

Now I said these were considered holy grails because even though the A&S was abandoned in the 1980's and only continued to serve as a 25Hz power RoW for Amtrak, the locations are completely inaccessible due to local topology. To visit all three of the Shoo Flies would require a 7 mile round trip hike from the Safe Harbor Dam to the south or a 9 mile hike in from Blue Rock from the north. In 2007 I used a rather daring shortcut across an active landfill to visit the Mann's Run Shoo Fly, but it was a rather high risk enterprise just to see a bit of historical engineering.

Well fast forward some years and it appears that the State of Pennsylvania has completely robbed the railfan community of one of its more cathartic experiences (as well as destroying a vital rail corridor) by turning the former A&S into the Enola Low Grade Trail. It now takes a sum total of 20 minutes to reach all three Shoo Flies via a bicycle on the immaculately manicured roadbed. Of course that was lost in the journey was partly made up by increased access to a large number of PRR era railroad appliances that were just left in place by Conrail when they ripped up the track.

In today's segment I will explore each of the Shoo Flies and then double back to show off some of the other historic elements featured along the trail. You can find the full set of photos here.

We begin with something completely different. Here is East Penn railway GP9 #1701 sitting near York, PA near US 30.

Heading to the rail trail parking lot we pass through Comulbia, PA with the 1930's vintage COLA tower, which still held the local relay interlocking logic until just a few years ago.

The whole area from Holtwood to Shocks was resignaled by NS to get rid of the Rule 251 operation and US&S 504 code line. Fortunately the catenary structure in this area ws saved from scrapping because it is still used to carry a 25Hz 138Kv power circuit from Safe Harbor to Royalton.

First up is the Mann's Run Shoo Fly. This is the largest of the three streams with a wide trough and high walls.

This one also has the best waterfall effect.

If photos aren't enough here is a video tour of the Mann's Run Shoo Fly.

Fisherman's Run is the smallest Shoo Fly with a very narrow trough. It is also having problems with exposed rebar.

 Here is the transition for Fisherman's Run from forest stream to railroad aqueduct.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

13-10-05 PHOTOS: Going to Church Ave

Back in October I got word that the spendthrifts at the NYCTA were replacing more of their reliable 1930's technology with modern junk so I jumped on a train and headed up to the Windy Apple in order to take a few photos of the old US&S interlocking plant at Church Ave. Now normally there isn't much to see with NYCTA interlocking towers because the windows are either papered over or they are located in the bowels of the tunnels, however Church Ave was interesting because the 1933 vintage 28-lever Model 14 interlocking machine had a CCTV feed piped into the dispatchers office so save on having to install a mimic board. This was photographable and I desperately wanted both photos and video of this rather crazy anachronism.

You can find all the photos here.

The MTA aren't the only ones throwing out perfectly good signaling. On my way up I stopped by the Ankin siding on the CSX Philly Sub where I caught the eastbound B&O CPL signal displaying a Clear indication at the east end of the siding. This interlocking was previously re-done only about 12 years ago, but I guess railroad money grows on trees.

I then proceeded to the west end of the siding and while that signal was also displaying Clear there was still no sign of the train it was for.

Onto the New York. We begin with a walk around the Chambers Street Station while waiting for an R32. There always seems to be a train arriving or departing the downtown Chambers St complex. In this walk down the platform An R32 C Train and R46 A-Train both depart before the arrival of another R46 A-Train.

Changing trains at West 4th Street I got video of a southbound departing R32 C-Train with #3515 on the front.

Yup, more videos. This time of R46 #5714 departing Church Ave at the head of an F Train en route to Coney Island.

MoW and C&S crews were occupying the inbound local track and I caught this GRS Model 2 switch machine on a pallet waiting to be installed. This surprised me as I figured the NYCTA had become a US&S M3 house and also I didn't think this model of point machines were still made.

Powering the first set of work cars was diesel R47 #65.

Acting as a cab car on the second work train was former R33 rider car #RD420 where workers can relax ;-) after a long day on the job.

AAR coupling between RD420 and the ballast hopper car.

Powering the second train was another R47 #63.

Alright, here is what I came to see, the Model 14 CCTV feed in the dispatch office.

Samsung meet US&S. I find this whole setup to be wildly ironic given the amount of processing power being used to replicate the model board vs the amount of processing power in the 1933 vintage interlocking machine itself. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

13-10-02 PHOTOS: B&O Rush Hour

Folks wishing to travel between Baltimore and Washington, DC have the somewhat unique ability to choose from between two different commuter rail routes. They can take the Penn Line with is frequent high speed service on Amtrak's NEC or they can take the Camden Line from the former B&O terminal downtown. This service is significantly slower and much less frequent. Still, there is still what can be considered a rush hour and last October I ventured back to the Bailey's Wye area to get some pictures of what passes now for a B&O rush hour before CSX ripped down all the Color Position Light signals.

You can find all the photos right here.

We begin with the three track B&O signal bridge at the west end of BAILEY interlocking which will eventually be replaced over the President's Day weekend. The two tracks to the right are the main CSX tracks while the track to the left is only used by MARC trains going to the Camden Station.

My strategy worked and I managed to photograph a Medium Approach Slow indication on the MARC signal. Not only is the new signaling lamer, it is also less capable as future trains will only be able to get an Approach or Slow Approach at the same location.

Here we have a video of northbound MARC train #846 is just about to arrive at the Camden Station behind MP36PH-3C #25 as it passes under the 3-track B&O CPL signal bridge at BAILEY with single level cab car #7754.

This was followed shortly by an DC-bound MARC train lead by cab car #7758.

MARC MP39PH-3C #28 was providing power for the trip west.

The major MARC maintenance facility is located at the CSX Locust Point yard so after discharging at the small 3 track Camden Station they go back around the wye and out to Locust Point which we see MP39PH-3C #25 doing in this photo.

Waiting for all of this to pass was former B&O GP35 Road Slug #2366 and GP40-2 #6966.

Instead of venturing out onto the main line the two car freight train reversed through LEADENHALL ST interlocking towards the Locust Point yard.

The east side of BAILY interlocking was awaiting its brand new 4-track signal bridge which is somehow more cost effective than the collection of B&O CPL dwarves and masts that are currently there.

While hanging out there I caught northbound MARC train #848 behind MARC GP39-2H #74 as it passes through Bailey's Wye. Single level cab car #7746 is on the rear.