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Saturday, June 28, 2014

14-06-28 PHOTOS: B&O Bash

It's always nice when you can hijack an otherwise non-railfan group to do railfan things. I had one such opportunity in June when a bunch of friends were attending a conference in the Baltimore area and I convinced them to take a trip to the B&O Museum. I had last been to the B&O Museum way back in 2006 and it was high time for a refresher. As I expected not much had changed, but on the other hand my camera was two generations newer so I could photograph things again for the first time.

You can find the B&O Museum pics here along with a bunch from the Baltimore Zoo.

Out in the parking lot GP40 #3684 had been restored to its original B&O livery.

Although I wasn't too pleased that this B&O RDC was ripping off the trademark name of South Jersey's own transit system.

The "Tomb Thumb" engine might be a replica built in 1927, but this "Grasshopper" type is an authentic 1832 steam locomotive. I think that predates interchangeable parts!

I'm not here to give a history lesson on what each of the stuff display pieces in the B&O round house are, but I do know that around 2003 the museum suffered a roof collapse due to wet snow which severely damaged a number of the historic steam engines inside. Anyway the repair work was so good that I can't tell exactly which ones were affected, although I think it was some of these.

This restored Chessie painted GP38 was providing power to the excursion train in place of the MARC F-unit that was performing the duty back in 2006.

Still, MARC #7100 looked ready to take over if necessary.

The B&O Museum features one of the most powerful steam locomotives still in existence, C&O Allegheny #1604, whose class could generated nearly 7000hp.

C&O Pacific #440 is always a crowd pleaser.

Out in the field PRR GG-1 #4876 is still hanging in there as efforts to scrap the locomotive have changed to preservation. This was the locomotive that crashed into DC's Union Station in 1953.

I'll wrap things up with the Museum's signal collection out in the parking lot.

Tune in next time for the inaugural run of the DC Metro's Silver Line.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

14-06-22 PHOTOS: Limited Content

So with the last few B&O CPL signals vanishing quickly from the B&O Main Line, there isn't a lot for me to document from the back of Train 30, Amtrak's Capitol Limited. Still, I did have a few sections of the grade between Connelsville and Cumberland to catch up on as well as the segment between Hancock and Harpers Ferry, WV so this is what will close up my 2014 Transcontinental Amtrak Trip.

You can check out all the photos from this set right here.

We kick off the final set at Connelsville, PA with CSX ES44AC #3121 waiting for us to pull out of SODEM interlocking.

The Amtrak Connelsville, PA station was upgraded in a stimulum project.

The new signals at GREENE JCT, which were placed in service a few weeks after my 2013 trip. Note how CSX will gladly throw away almost new CPLs to save a few $, but won't try to align its home signals to save on an extra cantilever mast.

Another ES44AC sitting on the siding track east of GREENE JCT with a loaded coal train.

 The new CASPARIS interloking replaced a spring switch at the end of the siding.

Re-signaled in 2007, this part of the Keystone Sub remained operating under Rule 251 until this past year. This required the installation of additional solar panels.

The CTC project replaced this former hand throw crossover and temporary block station HK TOWER with a new interlocking featuring hand throw switches and restricted speed movements. Progress!

Taking the track 2 route at Confluence I got the chance to get some photos of the daylighted Benford Tunnel.

The daylighted Pinkerton Tunnel, as seen in last year's trip.

The old station and helper base at Rockwood.

B&O Allegheny Summit with a pair of helpers (ES44AC #806 and AC4400 #304) pushing a coal train over the top.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

14-06-21 PHOTOS: Tower B-12

So this year's Chicagoland Layover featured a visit to the Tower B-12 museum in Franklin Park, IL. Now when I say "visit" I mean visiting the site because I wasn't able to determine which group was responsible for running the preserved Tower B-12 let alone determine its hours.

Tower B-12 is on the former Milwaukee Road West Line where it meets northern end of the Indiana Harbor Belt and crosses the former Wisconsin Central at grade. The mechanical tower was closed in 1996 when the interlocking was reconfigured to accommodate METRA Northwest Service and moved a block to the west to a new railroad style park, just across from the Franklin Park METRA station. More information on the B-12 junction itself can be found here.

In addition to my visit to Tower B-12, this set will include other photos from Chicago including a trip on the CTA Blue Line. You can find the complete set here.

We begin with METRA gallery Cab Car #8587 pulling west out of the Franklin Park station.

The station building itself appears to date from the Milwaukee Road era.

The preserved Tower B-12 as it appears today. The long, slender construction of the tower is indicative of a mechanical lever frame.

The park also features a preserved MILW caboose. 

Unlike the South Norwalk Signal Tower Museum, Tower B-12's lever frame only contains a few surviving levers. Note the horizontal locking bed, which I believe was a US&S thing.

This vintage Milwaukee Road signal bridge provides a taste of the original Tower B-12 at the present site of the interlocking. At some point the old searchlight signals were replaced with modern LED searchlights.

B-12 is located at the far east end of what is today Canadian Pacific's Bensenville yard. Trains arrive and depart here via the former IHB to transfer trains from the western network to the eastern network.

While I was waiting for the eastbound METRA train two Canadian Pacific AC4400's #'s 9582 and 8616 pulled out of the yard on their way to the IHB.

An interesting feature of the Franklin Park complex is IHB's EDGINGTON interlocking, which is not a part of the adjacent METRA Tower B-12 complex. One of the EDGINGTON signals even shares space on the old MILW gantry.

Before long a diverging clear signal appeared on the eastbound signal bridge for my METRA train. Tower B-12 marks the start of the third main track on the Milwaukee West line. It is used by CP freights to reach the CP C&M Sub at TOWER A-5.

The inbound cab car #8541 eventually arrived while my father looked on.

Friday, June 20, 2014

14-06-20a PHOTOS: Chicago Twilight

The three track "Chicago Raceway" extending from Aurora to Union Station on the old Chicago, Burlington and Quincy main line is one of the more exciting stretches of railroad in the entire Chicago area with plenty of action from BNSF freights to express commuter runs and hotshot Amtrak trains. However over the past few years photographing this line from the back of various Amtrak trains has proven problematic due to the rather intense backlighting that prevails in the late afternoon when Amtrak Trains 4 and 6 are scheduled to arrive.

Well this year the backlighting wasn't a problem because with our train north of four hours late the sun was in the process of dropping below the horizon, plunging my train into the world of Twilight.

Now these aren't the greatest photos, but given the near darkness in which I found myself by the end of the run I think they turned out alright and I figure I should share instead of just 86ing them. You can find the full set here, which also includes some later photos from the Conrail Chicago Line that were ruined by a massive rail squall.

We start off with the classic CB&Q signal gantry at AURORA interlocking. One of the few left on the line after a massive BNSF resignaling project :-(

Unfortunately this interlocking is in the crosshairs as well. The Clear signals are for an outbound Amtrak Train 383, the Illinois Zephyr.

BNSF freight waiting for Train 6 to pass at WEST EOLA interlocking. METRA Aurora Line trains diverge onto their own right of way at this point to head down to the commuter terminal and yard.

More CBQ searchlights at EAST EOLA.

The approach signal on track 1 at EAST EOLA was for a westbound BNSF empty coal train that passed by while Train 6 was making its station stop at Napperville. Visible is BNSF SD70MAC #9973.

Waiting for us to pass with a full train of coal in tow was BNSF SD70ACe #9117 at Lisle.

Evidence of the most recent re-signaling efforts at the Milepost 22 automatic (near Belmont) with a doublestack intermodal train on Track 3.

At the head of the stack train was a new BNSF ES44C4.

The Downers Grove METRA station was partly torn up for reconstruction.

Outbound METRA commuter train about to stop at Downers Grove, which was in the middle of having some sort of summer fun faire.

Western Springs was also having some sort of downtown event.

Cool cloud and signal action at Berwyn.

14-06-20 PHOTOS: Omaha! - Part 2

Time for Part two of my summer 2014 trip on the California Zephyr. This section covers the former CB&Q main line from Creston, IA through to Princeton, IL. Remember, one of our two P42DC engines has been shut down due to an air problem and combined with a large number of MoW possessions we are slowly losing time all across the route.

If you forgot you can find all of the photos here.

Like I said we begin a Creston, but instead of using the majestic old station we use the new BNSF station which also doubles as a crew base. At least it offers ice as an amenity.

A local short line is using Montana Rail Link SD9 #610.

Track 1 had a major tie replacement project going on. I was told this was due in part to the harsh 2013/14 winter.

East end of the Creston yard with BN painted SD70MAC #9438, SD70ACe #9232 and ES44AC #6179.

Remainder of the MoW gang with grain elevators in the background.

After crossing over to track #1 at CP-381 we forced a pair of unit coal trains to hold short of the Osceola Station to allow passengers to cross track 2. The first of these is headed by ES44AC #6430.

And the second by a pair of elephant style ES44AC's including #5948.

Amtrak Osceola station.

CSX AC4400 #663 was a bit far from home hauling an empty coal train near Woodburn.

ES44AC #5905 was pushing on the rear.

Another adorable ancient truss bridge.

Chariton, IA is an active BNSF station, but Amtrak no longer stops here.

Another east coast unit, NS C44-9W #9806, was on the head of a unit oil train.

The pointless arrow is alive and well at Ottumwa, IA.

For some reason the wooden roofs had been torn off the main line platform canopies.