View Full Version : Guilford - Amsterdam - D&H Trip - Early December

Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
12-28-2004, 03:59 AM
A free weekend for my cousin, brother and I in early December lead to a trip exploring Guilford’s District 4, from East Deerfield, MA to Mechanicville, NY among other things. The trip started out on Friday, December 3, with a four-hour drive from central Jersey up to the Holiday Inn of North Adams, MA, where we were staying for the night. As we were bringing up our bags from the car, we heard a horn in the distance, so we decided to drive down so that we had a better view of the tracks, and soon enough, we were treated to an eastbound manifest led by Guilford power.

North Adams, MA -- 10:31P -- SEED -- EB -- ST 681, ST 621

It was our first true Guilford train, and it did not disappoint with a high-hood SD45 leading an SD26. (If anyone can provide the symbol for this train, I would greatly appreciate it.) We went to sleep hoping that the train would be a sign of good luck, and not be the only train we saw up there.
The next morning brought perfectly clear skies and cold temperatures. We grabbed breakfast and explored North Adams for a bit, before heading to the east portal of Hoosac Tunnel. We knew it was easy to get to, and that was the one shot we really wanted, so since we were still unfamiliar with the area, we decided to sit there just in case something came east. Unfortunately, the portal was shadowed all day in the low winter light, so photos would not be as good. The whole time at the portal we heard trains talking at East Deerfield, so finally, around 11am, with nothing in the picture, we headed east. We scouted the line east to East Deerfield, where we grabbed some shots off of the Railfan Bridge at the west throat. While we were there, the dispatcher gave RURJ clearance to head west. We decided that this would be our train to chase west, so we shot him off of the bridge and then heading west, grabbing lunch along the way.

East Deerfield, MA -- 12:12P -- EDRJ -- WB -- ST 621, ST 681

We picked Shelburne Falls as our first spot to catch him. Radio chatter picked up as we waited, and we heard that the westbound, now EDRJ, would meet an eastbound loaded coal train just west of our location. (Why did the symbol of the westbound switch from RURJ to EDRJ? Also, what does the RU stand for? I couldn’t find that designation in any lists I had.)
After a little wait, EDRJ came through Shelburne Falls at 1:21pm. Ten minutes later, the eastbound loaded coal train, NHB-71, came through with a trio of NS widecabs.

Shelburne Falls, MA -- 1:31P -- NHB-71 -- EB -- NS 9610, NS 9493, NS 9691

After we caught the coal train, we pushed westward to catch up with EDRJ. We caught up with it at the Route 8A crossing in Charlemont at 1:55 pm. http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=87102
After a grab shot alongside River Road http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=87124 , we forged ahead to get a shot of the train from the crossing at the East Portal of Hoosac Tunnel. EDRJ slowly rumbled by at 2:14 pm, and disappeared into the tunnel. We headed over the mountain to figure out if we could beat the train to the west portal. We eventually found the dirt road up to the portal and walked in, getting there just as the head end came out at 2:45 pm, almost exactly a half hour after it went into the tunnel.


After we picked our way through North Adams and Williamstown, we continued the chase into Vermont and grabbed a shot along the Hoosic River near North Pownal. It was getting darker now, so we hurried to get a few more shots. Before the light got real low, we were able to grab shots at the SR 95 crossing in Petersburg Jct., NY, at the old station downtown Hoosick Falls, and alongside SR 67 just outside of Johnsonville. As the twilight waned, we set up at the pullout for the Hudson River bridge for some long exposure shots and were all ready when EDRJ came across at 4:45 pm. Since we were staying in Amsterdam that night, we decided that even though it was dark, we would continue to follow the train west. We set up in the open field by XO Tower in Mechanicville, and after a cop stopped by to ask what we were doing there, EDRJ came into view and stopped just short of the crossing. There was no scanner chatter and the headlights were dimmed, so we assumed the train would sit there a while, so we left. That was the end of our first, but definitely not last, successful encounter with the Guilford.
We checking into our hotel in Amsterdam (Best Western Room 520 with a view of the CSX main), climbed the hill, and took dinner down to the Amtrak station on the west side of town. We caught 5 trains through in just over 2 hours, a slow night, which we noticed happens a lot when we’re out there on a Saturday night.

Amsterdam, NY -- 7:26P -- Q140 -- EB -- CSX 642, CSX 639
-- 7:40P -- Q268 -- EB -- CSX 7868, CSX 7535
-- 7:53P -- Q390 -- EB -- CSX 8803, HLCX 6509, CSX 8537, CSX 714
-- 9:16P -- Q232 -- EB -- CSX 6243, CSX 6203
-- 9:35P -- Q393 -- WB -- CSX 8013, EMDX 2816

We awoke a little late on Sunday so we hurried to get ready, grab breakfast, and head down to Delanson, where we would pick up CP’s ex-D&H main, which we would follow south towards Binghamton. We hung around Delanson for a bit, before we decided to head south, hoping to catch up to something along the way. As we were exploring in Cobleskill, the scanner came alive with what sounds like a big mess on Richmondville Hill. The dispatcher was talking to all kinds of trains, and giving them instructions, but we couldn’t tell what was going on. We figured out that there was at least one northbound and we wanted the shot in Cobleskill of the train passing the old coal company, but we headed down to the north end of the siding at the summit to see what was going on.
It turns out that southbound CP 164 has stalled pulling into the siding, so northbound CP 168 cut its power off and helped pull 164 into the siding. Then, while 168’s power was coming back to its train, northbound NS 931 had crept up behind it. Once we saw 164’s hind end get into the siding, we headed back up to Cobleskill to get the coal company shot with two northbounds. Unfortunately, the day had been overcast all day and the sun had to chance of breaking through.

Cobleskill, NY -- 10:56A -- CP 168 -- NB -- NS 9020, NS 9238
-- 11:10A -- NS 931 -- NB -- CN 5786, CN 5244, NS 2555

CP 164 stalled because it only had three working units, and if it stalled on Richmondville Hill, there’s no way it would make the steeper grade of Belden Hill. Therefore, the next northbound, CP 413, would have to give 164 one of its units to make the hill. The dispatcher decided to make this power swap at Oneonta, so we sat at the north end of the siding in town to watch 413 roll by after the swap.

Oneonta, NY -- 12:36P -- CP 413 -- NB -- CP 5990, CP 5978, CP 9190, SOO 6048

Now, it was time to catch up with 164 and finally see its head end. From the scanner chatter, we knew it had a SOO leader, which was something we had never caught on this line. Also, as we pushed south, the clouds began to break up and sunlight started to filter through. We got ahead of 164 as it started up out of Oneonta, and set up for a shot at Otego.

Otego, NY -- 12:48P -- CP 164 -- SB -- SOO 6611, SOO 6021, CP 5585, CP 5821

After Otego, the chase was on as we caught 164 in Wells Bridge at 12:59 pm under still cloudy skies. Thanks to 164 having to stop for an unknown reason, we had plenty of time to set up along Route 7 in Afton. By the time 164 appeared at 1:50 pm, the sun had broken through and made the next few shots well worth it. http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=87570 After Afton, we caught the train in great winter light on Harpursville Trestle http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=87814 , at the west portal of Belden Tunnel http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=87815 , and at the Hancock Rd. crossing in Sanitaria Springs http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=87883 , before we descended into Binghamton for a late lunch.
We swung by the Susquehanna engine facility and grabbed a few shots of two Cartier Alcos sitting underneath the overpass. As we headed to our usual rest stop, we noticed a NYSW train heading out of time. At the same time, the dispatcher told the train, BH-X, to pull to CP-Coles and wait for further instructions. We followed along, hoping that the train would head east, something we have always wanted to chase, but never lucked into. Sure enough, while we grabbed subs to eat on the road just in case, the dispatcher cleared BH-X to Susquehanna, Pa.

Binghamton, NY (CP-Coles) -- 3:30P -- NYSW BH-X -- EB -- NYSW 3010 (SP paint), NYSW 3012, NYSW 3020 (all black), NYSW 3016, HATX 504 (Guilford paint)

We hoped that this was SU-100 and so our goal was to catch this train on Starrucca Viaduct just before the sun went down. Along the way, we grabbed him at a sweeping curve north of Kirkwood and at the Main St. crossing north of Riverside. We then highballed through Great Bend and Susquehanna to set up at the viaduct as there was going to be just enough light for the shot. Unfortunately, the dispatcher told him to try up in Susquehanna and that he’d get a taxi to take the crew back to Binghamton. It seems this crew had to move the train so they took to Susquehanna until a road crew was ready. We backtracked to the Susquehanna depot and at 4:21 pm, BH-X rolled into the long shadows at the end of this very productive, but short weekend jaunt. We totaled only 15 trains for the whole weekend, but the chases of certain trains yielded great results. Trip Report written by Christopher Blaszczyk.