View Full Version : 9 Days, 18 states, 3944 miles...

Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
07-23-2005, 09:56 PM
Trying to keep this as least boring as possible I will try to limit the length..

For the past two or three years the beginning of summer vacation also means a week or weekend to weekend trip somewhere in the US with my brother, Christopher Blaszczyk and my cousin, Mark Kielczynski. This year school let out at 12:00PM on June 17; I was home by 1:00PM and we were on the road heading south to Virginia by 1:21PM. The only train related activities on this "driving day" was a quick stop at Riverton Junction (Front Royal, VA) and an unsuccessful chase of a southbound NS train. We ended up in MArion, VA that night.

The next morning we headed further south for yet another quick stop in Dante which presented nothing, then further on to the Natural Tunnel. After two hours of complete silence by the tunnel we decided to get going and check out Copper Creek Trestle and the Gate City area.


After three trains in high sun we headed out of Virginia with Chattanooga being our destination for the late afternoon/night. A tire blowout in Morristown, TN forced us to get to Chattanooga a little early to relax a bit after an already long day.

Starting the day off early once again, we made a stop at the Tennessee Valley RR Museum. Even though it was still closed the displays were in perfect light as seen from the parking lot so we decided to get our shots and then head to the other side of line (East Chattanooga).


A short break at Coffey's Cliff by NS's DeButts Yard and we were off again with Meridian, MS as our destination. Three stops along the way (in high sun) included Irondale, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa, AL. In Birmingham we saw a WB NS train with UP 9377 and NS 3183 and a WB CSX train with two FURX SD40-2's on the point. We drove past the Birmingham Southern's HQ but did not get any photos. We followed the NS line all the way into Meridian arriving at 6:00PM. We checked in, got dinner and headed to the Union Station. Starting what was the main goal of the trip, KCS! While we ate we watched 7 engines including a TFM SD40-2 and an MRL SD45 do some switching but no real movements for about an hour. Finally the scanner goes off and mentions an NS train just outside of Meridian. The low sun was perfect for a shot of the WB. After standing by the fence for a few minutes the signals past the station began going off and the slow rumble was heard. As we saw the yellow nose all three of us knew this was the train we had seen in Birmingham some 4 and a half hours earlier and again in Northwest Mississippi.


This train stopped directly in front of us at the station, blocking all visibility and sat there until even after we left for the hotel.

While in Meridian we decided to check out the shops for the former Meridian & Bigbee now called M & B Railroad LLC. A train was being prepared across the street from the shops but there were three engines being worked on and looked over in the morning light which turned out to be a worth while shot.


After catching a few KCS trains around midday (sush as the one below) we finally made our way into Louisiana around 2PM.


We continued west hearing nothing on the scanner until just after 5PM when we were around Gibsland, LA. We pulle dover and waited when we were certain there was a train in the picture. With a long view down the tracks we saw the headlight and all scrambled to our positions. Still listeing to the scanner we heard four very familiar numbers...9377...once again it was our foreign friend this time a day later on a new line.


Since the light was perfect we chased it further catching it once on a small dirt road a few miles west of Gibsland and then heard that it was going to be stopping at a signal further down for another train. Since we were in Louisiana we decided that this would be a great palce to get a shot of it over a bridge in the bayou. We found a small bridge west of the siding and lucky for us he had to pull past and back into it.


With the light disappearing and needing to travel to Texarkana, TX. We jumped on the highway and got going.

The next morning we checked out the Union Station in Texarkana, TX/AK and got a shot of two yard engines sitting in the ex-MoPAc yard.


We then highballed it up to Heavener, OK to sit and wait for a SB KCS train to chase to Mena. As we were coming into town we saw the backend of a stopped train waiting to get into the yard. We were all amused and shocked to see that the engines on the front were UP 9377 and NS 3183. After waiting hours with no sign of movement we took a ride to Mena hoping to catch something ont he way but again we had no luck, turned around and headed north to Heavener again. Finally at 6:48PM a SB Powder River Coal train snuck through Heavener, picking up a lot of speed as it was leaving town. We decided to get to a spot where you can see the mountains in the background since the light was again perfect.


After catching it one more time on the mountain we headed back to Heavener once again. No more than a minute of pulling up anpther SB was leaving town.


Since the trees now block the sun on the mountain there was one shot that was still lit faintly. The Poteau River Bridge in Hodgen was the spot to set-up for this SB. After cathcing him we once again took off for the hotel in Poteau.

The next day was on the northern part of the KCS line from poteau to Pittsburg, KS.


Finishing our three day stint of KCS in Pittsburg, we headed up to the BNSF/NS joint line in HArdin to hopefulyl catch a WB in the last light of the day. We got one train with a UP SD70M and a CSX SD40-2 and then headed to our hotel in Richmond, MO.


We started the next day sitting in Norborne, MO for about 30 mins catching two trains.


Our plan was then to follow the BNSF line from Norborne to Galesburg. After a few grab shots in bad light we were able to get an excellent shot of the Southwest Chief in Mendon, MO


,and a decent straight shot of a WB BNSF train in Bucklin, MO.


To prepare ourselves for the trip back to NJ we decided that a rest period the next two days were needed. We jumped on the highway outside of LaPlatta, MO and made it a plan to spend the night of the 23rd being spent in Rochelle, IL


And the afternoon and night of the 24th in Fostoria, OH.


The next morning we headed south out of Fostoria getting a surprise train on the NS line in Arcadia, OH in decent early morning light. After crossing the Wheeling and Lake Erie and seeing an EB waiting at the signal, we headed to Greenwich and had to wait for three CSX trains before the W&LE train was able to roll through.


We left as soon as he finished passing, we were now officially on our way home. We dumped off onto Rte. 22 in PA to follow the NS line east to Harrisburg like usual. We caught two trains near Tyrone and another in Huntingdon.


The final catch of the day was AMTK 139 pulling two private cars and 5 regular coaches west through Ardenheim, PA.


This was surely a good ending to a great trip that spanned 9 days, 18 states, and 3944 miles!

I appologize for the length, but thank you for reading (those who do) and thank you to those who just view the photos.

07-23-2005, 11:57 PM
its really anice report specially the steam locos pix and the amtrak pic and the pic of rochelle diamond in the night.
also i wanna to tell you that this link isnot work
try to know wats wrong with it and waiting for more nice reports.

07-24-2005, 02:53 AM
Nice shots Andrew. Nice that a railfan would actually make it out to Kansas. If I ever get the chance, I'd like to hit Pittsburg too, but I can't make it past the BNSF!

07-24-2005, 03:58 AM
Great summary on your trip. It looks like you guys had a great time. Good photos too. You just can't beat a trip with trains.

07-26-2005, 06:03 PM
What a trip! Would love to do something like that one of these days. Hopefully next summer..Nice report and great shots.

07-27-2005, 05:25 AM
Very nice shots Andrew, and thanks for sharing your report with us. :)