Old 11-01-2013, 05:45 PM   #1
Greg P
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Default Mid Atlantic-What's good

I have Sunday and Monday off this weekend with nothing to do and I haven't been train watching in a while.

What is looking good this time of year that is around the mid-Atlantic? I am in Baltimore.

I was thinking

Philadelphia-Harrisburg-Pittsburg

But I've also wanted to do West Virginia.

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Old 11-01-2013, 08:57 PM   #2
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If you are in baltimore, jump on i-70, head just about due-west to i-81, then south on 81 to Martinsburg, and follow the CSX Cumberland and Keystone sub's, the former B&O mainline to Cumberland and beyond...

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Old 11-01-2013, 08:57 PM   #3
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First off, PittsburgH has officially had an H since 1911.

Second off, where have you been and what are you trying to do? Ie, do you like short lines? Are you looking to chase? Do you want variety? Do you want to sit in a comfortable location and watch trains?
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:46 PM   #4
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I want lots of trains and lots of fall colors.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:03 PM   #5
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I want lots of trains and lots of fall colors.
Then West Slope/Altoona or Cumberland area is the best bet. Not sure what the color in either place is like, but I would guess its probably a little past peak on the West Slope and Magnolia (east of Cumberland), significantly past peak on Sand Patch (west of Cumberland).

Also, I believe there are some pretty significant work curfews on the Pittsburgh Sub (up the line from Cumberland). West Slope would be the safe pick. Even if there wasn't a work curfew, West Slope would still be safe pick. If you've never been up that way before, it is well worth a visit. Veterans would say the scenery on the West Slope is lacking, but its got more than enough to keep a new comer busy for at least two or three trips.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:01 PM   #6
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I've always wanted to do Cumberland.

How is southern virginia around this time? The Amtrak/Crescent route?
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:10 PM   #7
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Maryland Midland should be running Monday, great railroad to chase and I'm sure there will be some fall colors.
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I want lots of trains and lots of fall colors.
You are probably a couple to a few weeks late for fall colors on the CSX West of Baltimore. The CSX line I mentioned should have plenty of traffic though...

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I've always wanted to do Cumberland.
I think that's your best bet, which is why I mentioned it. It's also your closest option.

Quote:
How is southern virginia around this time? The Amtrak/Crescent route?
It's beautiful if the sun is shining. Leafs are probably peaking on the Southern mainline between Lynchburg and Charlotte. It's past peak on the N&W side.

One word of warning, this was a weird leaf year, wasnt that good at it's best, at least in the mid atlantic (VA/WV/MD) that I saw. So set expectations accordingly.

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Old 11-02-2013, 12:34 AM   #9
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Then West Slope/Altoona or Cumberland area is the best bet. Not sure what the color in either place is like, but I would guess its probably a little past peak on the West Slope and Magnolia (east of Cumberland), significantly past peak on Sand Patch (west of Cumberland).

Also, I believe there are some pretty significant work curfews on the Pittsburgh Sub (up the line from Cumberland). West Slope would be the safe pick. Even if there wasn't a work curfew, West Slope would still be safe pick. If you've never been up that way before, it is well worth a visit. Veterans would say the scenery on the West Slope is lacking, but its got more than enough to keep a new comer busy for at least two or three trips.
It's my understanding the tunnel work North (RR West) of Cumberland and Connellsville is complete and the curfews are over.

West slope is fine too and might have a little more traffic too, but it's farther, which may be a factor for him.
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Old 11-02-2013, 01:20 AM   #10
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It's my understanding the tunnel work North (RR West) of Cumberland and Connellsville is complete and the curfews are over.

West slope is fine too and might have a little more traffic too, but it's farther, which may be a factor for him.
The work I was referring to was on the next sub west (Cumberland-Connellsville is the Keystone Sub). But I just looked it up and it was all midweek stuff, so you should be good. In fact, it looks like work curfews on other parts of the system might actually add a train or two over Sand Patch. Still, while Cumberland is a mainline, its super hit or miss, at least compared to West Slope.

Also, I think the difference in distance between Cumberland and Altoona is negligible, especially if the OP was open to going to Pittsburgh.

Another thing to keep in mind; Sand Patch isn't the easiest place to get around, especially if you've never been there before. Its probably one of the more remote railfanning locations on the east coast. Cell phone service is shoddy, roadside services are limited and the whole hill is separated by that crappy borderline 4X4 road to Mance.

The West Slope, on the other hand, is a slam dunk all the way around. The vast majority of shots are right off major roads, there are gas stations galore and you could probably figure the whole thing out without a map. Not to mention there are about 10x the trains and several railroad related museums/business to checkout. Sand Patch is a great place, no doubt the scenery beats the West Slope. But as somebody who has spent a ton of time on both, Sand Patch is a pain always has been always will. If you've never been to either and you're just looking for a good time, easy going train picture weekend, the West Slope is the way to go.

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Old 11-02-2013, 01:55 AM   #11
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I've always wanted to do Cumberland.

How is southern virginia around this time? The Amtrak/Crescent route?
A good spot is the CSX RF&P Subdivision between DC and Richmond. I'm on the southern end of the sub and we're just getting to peak foliage. If you're in Baltimore it's about a two hour ride but it's worth it with how pretty it is right now.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:43 AM   #12
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Also, I think the difference in distance between Cumberland and Altoona is negligible, especially if the OP was open to going to Pittsburgh.
Martinsburg is only an hour from Baltimore. You can follow the line pretty easily to Cumberland from there and get a lot. Driving straight to Cumberland is right at 2 hours. Driving straight to Altoona is just at 3 hours. So you can be at a pretty good railfanning spot in 1 hour. Neither is "far" by any means, and certainly closer than Pittsburgh.

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Another thing to keep in mind; Sand Patch isn't the easiest place to get around, especially if you've never been there before. Its probably one of the more remote railfanning locations on the east coast.
It's pretty easy. Even for a first timer, pretty much everything is next to a highway of some kind except the pretty rough stretch between Fairhope and Glencoe. And that is technically next to a road. The road just sucks! And I guess between Confluence and Ohiopyle it's remote. But I would say it's not nearly as remote as parts of the Pokey, Clinchfield or some of the C&O mainline in VA/WV. There's "life support" in Cumberland, Sommerset Connelsville, and certainly plenty of gas stations and food in places like Confluence, Meyersdale and Rockwood.

Quote:
Cell phone service is shoddy, roadside services are limited and the whole hill is separated by that crappy borderline 4X4 road to Mance.
If you go the long way around (Cumberland hwy), you can get to Mance pretty easily, via any car. But I have to admit if you try to drive that road between Fairhope and Glencoe (the road that Foley overlook is on), that's not best done with a car.

Quote:
The West Slope, on the other hand, is a slam dunk all the way around. The vast majority of shots are right off major roads, there are gas stations galore and you could probably figure the whole thing out without a map. Not to mention there are about 10x the trains and several railroad related museums/business to checkout. Sand Patch is a great place, no doubt the scenery beats the West Slope. But as somebody who has spent a ton of time on both, Sand Patch is a pain always has been always will. If you've never been to either and you're just looking for a good time, easy going train picture weekend, the West Slope is the way to go.
Either is a viable option. The west slope has more traffic, I wont argue that point. I dont think he could go wrong either way. And certainly his chances of getting a flat tire is less on the 'slope.

One of the biggest things that sucks is Maryland's idiotic gun laws, every time I set foot in that shitty state, I risk arrest because I refuse to bow to their stupid anti-2nd ammendment laws.

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Old 11-02-2013, 12:24 PM   #13
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That AG in PA is trying to make PA just as bad. They don't honor my Florida permit anymore, despite the fact I had to send fingerprints to the FBI to get it.

I'm prob gonna do Cumberland Monday.
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Old 11-02-2013, 01:07 PM   #14
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Question:

What defines the West Slope?
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:37 PM   #15
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That AG in PA is trying to make PA just as bad. They don't honor my Florida permit anymore, despite the fact I had to send fingerprints to the FBI to get it.
They still honor Florida's permit for me (a FLA resident). I dont understand why some states, like PA honor only the permit for residents. The requirements are exactly the same.

If you live in MD, it's one of the worst states, they dont reciprocate for any other state, which is fucking lame and is a "may issue" state...
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:44 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Question:

What defines the West Slope?
It's on the opposite side of the mountain from east slope?

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Old 11-02-2013, 03:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Question:

What defines the West Slope?
The traditional definition is NS' Pittsburgh Line between Johnstown, PA eastward until the top of the grade at Gallitzin, PA about 30 miles away. Additionally, while technically its the East Slope, most railfans also lump the stretch of track from Gallitzin downgrade to Altoona (via Horseshoe Curve) into that definition.

The line was originally the 'heart' of the PRR's mainline (and before that part of the Allegheny Portage Railroad) between East and West. For many years, it was by far the busiest mainline in the world. Today, depending on the day, its still the busy on the east coast. Its memorable for its impressive infrastructure despite the relatively rugged terrain it passes through. I believe it still by far the busiest helper direct in the country, if not world.

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Old 11-03-2013, 04:03 PM   #18
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I decided on heading down to Richmond, making my way down there today.

The frequency of Amtrak trains makes it appealing.
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