Old 08-13-2009, 07:40 PM   #1
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Location: Harrisburg, PA
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Default Trip Report - Chapter 1

Trip Report - 2009 C&O Railroad Historical Society Conference July 28 - August 2, 2009
Chapter 1

On my first day of travel I thought I would take a route that would have me follow the old B&O from Hyndman, PA, to Grafton, WV. Leaving Harrisburg, PA, early in the morning, I arrived in Hyndman at mid-morning. Listening to the scanner, I could tell that the MOW had the mains bottled up for a while, so I fired up my GPS and used it to closely follow the tracks via the local roads.

When I got to the private road crossing at Crooks Mills, PA, I spotted this unusual signal installation with a rather large satellite dish attached to the relay cabinet . . . .


It doesn't really have the character of the old B&O color position light signals. I next stopped to take a photo of the old Western Maryland truss bridge at the Narrows just outside of Cumberland, MD. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, in the summer, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad's excursion trains will pass over this bridge twice, but this was Tuesday, so I moved on . . . .


There was nothing at the Amtrak station in Cumberland, but an eastbound train was entering the yard. I couldn't get a photo, so I headed on to the east end of the yard at Mexico. An eastbound train was getting ready to depart, and a yard crew was switching some cars of garbage at the old yard tower . . . .


Just as I arrived back at the Amtrak station, a westbound single stack train departed, but I was not able to find a parking spot to get a photo. I drove over to Beall Street to see if there was a train parked there, but there wasn't.

Arriving in Keyser, WV, I stopped at the old yard office / station just to look at its strange architecture. I should have taken a photo, but I didn't, because when I got to the west end of the yard, I found a contractor digging footers right next to a brand new steel office building. It looks like CSX is going to move everyone out of the old yard office at the east end and put them into a couple of new buildings at the west end. What happens to the old yard office after that is anyone's guess (but I wouldn't bet against demolition). Across from the new office building was a pair of master / slug sets . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 293412
Photograph © Rob Kitchen


I could hear a tie and surface gang working east of Keyser on the scanner, and the dispatcher told them that one westbound and four eastbounds were coming. I thought about staying in Keyser, but I had to keep moving if I wanted to see everything I was hoping to see before I got to Grafton. I was hoping to catch some of the eastbounds a little further west, so I left.

Passing through Westernport, I was surprised to spot this little George's Creek switcher in the NewPage papermill at Luke, MD. Finding a parking space so that I could get a photo was an adventure in itself, but I was not going to be deterred . . . .


I could hear the local CSX crew working on the other side of the creek, but I couldn't find a clear spot for a photo. I wish I had more time and could sit and wait for the eastbounds, but I did not know where they were and how long it would take for them to get to where I was. So, I headed west to Altamont in hopes of catching them there. While I was on the highway, I could hear what I thought was two trains on the scanner. When I arrived at Altamont, I discovered that I had just missed them and that they weren't trains but two sets of helpers following each other down the mountain. I waited for a while, but the only thing that passed me was the track inspector. I did get a photo of AM Tower . . . .


I was ahead of the westbound the dispatcher told the work gang at Keyser about, and I was not hearing any more of the eastbounds the dispatcher mentioned, so I continued on. I kept one ear on the scanner as I drove west, but, in the meantime, I stopped to get photographs of the station at Oakland and CA Tower at Terra Alta . . . .


I had never been to Rowlesburg, WV, and was looking forward to my visit, based on internet reports of the area. However, upon my arrival, there were no helpers laying over at the terminal, and the vegetation around the facilities made photography impossible without major trespassing.

My next leg would take me over the mountain to Blaser, and I was totally dependent on driving instructions from the Northern West Virginia's Railroads web site. Halfway there, I picked up an eastbound on the scanner, and it was going to be a race to see who would arrive at Blaser first. I did . . . .


I made an extended stop at Tunnelton to explore the old passenger and freight stations . . . .


Even without hanging around to wait for trains to come to me, by the time I left Tunnelton, the sun was getting pretty low, and it was dusk by the time I arrived at the motel in Grafton. After checking in, I moseyed on down to the yard to find a pair of BNSF GEs at the yard office. It was really quiet, so I headed back to the motel for the night.

I awoke the next day to a steady rain. The BNSF units were still at the yard office, and I heard a westbound train getting ready to leave for Clarksburg from West Grafton. After passing Berkeley Run Junction, I was surprised to see helpers on the rear of the train . . . .


By the time I got to the head end of the train it was pulling out, so all I got to do was wave. I decided to chase it on the Bridgeport Subdivision, and was able to get far enough ahead of it to set up my video camera at Flemington (although it was still raining) . . . .


My plan for this day was to follow the Appalachian & Ohio on the old B&O Cowen mainline to Burnsville, so I headed back to US119 and headed south. Even with the bad weather, I had to get a photo of the high curved steel trestle at Pleasant Creek . . . .


That `lil red Jeep is my railfan ride. Continuing, I detoured to the Sentinel Mine to see if there was an A&O train or a mine switcher. A loaded train was ready to be picked up, and an HLCX unit was sitting at the west end of the mine tracks . . . .


Back on the highway, I passed by Philippi, and could hear something at Tygart Junction, on the scanner. I couldn't tell if it was MOW, A&O or WV Central, but there is no road access to the junction, so I just listened in and moved on. At Carrollton, I left the main highway to take some local roads that would get me closer to the tracks. I found lots of good photo locations, but there were no trains running (at least none that I could hear on my scanner). In Buckhannon, I stopped by the A&O offices to take a photo of the local power . . . .


South of Buckhannon I took a detour to the Sago Mine. I could hear a train crew working, on the scanner, but I couldn't find them to get a photo. So I headed back to the mainline and, trusting my GPS, headed onto the back roads to follow the tracks. Frenchton is where the Burnsville helpers cut off when shoving eastbound trains. I was hoping to catch that operation, but nothing was there, and I could not hear anything near on the scanner. The back road I was on started to peter out, so I used the GPS to navigate to a paved road to continue on past Stonewall Jackson Lake to Burnsville. Just as I got to Burnsville and could spot the helpers sitting at their normal location on the wye, the skies opened up and dumped on me. I checked out the siding to see if the train from Cowen had arrived (it hadn't), and then did a pit stop before heading south on I-79.

The localized downpour was moving north along I-79, so I was soon out of the worst of the rain. My railfanning was mostly done for this day since I had to get to the hotel for the Conference. I did make a stop at St. Albans and watched an eastbound train make its right turn on the wye and head up Coal River, but I didn't feel like getting wet to get a photo.

This is the end of Chapter 1 of my trip to the COHS Conference. Chapter 2 will follow.
Rob Kitchen
Harrisburg, PA

You know you are old when the first car you owned is now considered a "Classic".

Last edited by TonytheTiger; 08-13-2009 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:11 PM   #2
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Take that, you sweet thing!
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