Old 04-19-2010, 04:24 AM   #1
Chris Kilroy
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Default Elizabeth/West Brownsville, PA Street Running

Hi all,

I'm headed to Pittsburgh for a family reunion in July and am thinking of taking a day or two to try to railfan the street running in Elizabeth and West Brownsville (I thought initially about going to Conemaugh and visiting the Dollar Tree, but though better of it ). I'm having trouble finding out much info about these locations. What's the train frequency like? Are both these locations on the same CSX line?

Any help would be appreciated, and of course, I'd love to get to say hi to any RP members in the area during my visit.

Thanks!
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Last edited by Chris Kilroy; 04-19-2010 at 04:32 AM.
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:28 AM   #2
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Chris, I'm not to keen about the CSX Mon Sub (Elizabeth Street Running), but West Brownsville on the other hand.....

You'd be in my neck of the woods. I would suggest West Brownsville if you have only a day, and hope it's a weekday because weekends are pretty much dead loading at the mines. If you plan that 2nd day, I would definitely shoot in Pittsburgh. CSX's Mon Sub can be hit and miss, NS is "king" in these parts. I've caught on a good day 10 trains in a day, and it being in a summer month, you'd probably catch about the same with the sun staying out a bit longer. A good time to arrive would be around 12pm-1pm as the sun starts to swing to the good street running shots. The street running isn't the only shot to be had. If you park at this little beer place at the foot of a bridge, you can shoot a nice side shot of the Loveridge Secondary, which sees less trains than the Mon Line (Street Running side).

Which is where we get into the different lines. NS's Mon Line runs from Pittsburgh all the way south into Waynesburg. Branching off at West Brownsville is the Wye that leads into the Loveridge Secondary (From above mentioned). The street running is the Mon Line. CSX has hauling rights over these lines. You can catch both CSX and NS trains on both side of the river. CSX trains will be NS crewed. CSX's Mon Sub terminates a little bit north of here at Newell, where the CSX trains get NS crewed. So it's all NS operations. Knowing which line the trains will take is a bit confusing if you don't know the operations here, or even when a train is coming.

There is a northbound shot to be had of the street running, but it's a narrow window of light and lots of shadows. I have a shot in the DB if you'd like to look. The shots you want are of the southbounds, where like above mentioned you can park anywhere along the street but the popular spot to park is at the signal at the beer place.

Like I said, it's hard to follow the operations if you're not from around the area but what you want to hear on the radio signaling a train on the street running is the dispatcher giving the ok to head south at JIMBO from the yard, as these trains are usually recrewed here. You'll hear the recrew telling Mon Valley Dispatch (channel AAR 50) that they are on the train and ready to take them south. The key signal you want to hear from dispatch is sometimes if not all the time they'll say "That's your signal at JIMBO to take them south down through town". For the northbound morning trains you want to hear "Ok down through town for XXX track" That's dispatch giving the train a spot in the yard.

For trains going over the bridge to head to the Loveridge Secondary is giving clearances on the Wye and on the B.I.T. This is a nice shot from the bridge by the beer place in the evening. I have another one on the DB from the bridge that have conrail's on the point.

Like I said a bunch of times, I'd suggest someone going with you to the area as it can be a little confusing, but if you just want to sit and watch, go to that beer place by the signal in the afternoon and just sit there til the light isn't good anymore and you'll be awarded with some shots. If you want a bit of heads up to get to some spots before the train, hit me up, I'll help out. Good luck and hope this info helps. PM if you want some Pittsburgh information, like I said, I would do Pittsburgh over Elizabeth ANY day.

Ben
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Old 04-21-2010, 04:11 AM   #3
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Don't the mines usually have their 2 week summer shutdown about that time of year? I always go down to visit my wifes family the week of the 4th and the Mon Lines are pretty dead. A few empty trains headed to Shire Oaks & Newell is about all there is during that time.

West Brownsville is definately the better spot. It has both CSX & NS trains.

Mike
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Old 04-21-2010, 10:27 PM   #4
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The mine shut down is traditional in July, but I think at least some of the mines keep loading from their stockpiles during those periods.

Like others said, if you're just gunning for street running, West Brownsville is better. Its busy enough there that you can just wait and something should be along in an hour or two. The generally accepted game plan for Elizabeth is to just hangout on the Pittsburgh Sub to the north and haul ass if you see a eastbound/southbound empty hopper train.

As for angles, they are both pretty much the same.... I guess if I had to say one is better than the other I would say Brownsville. The road is much more narrow there, sometimes only several feet from parked cars. Elizabeth by comparison is pretty wide open. There is also an interesting church near a wide open intersection on the south end of the street running which makes for some interesting shots.
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:28 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info, guys. We'll see what happens. Nothing is set in stone, yet!
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