Old 10-19-2006, 01:30 AM   #1
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
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Default PRR E8's on the Flaming Foliage Express to Renovo, PA - Part I

It's been a while since I've done a trip report but I'll see if I can handle it. I tried something new using times to break up the paragraphs so you don't doze off too much! Enjoy!

After finding out that the Oct. 14 trip was definite in JUNE, my brother and I had our calendars marked, as well as a lot of other 'fans, I'm sure. Before we knew it we were back from EBT and in 6 days was the highlight of the Fall! We left NJ approximately at 8PM and arrived at the Super 8 just north of Harrisburg sometime around 10:30PM. Being completely exhausted from school and work we watched a little TV and looked over maps of the line for the next morning. One advantage of staying less than a mile from the line was the ability to wake up about 3 hours later than we would have to if we were leaving home that morning.

7-7:30AM - We got up a little before 7, checked the weather and temp (32 at the time), got ready and headed out. We had an ear tuned to the scanner all morning which allowed for some pre-chase scouting and a stop at CP-MD for breakfast. We agreed that nothing was worth it around Harrisburg and drove north trying to play the sun angle right. With the sun still low on the horizon and being in a valley, we decided to go for location over light at the Appalachian Trail Crossing (where Rte. 22 crosses the Susquehanna River). Not hearing anything on the scanner for a while, we decided to stand outside the car in the 32F degree weather instead of scrambling out as it was rounding the curve 1/4 mile away.

8:09AM - Finally, after 30 minutes or so of waiting the immaculate E8's rounded the curve in the distance with a string of Metroliners and 4 Pennsy coaches. Unfortunately, it was still too early for sun, but it was stilla decent shot to start the day. We were all suprised to see the train doing well over 45mph past us. Luckily, we had a plan so our next spot was far enough north that we had plenty of time to get there using Rte. 147.

8:10-8:40AM - Driving.

8:41AM - A large group had gathered at the River Rd. crossing north of Paxton to shoot the train around the curve, but the real shot was of the train crossing the Manhantango Creek off the road bridge; perfectly lit that time in the AM.
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Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

8:42-9:14AM - Driving.

9:15AM - With the train still doing track speed south of town, we got lucky when it slowed considerably to go through Sunbury. As we drove past the side streets leading towards the tracks I noticed all the flashers going off, but still no train. There was not much time to spare, but we agreed on the bridge over the East Branch of the Susquehanna River between Sunbury and Northumberland. We got there about 2 minutes before the train showed up, but got the shot nonetheless.

9:16-9:49AM - Driving.

9:50AM - Knowing the train would resume track speed north of the bridge, we didn't follow the crowd on 405, 54 and 15, but stayed on 147 (turns into I-180) until Muncy. The shot we were headed for at Saegers was thrown aside when we came across the view just across the river from Muncy. There were only a few cars parked towards so we figured everyone was still around Montgomery. Getting a few minutes ahead gave us time to relax and also look at the map for our next few spots. We got everything settled just as we heard the unmistakeable horn of the E8's so we got set up for one of my favorite shots of the day. Great light, consist and scenery got me into a better mood than I had been about the first three shots.
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9:51-10:36AM - Driving.

10:37AM - It was back out to the Interstate and onto Rte. 220 to get to the "must have" McElhattan shot, which was agreed upon way before the weekend. With the light slowly turning, we were lucky the train was running on and sometimes ahead of schedule! Suprising considering this was an AMTRAK schedule. Naturally, the group of us (about a dozen) gathered along the side of the road by the crossing gate resulted in strange looks from passing motorists. It's much more amusing when it is more than just you staring back at them. Fianlly, the faint rumble of the EMD's was heard and everyone's conversations stopped.
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Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 161899
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

10:38-11:26AM - Driving.

11:27AM - Obviously, the engineer had a fire under him as we were not able to catch the "Express" in Lock Haven or the overlook at Riverview due to the lights in Lock Haven. One of our favorite locations that we had 'discovered' on past trips to the Buffalo Line was in the town of Farwell so that was our next destination. With a lack of spots between Lock Haven and Hyner (when 220 crosses to the railroad's side of the river) the whole caravan of chasers were together. It was quite a spectacle to see a string of 20+ cars all going around a slow moving pick-up hauling hay on a windy mountain road with dotted lines, of course. Some of the cars pulled off onto many different streets, but most went to the "private road" crossing in the middle of town. The colors on the mountain in the distance proved to be a bit disappointing but all agreed it was better than nothing at all. Once again we got the dramatic look at the E8's rounding a curve and charge towards us more than 1/2 mile. Once again, everything worked perfectly!
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Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

11:28AM-11:45AM - Driving. With traffic backed up for a few miles outside of Renovo, the train easily beat us into town. However, it didn't matter because the sky became completely overcast within minutes of the train arriving. Typical mountain weather.

12:00PM - Train stopped in "downtown" Renovo to drop off some passengers, right on schedule!
-Andrew Blaszczyk a.k.a. AB(2)
Proud fan of the Sabres, Islanders, Rockies, and Lions.

"My camera is an artistic medium, not a tool of terrorism."

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Old 10-19-2006, 03:54 PM   #2
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After seeing so many of your shots of this train, I was really scratching my head, wondering how you did it on 2 lane roads and PRR trackage! Now I know! Thanks for posting this. Any idea if they will do it next year? I knew nothing about it and would be happy to drive east for it! PRR E's are about as good as it gets with diesels!

Michael Allen
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Old 10-21-2006, 04:22 PM   #3
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Nice report and awsome shots. That was definately a fun chase. good thing there were not many cops around!
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Old 10-21-2006, 05:48 PM   #4
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Great report Andrew.Those are really great shots with great sights with the train.I feel with ahigh level sense in choosing the area around the train.Thanks for sharing Andrew and keep those great reports and shots coming.
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