Old 04-07-2009, 02:49 AM   #1
Ex. Railroad Employee
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Posts: 136
Default April 4-5, CSX, West Virginia

I had made arrangements to take some railfans on a tour of the CSX Coal River District in West Virginia, and planned to take my time as I drove on down from Pennsylvania, hoping to take some good photos along the way. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate, and the only photo I was able to take on the drive down was this one at Clifton Forge . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 278352
Photograph © Rob Kitchen

I also took some rainy video at Allegheny . . . .


I met the group at the St. Albans station on Saturday morning and we loaded up in two vehicles. We began the morning with a meet at Big Coal siding at Sproul, and then played crossing tag with the Prenter shifter as we made our way up to Ashford . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 279011
Photograph © Rob Kitchen


From Ashford we looped around the mountain to Racine where we arrived just as the Prenter shifter was passing by. Just west of Racine is the Homer mine, which was preparing to take a loaded train down to St. Albans. The shifter was not visible, but the flood loading switchers were . . . .


The old EMD SW was not being used. The CSX GP38 was used to pull the empties under the flood loader. Two years ago I stopped by this location and it was pretty dead and worn out looking. Today it looks brand new.

From here we were going to make a lunch stop and head directly to Elk Run Junction, but after lunch we noticed a pair of trains at Seth, so we peeled off of Route 3 to check it out. The Prenter shifter stopped to get his blocks for the Seth Subdivision, and a train of empty hoppers was parked in Joe Creek siding . . . .


The Prenter shifter then turned the corner on the west leg of the wye and headed for Prenter . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 278902
Photograph © Rob Kitchen

Leaving Seth we headed for Elk Run Junction. We saw a westbound train at the west end of Crown siding waiting for the Prenter shifter to release its blocks. It was across the river and would be backlit, so we skipped taking photos and continued, arriving at Elk Run Junction just as the Sundial shifter was entering the yard. We missed that photo too, and there was nothing else in the area in the open where we could get a shot, so we left (very unusual for Elk Run Junction).

A few miles west of Elk Run Junction is Crown siding. It has also been upgraded with the new radio controlled switches and signals . . . .


We headed up the Seth Subdivision hoping to catch the Prenter shifter working, but it was stuck behind a tree at MP 5. Continuing over the mountain to Van, we were looking forward to seeing some mine shifters on the Pond Fork Subdivision. At one time, not too long ago, a section gang was based at Van and used this toolhouse . . . .


Unfortunately, all of the mines were quiet on the Pond Fork, so we headed for Danville. A few miles east of the Robinson Creek industrial track, we heard a Robinson Creek shifter get some blocks so that it could take a train of empties out of Danville. Arriving at Danville, we met the shifter departing, and were unable to get some photos. However, a rough drive to the west end of the yard yielded a pair of loaded trains waiting for their crews . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 278895
Photograph © Rob Kitchen

It was getting late, so we decided to head back to St. Albans. At MacCorkle siding, we passed over a westbound heading for Sproul, and detoured to Alum Creek. Arriving at Alum Creek we heard an eastbound getting set up to meet the westbound in the siding. Soon the westbound arrived, and shortly afterwards the eastbound departed . . . .


By this time we really had to call it a day, but on the way to St. Albans we saw another eastbound meet the recently arrived westbound at Alum Creek, and the dispatcher told the eastbound that it would be waiting at Alum Creek for two more westbounds, one from each the Big Coal and Coal River Subdivisions.

After the sun had set, I stayed at the St. Albans station for a while and watched three trains pass by in an hour. Not too bad for a day of railfanning.

On Sunday, I dropped down to the South Charleston yard office to watch the yard crew switch tank cars. The sun was in my eyes so I didn’t take any photos. I left Charleston, and the Kanawha mainline, and headed for home, with the obligatory stop at Burnsville along the way.

As I was arriving at Burnsville I passed over a westbound empty hopper train heading for Cowen. I noticed that there was also a loaded coal train in the siding, so I dropped off of the interstate just in time to watch the A&O crew tie on the head end power and then pull through town and add the SD90MAC helpers . . . .


I followed and passed the train in hopes of getting some more photos and some video. I found the perfect spot, and unloaded my gear to get set up to shoot some video. I guess I was not as far ahead of the train as I thought because I didn’t have time to lock the camera into the tripod, but I did get some video . . . .


I continued down the road hoping for another chance to get some photos and videos, but the train was long gone. I headed for Buckhannon to see if I could catch it there, but all I got was the A&O local parked at the office . . . .


On to Grafton, hoping for some good photo opportunities, and I wasn’t disappointed. I arrived just as a train was coming in from Clarksburg, meeting an A&O train waiting for a crew at Liberty Street . . . .


I then went downtown to D Tower. I’ve always wanted to get a good photo of the tower, the station, and the old hotel, with some kind of train in front of it. Well, the CSX local power was parked right in front of the tower, and a string of about four A&O units were parked in front of the station . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 278920
Photograph © Rob Kitchen

The power from the coal train that had just arrived from Clarksburg was trying to get to the pit, and a westbound coal train was trying to depart the yard for Fairmont. They all came together at the Bridge Street bridge . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 278893
Photograph © Rob Kitchen

I left Grafton and headed for Cumberland, driving along the mainline as far as Tunnelton, just in case. Arriving at Cumberland, I set up just west of Viaduct Junction. I was going to take some video as well as photos. The first thing to come along was a set of light power heading west . . . .


Unfortunately, I didn’t turn the video camera on before I pressed the shutter button, so I had to stick around as two eastbounds passed by (caught on video) before another westbound came by (also caught on video) . . . .

Image © Rob Kitchen
PhotoID: 278900
Photograph © Rob Kitchen

It was time to leave, I still had 2-1/2 hours of driving before I got home. I was happy. I got some good video and lots of good photos. I had a lot of fun, and I spent some quality time with some very nice railfans who I knew only via the internet before this weekend. I’m looking forward to getting out some more as the weather gets warmer and school gets out so that my son can join me. Maybe we’ll meet along the right-of-way and spend some time sharing rail tales.
Rob Kitchen
Harrisburg, PA

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

Last edited by TonytheTiger; 04-08-2009 at 04:41 AM.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:07 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 5,333

Every single time I go to Grafton, the weather is crappy, its raining or cloudy and miserable and on the C&O traffic seems dead
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