Friday, December 9, 2011

Chasing Trains, an example

I must admit that winter is upon us but still we can watch trains. Chasing trains has its ups and downs, and expectations. I remember chasing a steam excursion. I was in position for the first runby of the day. I had calculated the departure and how long, at minimum, it would arrive. The time came and past. I looked at the schedule and realized that I had calculated arrival on a departure of an hour later. I was too late. As it worked out, the schedule called for one short detour and a speed limit of 45. I had my speed limit of 55 plus. I eventually got ahead and had a very good chase.

Today, I was not expecting to chase but just to get out of town. As is my habit, my cameras were taken with me. I decide to head west toward Wadesboro, NC. At Lilesille, the highway crosses the tracks, via a bridge. However, just before the bridge, the road to the left crosses the tracks at a passing siding. So I decided to go back to see what I could see. After crossing over to the eastbound lane and crossing the tracks, I saw the engine. I wasn't sure if it was switching or stalled or moving. I made the turn to cross the tracks and saw the train moving west.

I U turned and made my way to Lilesville to make my first video. That began the chase. This chase include the westbound frieght passing a eastbound frieght on the siding at Poketon. I arrived at Poketon to find the train stopped on the siding. I noticed in the distance the singnal set to red. A few minutes later was the head light of the eastbound.

Every chase has interesting choices to be made. How far to chase, for instance? At this point I could chase the westbound a little more or chase home the eastbound. I decided to continue the chase and went to Monroe.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

more thoghts on internert railfanning

The question about Internet pictures and video, has to do with naming files. My file naming protocol has evolved over my years of digital photography. Add to that, the thousands of slides scanned into digital format. How do I label pictures or video taken from the internet so that I can give credit where credit is due. My current protocol involve motive power and involves railroad name+lead engine number+train number(if known)+location+date. All videos and pictures are of one consist. This means that for my files off the internet video might need to be edited.

For a while I thought about adding videos to my file, by inbedding the YouTube video into a html page. I do that with this blog, embed the video that I have downloaded to YouTube. Another idea is to do a inline frame, using the html editor function, or a hypertext link to the site. Again the problem will be labeling and organizing them and finally viewing them.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Railfan by way of Internet

I spent some time, working out a railfan trip of the Northeast Corridor. Now that winter is here I look to other options. What would be the difference between railfanning by Internet and railfanning in person. Being near Hamlet, NC, I use that crossroads as a favorite railfan location. Many times I have met up with other railfans. In one conversation, a fellow railfan said that his wife got impatient with him when he watched on line, while allowed him to chase trains without impatience. Go figure. Why would I travel to Boston to watch MBTA when I can find hundreds of videos of MBTA on YouTube. Here's the truth.

Most hobbies, railfanning included, is very much related to hunting. You search and stalk prey. Than you pounce. And finally you take prey. The same is with most hobbies, including railfanning. Searching sources like YouTube or Trains Magazine becomes the search and stalking part of the hunt. Today, I might do a search for it on line. That might be the taking of prey, when I see a video of the equipment. On the other hand, that may be only the stalking phase as I would prepare for a trip to take my own video and see it in person.

I wondered if I might do the same railfan trip using the Internet, rather than the out and back excursion. It might be nice to watch in the comfort of home but there is the excitement of watching in person, the chase, the stalking, and the capture of picture and video. There is, of course, the hanging of the evidence on the trophy wall and to tell epic stories of the hunt in darken rooms over beers and images flashing on the wall. It is not quite the same recounting stories of how your Internet search led you to a particular video on YouTube. There are exceptions when the video and pictures are historic.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

International Civil Rights Center & Museum, Greensboro

My turnaround in Greensboro was uneventful, maybe dissappointing from a railfan perspective. For more than a 5 hour layover, I neted nothing in railroad video. My I was not in position for two trains to video. The return train came into the station too late to be videod. Hoevever, the experience was not without merit. On my last visit to Greensboro I became familar with the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, in the old Woolworth's site of the 1960 sitins that integrated lunch counters. It is complete with the original lunch counter.

All images are from the Museum Web site International Civil Rights Center & Museum

I highly recommend this museum. The exhibits are ceative and inspiring. For myself, a white male in the south, this hits home particularly. I was 10 years old when this chapter of the Civil Rights Movement occured. We must remember that this movement in history was necessitated by racism. Racism is not just prejudice, but a position, power, preferencal treatment due to the perception of race. Through Civil Rights Movements, we hopefully will learn how to level the playing field for all.

When in Greensboro, NC, for whatever reason that might be, don't miss this landmark!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Excursion Reality.

As I planned it, this trip begins in Hamlet, NC. Schedule departure of Amtrak Silver Star is 6:29 AM. I arrived at the station in real railfan style, more than an hour early. It was still dark and in that time, three trains pass through. The Star is running late and will not arrive until 7:15. This gives the advantage to board in day light.

The delay in the Star lessened the time before the Carolinian would come through. I did have time to reconnoiter the area for the best location to video. I began with the east crossing and to my surprise was a east bound NS freight.

After the beginning of the train passed, I continued my reconnoitering. There were two other railfans in the parking lot in the next block. I was told that that train was being pushed up the hill. The trained stalled out and they brought in an engine from Durham. Unfortunately, they disconnected the pusher below the station so I did not get video.

After the freight went through, I set myself up for the arrival of the northbound Carolinian, running late, by the way. I went south of the station, as it allowed for arrival. After it stopped, I went to north of the station and actually made it before the train left, so here is the Carolinian coming and going.

Not all railfan trips are exclusive railroad oriented. After the Carolinian I went for lunch. I was told that the drug store still had a lunch counter. I came across this example of public art at the entrance to Fidelity Bank.
After an early lunch I went back toward the train station. There was a couple of other examples of public art that I wanted to photograph. However, I was surprised by another eastbound NS freight.

I did cross the tracks to the City Hall and got the following two pieces of public art.

Before boarding the southbound Piedmont, I would like to say a word about Cary, NC as a connecting point. The station is very comfortable, being recently remodeled and upgraded. Two carriers merging make the amount of activity more encouraging. Two grade crossing, one on each side of the station give is great for video. Another one or two blocks yields good locations.

Boarding the Piedmont was approximately noon and on time. According to schedule I would arrive in Greensboro and 20 minutes later the northbound Piedmont would come. Our train was a few minutes late, making the meeting of the trains, in the Greensboro station. You can see the leaving of my train as I film the arrival of the other, with the overlap seen in both videos.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Excursion Plans

I have watch a lot of trains but it has been years since I have taken one, except for light rail in Charlotte, NC and in Boston, MA. It is time to do an out and back. I will begin in Hamlet, NC and travel to Cary. Cary is an exchange point between the CSX and NS. I will take Amtrak's Silver Star and will transfer to the Piedmont, coming from Raleigh. I will turn around in Greensboro. My first thought was to take the Star to Raleigh and the Piedmont to Charlotte. Several factors caused me to settle on this itinerary. The Charlotte station in on the edge of the Norfolk Southern yard, therefore not a very easy location to watch trains from, particularly since the station and parking lot is down hill from the yard. The location is not very good as far as touring. There is a beautiful view of the skyline from the platform, however.
Charlotte Skyline from Amtrak Station platform
Raleigh is a nice view and a easy place to watch trains, being close to a crossing and not associated with a yard. The only interesting thing is the "Y" for turning trains. The draw back is that it is a terminal for the Piedmont. The same can be said about Charlotte.
Cary Amtrak Station
Cary gives more time between transfers, which means a more relaxed stop. I do see the Carolinian pass through as I wait for my connection. The Carolinian is Amtrak service not NCDOT so it is best to wait for the Piedmont, the primary goal of this out and back.

Again, Greensboro gives a longer turnaround time for more watching of trains. There is a better location to watch from, not just from the platform. There is a crossing within 5 minute walk. Besides that, the part of town that the station is in is better for wondering around. There is the Civil Rights Museum in the Greensboro Woolworth, where the sit in took place, and contains the original lunch counter. OK. I am a liberal white American with guilt. I did not live during the sit in and no where near Greensboro, but just walking by that shrine of the Civil Right movement just gave me goose bumps to be on such sacred ground.

The Historic Greensboro Woolworth

As I said in the last post, Tickets bought, now time to get the devises (cameras etc) ready, batteries charged, memory ready, and waiting for the "all aboard." It has been a while and I am not sure what to expect. The last time I was on a train it was nice and relaxed. A lot can changed. Here is the proposed itinerary with a note on the passenger trains I should see.
Hamlet, NC to Cary, NC 6:29-8:15, Amtrak 92 Silver Star 1 hr. 46 min.
      Cary NC
8:15n(92) 10:02n(80) 11:57s(75)
Amtrak NCDOT
3 hr. 42 min.
Cary, NC to Greensboro, NC 11:57-1:18, NCDOT 73 1 hr. 19 min.

Greensboro, NC
1:18s(75) 1:34n(74) 6:32s(79) 6:49n(76)
NCDOT Amtrak
5 hr. 31 min.
Greensboro, NC to Cary, NC 6:49-8:08, NCDOT 76 1 hr. 19 min.
Cary, NC to Hamlet, NC 9:27-11:21, Amtrak 91 Silver Star 1 hr. 54 min.

The above was written before my previous post. It so happened that I may it by the Amtrak station in Florence. While there, I bought my tickets for this excursion. My next posts will encompass the trip itself. It has been too long since I have been on a train (except for the museum train). It should be fun or at least a good day apart.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

South Carolina Central Railroad and More

Some day trips are well planned and executed exactly. Others are by the ear and even that is not adhered to. On this day I decided to go to the South Carolina Central Railroad. I began where 52/401 crosses the tracks. I than traced it back to Hartville. I did not see any action so I returned to 52. Just as I arrived there was engine 75 pulling out of the old interchange. I ran down the road to the yard, the next grade crossing, but the train stopped to drop off some cars.
Interwoven with 75 was the former GT engine SCC 6412.

I decide to move on down the road to Florence, SC. After some exploring, I ended up at the train stations.

Current Florence Amtrak Station (smaller) next to the Old Seaboard Coastline Station.
After a little exploring (OK! getting lost) downtown, A came to the station. My first video is of the remote control switcher. You can't tell by the blinking light on the cab.
I did see this inbound train as it finished its shift.

Homeward bound, I took run to Hamlet to see this coal drag, Next week, I am planning a train trip, out and back. While in Florence, I got my tickets. The next entry outlines the planning process.

And another Norfolk Southern, heading for the Winston-Salem Southbound

Friday, November 18, 2011

Salisbury, 10/7/11, after Statesville.

After my encounter with the Alexander, I made my way back to Salisbury and perhaps some watching near the station or even north toward Spenser. There would be a chance encounter on the NS connecting these two cities. Nothing was seen on the road so I headed down to the station. My first priority was to use the men's room, after a long drive and a soda on the way. As chance would have it, the southbound Piedmont was 30 minutes late arriving and was being called for while I was running to the bathroom. Experience taught me to always carry the camera or camcorder just in case. I was not in my desired relationship with the tracks, but it was still good.

While standing there, there was another fan to talk to while watching and waiting for these two NS freights, one was a double stack pig train.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alexander RR, Then and Now

Once upon a time, when, I cannot remember, I was in transit from a point east to a point west, the exact locations I cannot remember. I was on I 40 and it was at least 25 years ago. I passed under the bridge with the name, Alexander RR. Curiosity got to me and I pulled off the highway and looked at my map. Sure enough, there was an Alexander RR. I traced the railroad from Statesville to Alexander, NC. I finally ended up at the engine shops in Alexander. It was a different time and I entered the engine house and asked for permition to take pictures and they agreed. I photographed engine # 6 and engine # 3. On my first chase this year, I saw # 6.


I saw number 3 a month or two ago but my picture suffered from a glitch in settings. Today I saw it and got my picture. Notice the difference


I did see number 9 but since I had chased it before I moved on.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Chases on the CSX

First, between Hamlet and Aberdeen.

Finally, in East Rockingham, NC

All for now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Full Day Watching in Hamlet, NC, part 2 of 3

The Winston-Salem Southbound connects at its souther point at Wadesboro, NC. The trains come on into Hamlet for switching and return. (notice the first train from Lilesville, still in awaiting orders.
and even more

to be continued

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Full Day Watching in Hamlet, NC, part 1 of 3

After the chase of the previous post, I settled in for a day of watching. This is not normal, but there was another railfan there to talk with.
Again this one.

to be continued

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chasing Two Trains At Once

I decide that it was a day for chasing trains. I went to Lilesville, NC and explored the railroad crossing. I got word on the scanner of a train eastbound. I heard the horn and got into position. I than ran to the next crossing and found the train stopped there. However, there was another train passing it. I chased it to Hamlet (the next video). In Hamlet a little later there was the first train. I finally made its way east, 6 hours later.
I did chase this train into Hamlet, with three strops between Lilesville and Hamlet.

Not often do you chase two trains at once.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Great American Train Chase and Scavenger Hunt, perspectus

I call this The Great American Train Chase, when it was first conceived. It soon expanded to the Great American Train Chase and Scavenger Hunt. There was a element of real scavenger hunt attached, perhaps get a post card or souvenir. In this new format the Scavenger Hunt would be the collecting of pictures and video. I have laid out the itinerary in 4 columns. Column 1 would be passenger and commuter rail that touches on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor:
Col. 1
a. Virginia Railway Express.
b. M.A.R.C. Commuter Rail
c. M.T.A. Light Rail
d. S.E.P.T.A. Commuter Rail
e. Philadelphia Trolley
f. River Line
g. N.J.T. Commuter Rail
h. Newark Airport Air Train
i. Newark Light Rail
j. P.A.T.H
k. Long Island Railroad
l. Metro North Commuter Rail
m. Shoreline East Commuter Rail
n. M.B.T.A. Commuter Rail
Column 2 are those not touching the corridor, directly, but within a stop or two from the NEC.
Col. 2
a. P.A.T.C.O
b. Norristown High Speed Line
c. Trolley Route 101, 102 and 15
d. J.F.K. Air Train
e. Staten Island Railroad
f. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail
g. M.B.T.A. North Station Commuter Rail
h. Boston, North Station, Amtrak
i. Boston M.B.T.A. Green line
j. Mattapan High Speed Line
Col. 3 are other railfan locations.
a. Hudson Line, Metro North Commuter Rail
b. Union Station, Washington DC
c. Broad Street Station, Newark
d. Hobokon Terminal
e. Atlantic Terminal, Jamaica
f. DC Metro
g. B&O Museum
There could be a Col. 4, just vacation stops while railfanning. Finally it might make a great game show with each team given what they were to see and ride within a given space of time. It could not be any worse than the Greatest Race. On the other hand, this could be the elements of 1 to 3 day out and back trips.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Great American Train Chase, second edition

A while back I did the post of The Great American Train Chase. It is an old idea from the 1970's. It was based on the dream of going coast to coast and all over, by train, particular Amtrak. I would see how many trains I could take in a given space of time. I expanded it into a reality game, possibility. It could focus attention on how good Amtrak was and could be. With the advent of current reality game shows, it might work for TV.

Since I got home from California, I began planning another trip. I mentioned earlier an out and back which never was taken. Here I expanded it to a train watching excursion of the Northeast Corridor. Counting up the possibilities, there is, of course, Amtrak. Various services and trains. Then there is the 8 commuter rails and more than a dozen light rail and subways. There would be two sky trains added into this mix. All this would make a hectic and fascinating train watching experience.

So the Great American Train Chase might evolves into a form closer to what the original name implied. Instead of riding it would be a trip of watching and photographing. It might be a railfanning of a particular region with the winner coming back with the most film taken or the most variety of train watched. Let's pretend it becomes the next great reality show.....The Great American Train Chase with me, your host as we railfan.

All this after planning my railfaning of the NEC. BTW, my plan would take around 9 days. Of course I might only spend watching for an hour in a location before moving on. Most of the focus would be on the commuter rail and light rail. Of course, like any good railfan, I would never turn down an Amtrak. How would this game work? Over the next post, I will examine the possibilities.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Half a Day Trip in Hamlet

A day trip to Hamlet, is in order. It was a hotbed of activity in a very short time. A freight came from the east and switched to north for the yard. While is was moving in, a second started to enter the Y and another in the eastbound. The eastbound freight took long enough for a member of the crew to go to the the cafe for take out.
Finally, two switchers came west and back to the yard.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Alexander RR Drive By

Sometimes we have a drive by. As we drive along on other business the train is in sight. We stop and we video or photograph. Here Alexander RR is in drive by. However, I turned it into a chase, as it made its way home on a Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another Might as Well in Hamlet

Another place where I might as well is in Hamlet. Around the station two lines cross. I stopped and caught these.

There were other railfans camped out. The last thing was the NS units heading for the Winston-Salem Southbound.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene outskirts Hamlet NC Aug 26 2011

Question what does a railfan do when threatened by storm?

We watch trains. Here I am in Hamlet with Irene on the horizon. This was as bad as it got.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day Trips, Might as Wells, Drive Bys

After vacation I railfan using the occasional Day Trip in which I go to watch for a day. I will go as much as an two hours for such trip. The Might as Well is a form of watching that is more unscheduled. It is usually a part of another trip for other reasons, such as shopping, or visiting someplace. As I go past a good spot, I might as well stop to see what is going on with the trains.

My favorite Might as Well site was in Richmond, VA behind Acca Shops. During the merger days of pre and early CSX is was a hotbed of SCL, RFP, C&O, Chessie, and CSX paint of the month.

Depending on where I live and the nature of railroading in the area, my might as well site will change. I now have two, withing 20 miles, Aberdeen and Hamlet stations, NC. Aberdeen has three railroads converging into a spot of less than a mile. The mainline of CSX being one. The Aberdeen and Rockfish being the second with their engine house accross the CSX main from downtown. The final is the Aberdeen, Carolina, Western. When I might as well, I take a very clear route, depending on the direction I am coming from. From the north I turn into town on a certain street. I cross the CSX main and look for headlights. I procede for a block and turn either right or left. Left take me to the engine house, but as I cross the CSX main I can see if there is anything in the house, if none, I turn right a block and back to the CSX main and around to the interchange with the ACW.

I use a run through than on my way or there might be some action. I was doing some shopping and took a quick run through and CSX was doing some switching. He is the footage:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Might as Well

Homeward bound from Fayetteville I did a might as well in Aberdeen. A run by is a chance of watching as it runs by, more of a chance encounter. Another chance encounter was the might as well. Here you might as well stop to see what is going on. I did this on my way home from Fayetteville, passing through Aberdeen, I usually stop by the A&R shops to check it out, look at what in on the siding and has some nice tag art (graffiti), and see what ACW has waiting on the siding. Here it is CSX turn as the local switches off a car for the A&R. Might as well turned into glad I did.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fayetteville trip

I took another railfan day off. I decided to watch in Fayetteville, NC. Had I got an earlier start, I would have followed the Aberdeen and Rockfish, but went directly to downtown. I was planning to first find the A&R switching, but as I crossed the CSX main, I saw in the distance the lights of an approaching train. I quickly changed direction and caught video of the local coming south.
Since my car was aimed in the direction of the Amtrak Station, I decided to hit that next and see what trains were due. It was a fortunate choice. The northbound Silver Star was due withing 40 minutes. A quick check of status on my phone showed that it was about 20 behind schedule. That gave me a chance for lunch at the Subway in the train station. I did talk with a single maintenance person and he told me that all trains were delayed due to a heat order. That was to take into consideration that the rails expand in the heat.
As always, this was not a railfan only trip. I was told that there would be no more activity, freight wise, until around 5 so I went to the mall to cool off and look around. I returned for the southbound Palmetto.
Experience tells me that an Amtrak train will be followed by a freight. Usually this freight is in the same direction. However, there was a freight following but in the opposite direction.
I decided to wait until 5:30. At 5:30, I began a slow walk to the car. I crossed the tracks and began to walk to the parking lot. I saw the headlights of a southbound, a switcher.
Now time to leave. Before I got accross the track, came a final northbound freight.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pee Dee River RR, again

I had the urge to railfan the Pee Dee, again. I went in the past. They were finishing their switching the paper mill and ready to head for home.

During this action, I saw this graffiti, which was appropriate.

After leaving the mill, I stopped by the engine house and grabbed this picture.
On the way home, I saw the CSX working the interchange at McColl for the Pee Dee.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Drive By Railfaning

Not all railfanning is worked out or planned. I take the occasional business trip out of town. These might be to a town or area know for ins shortline. This happened recently, when I had to go to Statesville, NC. The railroad it the Alexander RR. After my business I took some time and drove to Alexander. I keep an eye out for trains, up the road and in the rear view mirror. Seeing little new, I made my way back to Statesville. I saw number 10 pulling one car, on its way home. I turned around and chased it home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trip to San Diego, a Past Tense Perspective

From the time of leaving and the flight home, I look at how the trip went and what I might have done different. I even look at what I would do when I return. Of course, the last is "if I return." I did this with my Boston trip a year ago. I might run that analysis later.

I notice a change at the very beginning of this trip. Instead of flying into San Diego, fly into Los Angeles. From there take the train or a series of trains and light rail. A priliminary investigation shows two light rail connections to Union Station (see Metro Rail (Los Angeles County)), Amtrak Surfliner to San Diego, Metrolink to Oceanside and Coaster from Oceanside.

I could have spent more time in certain places, rather than being a drive by tourist. I am that, for the most part. There were a lot of places where all I did was get out of the car to take pictures. The most involved with anything was when I watched and videoed trains.

At Ocean Beach, I just looked at the beach. I guess that it was one of those places that I feel why go so far to enjoy when I could enjoy one within a couple of hours. There were a lot of places like that. There was very little of uniqueness to what I could do. Art museums, nature museums abound on the East Coast. Why take the time in California to go and see.

The best way to look at this is "how far would I travel to see something." The next would I just say might as well, while here. And much of that would be based on how much time I had.

As to the California trip, maybe a day or two longer, would be nice. A train up the coast, would be great. Even taking what we did, a little slower. It was a good visit.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Public Art in San Diego

Another measure of a city is the availability of public art. Public art may not be public owned or on public owned property. Some are monuments, others are architectural elements and others are separate pieces unto themselves. Here are some cases of public art in San Diego.

Some artwork is set to adorn structures such as the statue in this fountain in Balboa Park or this tile work adorning the walls of the Sante Fe Railroad Station, downtown.

All towns and most public spaces have monumental art. These are statues, other sculptures, or paintings in memory of a person or group of persons such as these two. The first is that of Cabrillo, first to explore California.

Placed in Balboa Park and to grace the entrances of a museum.

Along the Embarcadero, the city has planted some interesting artwork in planters.

The first shall be last. There are several items of artwork on Shelter Island.

Friday, October 7, 2011

San Diego, Day 4, part 2, More Old Town Station

Tuesday's train watching netted only one Coaster. I missed two, being out of position. I made the mistake of not having scheduled after a particular time. My sister had a little more personal business and she dropped my at Old town for a little more watching. I arrive at least a few minutes to late to get a good view of the first Coaster number 651 northbound. I did get a piece of it as it left the station.

I had some time before the next coaster so I took the trolley downtown. I missed the inbound and outbound Surfliner. That was anticipated. I returned in plenty of time for the southbound Coaster 654.

Finally, I got my third Coaster for the Day and my fourth for this trip. Number 653 northbound is next.

While waiting for Coasters, I videoed a couple of trolleys.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

San Diego, Day 4, part 1, La Jolla

A short drive up the coast is La Jolla. A rocky coast with a small patch of sandy beach. These cliffs hold caves.

There is a small stretch of beach know as Seal Beach. The seals have left but now the seals lay on the rocks and frolic in the water.