Today's tour begins in Pottstown since it is home base. 21E is our first train westbound which would pass NS 30J/D&H 164 at Hanover Street. 30J offered a special treat being led by Delaware and Hudson GP38-2 #7312. Since it was right at dawn and this train is doing approximately 40 miles an hour at this point, its a one shot opportunity. Keep an eye out for 21E with 9233 leading. We will see it again on the West Slope.
We figured it was time to venture out of the Harrisburg East area and see what new places and things we could find. Plus we were hoping for some snow along the way. First stop would be Altoona to find the Alto Tower and the Juniata Locomotive Shop. The area had just gotten snow the night before and there was still a great deal of plowing going on and trying to find some of the prime spots to shoot from was a challenge due to snow drifts and the frigid temperatures. The turntable at Juniata is impressive, wish we could have seen it in action. Would have been too cold to stand around too long anyway.
Next stop would be the Horseshoe Curve which is a few miles west of downtown Altoona. Unfortunately the site is actually closed this time of year so we just parked on the street and shot some photos from down there. The welcome sign was false advertising, we certainly weren't welcome on this day. The only train we saw here was 69Q.
|We worked our way west to the Gallitzin Tunnels. There is a park located at the tunnels with a bridge crossing the tracks just west of them. There are holes cut in the fencing on the bridge which allows you to shoot photos from on the bridge unobstructed. The Atheist Station was an interesting find in Gallitzin. One eastbound stopped to wait for a westbound in the tunnel and the crew jumped off to get coffee. This is where symbols began to become a thing of the past for me, at least for today.|
|After watching the load of stacks head into the
tunnel, we continued west toward Cresson. Cresson is the home to the
Station Inn bed and breakfast and there is a train observation deck
with a large parking lot right along the tracks. Makes you wonder
about all the crackpots in other areas that talk about not watching
trains and b.s. lines about security. This was also where I truly
gave up on my New Years Resolution of trying to keep better track of
what trains I saw. Its more fun to shoot pictures and take in the
atmosphere. The pure volume of trains we saw here today was insane.
Remember 21E from the pre-dawn shots at Pottstown? Its here again in this set on the West Slope.
|We knew that we were close to the Station Inn but
unsure exactly how far away. By now the snow had started to fall at
a pretty steady rate and we were beginning to get hungry. We headed
to a pizza place called Vito's. Decent food at affordable prices. I
will hit Vito's again while in Cresson.
At Cresson alone we must have seen over twenty trains. Every time you turned around there was another one coming. It got to the point where if you missed one it wasn't a big deal because another one was "right on their bumper" as the dispatcher was advising. This is definitely a place to return to.
We also managed to get ourselves on the webcam of the Station Inn. (They appear at full resolution)
|Following the blue directional signs we went to find Carney's Crossing. Plus it appeared to be a grade crossing which gives me the desired bells and horns I enjoy most. It looked like there was a small lot beside the tracks so we pulled onto the driveway and got stuck. The snow which fell previously had become ice and with the new snowfall on top of it became damn near impossible to get off of. Next thing we know the signal activates and we are thinking a train is going to blow my back bumper off. I had about three feet between the rail and my car. Luckily it was an eastbound train, I got out of the rut before it came anyway.|
|After the near catastrophe at Carney's Crossing, we went to the town of Lilly. We found the strangest looking monument of all time. I never thought in my life I would see a monument with bronzed KKK guys on it, but here it is.|
|The final train location of the day was the railroad overlook in Cassandra. Picnic tables and a decent amount of parking are to be had here. Just bring some milk crates to stand on if you want to shoot from the bridge, the sides are a little high. I wonder what it will all look like in the spring with green leaves and in the fall with those colors. It surely won't be as slippery as it was on this day. While following the GPS looking for places to stop we....rather I made a last second decision to turn right onto Tunnel Rd in|
|As we headed home an nearly hitting a guardrail in
Summerhill at 40 miles an hour we figured we had used up our luck
for the day and headed for the Turnpike. The weather was getting
worse very quickly as if that were possible. Driving south or west
on US-219 the visibility was around 200 yards at best. So a last
minute call to try US-30 east to Bedford was made. We figured it
would still be somewhat highway. It was a two lane highly travelled
road. As we exited onto 30 there were signs for the Flight 93
Memorial. I was thinking we are this close it would be silly not to
go. We have already almost skidded off the road once, got stuck once
and almost t-boned a guard rail. What on earth was I thinking?
As we went down US-30 there was a sign directing us down Lambertville Rd. Glad brad caught it, I never saw it. Lambertville Rd is a rural two lane road that was actually being salted as we went down. It really looked like a postcard, but we we just hoping to get to this memorial in one piece. The next directional sign said 1/2 mile to the memorial and we needed to make a left. We couldn't see much due to the snow. The road started to grade uphill and the van started to slide to the side and not go as well forward. At this point I am beginning to think, WTF I am a half mile from this memorial and can't get there. After downshifting to low and easing it up the hill the road leveled out and went down an even steeper hill. Uh oh. We made it to the memorial and below you will see the tribute which has been built so far. I we couldn't see much more around the memorial because of the snow. I am sure its a very nice place when the snow is gone.
After 10 minutes in the blowing snow we figured it was time to roll. (No disrespect meant towards the victims as "Let's Roll" was a big phrase used by crash victim Todd Beamer) We started up that larger hill to go out. After 5 minutes of spinning we were beginning to think this was going to be where we would spend the night or call a favor in to a local fire department to yank us over the hill. We persevered on spinning until Brad came up with the idea of backing up to the end of the road and trying to get a running start. He was going to stand behind and add some push if we needed it. So I dropped the car into low and eased on the gas. Somehow we got traction and Brad ran behind the car. I was going to slow down to let him in and he just waved me ahead and tried to run and keep up. As we reached the top of the small hill he jumped in, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. Imagine running in single degress temps with snow and wind blowing in your face. Not fun.
|Once we made it to the open highway (PA Turnpike) it
was time to stop and walk around so we hit the Midway Rest Area.
As you can see the snow accumulated pretty quick on the "ChooCom".
For those of you who have seen it, you know why we call it that.
In the service area lot was some poor sap was salting the lot with a walking salter on one side and the other side at the gas pumps they had someone driving a lawn tractor with a power spreader.
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