Sunday, October 22, 2006


When I heard that Ohio Central would be loaning their ex-CP Pacific 1293 to the Byesville Scenic Railway I was pretty excited. Not because I planned on heading out to Byesville (I don't get out much any more) but because you can't get from OC HQ near Coshocton to Byesville without passing through Zanesville. By rail, at least.

I figured that they would tow the 1293 cold to Byesville, and I heard that the engine would be facing east for the runs out of Byesville, and thus be towed tender first south of Coshocton to Zanesville.

Even so, it would be nice to see a steam engine, even if it would be cold.

I heard Thursday night that the short train to Byesville would be pulled by the 1800, of ballast train fame, and consist of the 1293 and some support cars. I planned on heading out early Friday, to at least get a few shots. After all, an RS18 isn't so bad either.

It was raining when I woke up, and I headed north. The rails looked pretty shiny for a rainy day, so I thought I might have missed the train. But north of town I saw a fellow with a tripod, and stopped to see what was afoot.

Turns out he had chased the train from Coshocton in the dark. Also turns out the steam engine was very much alive, and pulling the train.

So I settled in across the tracks, and waited for the train. There was no mistaking it's approach, even if it was at a crawl. The gentle chuff and melodic whistle were magic. I squeezed a few frames, and tore ass south, to get the train against some fairly colorfull hills across the river.

As I arrived at my spot, I saw the steam drifting across a corn field, and got a timeless shot of distant steam. The effect was made complete by the jointed rail.

After the shot, I ran like hell up the road to get my broadside shot. There was no place to park closer to the spot, and the train was going slow enough that I would catch up easily.

I passed the guy with the tripod and another guy I knew further down the road, at a small private crossing. I was heading toward a curve closer to town, just outside the city limits. The hills would make a nice backdrop, although when I got to my spot I realized I should shoot looser, to include the Muskingum River. Oh well. A vertical and a horizontal were the result.

After the shot at the curve, I headed toward the next crossing, where the train would pass under I70 and cross Linden Avenue near a bar. I tried to find a way to include the bar, and gave up, heading to State Street instead. The train would have to stop to line a switch anyway.

As the train approached State Street, it slowed to a crawl, barely moveing around the sharp curve, once a connection between the Wheeling and Lake Erie and Baltimore and Ohio. I don't know if they worried about derailing or just wanted to give the crew member a chance to get to switch, but the train was crawling. Every few seconds the 1293 would let out a chuff, and shoot darker steam skyward. I can only imagine the sight if it was 10 degrees cooler.

The crewman walked toward the switch, bent down to unlock it, and then appeared to go through most of the keys on his keyring to unlock it. The steamy brute behind him glared with her single headlight.

The short train pulled across State Street and stopped, simmering in the gloomy morning. I took the opportunity to shoot some typical steam detail shots of the valve gear, and then noticed the quiet simplicity of the trailing driver.

The train sat for a few minutes, during which a little boy and his dad came out to see the train. They stood on the porch and looked, and the little boy yelled out a hello. I waved, pleased to see a youngster getting to see the steam engine.

And then, with a short blast of the horn from 1800, the train began to move. A huge cloud of steam enveloped the 1293, and I scrambled to get in better position. I shot the train disappearing into the cloudy sky, and then backing past a trackside house.

One more shot as the train receeded into the distance, and then it was time to drive like hell again. From State Street I made every light to the Y-bridge, a rare feat that includes a left turn light, and two more stoplights and then a right turn on the bridge. I don't think I have ever done it before. At the bridge, I stopped to get the train disappearing through the dog food factory.

Downtown, the train stopped at the yard office, a runty little former CSX trailer. The crew got out and milled around, but there was not nearly as much engineer-checking-his-steed stuff as I expected, although a fellow did roll out a fire house and run it over to a nearby hydrant. Eventually a guy from the water department showed up, and I took his picture connecting the hose. I recognized him from my newspaper duties, and we chatted about the steam engine for a little while as the tank filled.

After the hose was recoiled and put in the tool car, it was time to go. The 1293 let out a whistle, and remembering the display at State Street, I knew the steamer would let out a cloud as it started to roll. I got a few shots of it obscuring itself, both with a little of the former PRR station in the background, and then a few more as the train disappeared out of sight.

Look for the 1293's return soon, and one more photo from this batch that I just can't get blogger to upload.

1 comment:

Face said...

Good as usual....

Nice meeting ya'

Mine shots will be up shortly