Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Train of the Year

I had just finished adding up my time card Friday afternoon, and having discovered I had but a few minutes to finish work before overtime, I thought to myself, wife is out with a friend for lunch, I can chase the train. I wonder if it has been through.

No sooner had I completed that thought than I heard the train blow for the Main Street crossing. I still had a few things to complete at work, and then head home to get my gear and the dog out. By the time I caught up with the train again it was north of town, disappearing into the woods off North River Road. I headed to a spot overlooking the river, but my landmarks to find the spot were long gone, as it had been almost a year since trying for the spot. While I scuffled around on the cliff side, the train appeared through the trees, belching exhaust and roaring up the slight grade. It would have been a good shot, with exhaust back lit through the winter trees. Next time.

I headed north again, to Ellis, where the tracks pass near Ellis Lock, and where the PRR used to come within kissing distance of the old W&LE. The train was in sight when I got there, and I shot the leaders coming down the tangent, and the trailing engine, Sd40-2 5855, rolling past the big red house hard by the tracks.

I had wanted to shoot the train where it emerges from the woods on an S-curve to parallel Beech Rock Road for a quarter mile or so, but my trip along the dirt roads (which included some quick car repairs when a branch caught in the chassis) was much longer than the train's. The 5855 was rolling past when I came down the hill, and again I ventured across the hills to find another spot.

Dresden Road is a winding and hilly drive, at times dirt, at times fairly new pavement ducking and weaving across the hills. Near Dresden it settles down somewhat, coming back to water level not far from the river, where the OHCR's former WLE comes out of the woods again, with the PRR's remains paved and trod by bikers and hikers close by. The sun had not swung around quite enough for the photo I had in mind, and had made before, but it would do. Winter.

The tracks cut right through Dresden on a right of way narrow enough to be considered street running, I guess. Only the latest evening light is right for the northbound train, and only the latest trains ever face that light. Friday the train was not late enough, having made good time from Glouster and Zanesville, and the train was somewhat back lit. Not enough for a decent glint, just enough for more winter. Bare trees and low, cool, light. I was trying to figure out how to get the leaders passing the old mill near the tracks, and thought the trailing engine would look much better.

At Trinway I looked for a place to shoot the train, and didn't find one, so I went north to Adams Mills. The Panhandle and the Wheeling are close through town, the former WLE still in use as storage, although not through the village. I looked for a spot to shoot the train to include the town, and was only partly successful.

After Adams Mills I headed to Conesville, but let the train roll through town unmolested, as my final chase of the year had come to an end.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Afternoon Suprise

I went to Coshocton Tuesday afternoon to bring my daughter to see her mother, and as I pulled in to the parking lot behind her school I heard a steam whistle. I figured the local paper factory was blowing it's noon whistle. At 12:30. Which was a little odd.

When it blew a second time, I handed by daughter to my wife and headed block west to investigate. Because it sure sounded like a steam engine...

It was. The former LS&I 33, nice and clean and full of life, and steam. It simmered for a few minutes in front of the OC depot, and the headed south, perhaps on a break-in run for one of the Ohio Central's Polar Express trips, or maybe they were just running it because they could. Either way, I felt darn lucky to have chanced up it, as did another fellow who was out and about and stopped to take a look.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Local at Dawn

A morning trip to Coshocton yeilded another visit with the Coshocton Local, this time as it switched the Clow pipe works on the south side of town. I came across the local as I took my convoluted trip through town on the way home, hoping against hope that I would find a train in the flurries and predawn light.

I came across the 8702 sitting just short of the Clow gate. I had never seen the 8702 before, and better yet, it was lettered for the Pittsburgh and Ohio Central, something else I had never seen. A small group gathered near the gate to examin the switch with a broom.

I left the train and went to find a photo of the train coming through the neighborhood near the plant, but when it appeared I realized it would be pushing it's newly aquired bulkhead flat car of pipe. But the brakie was riding the rear, and undoubtably freezing his ass off too. While the photo is short on neighborhood, it worked out ok in regards to a canopy of trees and a little bit of snow.

The brakie jumped off beside me, flagged the crossing and was back on the rear without ever coming to a stop. The train pushed past, and he was off again to line the switch so the train could head south. Snowflakes were lit briefly by the headlights in the predawn shadows.

I folled the train south to Paper Mill Road, where the train would pass near the mainline, and also past the OC's headquarters. The tracks were still in shadow, but I still got a broadside of the frumpy rebuilt geep.

I went down the street to the main line, where the local would back past again to head into town to switch some other industries. I waited and waited, photographing some weeds against the dawn, hoping against hope that the train would come while the sun was out, and backlit snowflakes danced across the tracks with alarming sparkle. But instead the train took forever, and the sun (and floating sparkles) were gone by the time it game. So I got low and shot the tiny train as it backed past, giving the brief illustion of the middle-of-nowhere before disappearing under the highway bridge in the distance.