Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Wait at Brilliant

Basketball brought me to the Ohio River Valley for the first time this year, girls playoff basketball, to be exact. So when I left work early my motives were not entirely pure; I wanted to get there early so that I could be assured of being there on time, and once there, if I was indeed early, I wanted to see some trains.

The tracks were quiet as I rolled north on Ohio 7, the main road north along the valley. Even the engine based at Rayland was still, sitting on the Y waiting for something to do. I headed north, crossing over a coal train just south of Mingo Jct. It was loaded, with a single former Conrail Gp40 on the rear end.

And it was occupied. Into Mingo to turn around, and then back to Brilliant, where I settled into a spot I had seen from the highway numerous times, and wanted to shoot there each time. This time, with a train, it would finally be possible.

Maybe. The train sat, the two engines on the south end crewed and ready. I stood on a ledge overlooking the tracks as the town came and went around me, at times giving me looks, at times ignoring me, as if railfans stood there all the time. I waited for the cops to come. I got bored.

Due to my complete inability to stand still, I began to explore. Up and down the road to Mingo, trying to find a way to photograph the train where it sat. Back to Brilliant, where I watched slack jawed as a WLE southbound hove into view and past the waiting coal train. If I had longer glass on, I would have had an interesting shot, but alas. I decided to chase the WLE train. Back onto 7, I realized that I would have to head pretty far south to get a shot, and balked at the proposition of moving too far from my goal of Steubenville. The tracks were inaccessible for miles, due to the Cardinal powerplant just south of Brilliant. I turned back. When I got back to Brilliant, I heard air horns and saw the lead engine of the coal train had it's ditchlights on. Action.

I parked in the car and surveyed the scene. Because the train was moving, I was not in the spot I had scoped out before, but further down the tracks. I liked what I saw though, with a somewhat decrepit house teetering over the tracks, and the hills of West Virginia distant in the background. The train rumbled past, the brakie grinning down at me as he waved. I am sure the crew thought my machinations, what they saw of them, nuts.

After a shot of a hopper (built in 2005/6) for my collection, I drove down the road a bit to get the helper pushing past some houses. As a bonus, a little knot of people were talking in the street. They give me a glance, the train a glance, and ignored us both.

Once the train cleared, it was back to Steubenville, for dinner and basketball. My team won, so I would return.

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