A dearth of railroading these days, with the daily coal train failing to provide inspiration. Taking a cue from other railroad enthusiast blogs I provide a look back in place of more modern action.
Not too far back, mind you; 10/13/02. I had been in Zanesville for 9 months when I heard about an excursion on the Ohio Central. Two of the road's rebuilt Fs would be leading an excursion from Zanesville to New Lexington over former PRR trackage.
Unfortunately, the inlaws were due in that weekend. We had rented a cabin at Dillon State Park for a small family gathering. But I convinced my soon(ish) to be wife that I wouldn't be missed for a few hours while I got a few shots of the Fs.
They were already in Zanesville when I got there, two prisine Fs top and tail* in PRR inspired pin stripes. I took a look down town, and headed up to Putnam Hill park to get a shot of the leader on the bridge.
Looking at these pictures, I forget how much the scene has changed; it is still a great view of the city, and a train, but the details have changed. The Roekel Supply building (you can see the KEL) is gone, replaced by a parking lot. So the layered look of a tighter, tele view from the hill changes drastically, with a large expanse of parking lot replacing the old brick building. The line of the windows across the top of the frame is city hall, some 2 blocks north of the Roekel.
I left the overlook and headed down to the Muskingum Avenue crossing, which at the time had a bar called the "Question Mark Cafe" next to the tracks. Never thought to work that sign in to a shot. It is now a more "upscale" restaurant.
There was another railfan at the crossing, which was nice, as I had not met any local fans. I didn't get his name though, and we parted ways after the train passed. I used a longer lens to get the lead F framed by the bridge.
The train headed south. The shot of the train leaving the bridge was nothing spectacular, but it was nice to get a close look at the Fs. I headed south too, figuring to get a shot at the bridge in Roseville. I was still fairly new to the area, and I didn't realize I could get two or three more shots before then.
So off I went. I made it to Roseville in plenty of time, and stood on the old WPA-era bridge over the tracks. Got a lot of odd looks, I remember. But it was a nice sunny fall afternoon, and warm, although my memory may be a bit off there. But finally the train came, rolling through at about 10 miles per hour- which explains the hour+ wait.
I figured I had better not push my luck by following the train and headed back to Dillon and my family. I can't remember if I got any hassle about being out longer than allowed, but it doesn't really matter, and didn't then.
Things have changed since that October. The F units are gone, to CP to pull their executive train. The OC is different too, bigger, due to picking up CSX's former B&O lines in the area. Zanesville used to be a two railroad town, with OC the daily visitor. Now they stable a pair of Super 7s in town, a seldom changing duo in blue. The view from the overlook has changed, too.
If there is a moral to the story, it is to get out and shoot it. It would have been easy to say 'next time' about this particular excursion, but I don't think the Fs ever made it back to Zanesville. I saw them the next year on the railroad's Bicentennial train, but it doesn't seem like long before they headed off to Canada. Even for something that seems like it will last forever (like Conrail) will someday disappear. Sometimes it is sudden, sometimes it is gradual, but things change.
* a British "spotting" term for front and back