Tag Archives: #PRR

Two for One at Christiana

Fortune was with us on Saturday.

After lunch, we drove the back way over to Christiana, Pa., where I hoped to catch Amtrak 670 in the afternoon sun.

The tracks are oriented on a south-north alignment at Christiana, which makes it a good place to photograph eastward train on a sunny day, if you mind the shadows.

Where Keystone 670 was pretty much ‘on the advertised,’ Amtrak 42, the eastward Pennsylvanian had fallen down a bit, and was just a few minutes behind.

So for the effort of one eastward train, we caught two! One electric and one diesel.

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Fine Morning at Jefferson Drive

This is the sequel to ‘Look Ma No Pans’—published on Tracking the Light the other day. (http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/look-ma-no-pans/)

It was a fine morning, making it one of rare few bright sunny days as of late.

I’d scoped the local railroad scene, and was in position at Jefferson Drive at Greenfield in Lancaster, Pa., to make a few photos of Norfolk Southern’s daily New Holland Branch freight.

I had an ulterior motive. My old Nikon F3 was loaded with Provia100F, and I’d been waiting for a fine day to finish off the roll that had been in the camera since Thanksgiving.

Film is expensive and I didn’t want to squander it. But with a clear sky and a train nearby, I felt this was a good opportunity to make a few nice color slides.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, while waiting for Norfolk Southern’s freight to come around the bend, much to my surprise on the nearby Harrisburg Line, a late-running Amtrak Keystone zipped by with a diesel in the lead.

The crew of the New Holland local takes it very slow approaching Jefferson Drive, which provides ample opportunity to work with multiple cameras. I made these photos digitally with my Nikon Z7-II, while also exposing slides with my antique F3.

As this being written the slide film is enroute to the lab! But, It will be at least another ten days before I can see my processed results from the F3. Fingers crossed that I got my exposures right!

Norfolk Southern SD40Es 6335 and 6312 lead the eastward New Holland Branch local at Jefferson Drive. Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.
I like the juxtaposition of antique General Motors products. Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

Since there was nice light and a train on the move, I zipped down the road for another set of photos . . .

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Christiana Station at Night

On our evening drive, we called into the former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Christiana, Pa.

With my Nikon Z7-II firmly mounted on my old Bogen tripod, and working with available light I made these photos using time exposures. Details below:

Nikkor 24-70mm lens at 70mm, 1 second exposure at f4.0, ISO 200.
Nikkor 24-70mm lens at 28mm, 3 second exposure at f4.0, ISO 200.
Nikkor 24-70mm lens at 29mm, 6 second exposure at f4.0, ISO 200.

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Square Mount—January 1, 1980

I made comparatively few color photos prior to 1980 and I have precious few ‘square mount’ Kodachrome slides.

On January 1, 1980, I traveled with my family from The Bronx, New York back to our home in Monson, Massachusetts. On the way, we stopped at New Haven, Connecticut to take a look at Amtrak GG1 4935 that had been repainted into the Raymond Loewy designed PRR scheme.

Using my old Leica 3A rangefinder I made this Kodachrome color slide of a Chevy pickup truck parked next to the antique electric locomotive.

I don’t know what became of the pickup but today the old GG1 is preserved and displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Pa. I’ve featured this locomotive in several recent Tracking the Light posts.

This Kodachrome slide was exposed 44 years ago!

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Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian Crosses the Conestoga

Not far from our Lancaster apartment, Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line to Harrisburg crosses the Conestoga River on an impressive multiple-span stone arch bridge.

Fellow author and photographer, Dan Cupper had shown me how to reach this bridge before Kris and I relocated. Since our move last Spring I’ve paid several visits to the western bank of the river, but I hadn’t caught Amtrak’s diesel-hauled Pennsylvanian here until the afternoon of Halloween Day.

The combination of late-season foliage, polarized sun and relatively clear autumn air, made this an ideal time to picture the train on the bridge. I checked various angles along the riverbank before deciding upon this place to make my images.

Amtrak train 42, the eastward Pennsylvania crosses the Conestoga on October 31, 2023.

Photos exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Autumn Sunset at Greenfield

In the summer, the sun sets to the north of the old Pennsylvania Main Line at Greenfield. And during the long days, Kris and I made a number of photos of Amtrak trains on their way to and from Harrisburg under wire.

Now into autumn, the sun is in the southern sky, which lends for a new dimension on this Greenfield location,

I made this photo of westward Keystone train 667 zipping along the old Pennsy with a nicely illuminated autumn evening sky.

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NS Local at Horseshoe Road

Leaving the supermarket, I heard an engine sounding for Greenfield Road.

It was about the time I normally hear Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local heads toward its Pennsylvania namesake.

I drove via Hartman Station Road and spotted the train with an NS SD40E running long-hood first.

Turning onto Horseshoe Road, I continued in the direction of the local freight’s eastward path.

I arrived at the Horseshoe Road grade crossing with enough time to set up a shot looking across freshly mowed grass.

That’s old Conrail SD50 number 6729 (built in 1983), reincarnated as Norfolk Southern SD40E 6312!

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Hint of Autumn at Willow Road

Sunday morning, I went out on spec to see if I could catch Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local working its way out the branch. After a half hour wait and a drive to inspect a few locations, I found nothing moving, so I returned home.

About half an hour after I got back, I was just about to take Boomer-the-dog for his morning walk, when I heard a train sounding for the Greenfield Road crossing.

Without heistation, I grabbed my Nikons and headed back out again to see if I could get ahead of the train.

I drove poste haste to Willow Road and headed east to the grade crossing. I arrived about 3 minutes ahead of the freight and had enough time to set up.

The last time I made photos here, I used my 24-70mm lens, so this time I made some longer views using a 70-200mm lens. I was able to get a little more elevation this time, which allowed for a better composition.

I also made some wideangle photos of the train approaching the crossing, but I’m saving these for a later post.

Oh, and when I got home, I brought the cross-legged Boomer for his walk!

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.
I like this version. The bird in flight over the train is an added bonus. The train crew waved as they roared up the grade.

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Stopping 649 with 1/2500th second

Crisp evening light.

Amtrak Keystone 649 was two minutes down from the advertised and cruising to make up time to reach its Lancaster, PA station stop on schedule.

I made this view at Leaman Place using a Nikon Z7II with 24-70mm lens, my shutter was set to 1/2500th of a second.

My drive was set to ‘turbo flutter’. As the train approached, I made this burst of images.

ACS-64 610 leads Amtrak Keystone 649 at Leaman Place, PA.

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New Holland Vignettes

On Sunday Norfolk Southern runs local H29 over the old Pennsylvania New Holland Branch to it’s namesake.

Last Sunday, Kris and I wandered out along the line, looked at few crossings, and upon reaching New Holland, PA found a pair of GP38-2s with a few freight cars. The crew was just performing a brake test,

We drove a west and parked in the lot at the New Holland post office and waited.

This location offered a relatively unobstructed view the tracks.

After a few minutes the westward local came along and I made a series of photos with my Nikon Z6.

An Amish buggy passes the old Leola, PA station.
NS H29 Local freight in New Holland, PA. Nikon Z6 with f2.8 Nikkor 180mm telephoto.
NS H29 Local freight in New Holland, PA. Nikon Z6 with f2.8 Nikkor 180mm telephoto. A wink of sun makes the photo.
NS H29 at Diller Avenue in New Holland. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Score on the New Holland Secondary

Last Sunday morning, Kris and I were heading to breakfast. Rather than jump on the four-lane, I decided to stick to the two-lane roads. As we drove toward the Greenfield Road grade crossing in Lancaster, PA, the crossing flashers lit.

I was surprise to see Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local approaching. We didn’t know this ran on Sunday morning.

After pulling in the clear, I grabbed my Nikon Z6 and fired off a photo of the approaching freight. Unfortunately, in my haste I’d set the auto focus-point incorrectly and my result wasn’t worth the price of the exposed pixels. (It was garbage).

From this mistake, I decided to delay breakfast and we turned around, and zipped up to the Willow Road crossing, just a couple of miles down the line. Here I had ample time to set up and frame some photos. I’d sorted out the auto focus. Kris filmed a video with her iPhone.

I was pleased with these images. We’ll need to head out on a Sunday morning again soon!

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

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Norfolk Southern’s Royalton Branch

This is a follow up to Thursday’s post. After photographing coal empties on the Port Road at Washington Boro, PA, I followed the train by traveling compass northwest on highway 441.

Norfolk Southern’s Royalton Branch is a former Pennsylvania Railroad line, once electrified, that allows an alternated routing through the Harrisburg area for freights using the Port Road.

Beyond Marietta railroad routes divide, with one line crossing the Susquehanna River via the Shocks Mills bridge to reach Enola Yard. The Royalton Branch runs toward Harrisburg on the east bank of the river.

I’m just learning this territory, so as of now, I’m not completely fluent as the modern names for the junctions and timetable directions of the tracks. However, I know that trains have a choice of routings, so last week I took a chance that the coal empties would run via the Royalton Branch. Previously, I’d scoped out a location near Middletown not far from the famous Three Mile Island.

Fortune favored me, and I arrived with ample time to set up and change lenses. Instead of my 70-200mm Z-series zoom, I was traveling with my 1980s-era Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed focal length manual focus telephoto, which attaches to my Z-series mirrorless cameras using an adaptor.

This is a traditional piece of glass and offers a classic quality, especially when used wide open (f2.8). However, its tricky to set the focus while trying to expose manually.

I made a series of photos with my Nikon Z6 and 180mm and a frame with my Lumix LX7.

NS coal empties at Royalton, PA. Exposed with a Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed telephoto.
NS coal empties at Royalton, PA. Exposed with a Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed telephoto.
Lumix LX7 photo at milepost 11 in Royalton, PA.

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NS Coal Empties on the Port Road Branch

Over the course of recent weeks, Kris and I have explored locations on the Norfolk Southern’s Port Road Branch. This is a portion of former Pennsylvania Railroad that follows the Susquehanna River between the Harrisburg area and a connection with the Northeast Corridor at Perryville, Maryland.

PRR electrified the route in the 1930s, and it handled electrically powered freights until the Conrail era. The old electric catenary supports are evidence of this by-gone era. It has been more than 40 years since electric operations ended on this portion of the former Conrail system.

Daylight freight moves on the Port Road seem to be relatively rare, owing to an Amtrak daytime curfew on the Northeast Corridor route.

Last week, I left Lancaster very early and made my way to Columbia, PA where I picked up the Norfolk Southern Port Road line. In the morning glow, I found that home signal was lit ‘clear’ for a train movement toward Harrisburg. Expecting a train, I proceeded against it on the parallel highway to Washington Boro, PA, where I scoped a suitable location near a local park.

I waited for a few minutes, and soon heard the approaching freight.

I set up with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens and exposed this sequence of an NS empty coal train rolling up river.

Since the train wasn’t moving more than about 25 mph, I followed it along the adjacent highway. Stay tuned for more!

Former Pennsylvania Railroad electrified line at Columbia, PA. A high dew point made it difficult to keep the front element of my lens from misting over.
In many places the road, the railroad and the Susquehanna River run adjacent to one another. The classic catenary supports visually identify the line as the former Pennsylvania Railroad.
After just a short wait, this Norfolk Southern empty coal train came into view at Washington Boro, PA.
Soft morning light on the coal train made for a classic view.
This wideangle photo is at the same location in Washington Boro.
Trailing view at Washington Boro, PA.
View of the hoppers from Washington Boro Park rolling along from the opposite side of Highway 441.

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Wayne’s Main Line Visit

Owing to its lineage along the route of Pennsylvania’s original Main Line of Public Works, the former Pennsylvania Railroad trunk is known as ‘The Main Line’. This historic route runs just a few blocks from our new home.

Last week our friend Wayne Duffett-TEC Associate’s Bridge Inspector and Conway Scenic Railroad steam locomotive engineer (and Tracking the Light reader) visited Kris and I in Lancaster, PA.

After dinner at the Outback Steakhouse, we brought Wayne on a short tour of the railroad, hitting several highlights of the old Main Line.

Using the ASM.transitdocs.com Amtrak realtime phone app, we were able to time the passage of an eastward Amtrak Keystone to just a few minutes, and watched the train zip by at nearly 90mph.

Photos exposed with a Lumix LX7.

Former Pennsylvania Railroad stone bridge over the Conestoga River in Lancaster, PA. Lumix LX7 photo.
Wayne posing with some goob in at PRR hat. Photo by Kris Solomon.
Amtrak Keystone races eastward on the old Main Line.

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Gauzy Light—Amtrak 618 at Gap

We arrived at Gap, PA about ten minutes ahead of Amtrak Keystone service 618 on its way east from Harrisburg.

I made my first photos in this curve at Gap on a visit 16 years ago—June 2007.

Thick smoky-haze filled the air and filtered the evening sun.

I made this telephoto series of images as Amtrak 618 (led by ACS-64 606) glided through the curve at Gap.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom set to 200mm; f4.0 1/1600, ISO 400;
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom set to 200mm; f4.0 1/2500, ISO 400
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom set to 74mm; f4.0 1/1600, ISO 400;
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom set to 200 mm; f4.0 1/500, ISO 400;

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NS Local Freight at Dusk

Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line from Philadelphia to Harrisburg runs a short distance from our new home. While this is primarily the route of the Keystone and Pennsylvanian trains, it also hosts Norfolk Southern locals that use the line to reach secondary lines and serve local industry.

Since we moved in, I’ve heard a few NS trains but not had the opportunity to investigate their movements in daylight. However, last night we saw this local near Greenfield Road in Lancaster, PA.

As a trainman was setting up the telemetry device on the locomotive that would become the rear of his train, I made a few photos with my Lumix LX7.

Lumix LX7 photo. Exposed handheld at f1.8 for 1.5th of a second at ISO80. Locomotives were positioned at each end of the short local freight. GP38-2 5607 was being set up as the rear of the freight.

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Pennsylvania Viaducts: Safe Harbor

Over the last few days, Kris and I visited several famous bridges and impressive viaducts in Pennsylvania.

Here are a few views of the former Pennsylvania Railroad bridges over Conestoga Creek at Safe Harbor along the Susquehanna River.

I exposed these using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

The top bridge once hosted PRR’s Enola Low Grade freight cutoff, but no longer carries tracks and is now a trail.

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Strasburg Rail Road Freight

Strasburg Rail Road is best known for its steam excursions, but the railroad is a common carrier and operates a thriving local freight business.

On our visit to the Strasburg, PA area last month, I was lucky to catch one of their freights on the move. This was led by the railroad’s former New York Central SW8 diesel 8618.

This classic General Motors Electro-Motive Division swticher was built for New York Central System c1953 and carried the number 9618. It is painted in a neo-New York Central scheme, and was Conrail 8618 for many years.

In the 1980s, I made many photos of Conrail switchers, and I wonder if somewhere among my slides and negatives I may have a photo of this locomotive in its former existence.

Strasburg Rail Road SW8 8618
Strasburg Rail Road local freight viewed from Carpenters.
SW8 8618 with two boxcars at Leaman Place along Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor—the former Pennsylvania Railroad main line.

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Westward Freight at Rockville Bridge

Google Maps makes it much easier to navigate to the west shore of the Susquehanna River at Marysville, Pennsylvania to reach the famed Rockville Bridge.

I recall pouring over maps in the 1980s, trying to locate the correct sequence of turns to get to River Road. The challenge of this location is that the path is indirect and the main highways running parallel to the river and railroad do not facilitate straight forward exits.

On my most recent visit, I followed Google Maps instructions to my map ‘pin’ situated at the westend of Rockville Bridge. I approached the bridge just as a Norfolk Southern freight was easing across the 48 stone arches.

I returned to the vantage point on the north side of the bridge that Kris and I had visited nearly a year ago. This allowed me to make a long telephoto view of the train and capture the dramatic sky to the east.

Photo exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

Photo exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

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Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in the Details.

I love to wander around the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and study the old equipment on display.

I made these photos of the displays on a recent visit using my Nikon Z7-II set to a high ISO. This permitted me to make detail photos handheld.

Do you have a favorite?

I do.

G5
X54
E44
GP30
E6s
Tahoe
Rau Studio
EPA 800
B1

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Christiana Station from both sides of the Main Line.

Amtrak Keystone train 643 passes Christiana westbound.

Last week, I caught up with fellow photographer, author and Trains contributor Dan Cupper, who offered to spend the day showing me railroads in the Lancaster/Strasburg area of Pennsylvania.

Among the places we visited was the archives/meeting house of the Lancaster Chapter, Inc., National Railway Historical Society which is located in the old Pennsylvania Railroad freight house at Christiana, Pennsylvania.

While I’d visited this the passenger station earlier in the week, the day our our visit had much better weather. Also, it was my first ever visit inside freight house where we were met by the chapter’s Stephen Himpsl.

Among the things we explored were views of the freight station and the old passenger station from both sides of the former PRR Main Line.

The passenger station hadn’t served in its intended role since the 1950s, but had been restored and was in good shape.

I made a variety of images using my Nikon mirrorless cameras including those presented here. Most received post-processing adjustment using Adobe Lightroom to better present the data captured by the camera’s NEF RAW files.

More to come on our explorations at Christiana and other nearby locations.

Pennsylvania Railroad sign on the old Christiana freight house.
Lancaster Chapter NRHS has a variety of artifacts and memorabilia on display, including this Lionel GG1 electric locomotive.

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Misty Morning at Christiana, PA.

It was a retro 1970s moment at Christiana, Pennsylvania, when I made these coming and going views of Amtrak Keystone train 648.

The Conrail caboose to the right of the train is former Erie Lackawanna that was painted in an usual variation of COnrail blue at Erie’s Meadville, Pennsyvlania shops in 1976.

The cab car is one of the former PRR/Penn Central self-propelled Metroliner cars developed by Budd in the 1960s and characterized Amtrak’s high-speed services in the 1970s and early 1980s. Later these cars were modified and routinely operated to Harrisburg on this route.

Former Metroliner cab car leads Amtrak 648 eastbound at Christiana, PA.
Amtrak ACS64 669 works at the back of Keystone train 648 at Christiana, PA.

Photos were exposed using my Nikon Z7-II and adjusted for contrast, exposure and color temperature using Adobe Lightroom.

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Amtrak Keystone train on the Main Line at Leaman Place.

Tuesday morning in Strasburg was cloudy and dull. I made my way over to Leaman Place where Strasburg Rail Road’s line connects with Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line to Harrisburg.

I made these photos of westward and eastward Keystone trains zipping along under wire. The typical operation has an Siemens ACS64 electric at one end and a Budd-built former Metroliner cab control car at the other.

Both images were adjusted for color temperature, shadow and highlight detail and contrast in post processing.

Amtrak Keystone train No.646 eastbound at Leaman Place. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens at 74mm. ISO 800, 1/4000th sec f2.8.
Amtrak Keystone train No.641 westbound at Leaman Place. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 200mm. ISO 800 1/2000th sec at f2.8.

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Bridges at Safe Harbor-Three Views

The two magnificent bridges at Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania are vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad from its days in the early 20th century as the busiest freight railroad in North America.

The line on top bridge was abandoned by Conrail c1990 no longer carries track. It is now used a by a trail system. This bridge originally carried PRR’s low-grade freight cutoff from Parkesburg via Shocks Mills to Marysville, PA. The bottom bridge is part of the Port Deposit route and still used by Norfolk Southern. The electrification was discontinued early in the Conrail era.

I made these images in March using my Nikon Z6.

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Rockville Bridge

I wrote about Pennsylvania Railroad’s Rockville Bridge in my book Railway Masterpieces published in 2002.

“The third bridge at Rockville was started in 1900, and opened to traffic in 1902. It is listed in the Guinness Book of Rail Facts and Figures, as ‘the world’s largest stone arch railway bridge over a river’. It consists of 48 stone arch spans.”

Last month Kris and I paid a visit to the Rockville Bridge. As we approached this magnificent viaduct a westward Norfolk Southern freight was crawling across, yet we had arrived too late to catch the head end of the train on the bridge.

We decided to wait a little while to see if another freight would come along.

Finally after about 45 minutes, I could hear a GE diesel chugging away on the far side of the Susquehanna. As the train started across the bridge, the evening sun emerged from the clouds, producing some very fine light to photograph the train.

I exposed these photos with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens firmly mounted on my mid-1990s vintage Bogen tripod.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 170mm, f5.0 1/500th of a second, ISO 200.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 76mm, f5.0 1/500th of a second, ISO 200.

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Amtrak Train 43—Pennsylvanian at Lewistown.

In mid-March, Kris and I arrived at Lewistown Junction, Pennsyvlania a few minutes before the scheduled arrival of Amtrak’s westward Pennsylvanian (train 43). We had stopped at a nearby Sheetz for burritos to go.

Working with the Amtrak/VIA Real Time App, I learned that train 43 was running about 9 minutes behind the advertised. That allow for more time for lunch.

I made this series of photos with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 70-200mm Z-series zoom and a Panasonic Lumix LX7 as the train approached its Lewistown station stop. Amtrak P42 number 99 was in the lead. At the back were a pair of private cars.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

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Remembering the PRR

Fifty-Four years gone: The late great Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was America’s largest, busiest, and most intensive railroad.

On our trip to Pennsylvania in November we experienced plenty of action along the rails of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. But we also saw several examples of Pennsylvania Railroad freight equipment preserved for display.

I made these digital images of restored PRR equipment as it appeared to me in November 2021.

PRR GP9 7048 at Horseshoe Curve—Altoona, PA.
PRR GP9 7048 at Horseshoe Curve—Altoona, PA.
PRR F30A flatcar at Horseshoe Curve.
PRR N5C caboose at Gallitzin, PA.
PRR-X31A boxcar at Hollidaysburg, PA.
PRR-X31A boxcar at Hollidaysburg, PA.
PRR-X31A boxcar at Hollidaysburg, PA.

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Norfolk Southern Local at Hunt

It was a warm November morning, when Kris and I visited Huntingdon, Pennsylvania on the old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division.

Years ago, my old pal TSH and I would visit his grandmother who lived in Huntingdon. Kris and I drove around the village and I located the row house where Gram H. once lived. Then we proceeded to the Amtrak station to wait for the eastward Pennsylvanian.

Norfolk Southern fielded a few freights ahead of Amtrak, including this short local frieght led by a lone SD70ACU. Back in the old days, a pair of GP38-2s would have been standard on the local.

Norfolk Southern local freight passes HUNT tower in Huntingdon, PA.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with f2.8 70-200mm zoom lens.

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West Slope Glint

I made these glint images looking west from the Railfan’s Overlook at Cassandra, Pennsylvania toward the November evening sunset.

The trick to successful glint images is correctly exposing for the highlights in order to retain sufficient detail.

Another trick is to select a ‘daylight’ white balance, rather than using an automatic white balance setting.

Westward Norfolk Southern intermodal train passes Cassandra, Pennsylvania on the West Slope of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line grade over the Allegheny Divide.
Helpers at the back of a westbound double stack train.

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Low Sun on the Middle Track—Cassandra, Pennsylvania.

In the autumn, the sun swings around in the late afternoon at Cassandra, and neatly lines up with the rock cut to the west of the Railfans Overlook bridge.

Looking west at Cassandra.

We heard a westward freight approaching, so I took a position over the middle track to make for a dramatic telephoto view in the low autumn sun.

I exposed this view using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom extended to 165mm.

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CHeck in to the Tunnel Inn—We did.

Last month Kris and I booked two nights at the Tunnel Inn in Gallitzin, PA, located at milepost 248, immediately west of the tunnels below the Allegheny Divide at the summit of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.

I love Pennsylvania.

I’d made my first visit to Gallitzin on a family holiday back in the summer of 1981—40 years ago. There was no Tunnel Inn back then.

In the 1980s, my old pal TSH and I would make photos from the bridge over the line adjacent to the building that would later become the Tunnel Inn.

On arrival last month, Bob, the proprietor of the Tunnel Inn offered Kris and me a room overlooking the tracks named for the old Pennsylvania Railroad MO Tower. (The tower had controlled movements through the interlocking at Cresson, several miles to the west of Gallitzin.)

The Inn is nicely furnished and decorated inside, and there’s a nice tavern just a short walk down the road. Across the tracks is a preserved Pennsylvania Railroad N8 caboose.

Minutes after we checked in to the Tunnel Inn, the first of many Norfolk Southern trains rolled by.

What a cool place! More to follow soon!

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Conrail and Norfolk Southern—23 Years November at Cassandra

Way back in the days of Blue, Mike Gardner and I paid a visit to Cassandra, Pennsylvania. We called into the Railfan’s Welcome Center and were given a memorable tour by the mayor of the borough, and then spent the afternoon photographing Conrail trains from the famous Overlook Bridge.

That was November 1998, and only a few months before Conrail’s class 1 operations there were to become part of Norfolk Southern.

Some 23 years later (has it really been THAT long?), Kris and I paid a visit to the same bridge.

The paint has changed. The old PRR position-light signals are gone. The trains are longer. But Cassandra is much the way I remember it back in 1998.

In 1998, I was photographing on Fujichrome with a Nikon N90S with an 80-200mm f2.8 Nikkor zoom. Last month, it was a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm f2.8 zoom. (But many other cameras in between.)

Conrail SD50 6773 leads a heavy westward freight at Cassandra, Pennsylvania in November 1998.
Looking the other way: Helpers on trailing on Conrail 6773 west at Cassandra in November 1998.
November 2021; Norfolk Southern double stacks westbound at Cassandra, Pennsylvania.
Westward helpers trailing at Cassandra.
Eastbound stacks at Cassandra.

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Mifflin, PA—Nov 2001

The old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division is a favorite stretch of railroad.

I first visited this location on the heavily traveled east-west trunk route back in 1988 with my old pal TSH.

In November 2001, Mike Gardner and I were on a week-long photograph blitz of Pennsylvania and paused a Mifflin for a few hours to make photos of the action.

A Norfolk Southern eastward freight led by a former Conrail DASH8-40C rolls by the old Pennsylvania Railroad station at Mifflin, PA.

I exposed this Fujichrome color slide using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens. The Zeiss lens was extremely sharp from corner to corner while offering exceptional color rendition.

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On this Day 2014: Overcast at Overbrook.

On December 5, 2014, my brother and I, stood on the platform at Overbrook, Pennsylvania along the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D, I exposed this photo of an approach medium aspect on an old PRR position light signal. At left, Amtrak’s westward Pennsylvanian—train 43—glides toward the station behind P42 number 71.

I made a host of minor modifications in post processing aimed at improving the camera RAW file.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!