Tag Archives: #PRR

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.

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