• Iona Island - Bear Mountain Bridge

  • Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.
Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.

Moderator: MBTA F40PH-2C 1050

  by ItaliDe
Does anyone have experiance railfanning the river line at Iona Island? I was there on Sunday from 2PM to 6PM and saw only 2 trains... is there a busy day - a good day to railfan there? I thought for some reason it was a busy line when Conrail had it? Not sure of the flow these days.. Any info would be great.. I'd like to go back but want to go when the running is good. My A.D.D. keeps me from sitting comfortably for hours without a train..haha I like a place with some action...

  by dwil89
I was along the Riverline on that same Sunday a few days ago between 6:30AM and 4:30PM.

I started out in Cold Spring, where I hiked to the top of Mount Taurus on the East side of the Hudson near Breakneck Ridge, where I could look across toward Storm King Mountain and view and shoot the Riverline between MP49 and CP55.

I had arrived at the trailhead at 6:30AM and had just missed Southbounds Q110 and Q108.

The next train did not appear until approximately 9:30 AM....A Southbound Q409.

A Q410 was waiting for the 409 at Fort Montgomery, so the 410 rolled up through CP52 around 10AM or so.

A Q702 rolled North hot on the Q410's heels, followed by a Northbound K649 empty ethanol train...rolling through around 11AM.

After hiking back down the mountain, and driving back down to Iona, I hiked out along the bike trail and caught a SB Q439 around 12:30PM or so....

I would only see two more trains between 12:30 and 4PM....a SB Q164(or 118) and a Q433.

So I only caught 6 trains in 10 hours, not including the Q110 and 108 that I missed.

It seems to be a roll of the dice as far as what one can catch from one day to the next.

I recall catching upwards of 13-17 trains in a 12-13 hour timeframe on a Sunday this time last year, but the economy was better then.

So the bottom line is....take a book or magazine along along with a cooler and lunch and make a day of it.

I generally occupy my time with hiking to various spots around the valley which kills two birds with one stone...I get exercise, enjoying the scenery and shoot trains in the process.
  by ItaliDe
Hey thanks for the reply. I was off today and went up there again for the day . I shot Q433 from bear Mountain as it passed over the Iona Island bridgeway. Q118 went by shortley after. I was there since 8am and saw 2 more mixed Manifest trains at around 9a,..must have been Q409 and 410. I had to run to ossining between this so I only saw 4 trains... maybe some went by for the 3 hours I was not there... After seeing Q433 from across the river i shot down the Palasades Prky and caught 433 again at Tappen NY for a ground level photo as it had a few Pan Am box cars on it...

I also want to note that on 3 of the trains I saw today CSX ran SD40 and GP40's as trailing units... It was nice to see!!! A great break from an all wide cab consist is always a treat!!!!

So we now know what runs thru during daylight hours... my next trip will be from 5PM to 7am to catch what might run thru at night...
I believe the count for trains 10 years ago when Conrail ran steady schedules it was 32 trains in 24 hours.... I do not know what CSX runs but eventually between my data and yours we'll figure it out... I plan to go back often so next time you head over there shoot me a PM ...one thing I did notice is I was the only rail-fan there today.... I thought there would have been more rail-fans around as it was beautiful out today.. I do not know of a set hang out for railfans ..i usually hang out in that little lot north of the entrance to Iona Island thing over there just north of the Signal..I believe that signal might be MP41?

The closest MP detector is over the hill at Stoney Point but I cant pick that up on the scanner from Iona...
  by dwil89
I live about 20 minutes South of the Bear Mountain area......I started getting into the railfan hobby in the mid 90's and used to hang out at MP41 alot before I began wandering South and North from there.

Nowadays, I tend to get out on foot alot more in the area.....I often hike down to the South ledges which looks North toward Iona, but I use the old Rte 9W footpath, also known as 'Bike trail #9......I also enjoy hiking up to the top of Dunderberg Mountain which gives a Northward view up the valley....Dunderberg is above the South ledges.

Anthony's Nose is across the river above the East end of the Bear Mountain Bridge.....I often hike up there for morning shots across the river toward the West Shore.

Bald Mountain is set back a bit in a valley between Dunderberg and Bear Mountain.....a trail leading up through the Doodletown area takes one to the top of Bald Mountain which gives a different angle of the Iona trestle area in the afternoons.

And right now, I am exploring the Mt Taurus-Breakneck Ridge area where I lave found some interesting vantagepoints of Metro-North as well as the Riverline.

Closer to track level, I often favor the North enbankment that looks Southward toward the Iona trestle in the afternoons.

Or as many other railfans do, I'll swing down to the Popolopen Creek pedestrian footbridge in the afternoons to shoot trains coming across the Popolopen Creek trestle.

If you walk across that footbridge and hike up toward the Bear Mountain Bridge, just as the trail runs beneath the bridge, you can make your way down a steep enbankment to a level spot near the creek to get a decent shot of trains exiting the Fort Montgomery Tunnel......

These are most of my favorite spots in the area, but there are more, such as vantagepoints above either portal of the Fort Montgomery Tunnel, accessed from the Fort Montgomery Battlefield visitors center.

I also like to swing down to CP-35 from time to time.

The Stony Point Battlefield site's parking lot is adjacent to the Riverline main, and has picnic tables....a nice spot around the middle of the day, but get there too early or too late and trees will cast shadows across the tracks.

I may swing back up to the Bear Mountain area on Thursday if weather is decent.
  by jmp883
In my experiences going to Iona Island I've found that the best times to be there are early in the morning, or late in the afternoons, on weekdays. The morning 'rush hour' seems to run between 6am and 10am. I haven't been able to get up there that early lately due to my job schedule but when I am able to get there there is always a good mix of trains in both directions. Most of them are no more than 30 to 45 minutes apart. Mid-morning to mid-afternoon it drops to maybe a train every hour or so. Late afternoon into early evening the pace picks up again.

Weekends seem to be a bit lighter than weekdays, though I've had better luck on Sundays than on Saturdays. One Sunday earlier this spring I got there around 10am and left around 2pm. In the 4 or so hours I was there I had 4 or 5 trains come through. The day before there was only 1 train in the same time period.

One thing to remember is the tie replacement program. Several times this spring I've been on my way to the Island when I heard the dispatcher give the track to the maintainers for several hours, usually from 9 or 10am to 3 or 4pm. Each time that has happened so far the out-of-service trackage has been between Haverstraw Tunnel all the way north to MP43. Once the track goes out-of-service nothing runs until the maintainers give the track back.

Having a scanner is a real help in knowing what's going on. If you're using a mobile scanner the scanner antenna on your vehicle should work just fine. A hand-held scanner may need an aftermarket antenna to help receive transmissions in the area due to the geography. 160.980 MHz and 160.260 MHz are the 2 frequencies you need to monitor the River Line. There is a defect detector just south of Iona Island at Stony Point. The crews call the signals which helps as well. Additionally I have the end-of-train device frequency, 457.9375 MHz, in my scanner and the chirps from the EOT's have clued me in to an approaching train. The new automatic signal at MP41 has been a great help in knowing what's coming. Also I've noticed most, but not all, southbounds will blow for the grade crossing just south of the Fort Montgomery tunnel.

Hope this helps...and of course anyone who can update us with more accurate information will be greatly appreciated.
  by dwil89
I have also found that scanner reception varies greatly depending on where you are located in the valley and of course also depends on the quality of scanner and antenna.

The Stony Point detector seems to be greatly affected by the topography.....I often have a hard time picking it up no matter where I'm at in the valley.

The places to be, if you enjoy long range scanner reception is on one of the mountaintops.

I forgot to mention a nice afternoon spot atop Bear Mountain.....An extension of Perkins Drive swings around from the Perkins Tower area and over to the East face of the Mountain where there is a pulloff to park.....The view is looking down on the Bear Mountain Inn, and one can see from Peekskill to Manitou as well as from CP43 to MP39....good for afternoon shots.

Anyway, from this location, one can often hear down as far as Orangeburg, and often much further South....including Yard chatter in NJ on CSX and NS....and that is with a run of the mill antenna.....One of those diamond antennas might get even further....

From atop Dunderberg Mountain or Anthony's Nose Mountain, I routinely hear yard chatter in NJ, as well as Riverline chatter up as far as CP69.

There seem to be 'sweet spots' as far as scanner reception.

From the top of Mount Taurus, I was picking up chatter from CP35 on down to CP22 loud and clear...sounded like it was 2 or 3 miles away, not 20-30 miles away.

From Dunderberg, I have also heard the Dispatcher's end of the conversation talking to trains up above MP100....One YouTube video that I shot from Dunderberg has scanner chatter of this sort in the video.

I live within scanner range of the Riverline, and from time to time, I'll record scanner chatter via voice activated recorder to keep me up to date with traffic patterns, when symbols are running, etc so I can listen in at my leisure for trackwork patterns, etc......gives me an idea of what to expect when heading out trackside.
  by CPSK
Definitely. Bear Mtn and vicinity mountains are the best place to "scan-fan" the River Line. When Amtrak was on the same channel as the River Line (160.800), I would hear lots of CR River Line activity, and Amtrak at least down to Lane and Union interlocking.

A good telephoto lens is great to have from up there on the Perkins extension. Great shots of trains up and down past Iona.

Best day for trains is any weekday except Monday. Fridays might see a few extras.
I haven't been up in the Iona/Bear Mtn area recently. Planning a trip soon. Maybe I'll drive all the way to Selkirk<g>

  by ItaliDe
We were just there today ( Sunday) from 8am to 11am. It was just a quick stop by on the way to something else.. We caught Q409 and 410, Q110 and a stack train that I didnt catch the Q # on the scanner.. So 4 trains between 8 and 11. Q410 was extra long today. 130 cars and had an old faded un-numbered/un-lettered caboose at the end.... It was a neat treat! We have no idea what the caboose was for? It was either heading to scrap or storage somewhere.....
  by ItaliDe
DOES ANYONE KNOW IF Q430, 431, Q701and 703 run thru Iona Island? They are Selkirk to Oak point yard in the bronx - trash trains, mixed freight. I think they may head down the East Side of the Hudson on the Amtrak side? Any ideas?

Here is a list of scheduled trains thru IONA ISLAND - The West Side of the Hudson. I have times for these trains thru Iona Island but they don't seem to be accurate, a little off from what I have seen! Here is a Daily Schedule Starting at 05:00AM on a typical Day.

S) Q108 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Rose Lake, IL to Little Ferry NJ - 05:00
N) Q153 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Little Ferry NJ to Chicago - 06:00
S) Q164 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Chicago to South Kearny NJ - 06:15
N) Q169 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - North Bergan NJ to Chicago - 07:10
N) Q165 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - South Kearny NJ to Chicago - 07:45
S) Q110 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - 08:40
N) Q 410 - Mixed Freight - Waycross, GA to Selkirk NY - 10:30
S) Q433 - Mixed Freight - Selkirk NY to Oak Island NJ - 11:30
N) Q418 - Mixed Freight - Pavonia NJ to Selkirk NY - 13:20
S) Q118 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Chicago to Souther Kearny NJ - 14:30
S) Q409 - Mixed Freight - Selkirk NY to Waycross GA - 15:15
S) Q417 - Mixed freight - Selkirk NY to Provonia NJ - 15:30
N) Q434 - Mixed Freight - Oak Island NJ to Selkirk NY - 16:15
S) Q100 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Chicago to Little Ferry NJ - 20:30
S) (As Required) Q162 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Syracuse NY to Port Newark NJ - 21:15
S) Q152 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Chicago to Port Newark NJ - 21:30
N) ( As Required) Q 163 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - port Newark NJ to Syracuse NY - 21:50
N) As Required) Q273 - Autorack Train - North Bergan to Selkirk NY - 22:00
N) Q161 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - South Kearny to Chicago - 22:30
S) Q196 - - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Syracuse to Port Newark NJ - 22:40
S) Q156 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Chicago to South Kearny NJ - 22:45
N) Q159 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Port Newark to Chicago - (00:01 Midnight)
N) Q157 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - South Kearny to Chicago - 01:45
N) Q109 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - North Bergan NJ to Chicago - 02:00
S) Q112 - Intermodel/Trailer/Stack train - Chicago to Port Newark NJ - 03:30

This is what I have as normally scheduled trains. If any additional trains are left out please advise.
  by dwil89
Q702 and Q703 run through Iona....I believe that one of those two symbols changes to or from a Q701 on the Hudson Line

I don't recall ever hearing the Q430 and Q431 on the West Shore......those two run on the East Shore Hudson Line I believe....
  by CPSK
It seems kind of wasteful that trains from NJ headed to Oak Point NY have to run all the way up to SK and back down the east (Amtrak) side. Would be real nice if they could build another new tunnel (besides the new one NJT is building) to get trains directly from NJ to NYC. But then, I guess there isn't all that much traffic going that route; at least not enough to warrant a multi-billion dollar tunnel.

It would be interesting to catch the train at Iona on the River Line, then go across the river later to catch the train again directly opposite Iona. Anyone know what time those NJ to OP trains run?


  by crblue
On the east shore, Q430 and Q431 run exclusively between Selkirk and Oak Point handling all of the mixed freight from the Bronx, Long Island and the industries along Metro North. On weekends this train will run with an "L" designation. The two daily trash trains are the only east of hudson freights that run down the west shore. Q703, the Oak Point-Selkirk-Virginia trash train runs with a Q703 symbol all the way to Virginia. The return run has symbol Q702 from Virginia to Selkirk and then changes to Q701 from Selkirk to Oak Point. It would be neat to shoot the same train on both sides of the river, the only conflict I see is that on the east shore most of the action takes place under the cover of darkness anywhere between midnight and 4AM as not to disrupt the heavy commuter traffic the lower part of that line sees. However delays do happen for one reason or another so its not completely unheard of to catch a late running trash train on the hudson line during the day from time to time so if you can get lucky have at it!
  by ItaliDe
Im curious, How many carloads are usually on the mixed freight into and out of Oak Point Yard? Its a small yard, I think? What are we talking about? 20 cars? 50 cars? 110 cars? If it's a long enough freight I'd take the time to head over the the east side to shoot it...
  by AMK0123
It's been awhile since I worked midnights and observed the mixed freights going down the Hudson line. Usually would see anywhere from 40-60+ cars. I spoke to someone from CSX acouple of months ago and they said they were down to around 40 carsloads a night. As for the River line, saw what I believe was Q703 going southbound, stopped on the siding track of Fort Montgomery on 6/4 around 5-6 p.m.. Had a ES44DC, AC4400CW and a SD40-2. Also caught a mixed freight that stopped northbound on the main. Had five engines and took up the whole 2 mile stretch. All in all sasw around 5-6 trains including the local C712 northbound through Bear Mountain between 3:30 and around 7p.m.. (Sorry didn't have my scanner on me so I didn't catch train symbols!)
  by crblue
Does anyone know the number of ethanol trains there are a day currently running on the River Sub?