• My autumn 2004 tour

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by NS3737
My 2004 autumn tour

Since this forum and in particular the New York State section, was of great assistance while scheduling my 2004 autumn tour, I thought it would be appropriate to post some sort of trip report. Such a tour was on my wish list for years and finally in 2004 I managed to get a time window of about two and a half weeks. With this tour I had multiple goals: to explore the railways with some emphasis on short lines, to enjoy the fall foliage and to taste the local wines. After a lot of puzzling it had taken more or less the form of a clockwise loop around Lake Ontario with as start and end point Toronto. From there I made my way through upstate New York, a bit of Vermont, Western Pennsylvania, the southern Tier area and even into Ohio. So most of the time Lake Ontario was way out of sight, actually one of the best views I got of it was on the plan while approaching Toronto’s international airport.

I will start the day before my departure. The better part of the working day I spent making arrangements that will assure the continuity the project of which I am the principal engineer. That evening I left office which is just outside downtown Utrecht (the Netherlands) to have diner at a downtown restaurant striving for at least one star in the guide Michelin, this in preparation for the concert that evening: Gustav Mahler’s second symphony. So this was the start of my vacation sort of.

Next day on Wednesday September 29th I took an early afternoon flight from Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) to Toronto arriving late afternoon. After passing customs and reclaiming my luggage, which by to way was a bit of a problem since the luggage belt was not capable of handling the load of a 747, I collected my rental car which provided me with ground transportation for this occasion. Well just outside the airport I ran into Toronto’s evening rush hour so the slightly under 30 kilometres to my hotel in downtown Toronto took an hour and a quarter. This combined with the 6 hours jet lag I decided to call it a day after dinner and a short walk on Younge Street.

Things got started on Thursday
After breakfast I left Toronto and headed east towards tot Canadian/USA border, the border crossing was uneventful. Railway wises only the New York and Ogdensburg RR was on the schedule: I found just two almost empty yards one at Ogdensburg and the other at Norwood, no motive power. But the catches of that day were two trains on the CSX line to Montreal; finally I ended at Watertown.

Through the Adirondacks
After a beautiful sunrise just east of Watertown I entered dense fog. My attempts to get a glimpse and better some photos of the motive power of the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern and the Lowville & Beaver River were in vain. At Lowville I located the engine terminal but there was no way to get a good photo. After Leyden the fog cleared and I got a first look at the brilliantly lit fall colours along the Moose River. The next stop was the Adirondack Scenic RR. After a brief pause there I headed south to Utica, were I arrived just to late for photographing an Amtrak train, from the highway I also spotted a lot of NYS&W power parked or stored, but the area was well fenced and surrounded with building so also no photos there. The next stop was the Upper Hudson River RR, during the about 3 hours ride I experienced the Adirondack scenic beauty with the fall colours near their peak. When visiting tourist railway operation I do not care for a train ride, their souvenir shops can have interesting books on the local railway on their shelves. This day I had not so much luck. The day ended at Rutland VT.

A long dash South West
Shortly before sunrise the sky was mostly clear but soon the clouds took over. I located the Rutland Amtrak station with a short train waiting for its next assignment. At the VTR yard I spotted a train about ready for departure. Motive power was 1 GMRR, 2 VTR and an HLCX unit. From Rutland VT I had scheduled to go the Wellsboro PA with two intermediate stops one at Greenwich NY for the Batten Kill RR and Monroeton PA for the Towanda Monroeton Shippers Lifeline. At Greenwich I spotted RS3 4116 of the BKRR lettered for the Greenwich & Johnsonville RR while at Monroeton I spotted the only locomotive SW1 26 of the TMSS in a LV inspired scheme. Arriving at Wellsboro I got about the last available room in any motel in the whole area. For the better part of that day rain poured out of the sky.

No trains today
When on vacation I use the Sundays for exploring either the city in which I am or the area, in this case the latter since the Wellsboro area claims to have the Grand Canyon of the east, however no match for the one in the west. Anyway the sun was out that day and it was still very scenic although the fall colours were just beginning to show.

To Binghamton and back
The day started with a short visit to the Wellsboro & Corning RR, there I found their SW8 800 in a rather undignified position for a lady of here age: she had her trucks removed and was kept of the ground by pieces of wood. Sister SW8 364 of the North Shore RR in a DL&W inspired scheme did the work that day. From there I went to NS Gang Mills yard were on the edge of trespassing was able to get some photos. Then of to Binghamton with a stop at Owego for the Owego & Harford, slightly north of Owego I found their SW1 40 parked near a scrap metal processing plant while at the yard I got their RS18U 1811. At Binghamton there was a big disappointment: the overpass near the old Erie station had got more as man high fences and thus ruining a great photo location which I remembered from an earlier visit. But this time I managed to find the CPR yards, which used to be NYS&W Conklin yard. Just before the clouds blocked the sun I got a single NS Dash9 returning from a transfer run.

Deeper into Pennsylvania
It is Tuesday October 5th this day I scouted various locations along the B&P the thing worth mentioning were: Knox & Kane RR RS36 70 at the interchange at Mount Jewett, removed rails with an advanced signal and a home signal still in place and lit at Emporium and shunting activities at the DuBois yard. Shortly before sunset I arrived at Butler PA.

The mysterious BLE
Early this Wednesday I made my way to Pittsburgh in order to see whether I am able to find to BLE and Union RR interchange. I did so but there is no way to get a photo there. So back to Butler where I had no success either, at Greenville I found their shop but I could not get even a glimpse of any power. So time to find comfort at a winery my first acquaintance with Pennsylvanian wines, conclusion: some were not that bad at all! The last stop before the final destination that day, Erie PA, was Conneaut OH. Again the BLE facilities hard to find and there were no photo opportunities. So it was time for some main line action. I opted for the NS knowing that the CSX is busier but I found a nice location along the NS line were it crosses Conneaut Creek and the BLE. After waiting an hour and hearing 3 CSX trains passing by I got eastbound NS train with a BNSF pumpkin and an NS locomotive and to top it of somewhat later a loaded BLE coal train heading for the transhipment terminal.

The hunt for Pennsylvanian short lines
This day I had scheduled for visiting the Oil Creek & Titusville Lines the ex Allegheny RR now B&P and the Western New York and Pennsylvania RR. To summarise I was quite successful with the Oil Creek & Titusville lines with the others I had no luck. This day I also scheduled to see some main line near Westfield NY were NS and CXS were conveniently close to get the action of both. Between the trains and while waiting for the sun to turn to a more favourable angle, I also visited a winery and had a nice discussion about wines with one of the staff members. Shortly before sun set the sun disappeared into the hazy clouds coming of Lake Erie.

Heading back into the New York State
The schedule was loaded: Buffalo Southern, New York & Lake Erie, Western New York & Pennsylvania, Salamanca railroad museum, Arcade & Attica RR, Rochester & Southern and finally the Livonia Avon & Lakeville. With the first 3 I had little success however one surprise was a PRR steamer parked at Hamburg NY, at the Salamanca museum I found some interesting books and they got loads of back issues of railway magazines. Between Salamanca and Arcade I found an Allegheny Railroad locomotive pared at Ashford Junction. At the A&A yard at Arcade I found a bright orange painted GE centre Cab without a visible number. At the R&S/NS interchange at Silver Springs I was just missed an NS train while an R&S locomotive was parked in such a way that there was no photo opportunity. Next stop was the LA&L. I do hold a weak spot for this one, since it was the first short line operation ever I ran into. At the yard in Lakeville I spotted their RS1 20 ‘CMDR Peter Barry’ still going strong. This locomotive was also on duty when I first spotted a LA&L train now about 10 years ago. The final destination was scheduled to be Geneva, but all hotels were fully booked over the weekend, I finally found a motel near Canandaigua.

A long ride and just a few photo’s
I am not a person who pits quantity before quality so I do not mind a long ride for a few photos. On my way from Rutland VT to Wellsboro PA, I skipped deliberately the Albany Port RR and CSX Selkirk yard since that would have resulted in a very late arrival. A wise decision since a got about the last available room at Wellsboro arriving at about 18.00 hours. So this day I corrected that from Canandaigua. I managed to get photos of one of the two Albany Port RR locomotives at the engine terminal and as bonus some CSX action on a nearby yard. When arriving at the Selkirk Yards I located an overpass from which it was possible to take some photos. However shortly upon arrival the sun started to hide. On my way back it became clear again so at Lyons you was able to get some pictures of the CSX trains at Lyons.

Sunday again
This time Letchworth State Park was on my schedule, although the forecast was sunny it turned out that clouds belonging to a storm system at the coast of Maine reached farther west as anticipated. Anyway with the fall colours nearing their peak it was still nice. The better part of the afternoon I spent tasting wines along the Seneca Lake. The quality of the wines varied a lot even for a single winery.

Still cloud covered
Again contrary to the forecast the sky was grey. I found two GP’s of the Finger Lakes Railway parked at Himrod Junction, did some railway archaeology at Bath and the catch of the day a lot of ex Cartier Alco’s at the Bath & Hamondsport RR Cohocton engine terminal. After signing a paper I could roam freely at the terminal and even the sun co-operated for a while. Since it became all grey again afterwards, I decided to quit photography for that day and to head for Rochester. I remembered a shop at St Pauls Street with a large selection of railway magazines. It was remarkable that I found my way into downtown Rochester after ten years and yes the shop was still in place. I concluded that day with a fine diner at Geneva on the Lake.

Sunny a gain
Just 3 days left. Railway wises the catch this day was a light engine moves of the Ontario Midland. I spotted it while travelling west on the 104 while the locomotive was heading east. I managed to turn my car and despite some heavy traffic I was able to chase it and to get photos at four locations before it stopped at the terminal at Sodus. At the Falls road all I got was an excursion train which do not have my interest, somehow I could not find the museum at Medina. But for that day I also had other plans: the Niagara Falls. After finding a hotel at Buffalo I made to the Falls where I arrived about an hour before sunset. Late that evening I crossed the boarder to Canada; sorry they have better restaurants on the Canadian side! And to top it of I made some night shots of the illuminated Falls.

Two days left
An early rise and some scouting in the Buffalo area (The Depew Amtrak station and near Lackawanna) Besides one Amtrak train lots of track but no trains at all. So time to throw in some culture. I visited the Old Fort Niagara and after a brief stay at the Falls I head into Canada, for Toronto. I arrived in time to observe GO-transit’s evening rush hour traffic out of Toronto’s Union station. Later that evening I opted for a six-course diner at the hotel’s restaurant All Canadian specialities accompanied by fine Canadian wines, it took 3 hours to complete. Well it is the last evening tomorrow at that time I will be in a plan back home.

The final day
An all overcast day, I briefly stayed at the West Toronto interlocking, Were after the passage of a long train maintenance of way crew occupied the tracks. So I toured around a bit. At about 15.00 I reported to the airport, dropped my rental car and checked in. My flight departed with a slight delay at 18.30.

Back home
An evening departure from the USA to Europe will result in an early morning arrival. As advertised my plane (courtesy of the KLM) put me back on Dutch soil at the Schiphol airport. One of the nice features of this airport is that after passing customs it is just a short walk to the train station. The Dutch railways were on time that day I only had some trouble coaxing my heavy suitcase through the rush hour commuters. So after an uneventful train ride I completed the final leg home by a 5-kilometre bus ride.

Despite some over cast and rainy days the weather generally was very nice, and I turned home with 18 rolls of exposed colour negative films and 17 exposed slide films not all railway related subjects though. When writing I have sorted out the photos, the slides will take some more weeks. But I am happy with the results I have seen so far. I was not able to obtain photos of all the short lines on my list, but that is the risk one has to accept when you are after short lines. Besides I had a good time anyway: the hotels or motels were generally all right or at least clean and also the restaurants of choice did not let me down either, my strong personal opinion is that a day of chasing trains should end in a nice restaurant.

  by scottychaos
Wow! thats quite the tour!! :-D :P
well done!
looking forward to seeing some pictures,
you really zig-zagged around New York state! ;)

(just for the record, there is one "camera hole" built into the fence on that bridge in Binghamton,the bridge next to the Erie & DL&W stations..
its near the DL&W station, facing East..only gives you one angle, but its better than nothing.)


  by NS3737
scottychaos wrote:looking forward to seeing some pictures,
For now I have not yet found the time to set up my own web site with photos. But I put up an album on a yahoo! group of which I am a moderator. Just a few low resolution scans.

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/i ... y_network/

Have a look at the photo section in GvA's autumn 2004 tour.
I know it is a bit of a hassle: one has to sign in an or up on yahoo and become a group member, which in this case has to be approved first. But that is the way it has been set up since we had have some trouble with somewhat less mature persons puting all kinds of non railway related garbage on it.

scottychaos wrote: you really zig-zagged around New York state!

Yep, and then some Vermont, Pennsylvania and Ohio too! Looing back the schedule was a bit overloaded but I had just two and a half weeks and I wanted to make the most of it. Any way how odd it might look on the map it turned out to be the most effective route.

scottychaos wrote: (just for the record, there is one "camera hole" built into the fence on that bridge in Binghamton,the bridge next to the Erie & DL&W stations..
its near the DL&W station, facing East..only gives you one angle, but its better than nothing.)

I will have a closer look next time when I am in Binghamton. But quite frankly that will take some years.

Gijs van Appeldoorn

  by njtmnrrbuff
Binghamton might be a nice place to railfan. However, the city is not the most attractive. Over 3 years ago, I participated in Rail Camp at Steamtown. We took a side trip to East Binghamton. Boy, they are not playing around there when it comes time for tresspassing. Well, that is the real deal especially in the post 9-11 world.