Train Trip Along CSX, Part 1.

Many of us as kids had two things in common, we loved fire trucks and trains. As we grew into teenagers and adults many either let go of both or held onto our love of them in one way or another. For me, it was both. In January of 2018, I will have 28 years as a volunteer firefighter and still get some enjoyment out of trains. Some people ask, “What’s so great about trains?” For me, it’s the power and lets face it, trains and railroading are as American to me as Baseball,  apple pie, and Old Glory.

I was lucky enough to work on the railroad for a short period and sit behind the controls of the beast that keep America moving. As adults some people build and design model layouts in their homes. While others like myself would rather relax track side, listening and seeing these massive machines. Then there are those that deny any interest in trains but still put a train under the Christmas Tree. Many of us have the itch, some more than others.

Train photography is where I got my start. For many years I only focused on trains. Then I decided to use the camera for my love of history. The number of train photographs I have taken over the years could fill a blog site itself. So for this blog I will share with you some of my favorite photographs and their locations along CSX.

This trip will depart from the station at Point of Rocks, Maryland. The photo above was taken on October 23, 2016 and shows CSX Q416 passing the former station heading west from Washington D.C. This is the furthest east I have been for trains. The station was built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1873. The station is situated at the junction of the B&O Old Main Line (running to Baltimore) and the Metropolitan Branch (running to Washington, D.C.).  The main station building is a ​2 12-story, triangular Gothic Revival with a four-story tower and a ​1 12-story wing at the base. The tower has a pyramidal roof containing a dormer on each side. On top is a square cupola supporting a pyramidal peaked roof.

This photograph was also taken at Point of Rocks, Maryland on the same date. Seen here is CSX N77 going east to Baltimore.  There is plenty of parking on the weekend. However, it is a very busy location during the week as this is a main transportation HUB for MARC passengers.

 

 

Continuing west. Our next stop brings us to the historic town of Harpers Ferry, WV. If you have never visited here, it’s a must! The only thing that upset me about this stop was not having the time to visit the historic locations. Needless to say, next trip there will be more time. This photograph shows the Capitol Limited stretched across the Potomac River. After stopping at Harpers Ferry it will continue east to Washington D.C.

Another photograph from Harpers Ferry below shows CSX Q130 passing through the station. Built by the B&O Railroad, the station is part of the Historical District. It’s a wooden frame Victorian style building, dating from 1889. It sits on buried foundations of the original Harpers Ferry armory buildings. If visiting here, paying attention is important. As you can see there is no protection from the trains.

Continuing the move west, but to a different day. We come to a location known as Foley’s Overlook. Located just outside of the small town of Fairhope, PA. With a scenic view this is not a real easy location to find or access. This photograph of CSX Q276 was taking on October 15, 2016. Q276 among the fall mountain colors glides down the mountain heading east towards Maryland.

 

From Fairhope continuing west and skipping a few locations. Our next stop is one of my all time favorites. Known as Mance, there is very little left of this village but the landscape is great. In this photograph taken on August 2, 2015 CSX K145 passes the former Mance Post Office heading west.

Just over a later we returned to Mance, just for the Fall colors. This photograph was taken on October 15, 2016. Here CSX Q135 is working west up the mountain. The difference was the color nature provided. Rolling mountains, Fall colors, and plenty of sun as it crawls through the trees.

Rolling in to our final destination for this blog, we arrive at Sand Patch, a little village outside of Meyersdale, PA. The village got its name due to its location on the rails. If coming west from Cumberland, MD or east from Connellsville, PA trains must climb the Allegheny Mountains. Sand Patch is the summit of the steepest railroad grade on the East Coast. In the days of steam, many times trains would need sand to get over the grade.

Pictured above is CSX K145 seen starting down the mountain at Sand Patch. The peak is just past the little shed along the rails.  We first caught this train at Mance climbing the grade on August 2, 2015. Thanks to steep grades and slow speeds up mountain it allowed us to catch it a  second time.

In March of 2015 while visiting Sand Patch, we caught a Canadian Pacific leading a CSX train into the summit. This view is looking west down the grade. With this view we are able to catch one of many windmill farms in the area. Plus the added bonus. Any railfan will notice boxcar with the fallen flag of Conrail on it. While Mance may be my favorite, Sand Patch is a close second.

 

I find it only appropriate to end this ride here, at a high point per-say. For part two of the CSX Trip we will continue working west.  Check out Neat Road Trips on Facebook. The photo’s seen here will be added shortly along with many more.

 

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Train Trip Along CSX, Part 1.

Bells Mill Covered Bridge

While Pennsylvania has plenty of covered bridges remaining, my home county of Westmoreland only has one. Bells Mill Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge in the county making it a true treasure. The photographs for this blog have been taken at different times of the year. This is not a good excuse since it is only located 10 minutes from me, but it will have to do.

The sides of the bridge are covered with barn red horizontal clapboard siding giving it your classic covered bridge appearance. The roof consists of cedar shakes and the deck has lengthwise planking in wide tire track areas that are laid over crosswise planking.  There are no side windows other than the rather wide, typical, lengthwise eave openings. The entire structure rests on stone and mortar abutments that are reinforced with concrete both at the ground and road level. The bridge also has stone and mortar wing walls that are protected with heavy wooden guardrails. To protect the bridge from over sized vehicles, there are steel beams located before the entrance ways showing the height as 6’6″.

Built in 1850, Bells Mill Bridge is a burr arch truss design, 13 feet wide and 104 feet long.  Even though the is located in a rural area connecting South Huntingdon and Sewickley Townships.  The bridge still sees a fair amount of traffic. If you visit please stay aware. Many people use it as a shortcut to Interstate 70. The bridge was designed by Daniel McCain who was also the contractor.  This bridge was placed on the National Register in 1979.

It’s fairly accessible all year long but parking in the winter may be difficult. During the summer when the trees are in full bloom they do provide plenty of shade, and in the fall additional color. The bridge itself is a rare gem and is very well taken care of. Being the only covered bridge in Westmoreland County makes it a must see if you enjoy covered bridges.

To view more photographs of Bells Mills Covered Bridge and other bridges in Westmoreland County, PA please visit the Westmoreland County Bridges folder of Neat Road Trips.

 

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Bells Mill Covered Bridge

Welcome to Neat Road Trips

As you may have already known I’m George Neat and on my free time I enjoy taking road trips and visiting many places. Some locations are very well known while others are unknown or found along the way. Here you will be able to go along for the ride and read about the adventures (good, bad, funny, and embarrassing) as well as learn about the places we go. Many of the trips will have multiple themes while others may just have one. I hope that each trip will be interesting for you and provide some sort of entertainment factor.

Due to the winter season and unpredictable weather here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, new trips may be slow to. Until then I will be sharing with you some previous locations I have been as well as creating a Gettysburg Series.

Your feedback is always welcome as well as tips and locations. While a majority of the road trips will focus on Pennsylvania, you never know where I may end up going.

For additional photos please feel free to visit my Facebook Page Neat Road Trips.

Thanks!

George

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Welcome to Neat Road Trips

Welcome to Westmoreland County


Bridges are always a good place to start a new journey. This one is in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and is called the Loyalhanna Creek Bridge. Also known as Latrobe Viaduct, this stone arch bridge was built in the early 1900’s to service the Pennsylvania Railroad. Today the bridge is owned and operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad and is part of the NS Pittsburgh Line.


Hidden away in Sewickley Twp near South Huntingdon Twp is this old abandoned church.


A quick stop at Crab Apple Lake in Sewickley Twp to see the ducks.

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Welcome to Westmoreland County