Labor Day Weekend Railfanning

(click on each image to see a larger version -- approx 1024X768)

Friday, September 1, 2006, was dominated by the approach of tropical storm Ernesto. On my way to meet Nathan in Boyce I caught 16T Northbound heading into the edge of Tropical Storm Ernesto's rain.

Berryville, VA

Saturday morning began soggy with 290 Northbound by the station.

Boyce, VA
Sept. 2, 2006

At White Post, VA we caught V87 passing the sight of last weekend's derailment, some of the cars still there.

We heard an "053" on the B-Line but it was the dispatcher's reference to "military special" that really caught our attention. We waited for it at White Post where it passed at 9:39am.

I was expecting maybe tanks or other military vehicles but was surprised with the unique sight of about 150 tubeless M-1 turrets.

053 in Berryville, VA



Later in the morning we ventured up to Shenandoah Junction where another radio conversation clued us in to a rather unique meet.

A Westbound heard the tale of an Eastbound that struck a tree, disabling it's horn. Then they related their own story of an encounter with a tree -- it caved in the guardrails on the lead unit's nose.
The Eastbound's horn was still there, just not working, making for slow progress with the conductor flagging every crossing.

I'd never been by either of the old stations in Charlestown, WV so when we just happened by the N&W station I had to stop for a look. MAN do I wish I had the time (or money) to do something about this place!
Back to the Junction for another Westbound through the S-curve.

We heard NS 203 coming South out of Vardo so we decided to head to the Monument in Shepherdstown, WV to catch it crossing the Potomac bridge. The remnants of Ernesto were still giving us a hard drizzle and it played havoc with my attempts to focus.


While driving back to the Junction the weather changed drastically, giving us clear air and bright sun through the remaining storm clouds. We caught P029, the Westbound Capitol Limited against that backdrop.

One of Nathan's railroad buddies on the Roanoke district gave us the favor of a test message about a CP Rail leader coming North. We caught it speeding by on the head of 36Q in the waning light at White Post, VA.

After dinner we headed to my favorite night spot (for rail action), Point of Rocks, MD. CSX obliged us with plenty of traffic and I tried some night photography, with mixed results.


After a short night at the station in Boyce we rose early to head on to our original destination, the Magnolia Cut-Off.

While loading I decided to pull out the tripod for a pre-dawn Northbound by the station.

Boyce, VA
September 3, 2006

After narrowly missing two trains crossing the Cacapon River bridge at Great Cacapon, WV, our first catch of the day was this Eastbound coming out of the Stuart Tunnel.

Hansrote, WV

We wandered farther to the West and caught this Westbound coming through Graham Tunnel and across Kessler Bridge. The Magnolia signal is on the other side of that tunnel.


A lull in traffic allowed us to take the hike to my favorite spot for views of Kessler Bridge and the Potomac River Valley. At 11:55am we photographed 296 Eastbound coming around the river bend and heading across the bridge.
A few minutes later (12:03pm to be exact), 217 came into view and crossed the bridge heading West.
We moved on to another of my favorite spots and caught this westbound at 12:36pm.
Another Eastbound was next at 12:42pm and I decided for some "through the trees" shots.
Four minutes later I decided on a wider view of the valley for this Westbound on the Kessler Bridge.
The usual mid-day lull allowed us time to hike down off the hill and drive to Magnolia where this Herzog ballast train headed West past the position signals at 3:11pm.
At 3:33pm this Eastbound on track 1 came across the view and posed for me by the signals.

Half an hour later (4:08pm) this Eastbound stack train with lone 611 pulling headed past the signals on track two and allowed me to swing around and catch him nearing Stuart Tunnel.

This photo is looking across at an Eastbound on the Kessler Bridge from a spot that I've never explored.

To get it I scared the living daylights out of Nathan (and also myself) by walking along the top of the narrow girder of the old Western Maryland bridge (the bridge decking and ties had been removed).


Going into town for dinner we caught this Westbound at probably the most accessible spot along the Cut-Off, Paw Paw signal.

Having just emerged from Carothers Tunnel, he's just about to blow through the town of Paw Paw, WV


Heading back to Hansrote the long way, we caught a near-meet at Orleans, WV. First was this Eastbound at 6:38pm,
then the Westbound Amtrak P029 at 6:54pm.
Camping and preparing for night photography at Hansrote (the smoke did wonders on the mosquitoes).

OK, my apologies for letting Nathan handle matches.

Hansrote, 8:41pm
This Eastbound lit up the right of way during this 30 second exposure, and another shutter opening caught it's EOT.
Westbound at the Hansrote signal,

With lights drilling into fog, this Westbound comes out of Stuart Tunnel at 7:26am the next morning.

September 4, 2006
Hansrote, WV

This Westbound autorack train is the first to appear for another near-meet at Orleans, WV at 9:19am.
Just as the Westbound clears the signal bridge an Eastbound comes into view.

Orleans, WV

Westbound empty coal,

Sideling Hill signal

A single unit and a long train of flat tables Westbound,

Cherry Run, WV

Eastbound under the signal bridge,

Cherry Run, WV

Eastbound under a bright September Sun at the curve just West of Cherry Run, WV.
Looking down the Lurgan Branch as a Westbound goes under the signals,

Cherry Run, WV

Back at Shenandoah Junction, WV, a Northbound NS with UP leader.


Shenandoah Junction, WV, 3:01pm
The typical shot of an Eastbound coal train, then a different view of the coal dust as it goes East through the S-curve.

A Eastbound stack train with a not-so-uncommon occurance at the crossing.

Shenandoah Junction, WV

Another not-so-uncommon occurance at Shenandoah Junction is to have another railfan in the shot.

16T Northbound through Charlestown, WV

38Q Northbound

Charlestown, WV

We ended the day by catching NS 214 Northbound at Ashby, VA. Camera battery didn't cooperate however, dieing after this first shot ensuring it to be my last for the weekend.


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Proud to be an American!
Mack Muir