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Railfanning the SNR

To me, the most fun the hobby has to offer is to duplicate the railfan experience, through realistic operations and train-chasing photography.  It's especially rewarding to be able to re-create and railfan an era from before I was born, that is long-gone and never coming back.

On a frosty morning in Segway, Va., 2-10-2 #1028 stomps past EY tower with eastbound tonnage, while RS-1 #530 waits in the hole with a local.

The road's newest locomotive, GP7 #667, leans into the stout grade at Claymoor, W. Va. with westbound tonnage, as veteran Mallet #1107 ably assists on the rear.

As dusk falls on the new terminal building in St. Amour, W. Va., the Pullmans on #4, the eastbound Tidewater, stand ready at the platform to receive more overnight travelers.  Columbus-bound mail & express #19 is pulling in behind E6s while a local crew in their S-2 attend to customers along Western Ave..  Photo by Tom Patterson.

YL-9 switches the Downey & Moss Ltd coke oven battery at Claymoor, W. Va..


Seen from a logging road above the tracks near Mineshaft Gap, W. Va., TC-21, with coal bound for Lake Erie at Toledo, is dragged up the stiff Virginia Hill grade at walking speed, by a nearly-new set of EMD GP7s screaming in Run-8.   

VITs (Very Important Trains) meet at Della St. in St. Amour.  E6 A-B set 213/213B stands ready to depart SART, the St. Amour Rail Terminal, with eastbound #2, the Queen City, as soon as priority freight CP-15 pulls in and clear of the single-track.  Cincinnati-bound CP-15, being a hotshot, garners nearly as much respect these days as the premier passenger train that's having to wait for it. 

A squadron of EMD F3s, commanded by #325, climbs westbound across Gloucester Fork with symbol freight TM-13 for Toledo.  Almost to the summit at Misty Mountain, W.Va., the crew will soon be able to let the traction motors cool a bit,  as the train gets off the ruling grade and onto the the Appalachian Plateau, for the downhill run into St. Amour.  

A daring shot taken from atop the diesel house in Segway, Va., finds the arrival yard full of coal traffic, with westbound empties headed back to the mines, and eastbound loads headed for tidewater at Ballard Point, near Suffolk.  Yaeger Yard's east-end switcher waits near EY Tower, on the enginehouse lead.  

The diverging track is the RoW of the original Millsbrae & Atlantic mainline, which still conveys traffic bound for the Millsbrae branch, but these days serves primarily as the yard runner.  In the background is the concrete viaduct across the Wicked River.  

Extra 1107-East, a light helper return, drifts across the Gloucester Fork arch on its way back down to the bottom of the hill at Segway.  There the crew will water and service the engine in the helper pocket, then wait for the next westbound that needs a push in the assault on the ruling grade up to Misty. 

A Fairbanks-Morse H10-44 and an Alco RS-1 work together switching hoppers at the east end of Yaeger Yard, in Segway, Va..

2-8-8-2 Mallet #1107, the Segway pusher, has just released its train at Misty, and pulled ahead into the siding at Three Rocks.  The crew will need to wait for an opposing train to pass before they can get out on the main for the run back down to Yaeger Yard.

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