[Jimbaux walks alone.]
These pictures were taken more than a week ago. I’m falling behind the one-week lag I normally have for posting pictures, but due to the fact that I haven’t taken many pictures since then, this problem should abate. Then again, this essay will be given in three parts, due to the quantity of pictures (45), and this is only the first part.
I’ve been busy as hell lately for plenty of reasons.
What It Be?
I took a trip up the valley of the Potomac on Sunday 3 July (which is a good reminder to me to remind you that you can get “caption” information for all pictures on this site by holding the mouse over the pictures, which should cause the filename for the respective picture to show on your screen.) Rather than tell you now what I did, I’ll let you figure it out as I go along, but I did have some specific places in mind to visit, and I visited all of them.
I arrived in Brunswick, Maryland, for reasons that you will soon learn. Brunswick High School was the first place I took out my camera as I approached the city, and Brunswick’s role as a railroad town soon became evident to me when I saw the school mascot and other things there.
I’ve never seen that as a mascot before! The CSX is the big railroad in town today, but this is the original line of the famed and fabled Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which, about a hundred years ago, built a large yard on the flat area along the Potomac River. The yard will be seen soon in my pictures. For now, I’ll show more of the school.
So, what’s up with the old depot and the caboose on campus? What are the stories behind these things?
Interesting, eh? Maybe I could/should get a teaching job here.
Hard Poor Corn
Remember this view of the corn in front of the Brunswick water towers. You’ll have another picture to which to compare it soon.
It was almost entirely cloudy, but, as we will soon see, the sun did break through the clouds on this day.
A Railroad Town
I found the yard. (Did you doubt that I’d find it?) Here we see an interesting mix of equipment for the CSX as well as MARC, the state of Marlyand’s commuter railroad.
And here we can see some MARC trains parked for the holiday weekend.
Note the yard tower at right in the above picture.
Sighting A Rare Bird
An inspection a little farther west in town revealed a very interesting find!
Well over a half-century old, a Maryland Midland GP9 was trailing the CSX power in what turned out to be parked CSX train Q401. Check out the size comparison between it and the more modern locomotive to which it is attached.
I quickly realized the bridge over the Potomac River which also crossed the yard would give me a good vantage from which to take pictures. I drove across it and realized it had no foamer lane (i.e. – shoulder), meaning I had to park my beast at street level and climb up the bridge to get the shots. I could use a good, small hike anyway. On the way there, I got this:
Here’s a shot I thought about turning to grayscale.
Look, Ma, no fences! No electrical lines! Wow!
I Wasn’t The Only One Shooting This
Note the foamer in the below picture. If you’re out there, man, and have landed at Jimbaux’s Journal, please identify yourself!
The Q401 originates in Cumberland, Maryland, and terminates at Hamlet, North Carolina.
If you look closely at the above pictures, you’ll see an air hose attached to the lead locomotive of the Q401. That’s a clear indication that no crew is aboard this train. (Had you been there in person like I was, the total lack of noise coming from the locomotives, meaning the engines are off, would have been a better sign!) The hose is attached on one end to pipe coming from a compressor in the yard. The compressor pumps a constant stream of air through the pipes and into the train’s braking system. See the air pipe parallel to the rail at the bottom of the picture.
Pumping air through a parked, crewless train is an alternative to leaving the locomotives running for several hours on a train, which, absent of yard air, would be necessary to keep the compressors on to maintain the air pressure through the train’s braking system. If pressure is not maintained, CSX rules dictate that a walking inspection be made of the entire train if it is “off air” for more than four hours. In today’s world of mile-and-a-half-long trains, this is a very time consuming process, and it’s also a pain on the knees, feet, and backs of railroad conductors who have to walk 8,000′ of ballast to make the inspection.
One Last View of the Q401
Here’s one last view of the parked Q401, and it’s my favorite shot of this post, despite the distracting brightness radiating from the parking lot in the foreground. Notice the town in the background as well as the other tracks with the parked coal loads to the left. Is this also your favorite picture in this post? If not, what is?
How did I do with the color correction on these? Is it better than I did here, as we discussed last week? I went to the sliders, but I only upped the hues slightly and left the saturation alone. Better?
The Other Direction
To end today’s episode, here’s a view in the other direction, this time to the east of the yard. This is a Sunday, but on a normal weekday, this parking lot would be full of the vehicles of MARC commuters, most of them bound for work in Washington, DC, or nearby.
Look about dead-center of the above picture, and then look just slightly up and slightly to the right. That interlocking tower is supposedly the last interlocking tower in the state of Maryland and maybe the last on the CSX too!
That’s all we have time for for this episode. Stay tuned for more pictures from Brunswick as well as farther up the Potomac.
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