Sunday Trip Up The Potomac – Part 2 of 3

by Jim on 2011/07/13

What’s up, my peeps?  How are y’all doing, eh?  I hope y’all enjoyed the quick, prior post with the winter dusk shot at Raceland.  That’s a very personal shot for me, due primarily to the location in my ancestral homeland, but also due to the train, which is my favorite on that line.

Anyway, let’s continue with our trek up the Potomac from more than a week ago.  (Here’s Part 1 in case you missed it.)  We left off on the top of a bridge (where I often find myself standing, camera in hand) in Brunswick, Maryland, and that’s where we will continue.

Grab Shots

As I was standing atop the bridge, still somewhat occupied with the parked, crewless Q401, I heard a rumble off to the east.  What could that be?  Ah, it’s a train!

As the filenames (which you can see if you hold your mouse over the pictures) indicate, this is CSX’s Q217, a unit auto-rack train, which I’m nearly certain is empty, originating around (or in) Baltimore or Philadelphia and bound for the automobile producing areas of Ohio, Kentucky, and-or Michigan.

Wow, those are my first actions shots of real freight trains uninterrupted by electrical lines or fences since I left Louisiana!  Wow!

Time To Move On . . .

. . . In oh-so many ways.  Anyway, here’s a shot of a very steep street in Brunswick!

Mais, dat don’t look like Louisiana, chere!  Anyway, it’s time to finally get out of Brunswick and proceed to one of the two ultimate destinations of this foray up the valley.

And Now There Are Nine . . .

When I awoke that morning, there were 10 US states that I still hadn’t visited.  By nightfall, there were only nine!

That’s the first picture I ever take in the state of West Virginia, just a few minutes after entering the state for the first time ever, even though in February of 2009, I was just across the Potomac River in those parts of Maryland.

Guess I Walked Too Softly

I hadn’t realized that Harper’s Ferry was so tourist-central.  Really, of course, I was trying to get set up for this shot that you’ve likely seen a zillion times in other places, even if you’re not a foamer, but it seemed the only way to get to this location was to go into the national park (or trespass on railroad property), and the parking lot at the depot was so full of cars that the park ranger told me I could go somewhere else and take a bus.  I didn’t care that much, and I was in no mood to fight both heat and crowds, so I just moved on my merry little way.  I continued to climb and found this vantage.

Eventually, though, as you see here, I did find a high place from which to shoot down to the bridge and tunnel.

Harper’s Ferry is basically at the very eastern tip of the state of West Virginia, meaning it essentially borders both Maryland and Virginia.  I drove deeper into West Virginia for a few miles.

I was on my way to Shenandoah Junction, where the Norfolk Southern Railway’s former Norfolk & Western mainline crosses the CSX, the ex-B&O line here.

I found what I think is the junction.  It wasn’t entirely impressive, and after I shot this picture, I just turned northward toward the other major destination of today’s outing.

Here’s a neat little farmhouse I found under a dark sky, which, yes, did open on me a few times.

How did I do with the colors on that one?

Back To Maryland

My next destination was the city of Hagerstown, Maryland, which has always been an important transportation hub – hence its nickname of “Hub City” — but has become even moreso since the takeover of Conrail in 1999 now that NS is taking advantage of this natural north-south route that had sat underutilized before.

So, naturally, I’m going to seek the NS yard, assuming there is one, and maybe I’ll be able to find some staged outbound trains, which would help me get shots of them in other places once they leave town.  Sounds reasonable, right?  I mean, afterall, that approach works in so many other places I’ve been, like Savannah, Fargo, Jasper, Monterrey, Dilworth, Heavener, Pittsburg, Artesia, Lafayette, New Orleans, etc.  Instead, this is what I find:

Oh, good grief!  I’m so terribly sick of this stupidity!  Tom Beckett was right about it being such a huge regional thing in the comment he left at the bottom of this article.  This sucks!  Welcome to the Hagerstown on the NS.  This experience just made me like Brunswick even more.

The Yard Office

I did find the yard office and the entrance to the yard, but the below view is as good as I could (legally) get, as the 10 axles on the power of a switch job shoved a cut past the yard office.

Now, mes amis, here is a lesson in optics.  I took the next picture specifically for this purpose.  I got much closer to the signs and took this picture below.  Look at the yard office building in both the above and below pictures.  Got that?  Now look at the two signs.  Notice how in the picture below, they appear not only to have grown taller (in relation to the yard office building) in the below picture, but they seem to have grown farther apart too, haven’t they?  That, my friends, is perspective.  I could write a book on this if only I had the level of control of the English language to be able describe the processes here, but this begins to explain why I like telephoto photography, how it pulls elements at various distances into compressed planes.

Another observation from the above picture is that perhaps the NS doesn’t truly know what to call itself!  Do you not see what I mean?  Read the signs a little bit closer.  I suspect that the sign on the right is actually an old N&W sign.

Anyway, we’ll return to the NS yard a little bit later in Part 3.  For now, lets go northward and see what we can find.

CSX Again

I found CSX’s facility in Hagerstown; this part of the CSX is part of the former Western Maryland Railway.

I tried to get into the bulk transfer terminal, but what you see below was as close as I could get and all that I could do.

I guess it’s good that I at least tried, right?

I Run Through The World, Thinking ‘Bout Tomorrow, Thinking ‘Bout Tomorrow

Well, we’ve once again served up 15 pictures from last Sunday, which means we only have 15 more to go!  Stay tuned for Part 3 as the sun will set on this adventure.

All for now . . .


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom July 13, 2011 at 09:04

I don’t know what you found but that was not Shenandoah Junction.


2 EDITOR - Jimbaux July 13, 2011 at 20:49

Well, I respectfully differ. I do indeed know how to read both a map as well as the road signs that led to the place! Furthermore, a very quick check of the internet yields this find:



3 Tom Becket July 14, 2011 at 14:26

Looks like he found where the N&W crosses over the B&O, while that is not technically the junction, it’s where the actions is. Shenandoah Jct is rather underwhelming. There is a connection there, I believe in the southwest quadrant of the crossing, but it’s not easy to get to, and there is not much interchange, if any, there. It’s not even a good shot, as it is so treed in. The traffic is decent, but it’s not photogenic at all.

BTW, I read this trilogy backwards, so you can ignore my comments about Harpers Ferry on installment #3, I see you have already been there. But do head down the NS into Virginia, it’s worth some effort. May also want to check out the line from Manassas to Front Royal as part of that trip, there’s a couple of interesting spots there too.

Thanks for the mention about the fences. Glad to be recognized for a useful contribution.


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