Friday, September 25, 2009

Railfanning in Southwest Pennsylvania, Part I

They make railfans feel welcome along
the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Division.

In mid-September, this prairie boy got to go railfanning in southwest Pennsylvania--Horseshoe Curve, to be precise, along with places like Altoona and the Galliztin Tunnels.

A few observations: First, when you come from the prairies, where you can see trains for miles, it's a bit of a suprise to be able to see only a short bit of track while you are waiting for a train. No lights in the distance to let you know a train is coming--it just appears from around a curve.

Second, the communities in that area along the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Division sure know how to reach out to railfans! They've created a railfan trail, with well-marked signs, to help you drive from one place to another. That, plus building comfortable overlooks and places to watch trains, makes it a very enjoyable experience.

Last, the trains are very accessible. You can easily get close for some great train-watching and photography without ever leaving public property. The tracks run right through towns, or alongside main roads.

The day I went was supposed to be fine, but it turned out to be overcast and rainy. This made photography harder but, then again, I'm not a great photographer, so who am I trying to kid? Below find a few photos from the trip; a photo diary of the Norfolk Southern portion of my visit can be found on YouTube at

A Norfolk Southern train traverses
Horseshoe Curve.

A freight train exits Altoona.

About to pass under the overlook at Cassandra.

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