CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Thursday, September 16, 2021

D&H red pulpwood flatcar

Here is a neat shot of a D&H pulpwood flatcar taken March 28, 1976. I don't believe that they were still being used by the D&H in 1984. I certainly haven't come across any pictures of them. It is a shame, too, as a model of one would look really great. I even started collecting twigs for a model of one years ago. The process was too tedious, so I gave up. 

On a related note, last weekend the Adirondack Live Steamers had their Fall Meet. I am happy to say both my Gauge 1 live steam locomotive and my 7.25" gauge battery riding engine performed flawlessly. Had we not had other engagements later that day, I would have likely stayed up all day running my trains.

But, I did happen to see a large "log train" roll by on the mainline while I was there. We have had a lot of trees taken down and the trunks were cut up into logs that could fit (barely) on some riding cars belonging to a member. Here is a very heavily loaded log work train making the rounds. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Dead engines in Colonie Yard (2005)

During the same visit into the Colonie Shops in April 2005, I also took some pictures (from a distance) of a few old, abandoned relics being stored in the yard outside. I didn't know it then, but there is/was a tortured history behind nearly all of these pieces. For a full account of them, here is a here is a thread at Railroad.net with all of the sad details of this collection. Warning: it is 39 pages long and a tough slog to get through. If you want the "partial" story, read through that thread. If you want the "full" story.... well, good luck with that!

The equipment was:

Alco RS3 - former Albany Port Railroad #2, former D&H #4126 - owned by City of Albany (scrapped in 2019):

The engine on the left it Alco S2 - former Albany Port Railroad, former D&H #3011 - owned by City of Albany (scrapped in 2015):

Coach whose identity I don't remember:

Alco S1 - former Long Island Railroad #417 - owner unnamed (scrapped in 2019):

NYC baggage car; NYC passenger car "Rapid Stream"; D&H "World's Fair" passenger car; D&H passenger car (all scrapped in 2019): 

There were two other engines, along with a random boxcar and caboose. I took dozens of pictures of these trains, but a computer crash over a decade ago resulted in most of them being lost. The engines were:

Alco RS3 - former B&M, former D&H #4082 (first #4082) - owned by M&H Chapter of NRHS (scrapped in 2013)

Alco FA-2 - Western Maryland #302 - owned by WM Railroad Historical Society (this engine was saved in 2008)

Interestingly enough, Canadian Pacific reinstalled a few yard tracks in the summer of 2012 and that may have set in motion the scrapping process even though it took years to actually take place. Or not. Who really knows. Anyway, it is gone. I never saw the red Alco Port of Albany Railroad engines actually work in the port, but someday I may paint a model of the RS3. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Inside the abandoned Colonie Shops (2005)

Recently I posted a picture taken inside one of the D&H's Colonie Shop buildings. It brought back one of my own memories of being inside the Colonie Shop buildings, and since the statute of limitations has long since expired I thought I would share some photographs.

When I moved to Albany I did some railroad exploring of various places in the spring of 2005, including Schenectady, Rotterdam Junction, and Mechanicville. On April 20, 2005, I ventured to was the former D&H's Colonie Yard shop facilities, though I didn't realize at the time what they were. Anyone who is familiar with the area knows that there is/was an access road on the southern edge of the yard that connects to 1st Street near the crossing.

While I considered that the area might be off limits, there was nothing posted in the way of signs or chains across the roadway to inform the public of this fact. The road now has a gate across the entrance way but at the time it had nothing. So, one April day I just drove in to see what I could see. As I went farther back (heading north) I found two buildings in various stages of decay. There have been several fires in the complex over the years (set by vandals or tramps) and in 2004 much of the facility was demolished. A lot of the area was covered in bricks and rubble.

But, two buildings remained. One was building #3, and the other was building #5. Since I wasn't a D&H railfan then and I didn't know what I was looking at. They were just two old buildings that had served some railroad purpose. 

I later learned through the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Facebook group that Building #3 was used for the Buildings and Bridges Department, and Building #5 was the Maintenance of Way Equipment Repair Shop.

The following pictures document my findings. 

There were also a couple of other buildings that I never went in but just took some shots of.

After about 45 minutes of walking around and taking pictures, I got set to leave. As I was driving out, I saw a police car approaching me on the service road. He stopped me and we had a chat. I managed to convince him that I was a railfan and not someone who was out to steal or set fire to the place, and he let me go with a warning. I have no idea how he saw me in the facility, as I wasn't near any roads.

I assumed that was the end of it, but when I drove by the next week there was a chain across the driveway. I guess for legal purposes that is sufficient notice.

Nowadays, the area has several larger trees that are growing around the buildings that would make pictures such as these difficult. Plus, access is now (still?) prohibited. 

I don't know why but I really liked this shot showing the fire hydrant buried in the rubble.

I have seen windows like this modeled using white glue stretched over the openings.

I checked to see if anything interesting was in the dumpster, but no.

It was only filled with used radiator parts.

I went inside one of the buildings and looked around, but I never climbed up the stairs or ladders or played around on anything. It was a pretty scary place.

I can only imagine what it was like when it was humming with activity.

Remains of track embedded in the floor. 

It looks like they just abandoned the building and left everything in situ.

A disgusting looking pit filled with vile water. I didn't dip my toe in.

There were tons of papers lying around. I wish now I had given them a better look.

Along the floor in one building was the remains of a small industrial track/cart system. This was a turntable I believe for rotating the tiny wagons.

The only actual paper I bothered to zoom in on and photograph. What it means I have no idea.

My best shot of the overhead crane. It was tough to zoom in and focus my camera on something so dark.

This was one of the buildings I didn't go into. Even I have my limits.

The inside looked absolutely scary.

From the other side.

Since I don't see the building numbers, I am not sure what they were used for. I note that they appear to be built on block or concrete piers, which is somewhat unusual.

This was a sign inside one of the buildings. Wise words. I wonder if this was from the D&H or Guilford?

Sadly, tomorrow came and the yard was abandoned. It was a sad day then, and it still is today. But, I am glad I took the pictures when I was there.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Inside Colonie Shops (1981)

Here is a great shot of the inside of the Colonie Shops dated February 01, 1981. It looks like three Alco locomotives are being worked on. The RS3 looks to be #4199, and one of the two C424s is #452. I can't read the other engine number. 

I remember talking to friends who visited the D&H shops in the 1970s and 1980s and they said that as long as they signed a waiver they could tour the D&H facilities.

However, there were several rules that all visitors had to agree to, including: (1) no flash photography inside the building (which could distract the employees); (2) no climbing on the equipment; and (3) no jumping over the track pits. There may have been others, but those are the ones my friends remembered. 

Those days are long over. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

B&M GP7 #1573 in Clifton Park (1982)

I love this picture. The slide is dated June 1982 and it doesn't list the location, though I believe it is in Clifton Park where the north/south D&H main line branches east towards Mechanicville. It features a nice, bright solid-blue Boston and Maine GP7 pulling a train of various, colorful freight cars. It is the type of thing that would be perfect for a model railroad. 

An online picture of B&M #1573 dated 2/18/1980 shows it still with the white vertical stripe on the end of the short hood. Thus, the paint on the engine below is relatively new (less than 2 years old), and it shows.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Southbound train on Cohoes Bridge (1980)

Here is a neat shot of a D&H train crossing the Mohawk River in Cohoes on April 3, 1980. It is being pulled by six engines and oddly enough at least four of them are running in reverse (long hood forward). I don't know if the N&W set up their geeps to run long hood forward too, but if they did then there are five engines running in reverse! The train looks to be heading south, which means it left Mechanicville Yard only a few miles beforehand. You would have thought that they could have turned the lead engine to face properly. Maybe it was just a transfer run to nearby Colonie Yard?

And wow, look at the weathering on the two lead units. I guess the D&H's engine cleaning facility must have been out of service!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Bulk Handlers (North Albany)

Below is an undated shot of the Bulk Handlers facility in North Albany. The facility was originally built in the 1980s as a Container-On-Flat-Car (COFC) facility. From what I understand, there was even an overhead crane installed to help lift the containers on and off. This operation didn't last long,

The facility was later purchased by a company called Bulk Handlers who used it as a team track area to unload covered hoppers, boxcars, and tank cars. 

When I visited the place in 2005, it was still being used for this. I drove in one day and went around in my car taking pictures of what I found. No one there seemed to mind except one trucker who probably thought I was crazy. 

I don't know what was being carried in the covered hoppers, but it likely wasn't grain because only a few miles further south was a large Agway facility in the Port of Albany. 

On the end of one of the tracks was an old boxcar. A forty-footer too! I never bothered to get out and see what was inside, but I should have. I think it had been sitting there for a while.

Currently, the facility (shown in the satellite image below) is home to a tank farm and has been that way since I believe 2012. The satellite photo from below is oriented so that North is to the left. It is surrounded with fences and gates, so getting in to take pictures is not easy. I have considered stopping on the expressway (just visible on the left) to get a few shots but haven't yet. During the pandemic, the road was dead and that would have been the perfect time. Oh well.

An excellent satellite shot from 2012 can be found on this older blog post.

Lots of model railroaders install team tracks on their layout to justify being able to spot a variety of freight cars during an operating scheme. Here, there were five tracks at least during the 1980s and the types of cars included COFC flatcars, covered hoppers, boxcars, and tank cars. All in a compact area that would be easy to model. In fact, if I had more room on my layout I would consider doing this facility. In fact, it went through my head but I modeled the derelict North Albany rail yard instead. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

C&CV Boxcars

There are certain types of  freight cars that I just find extremely fascinating. One that immediately jumps to mind are the Thrall All-door boxcars. There are just so many bars and levers and doors going on that it looks really busy and neat. 

Years ago, I was at the hobby store and found an HO scale model painted for the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad (written about previously on my blog here). It was a Walthers' "limited edition" car from 2002 and there was mention somewhere that a two-pack of cars with different road numbers also existed. I asked the owner if he had that set, and after digging around he located it. They were the last ones in the store! I snatched them up and paid a bit more than I normally would for freight cars but since they couldn't be found on Ebay or anywhere else it I had to do it.

An excellent website resource with information on these cars is here, and it indicates that the CACV acquired six of the cars (#28070-28075) in 1974 which wore D&H markings until 1976. Another six cars (#28076-28081) were purchased in 1975, and they apparently never had D&H markings on them.

Sadly, I have never run them. The problem is that the cars are perfect for a 1970s layout, but not one set in 1984. I have some images of these cars and by that time they were patched out and labeled with new railroad owners. And they looked sloppy. Because I liked these models, I didn't want to do that to them. But, my sense of "historical realism" also prevented me from running the cars as is. So, they have sat in their boxes for years.

Recently, though, I came across the image below of car #28071 from April 1986. The D&H shield on the left is painted out and stenciled with "CACV", but beyond that the "Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railway" logo is still visible. Though some changes have been made, there aren't too many. This car wasn't patched out as ugly as some of the others. It doesn't even look very weathered in the image. Inspired by this, I might get the cars to the workbench this winter to make them layout ready. I would only need some black paint and some white or yellow letter decals. Then they would be good to go.


















At the same time, I also just purchased a pair of brand new O gauge (three rail) cars made by MTH Electric Trains in the same paint scheme. I am starting to collect O scale equipment for a future three-rail New England themed layout. Now, I have some really neat freight cars in two different scales. And I know Red Caboose made them in N scale too. Uh oh...

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Flashback: North Albany (1986)

Here are two shots of the same area. The trains are heading north through North Albany. The first shows RS11 #5001 pulling a tank car train on 6/29/1986. The building on the near side of the tracks on the left is the old Terminal Millwork plant. The 1986 shot shows the abandoned siding to it still in place. Sadly, I have no idea what the building is behind the trains as it is though it still remains complete with the green trim visible in the one picture.

When I went trainspotting on 4/24/2005, I caught a mixed train pulled by Canadian Pacific engines. By this time, the and the siding was long gone. The facility on the left is now Noble Gas Solutions, which sells various types of gases in tanks. Whereas once I could park in the abandoned parking lot to take pictures, now it is surrounded by chain link fences. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Reunion with the S&NC BL2 engines (2020)

In June of 2020 I took a day off and went up to photograph a pair of EMD BL2 engines, painted up for the defunct Saratoga and North Creek Railroad. Numbered #52 and #56, I knew that they were probably leaving the area within a few months and I wanted to photograph these rare engines before my chances disappeared. Only 59 total BL2s were built, and per Wikipedia only 7 survive today.

Right after I took the S&NC pictures I wrote about a trip I took with my parents to the midwest in 1997 and some trains I spotted then. In my blog post recalling the trip, I wrote fondly of spotting a BL2 in Wisconsin: "Of all the engines I saw on this trip, the BL2 it is probably the rarest...Note in the picture below (from 1997) the blue engine towards the back of the line, that sort of looks like half of a GG1. It was still in its former Bangor & Aroostook Railroad blue scheme.

So, up until last summer I assumed that I had seen three total BL2 engines in my life... one in Wisconsin, and the two S&NC ones that were being stored on the Battenkill Railroad.

Imagine my surprise when I recently did some online research and discovered the engine I had originally photographed in 1997 was one of the pair I had photographed last year! The 1997 picture was probably of Janesville and Southeastern #56, which at the time was part of the National Railroad Museum's collection in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Fast forward 23 years, and I just so happened to see it again near my house! I had traveled half-way across the country to photograph it the first time, and it traveled half-way across the country for me to photograph it again.

It is my understanding that both BL2 engines are being leased to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, so it will be unlikely for me to spot them again anytime soon. But you never know...