CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

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

Then and Now: 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 Batten Kill 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...

Saturday, August 7, 2021

East Deerfield, MA (1982)

Here is a great summertime shot (8-14-1982) of East Deerfield Yard in Mass. I have been meaning to get out there are railfan but haven't made the time yet. Perhaps this fall.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Rohr Turboliners at Super Steel in Schenectady (2005)

Picture yourself as young adult in graduate school in a city away from your hometown for the very first time, with a working car and a map. That was exactly the situation I was in when I moved to Albany in 2004 for law school. After weathering through the first winter, I decided to do some train spotting in the spring. On April 22, 2005, I bought a paper road map at a gas station and saw several different rail lines that were worth exploring. 

As I described in an earlier post, I had ventured to the south side of Rotterdam Junction to check out what I thought was a still-operational West Shore Line. Unfortunately, it was abandoned by CSX in 2003 and was in the process of being torn up around in 2004, so when I arrived there wasn't anything to see. I was staring at a paper map showing a train line, but there were no train tracks! The excellent "Gino's Rail Page" has several links to pictures of the line, known as the Cushing Branch, including some taken in 2003. By then, the line sure looked dead.

I could hear active trains, though, and later discovered they were from the CSX tracks across the river. I recently railfanned there a couple of months ago, and had a great time.

Anyway, after an afternoon of seeing no trains and getting pretty confused I was pretty dejected and was slowly driving back to my apartment. I realized I had drunk a lot of water all afternoon and it suddenly wanted out. So, I pulled over on what I thought was an old country road and walked through some tall grass to take care of the situation. Imagine my surprise when I discovered old rusting Amtrak Rohr Turboliners sitting around!

I didn't know anything about it at the time, but later learned about New York State's failed attempt to rebuild these trainsets at what was called Super Steel in Schenectady, NY. The project was a fiasco for many reasons, costing the state $65 million without much to show for it. A close friend worked at NYSDOT and actually had the role of inventorying what was going on during the process. 

The failed Amtrak rebuild project is so filled with tension that even today on the popular Railroad.net forum threads about the Rohr Turboliner are locked and rarely opened to add new information. A lot of people have a lot of strong opinions about them, and the project in general.

Only a few years after these pictures were taken, Super Steel closed in late 2008 and the Turboliner era came to a close. It is my understanding that some of the Turboliner train cars were scrapped and others were reclaimed by Amtrak and used for police officer training (!).

Looking at these pictures is bittersweet for me. On one hand, I loved seeing these trains as a kid. But, these pictures show trains in various stages (covered in tarps, repaired/welded and in primer, and in old paint schemes) and it is a shame it never worked out. One of the lawsuits resulting from this was handled by several colleagues at work, and they had interesting stories to tell. But in the end, I will miss these trains. 

Thankfully, I will be able to recreate the good memories I have of them in the future, as I have one of the HO scale Rapido models on order and did so within an hour of being announced.