Heading East, Heading West

“Life should be an adventure”

Everybody is using that line, so I am joining the crowd.

Oh-Dark-Hundred came early one recent Saturday morning. Time to get out with a friend and his son for a day of “Train Chasing” We’d been on the road for a couple of minutes when I realized that they didn’t know where they were going. Not only that but they didn’t know how to get there. But that didn’t deter the intrepid duo. After an hour of driving, we arrived somewhere near, that is within 20 miles of their destination. So we explored all sorts of back roads in West Virginia. Then back into Maryland for a bite of lunch. Once we were fortified again we set out for parts-unknown. After another half hour of what seemed like aimless wandering we finally arrived at a suitable location.

Now that we were here, we didn’t know where we were, nor what we were looking for, That seemed to make for a good story. Consulting his ‘droid, the son said that the Capitol Limited would be passing in less than half an hour. Good, our first goal was within reach. We’d started out to ‘film’ that train on its eastbound run.

The Capitol Limited is one of two Amtrak trains connecting Washington, D.C., to Chicago, running 764 miles (1,230 km) via Pittsburgh and Cleveland (the other is the Cardinal via Cincinnati and Indianapolis). Service began in 1981 and was named after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Capitol Limited which ended in 1971 upon the formation of Amtrak. It carries the Amtrak train numbers 29 and 30, which were previously assigned to the discontinued National Limited.

from Wikipedia

We were early, I took advantage of the time available for some random shots

Seaboard System (CSXT) 3-Bay Covered Hopper 223056


Plenty of snow on the ground.


The snow covered switching yard.

We’d heard via a railroad scanner that it was running a bit late, so when it passed us it was still late, but running fast attempting to make up as much time as it could.

We were at the small WVa town of Cherry Run, where not only does the CSX – ex B&O mainline cross its one road, but meets the Western Maryland tracks.

The whole time were waiting, a westbound freight was waiting, so after the Capitol Limited passed with expected the freight to move out, but no, the signals stayed red. After a short wait we saw why. A freight was headed eastbound, at first it appeared to be on a collision course with the waiting train. But about half a mile off, it switched to the Western Maryland tracks to cross the Potomac River into Maryland.

Then our westbound train lumbered on, gaining speed as it passed us.

That part of our morning’s adventure over we wandered eastward, sort of toward home. But since it was still early afternoon, we decided to stop in Harpers Ferry Wv to get some photos. Leaving the station, headed east the tracks cross the Potomac River into Maryland and enter a tunnel under the Catoctin Mountain near Weaverton.

We soon felt cold and getting hungry, evening time was coming. So we left Harpers Ferry and stopped at Point Of Rocks, Md. Why? you may ask. Of course to see the Capitol Limited once again, this time headed westbound. Point of Rocks has one of the most photographed stations in the US. After a short wait, we heard scanner report “Passing PEPCO, with 24 axles” good the train was less than 5 miles away pulling 6 cars. The sun was getting low, but we still had enough light to get some good pictures.

All in all, we did have GPS with us and we did have some idea of where we were, not really lost at all, just felt like it at time.

See some video of the Capitol Limited passing through Point of Rocks.

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About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
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