Pittsburgh, May 2016

It’s been a long time since I was last in Pittsburgh, and even longer since I last did train stuff there. My friend Ben, a Pittsburgh ex-patriot, setup a trip to show some of us around the town he loves.

Our first stop in “da burgh” as they seem to call it out there, was at the Southwest Penn’s headquarters in Scottdale PA for some night shots of their parked power.


Like many towns in Southwest Pennsylvania, the brightest thing (by far) was the Sheetz down the street.


The next morning we set out. Our first stop was at Needz trains in Jeanette, followed by a stop trackside there, where we caught some light helpers.


Then it was a jaunt up the old Turtle Creek Industrial, which is now out of service, but still had something interesting sitting around.


It’s a former Union Railroad NW2. Check out all the crazy Mad Max stuff they had done to the air line on the pilot.



We headed down Turtle Creek to Braddock where we were lucky enough to catch some current day Union Railroad action, or so we hoped.

Talk about a wild place. First, look at this signal installation. Two different styles of signals, on a signal bridge, on a bridge. Nuts.


And we thought we might have to sate ourselves with only catching this lone SW1500 running around light.20160521-Union-Single


But then, the railfanning gods shone down upon us, with a pair of MP15s delivering some empty slab cars.



They pulled across the bridge, then reversed through the interlocking down into the plant.










While we were over shooting this stuff, NS was also keeping things busy too. They tended to sneak up on us because of the noise from the highway bridges overhead.



It was great getting to see some current day steel mill operations, because our next stop was Homestead, the site of a seminal moment in American labor movement history, and proof positive of who actually won. Instead of having a monument, it’s a giant shopping complex. But trains still run through it, so we were there.

First up was a CSX train on the former P&LE main.


Of course, it had an NS leader. Such was our luck (notice the rain).


But at least it looked like CSX going away, somewhat (a GEVO and an SD40-2 is a very CSX thing, after all).

The rain stopped, for a bit, and NS arrived with some westbound stacks.


We then decided it was lunchtime, so we headed off for downtown Pittsburgh. Driving over one of the many bridges, however, we spotted the Southwest Penn down below us, so we went to go catch it.

We parked in a park, and started walking (thank goodness for my $3 Ikea umbrella). My friends Ryan and Tristan were not similarly equipped though.



And at the end of the hike, we ended up seeing… nothing. I guess this is why we call it “Railfanning” instead of “Trainfanning”.


From there it was finally off to lunch at the Church Brew Works. This might account for some blurriness in subsequent photos.




With a full stomach and bladder (note, there are portajohns in the park featured in the next photos), it was off to “The Trench”, where the NS mains go through some park or something. The railfan gods again shone upon us, delivering an NS oil train while we were standing there checking it out.



From there, we kept moving vaguely west, with our next stop being Neville Island. Neville Island is a heavily industrialized island situated in the middle of the Ohio River. It has tracks all over it, and is served by CSX.



We kept moving up the Ohio River to Sewickley, where we caught some NS action going both ways.


I can only imagine living on this street. At least you have a nice view of some PRR Position Lights, at least for now.


We kept moving west, with our next stop at Conway. There wasn’t much photography there, but we did catch this eastbound coming out of the yard. It looks like an oil train, but it just had a ton of hazmat up front.


We moved on west until we got our last shot at New Brighton. There were a few more stops, but they were all too dark for photography.


We started out the next day at Wilmerding (aka CP Wing). Our drive took us along the SWP again though, where we spotted this Roscoe Snyder and Pacific Boxcar.


Here’s CP WING.


Also home to the rudest tree in existence. I feel like it’d be more at home in Philly, where it would likely be celebrated as a god. 20160522-NS-Wing-Tree

Here we have some auto racks waiting for who knows what.


Turns out, it was waiting for an empty oil train.




The day continued heading east toward Conpit Junction and home.


First I shot a set of intermediate signals because I know they’re going to be going away soon. Here are some Type G’s at MP 328.

We had an encounter with one of the GP33ECOs at Trafford. Nose coupled, of course. These will take some getting used to, but I think I like them.



Then it was off to Derry, where the rain was on and off, and we caught some light helpers and an intermodal coming under the classic (and endangered) intermediate PRR position light signals.20160522-ns-derry-signals-helpers


We finally arrived in Conpit with plenty of time to kill.


I like Conpit, it’s big, open, and between the Conemaugh  Line and Sang Hollow extension, has a lot going on.





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