Perspective: The Grass Isn’t Always Greener Somewhere Else


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In my last post I talked about the lack of intermodal containers on Train K82, a stalwart bastion of intermodal containers, but nonetheless a very interesting train to look at.

As the 63 cars passed me by I thought about the overall makeup of the consist. There was 6,000 h.p. worth of two clean-looking SD40-2s providing the muscle and the train itself had a nice variety of rolling stock.

There were covered hoppers of fracking sand, tank cars of liquid petroleum gas and Canadian grain hoppers for the shortline Delaware Lackawanna.

I bring these things to mind because I’m reminded of a quote by motivational speaker Tony Robbins who warned about falling into the trap of the law of familiarity. What that means is that when you’re around something a lot, you begin to take it just a little bit for granted.

Here in Northeast Pa. Norfolk Southern is now the dominate rail carrier and all of the buzz leading up to the takeover was, “How many trains are we gonna see?” … As if the day of the takeover there would be 50 trains running up and down the line.

I’m pointing this out because that seems to be the biggest agenda of local fanboys. How many trains are we gonna see?…

I’ve been all over America and while it’s no secret that there are plenty of rail lines that have more traffic than the Sunbury, all too often the railroad riches of Northeast Pennsylvania go unnoticed and uncelebrated by even the locals.

Having seen and documented places like Binghamton, NY; Phillipsburg, NJ; Allentown, Reading and Harrisburg, Pa. I can honestly say that, even though most of our rail heritage is long gone, NEPA still has a cultural railroad flavor all of its own…. And a lot of good railroading to enjoy….


Norfolk Southern provides most of the action with trains K81 and K82. Shuttles between Taylor Yard and Binghamton that serve local industries as far south as Hanover, Pa..

11R and 14R are the Harrisburg to E. Deerfield, Ma. manifests that routinely house rolling stock from roads like the Maine Central, Boston & Maine, Green Mountain Railroad, Saratoga & North Creek, Finger Lakes Railway, Central Maine Quebec and others. I should also mention that these trains are exclusive in they sport the blue Pan Am Railways run-through power…. Something, I should add, you can only expect to see on the Sunbury.

30T and 31T are the Canadian manifests to and from Montreal which can usually be distinguished by their long blocks of centerbeam flatcars along with bulkhead flatcars loaded with big aluminum blocks and those ever-so-familiar CN, GT, & WC boxcars…. And let’s not forget that these trains are where you can expect to see the Canadian National run-through diesels too.

36T and 37T are the Allentown to Buffalo, NY dailies that feature intermodal, chemical, salt and sand traffic…. So that’s (8) trains a day so far.

Add to this the Steamtown National Historic Site, the Delaware-Lackawanna, its Canadian Pacific unit grain trains and its world famous ALCO fleet of diesels, the regional Reading & Northern (all three of which feed from the trough known as Taylor Yard) and even the shortline Luzerne & Susquehanna and you’ve got a lot of railroad to look at on any given day.

And in all of this, I’ve yet to add the occasional bulk trains, freight extras, work trains, intermodal and yard operations and odd-ball manifests.

And while we’re on the subject of railroading, I can say with honesty that I’ve seen more industrial switching action around Northeast Pa. (Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre & Scranton) than I’ve seen at Bingo-Town, Allentown, Reading and Harrisburg combined.

The Sunbury Line (as NS calls it) has always been a unique, yet under documented line…. Perhaps, even more wrong, Northeast Pa. seems too often, to go unnoticed in rail fan endearment…. Even from the perspective of its locals…. sometimes.

So today I’m here to say that despite what you see in books and magazines, take time to appreciate what you have in your own backyard because the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else….

Perspective: The Grass Isn’t Always Greener Somewhere Else

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Author:Railfan AC

AC is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a long haul trucker, a transportation enthusiast and a lifelong lover of trains. AC's mission is to travel America documenting American railroading in the 21st century while educating those who want to know about the importance the railroads play in our daily lives including, but not limited to, the movement of goods, services and more.

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