10 Reasons Why Railfanning In Northeast Pa. Rocks

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Delaware Lackawanna at Taylor Yard

1. Class 1s, Regionals & Shortlines:

Norfolk Southern, Reading & Northern, Delaware Lackawanna and the Luzerne & Susquehanna all operate in Northeast Pa. giving railfans a variety of rail activity to enjoy. Three of the four feed from the same trough known as Taylor Yard.

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2. Taylor Yard:

Although small compared to other yards, Taylor is by all means a railfan’s yard. You can get close enough to “touch” the trains (not recommended) and you can see most of the action from a variety of locations along the west side of the yard. Try doing that at most other railroad yards.

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3. Foreign Power:

Ever since Norfolk Southern came into the region in 1999, Northeast Pa. has seen dozens of foreign locomotives names pass through the area. All of the Class 1s and Canadians. Many of the Class 2s. Some Class 3s and a plethora of colorful lease power…. And did I mention, you can usually find that foreign power leading trains!

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4. Searchlights:

As PTC continues to take hold of mainlines across the country, with their introduction comes the loss of many of the classic signalling systems that have stood for generations. Most notably are the Y-Patterns, Semaphores, Position Lights, Color Position Lights, Color Lights and Searchlights. Hear on the Sunbury Line the Searchlights still rule and only time can tell how much longer they’ll remain.

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5. Hills & Grades:

Of the 5 or so rail routes through NEPA, at least 3 have formidable grades that have to be tackled. And although the elevations may not be as high as in the western states, Northeast Pa. is home to some of the toughest climbs in the country. The Reading & Northern’s old Lehigh Valley Mountain Cut-off to Penobscot and Mountaintop, The Delaware Lackawanna’s (DL&W) eastward ascent into and through the Poconos and Norfolk Southern’s Yatesville and Clark’s Summit inclines have all put many a train on their knees over the decades.

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6. Air Products & Heat Exchanger Moves:

The massive petroleum gas liquifiers that move out of Air Products in Wilkes-Barre 2 or 3 times a year are some of the biggest commodities hauled on a North American railroad.

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7. Steamtown:

If nothing else, the National Historic Site @ Steamtown is home to a Reading T-1 and The Electric City Trolley Line. The Steamtown Collection itself consists of locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, and maintenance-of-way equipment from several historic railroads. Locomotives range in size from a tiny industrial switcher engine built in 1937 by the H.K. Porter Company for the Bullard Company, to a huge Union Pacific Big Boy built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). The oldest locomotive is a freight engine built by Alco in 1903 for the Chicago Union Transfer Railway Company.

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8. Standard Cabs:

In an age when most of mainline America is overrun with GEVOs, Tier 4s and SD70 somethings, here in Northeast Pa. standard cab diesels soldier on and quite often lead the mainline freights.

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9. ALCOS!:

Northeast Pa. is the largest holdout of ALCO diesels anywhere on planet earth…. Need I say more?

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10. No More Canadian Pacific (maybe this should’ve been reason #1:

On September 19, 2015, Norfolk Southern became the official owner of the ex-Delaware & Hudson Sunbury Line between Sunbury, Pa. and Schenectady, NY. And with CP now mercifully gone from the region NS has been expanding the infrastructure and increasing train traffic on the line…. Let’s just hope it stays that way.

10 Reasons Why Railfanning In Northeast Pa. (NEPA) Rocks…. Plus A Bonus Benefit

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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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