Perspective: A Lesson Learned At The Cove

Intermodal-Train-at-Cove-Pa-5-5-2016 (11)

An unidentified Norfolk Southern intermodal train races eastbound past the signals @ Cove, Pa. (M.P. 116).

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When it comes to railfanning some places are clearly better than others…. But then again, better is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?… Harrisburg, Pa. is known as the crossroads of the Norfolk Southern system and the third biggest rail hub on the NS. Railfanning H-Town is truly an experience like no place else that I’ve seen as the trains funnel in from every point on the compass and weave through the metro area in seemingly endless succession.

In my two-part pictorial “16 Trains on the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Line” I recorded almost 20 trains in about 6 hours…. And heard many more on the radio!… That’s an average of more than 3 trains per hour…. Or to put it another way, there are more trains snaking through Harrisburg in a single day than on many lines in an entire week or even a month! The majority of these trains are unit trains. Coal, oil, ethanol and of course the intermodals and many others. And while an ease to the railroads, the one thing that unit trains often tend to lack is personality.

Up on the Sunbury Line about 8 trains a day run on the busiest portion of the line between DuPont Jct. and Binghamton, NY with the occasional high & wides, freight Extras and coal trains. Not a lot by many railfan standards but more than enough for me. And the one thing that still shines on the Sunbury is the “Great American Freight Train.” General and merchandise freight trains…. Railroading the way it used to be, and ought to be forever.

To me, freight trains have a quality most unit trains will never have…. Personality.

And although the eggs have been scrambled since the NS takeover of the D&H line and individual freight cars are now showing up on trains that they didn’t show up on before, there’s still an unusual quality about being able to tell a trains identity just by looking at the cars in its makeup and sometimes even the time of the day that it passes.

And while railfanning in heavy traffic areas like Harrisburg is always a great time…. When it’s all done, I look just as much forward to returning to what’s most familiar to me because home is where the heart will always be for me.

Perspective: Home Is Where The Heart Is

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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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