Here at the HawkinsRails INTERCHANGE, I feature recent trackside photographs from my own cameras and from railfans all around the country. Have a current railroad photograph you'd like to add to this page? E-mail it to me with name, location, date, and other relevant data and I'll be glad to post it here for my friends. High green!

2013

I've always enjoyed spotting the various yard and shop switchers that Amtrak has squirreled away in its various terminals and facilities. I remember watching the switcher at the Lorton Auto Train terminal dismantle the northbound train, bringing the auto racks into the unloading section. This snapshot by Mr. Brodecki shows another aging switcher specimen, this one a GE 80 tonner with classic centercab lines.
I spent three quarters studying at Louisiana Tech. Much more interesting than the all the first-year gen ed classes I endured was the then-Midsouth mainline that traversed the northern end of the campus and ran next to my dorm. I watched many a grey Paducah rebuild rumble by. These days, the "Meridian Speedway" is owned and run by the KCS. The speeds are higher and the power much bigger. What's more, another generation of Hawkins is studying at La Tech. My nephew snapped these phone pics for his uncle, as a Southern Belle consist flew through campus at a speed much higher than I ever knew.
My Louisiana friend Henry Beck recently sent me these two New Orleans photos, both of them train-related. I remember seeing the #8444 on display at the World's Fair down by the riverfront on New Orleans. To a kid's eyes, it was larger than life -- probably the largest steamer I had seen to date. Unfortunately, I never saw the Southern's marvelous green and gold E8s in action. We moved back to the New Orleans area just after Southern dropped their passenger service and turned the Crescent over to Amtrak. A great photo here, with the Superdown going up in the background.
Railfan friend Garland Harper caught a southbound Norfolk Southern corporate passenger movement leaving Montview Yard on the south side of Lynchburg. The train featured the handsome Norfolk Southern covered wagons, in charge of a long set of Norfolk & Western inspirited maroon corporate cars. The train was labeled NS 956. It was bound for the Masters' Tournament in Georgia and would soon be heading south from Montview on the Danville District.
Ohio railfan photographer Ken Heyl captured this endearing image in Huron County, noting: "I drove up to New London, Ohio yesterday and caught some W&LE RR action. In this photo we witness W&LE #6354 and W&LE #4025 (both westbound) as they meet east of New London for a crew change at Chenango Road. Both trains were long mixed freights." In an era of terminal to terminal mainline movements, all with modern Tier 3 power, it's nice to see human action around a handful of enduring second generation, tiger-striped EMDs.
Ohio railfan Ken Hyle snapped this great roster shot of freshly painted W&LE mover #6384 doing a day's work at Greenwich, Ohio. Regional W&LE has painted their fleet of second-hand road power in a snappy scheme that harkens back to the Denver & Rio Grande Western. 6384 shares a number series in the W&LE roster with some ex Soo Line locomotives, originally built for the Milwaukee Road. See my Wheeling & Lake Erie collection.
Friend and Amtrak agent Garland Harper caught Amtrak Heritage unit #66 on point of Lynchburg Regional train #156, labelled NS 16 by the Norfolk Southern, from Bedford Avenue crossing in Lynchburg. The P42DC is one of a handful of heritage units, wearing Amtrak's Phase II locomotive paint scheme, inaugurated by the passenger carrier in 1976. Train #156 is a daily connection from Lynchburg to Washington's Union Station, and return. It was Amtrak's newest addition to the Northeast Corridor network, until service was recently established into Norfolk via the Norfolk Southern's former N&W trackage.
I've enjoyed a wonderful correspondance with Matt Hardey, who has become quite a historian of the New Orleans Great Northern railroad and who, like me, has a keen interest in their line from Slidell to Covington, Louisiana, where I grew up. The "Shore Line" branch would later go to the Gulf, Mobile & Northern, then to GM&O, Illinois Central, and finally to subsequent ICG before being abandoned in the early 1990s. In Matt's great NOGN collection is this fine photograph of the NOGN local, a handsome American 4-4-0 on the point, arriving at the pre-1923 Covington depot. See my complete NOGN collection here.
My old pal Jory Sharp frequents the former Illinois Central bridge line between Hammond and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, now part of the Canadian National system. He's always spotting interesting equipment, especially Canadian power that, back in high school days, he and I never would have imagined seeing in south Louisiana. Here's a stout looking BCRail hood unit on the point of a CN movement passing through little Walker, Louisiana. In the trail behind the six-axle pulling units is a long series of assorted four-axle B-B units, dead in tow. Canadian birds headed north for spring?
I'm grateful to railfan Tim Carr for sharing some of his recent pictures of Southern Railway #630, hard at work these days in a series of Norfolk Southern sponsored employee and public excursions. Last fall, Tim caught the beautifully restored Alco at work in and around Birmingham. Playing a role once held by Southern cousin and excursion veteran 4501, 630 is the latest steam ambassador across the southeast. See my 630 collection here.
Garland Harper lives near the CSX main at Reusens, Virginia, and frequently captures interesting movements and equipment along that busy ex Chessapeake & Ohio mainline. This Loram rail grinding equipment is no exception. Immediately behind the locomotive is a tank and spraying apparatus for laying down a fire suppression blanket, minimizing the effect of the sparks that follow from the grinding process on the rail heads. After the spraying ... lots of sparks and smoke! Quite a show along the James River.
My good friend Jonathan Clark recently made a trek west to St. Louis, Missouri, including a stop at the Museum of Transportation. Among the collection there is ex Erie-Lackawanna hauler #3607. Jon's father Nathan was instrumental in getting Conrail to donate the locomotive to the museum back in 1986. At 66 feet long and 391,000 pounds, her distinctive flared grills on the rear of the 45 body represented big power back in the day. With Jon's help, I've enjoyed following some of the former EL mainline during my time in western Pennsylvania.
Regional hauler Buffalo & Pittsburgh never fails to deliver an interesting assortment of heavy second generation EMD power on the front end of its movements. I always enjoy a drive over to Butler to see what six axle power is idling in their shop facility. In this fine photo, downgraded #462 splits a pair of out-of-service Baltimore & Ohio color position signals. 462 was built in 1967 as Southern Pacific SD45 #8862, but has since been rebuilt as an SD40-2. B&P rosters of number of downgraded SD45s, most wearing the familiar orange and yellow of the parent company.
Living in western Pennsylvania for the last 5 years, I've enjoyed a handful of trips from Pittsburgh to Washington DC on Amtrak's daily Capital Limited. My family and I love the "Cappy" ride, notable for its terrific early morning scenery, as the eastbound turn descends the Sand Patch grade and follows the curving Potomac River all the way down to Harpers Ferry. For me, a favorite highlight of each trip is passing the iconic Baltimore & Ohio depot at Point of Rocks, Maryland. I'm grateful to Richard Bell for sharing some recent snaps of CSX and MARC commuter action at famous Point of Rocks.
My good friend Nathan Clark snapped this pic on his cell phone, noting: "Northbound Bessemer & Lake ErieSD40T-3 #907/908/910 with BRAND-SPANKING-NEW painted TTX Company box car TBOX #662771 and flag in the rear knuckle between Swamp Alley and Main Street in Greenville, Pennsylvania, at 10:25 a.m. Note: No graffiti and No mud spatter!" Given that winter is not yet over here in western PA, I have a feeling that brand new yellow will not stay so clean for long. Excellent snapshot.
My good friend and Amtrak agent Garland Harper shot this single NS mover in Lynchburg hauling a string a dual-cab export units loaded onto flats headed to Norfolk, Virginia, for export overseas to Indonesia. Even sitting high on flat cars, the white export units are dwarfed in size by the single GE hauler.
I'm grateful to railfan Vince Skibo for use of his photographs taken at the unveiling of the "world's largest railcar," built by Kasgro Railcar at its New Castle facility located less than 30 minutes from my home. With multiple articulation points, an on board control room, all riding on 36 axles, the blue giant is a remarkable piece of rolling stock built for the Westinghouse Corporation to transport nuclear containment vessels. It weighs 799,200 lbs empty and has a load limit of 2,035,800 lbs. Read more here. My favorite detail? The "Do Not Hump" decal. I should say not!
Good friends from church e-mailed these pictures back to me during a trip to Alaska that included an outing on the famed Alaska Railroad. Steve used his zoon lens to capture a pair of colorful EMD SD70MACs heading out over what I'm sure is one of countless bridges on the scenic route.
Kermit Geary, Jr. was kind enough to loan me these photos of recently restored CNJ switcher #113 under steam for a test run back in November. He writes: "Using a Reading & Northern SW-1500 for weight and braking purposes, #113 gently eased backwards off the Wolf Creek Branch and onto the Minersville Branch, then she continued down to Mar-Lin where a quick inspection was done to make sure that all was in working order. Two toots on the whistle and she returned to Minersville. The sight and sound of her blasting through Minersville and across the Sunbury Street crossing was an awesome experience to behold."
Here's a great snapshot for kicking off the new year, and for marking the second year of hosting this INTERCHANGE page: a place to share pictures from rail friends from all over. My pal Ben Wells snapped this photo of a CSX movement moving down the line, adjacent to the highway. I've heard of chasing trains, but in this case ... the railfan may be the one being chased!

Don't try this at home, kids.

2012

I'm grateful to railfan John Biehn for allowing me to post a few of his wonderful pictures of NKP #765 during recent ferry moves in nearby West Virginia and Ohio. Thanks to Norfolk Southern's 30th anniversary, the good folks at the Ft. Wayne society have their lovely Berkshire on the move in this region helping NS host employee specials. The combination superpower Lima steam and superpower General Electric mover, both honoring the famed Nickel Plate, is a grand sight indeed.
I just love this picture. A Thoroughbred pig train with a GE in the lead, sprinting its way through town inside a veritable wall of moving double-stack containers, all happening across a series of busy grade crossings. Ben caught this terrific meet during our afternoon at the busy Alliance junction. It was one fast NS movement after another. Can anyone driving in Alliance make it across town in time? What a great problem to have.
Here's proof positive that mega mergers change the landscape of American railroading. The Canadian National, rolling through little Denham Springs, Louisiana. This is not run-through power; these are now home rails for the CN. Chasing black-unit led Illinois Central freights on Louisiana rails as a teenager, I never would have imagined that a mover as far off as the CN would wind up hauling tonnage down on the Gulf coast. Never say never.
An overcast summer afternoon in Alliance, Ohio, turned out to be the setting for a General Electric parade on the Norfolk Southern's ex-Pennsy corridor. In less than hour, 6 freights rolled by, all of them with a C40-9W somewhere in the consist. I suppose this frequency should not be a surprise, given that the Thoroughbred rosters over a thousand of the Dash 9W models.
During my time in western Pennsylvania, I've been blessed to make some terrific new railfan friends. One is Bob Brooks, and his pictures and videos of trains in the western PA - eastern OH region are fantastic. Here are three great examples of his work from Bob's beloved "Bessemer." The SD38AC model is a rare bird, indeed, and in the age of corporate buy-ups and sell-offs, so may be the BLE's official orange and black. That uncertainty makes shots such as these all the richer.
In chasing down photos of King Cotton's move north, I stumbled upon John Sesonske's fine photos of various New York area railroad subjects. John loaned me this terrific lineup pic, including King Cotton on the rear at the time of her arrival. The BL2 model has been much-maligned for looks, but in the royal blue of Saratoga & North Creek's scheme, #52 looks terrific in the May sun. And the Illinois Central inspired paint on the E8 in tow is most fitting for King Cotton's arrival: Illinois Central was #1's first owner, nearly a century ago.
I'm so honored to include here on INTERCHANGE some photos by Warren Calloway. I've long been an admirer of his railroad photography, and this 1995 example from his Santa Fe collection makes it easy to see why. Warren consistently gets everything just right: locomotives, location, lighting. And the geographical breadth of his subjects is impressive. Other than a long ride on the Sunset Limited as a kid, I've never made it out west to see where the great western roads roamed. But a shot like this sure helps.
There's no mistaking the classic curves of an E-unit, nor the familiar winged herald of the mighty Union Pacific. I'm so delighted to add these three pictures to HawkinsRails, as they come from the lens of young James Payne -- son of my earliest railfan pal. Father and son caught the UP's buffed and polished executive train during a recent stopover in the Big Easy. The lines of the three covered wagons may be old school, but their insides are not: UP rebuilt them with single prime movers and all new electrical gear.
My heartfelt thanks to Anthony Giminiani for sharing this photo of our beloved "King Cotton" on the tale end of northbound Canadian Pacific manifest #253 as she makes her way to new owner Saratoga & North Creek. No longer carrying potential shippers or friends of the president for the Delta Route, the new SNC #15 will be refurbished and put to work in the tourist trade of eastern New York state. I'm sad to see the Columbus & Greenville letters taken off her blue sides, but grateful that she has avoided the scrapper's torch. Read all about "King Cotton" here.
My old friend Jory Sharp caught these two rust bucket Grand Trunk Western geeps still working hard for new owner Canadian National, seen here on the Baton Rouge - Geismar line. Says Jory: "Still something beautiful about those old units. They may be old but very much alive." Indeed. You can't beat the classic lines of a pair of 38's.
One of the things I love about North Carolina's AC&W, other than the fact that they keep the old Norfolk Southern mainline alive, is that they keep trying paint schemes on their units until they get it right. Rebuilt SD40 #6926 is but one more example. The green and cream with the ACWR herald looks all-business on this ex Canadian National, later Wisconsin Central hauler. See my ACWR shortline collection here.
I'm so grateful to my railfan brother-in-law Will Hankins for chasing what is in my opinion the pride of NS's heritage fleet, General Electric #8099. It sure is good to see the Southern Railway colors on a modern unit, and I'm grateful for this pic shot shortly after departing Bristol, Tennessee. This sturdy GEVO lashup represents well over 12,000 horses: more power in three units than even the state of the art Southern ever knew.
East coast railfans are all abuzz on the web about Norfolk Southern's ambitious "heritage unit" program, and rightly so. But here's a heritage unit on the NS before heritage units were cool (again). My brother-in-law caught recently repainted N&W bicentennial unit #1776 returning northbound from Chattanooga to Roanoke, back to her home at the Roanoke Transportation Museum. She's only a shell now; no prime mover, I'm told. But the unit looks good in a fresh coat of America's colors.
Back in the day my buddy Jory Sharp and I made frequent trips to Hammond, Louisiana, in his green Ford Ranchero to sit in the hot summer sun and watch the Illinois Central mainline. If we timed the afternoon right, we caught the City of New Orleans doing her thing. These days, Jory's sons are doing the railfanning in Hammond, and here's a unit from Amtrak's first batch of P42's shuffling across East Robert Street. The green Ranchero and the old F40PH-2's are long gone, but good to know the gates still come down for City riders at least once a day.
As a southern boy living in western Pennsylvania, I am just learning about such regional roads as the Bessemer & Lake Erie. Thanks to my friends Jon Clark and Bob Brooks, I've enjoyed a few outings to some of the best places to catch the orange tunnel motors in action. However, chasing the "Bessemer" is no small feat, as the northbound empties headed back to the Lake make good time. Here's a long movement of empties passing under signals just south of Grove City, in the dead of winter.
On a cold and snowy Monday, my local railfan pals and I happened upon a northbound Norfolk Southern movement on the former Erie mainline at Greenville, Pennsylvania. We were thrilled to discover a trio of SD60E's -- a new six axle unit outshopped by NS, aging SD60s rebuilt with new cabs and emission controls. The overhang on the front edge of the cab roof is a unique design. Here's the trio passing under the Bessemer & Lake Erie mainline just north of Greenville.
My friend Gordon Payne reports: "These three snapshots show a Genesis loco wearing Amtrak's Phase I scheme in New Orleans during Amtrak's 40th anniversary tour, January 29, 2012. An former F40PH is behind it, followed by a sleeper for the crew and some Amfleet cars full of exhibits. James and I were lucky enough to meet a young Amtrak employee who had designed the paint scheme for the commemorative HO models. We got the models and asked him to autograph the boxes for us."

2011

I don't recommend driving and taking pictures at the same time, but every now and then the output is worthwhile. During a Thanksgiving visit with family, I caught a southbound Norfolk Southern auto rack movement departing Bristol, Tennessee. The second unit in the consist still carried EMD demonstrator paint. As the units picked up speed south of town, I was able to chase them along the winding back roads. Thank goodness there was not a lot of traffic. Don't try this at home.