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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...


Date: 06/20/06 14:35
Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: Trainman51

Can anybody give me some tips on good rail fanning spots around Harrisburg PA? Preferably with good photo spots? Is there any place around there with Penn style Position Light around the area? I mean I have N&W CPLs out the Wazoo here in VA but no standard Position Lights... Also what Kinds of trains will i see other then the given of Manifest, intermodel...What else?



Date: 06/20/06 14:59
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: toledopatch

The signature photo spot in the Harrisburg area is Rockville bridge -- a mile-long stone-arch structure across the Susquehanna River upstream/north of the city. It can be seen from the I-81 bridge and reached easily by public roads along either riverbank.

There is also a bridge closer to downtown used by trains going to or from Hagerstown, Md. This bridge will see a reduction in traffic in the not-too-distant future once a connection is built between this line and the ex-PRR Enola Branch on the west side of the river -- the connection will provide a direct route to/from Enola Yard. So while the downtown bridge isn't as busy as Rockville Bridge, trains you may photograph on it may have more documentary value in the future.

As far as I know, the ex-PRR main line to the west is still heavily laden with PRR-style position light signals, though there may have been some re-signalling. A cantilever structure that Conrail installed on the bridge itself, equipped with Pennsy signals, has been replaced by NS with ground-mast color-light signals. You should be able to find PRR-style signals on other ex-Pennsy lines in the metro area, too, but the highest yield will be to the west. East of Harrisburg, most freight uses the ex-Reading. The Port Road line along the river south of the city is a mostly nocturnal operation.

Along with manifests and intermodal, you will encounter some coal trains on all routes, including the Buffalo Line up toward Sunbury. The latter also handles Canadian Pacific trackage-rights trains, though the daily manifests 411/412 (NS12R/11R) usually have NS power. Keep an ear out on the weekend for 62A John Deere combine trains coming in from Pittsburgh (for Baltimore), and 68Q unit tank trains of ethanol headed for New Jersey. I believe the combines will usually sit around at Enola until nighttime for the trip down the Port Road, so you're well advised to get pix before they get into town.



Date: 06/20/06 15:08
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: Trainman51

OK so what radio Frequencies do I need? and any idea on the time of the ethanol train?



Date: 06/20/06 15:12
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: toledopatch

Primary frequencies should still be the ex-Conrail road channels, 160.800/160.860/160.980/161.070, though I don't know which are used where. Amtrak now operates the former PRR main east of Harrisburg and while I again don't know for sure, they primarily use 160.920 and 161.010 for road channels so you probably can't go wrong with those.

The 68Q also goes through my hometown of Toledo but I've yet to photograph it myself or glean a predictable operating pattern. The 62A seems to go through here most commonly on Friday nights or Saturday mornings, but its progress across the railroad varies considerably depending on crew availability and density of opposing traffic -- it's a dimensional train, so everything passing it has to creep by. I mentioned those particular symbols as trains to be alert for, but can't offer predictive times. The 62A's usually attract quite a bit of posting traffic here on TrainOrders.



Date: 06/20/06 15:37
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: dsktc

Dave, aka Toledopatch, gave a good synopsis
of sites and what to expect in the immediate
Harrisburg area. He did neglect to mention,
however, the two daylight Amtrak trains, one
westbound and one eastbound in the early afternoon.

The PRR position lights west of Harrisburg
can be found at Perdix, which is north of Marysville,
Duncannon and Newport. The road frequency east of Duncannon
is 160.98 (Harrisburg Dispatcher); west of Duncannon, on
the NS Pittsburgh Division, the frequency is 160.80.

The frequency for Enola Yard is 161.445.

On the attached map, the former Bair's Tackle shop is no longer
accessible to railfans. But there are several locations
south of it on River Road with good views of the bridge.

The downtown Harrisburg bridge Dave alluded to is the ex-Reading
RR bridge, easily accessible from I-83 in Harrisburg's Shipoke
neighborhood. It now serves the NS Lurgan Branch, which though
scenic does not have the traffic volume of the Pittsburgh line.
Nevertheless, the ex-Reading bridge, although lacking the grandeur
of the Rockville Bridge, has a wonderful grace and simplicity.
It doesn't get the attention it deserves.

Dave




Date: 06/20/06 15:55
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: dsktc

Here is the ex-Reading bridge, shot from
Lemoyne on the west shore of the Susquehanna
River.

Daev




Date: 06/20/06 16:01
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: dsktc

In addition to Marysville, Duncannon and Newport,
which offer excellent locations for the photographer,
consider Cove, where NS last year replaced a PRR-era signal
bridge with a new structure, for morning and evening
shooting. Also, the long straight track at Aqueduct
and Losh Run, both north of Duncannon.

Further west on the Pittsburgh line, there is Thompsontown,
with its highway bridge over the tracks, the farm road
crossing at Mexico, and the historic PRR station at Lewistown.

Dave



Date: 06/20/06 17:03
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: Gravelyfan

I suggest some pre-trip listening to the Harrisburg area radio stream located on this site:

http://www.railroadradio.net/index.php

I find that it is helpful to get to hear some of the common Dispatcher-speak, locations, etc. before going "live" in the field and trying to make sense of it for the first time on the fly.



Date: 06/20/06 19:59
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: toledopatch

dsktc Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dave, aka Toledopatch, gave a good synopsis
> of sites and what to expect in the immediate
> Harrisburg area. He did neglect to mention,
> however, the two daylight Amtrak trains, one
> westbound and one eastbound in the early
> afternoon.

That would be west of Harrisburg, of course. There are quite a few more Amtrak frequencies east of Pennsylvania's capital city.

<snip>

> Nevertheless, the ex-Reading bridge, although
> lacking the grandeur
> of the Rockville Bridge, has a wonderful grace and
> simplicity. It doesn't get the attention it deserves.

That's partly why I suggested it. Any estimate on when that connecting track will be built?



Date: 06/21/06 09:31
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: prropcrew

Another option if you want to catch some interesting action is the Brunner's Islan power plant south of Harrisburg off along the West Shore of the Susquehanna River. Do a search for York haven, PA and the power isn't too far from there. They are a PP&L power plant and dump coal via rotary 24/7 using a remote conrol GE centercab and a SW1000. From my experience, the crews working there are friendly and I was encouraged to go up to the fence next to where they dump to watch with the understanding that the train can be silent when moving through the yard.

Check it out here aerial pic: http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&amp;cp=40.095077~-76.690989&amp;style=h&amp;lvl=15&amp;scene=2402049

or here birds eye pic: http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&amp;cp=qpgcxp8m7mgv&amp;style=o&amp;lvl=1&amp;scene=2401998

If you want to catch a good amount of freight along with AMTRAK i'd suggest the State Street Bridge in downtown Harrisburg. On weekends you can park in the lot next to the former PRR tower (HARRIS) and catch freight trains coming off the Reading line into Harrisburg Yard as well as light power moves, etc.

Can be seen here in aerial photo: http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&amp;cp=40.26366~-76.87346&amp;style=h&amp;lvl=15&amp;scene=2401998

Hope this helps and the color aerial photos should give you a good idea of what to look for.

-John



Date: 06/21/06 14:00
Re: Harrisburg Area Railfanning questions...
Author: conrail6055

http://www.conrailcorp.com/signalshome.html

On my website I've got a ton of radio frequencies and signal 'names' in order for the various locations that our Harrisburg crews were running to. I made the signal charts to accompany the track maps I drew which gave switches, road crossings, names and protection, etc. for all new hires to use on the road. The lists and maps haven't been updated in 2 years or so, but for the most part, the signals and detectors listed in the immediate Harrisburg area have remained the same. Only changes would be the falling of a few intermediate block signals and renaming in the Reading area.

~Kris

Kristopher M Klemick
Conrail Enthusiast
Former Conrail Conductor
President, CONRAIL Historical Society, Inc
http://www.conrailcorp.com/crhs.html

CONRAIL Historical Society, Inc
222 South Main Street
Marysville, PA 17053

conrail_historical_society@yahoo.com

CONRAIL Historical Society, Inc. a 501 (c)(3) IRS recognized Non-Profit Historical Society that has been duly incorporated in PA.



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