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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)


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Date: 05/22/23 19:52
Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

Took a brief respite between high school and summer baseball coaching duties last week and headed from Harrisburg to Florida for a few days (being retired now, or semi-retired as of today, definitely helps with trip planning).  Spent most of my time around St. Augustine shooting the Florida East Coast, with a couple brief stops to and from Sanford-Orlando airport at CSX Rand Yard and Sunrail station in Sanford.

My first encounter was this northbound Sunrail P318 at Sanford before heading to Daytona Beach to hopefully catch FEC 105.   I set up across the street from the Daytona Beach golf course, and in typical Florida fashion, the sunshine had started to disappear as mid-afternoon clouds and thunderstorms blew across the state from the gulf.  This was the weather theme all three days I was there.

Before the 105 made it's appearance, the 910 local with a pair of GP40-2s nose-to-nose had to get by to clear up.  About a half hour later came 105 with the typical ES44C4 set bracketing a fuel tender, with a good size train of auto-racks, stone, and intermodal.








Date: 05/22/23 20:05
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

My next order of business was to check into the Ponce motel in St. Augustine and grab some dinner, while dodging some raindrops.  The Ponce is a great place to stay in St. Augustine, my wife and I usually stay there while bouncing around Florida in February.  The line sits right behind the parking lot in the rear, the trains wake you up at night, and there is a viewing platform with tables overlooking the tracks.

I decided to try to get early evening southbound 107 and headed up to the signals at the south end of Magnolia siding just a short couple miles north along US 1.   When the southbound signal set up green, I headed down below the San Sebastian bridge where the tracks turn due west for a short distance right after crossing over the trestle.  Of course the sun didn't want to cooperate, but regardless I was happy to test out the view.

I heard and saw a northbound and southbound from the hotel - I think 206 and 109 - and decided to try to see what I could do with parking lot lights with one of the additional overnight jobs.   I set up my scanner in the window with only the head-end end EOT channels scanning so when the squelch noise started, I knew something was close, real close.  The next southbound, which had to be 101, snuck up on me and I didn't get out of the room until the head end was about to pass.   But I did get enough notice for the next northbound, most likely 208, around 03:00 am, and although I wasn't overly thrilled with what I got, thought I'd post them here anyway.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/23 11:08 by sscannella.



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Date: 05/22/23 20:14
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

The next target on my list was southbound 103, which reportedly had been getting out of Bowden Yd in Jacksonville a little before 06:00 am, which would have given me some light to work with at St. Augustine about a half hour later.  This job usually does not have a GE/LPG tank/GE set on it.  Unfortunately it passed by the hotel as my wake-up call just before 06:00.  It did give me time to get out to get some Mickey D's breakfast and then sit two buildings down from the Ponce to wait on northbound 210 as the sun was rising enough to barely light up the causeway along the San Sebastian River with great early morning light as 210 made its appearance about 07:10.  Another interesting FEC consist, as the intermodal cuts were bracketing what looked like a unit tank train (I couldn't read the placards, so I don't know if it was oil, ethanol, or something else).  



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/23 07:10 by sscannella.



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Date: 05/22/23 20:20
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

Some time between 09:00 and 09:30, the next northbound, 202, made its appearance seen from the viewing platform behind the Ponce.  Another hour and a half later, about 11:00 am, local 905 came through with 14 sand loads being pulled by the pride of the FEC fleet GP40-2 430.  

(Note that TO forces videos to the bottom of the three allowable attachments, so the order is broke here.)



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Date: 05/22/23 20:35
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

A better view of this beauty of an engine racing through St. Augustine along with a video (again at the bottom.)  

Knowing that there would be a break in the action for a few hours with 105 and 204 next on the "schedule" in 2 - 3 hours, I took a little break and visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, then decided to head 45 minutes or so north to the FEC's Bowden Yard on the south end of Jacksonville to catch the 105 starting south.   The plan worked well, as 105 was just about ready to depart and pulled down to Sunbeam Rd below the yard doing its brake test.  The downside was the clouds had rolled back in and I was losing sun rapidly in the early afternoon, with heavy thunderstorms working their way across the state from the gulf side to the Atlantic side.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/23 07:18 by sscannella.



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Date: 05/22/23 20:50
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

105 was told that they would be meeting 204 at the siding (Bayard) below Jacksonville, so that gave me some time to run up to Baymeadows Rd at the southend of the yard to grab a couple quick overviews of the south end Bowden Yard.  I then headed back to Sunbeam Rd. again to capture 204, which was an extremely large train with a lot of mixed freight, including a dozen or so Tropicana reefers, along with the typical cuts of intermodal cars.

I now had another break of several hours before the next train, southbound 107 in the early evening.  Gave me time to head back to St. Augustine, hit the gym and grab some dinner, and wait out the heavy thunderstorms and hope and pray that the clearing that the weather prognosticators were foretelling actually came through.

I headed down to Palmer St again at MP 37, and by God, they were correct, and I was blessed with some glorious images of 107 with Flagler college in the background. 








Date: 05/22/23 20:54
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

A few more views and video of the 107, including a shot of GP38 511 reportedly returning to its normal assignment around Miami.



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Date: 05/22/23 21:04
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

Friday I had the morning to try to get 210, 202, and 905 again.   I decided not to try to get any of the 4 moves in darkness, though the rumble outside of my room did rouse me from my slumber.  103 is not scheduled to run on Fridays (unbeknownst to me until later Friday morning), so 210 made its appearance at 6:45, precluding me from getting any reasonable photos.   But I was able to get 202 coming across the San Sebastian River trestle from the adjacent US 1 / Ponce de Leon Avenue bridge 

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Date: 05/22/23 21:11
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: srman

Great stuff and much enjoyed. I stayed at the Ponce last year myself with a room facing the tracks. Loved it but every time a train rolled by during the night you knew it was out there. Spent some time on that deck too catching a couple of trains, Thanks for sharing. 



Date: 05/22/23 21:17
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: sscannella

I hadn't heard 905 yet and it was time to check out of The Ponce.  So I headed up to the south end of Magnolia siding again, and sure enough there was a green signal lit up, meaning 905 would be through in short time, which is was, again with the pock-marked 430 and a nice sized 25 car local.    

It was now time for a "leisurely" I-95/I-4 drive back to Sanford to wait on my 6:00 PM Allegiant flight back north.  The high-light of the drive back was the stop in my first Buc-ee's (Google it if you don't know what it is).

I didn't want to arrive at the airport too early, so I took another stop in Sanford between Rand Yard and the Sanford Sunrail station and caught Sunrail trains P327 and P332, before arriving at the airport and making an on-time departure and return back home. 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/23 07:21 by sscannella.








Date: 05/22/23 21:51
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: 3rdswitch

Good trip. It's been too long since I was in Florida. Thanks for the FEC operations info. Might come in handy soon.
JB



Date: 05/22/23 22:11
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: refarkas

Super set - First-rate photos.
Bob



Date: 05/23/23 05:55
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: Lackawanna484

Good thread, enjoy your semi-retirement!

The weather is entering the rainy season. When winds are off the Gulf, expect Atlantic Coast storms in the pm. When winds are off the Atlantic, daily storms are more likely over the Gulf Coast in the afternoon.

Posted from Android



Date: 05/23/23 08:26
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: Gonut1

I was in Florida once, about 1963. Probably the last vacation spent with Dad, Mom and my 2 sisters. I recall seeing a stuffed and mounted FEC steam engine in Ste Augustine and we went as far south as Daytona Beach. You could still drive on the sand and Dad insisted I drive on the beach so I could say I did. That stuffed and mounted loco was the only rail related item I saw in Florida. This may have been during the time FEC was doing battle with the unions, sabotage against the FEC and other difficult times.
 Sam, you sure do have a knack in figuring out when to shoot trains, be it in Florida, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or Harrisburg. This post is so much more interesting and colorful than my experience with an ugly hot, muggy uncomfortable summer experience in Florida.
 I recall spending spring 1967 at fort Bragg, NC at boot camp. There was without fail a heavy thunderstorm every afternoon. They were like clockwork. I suppose the thunderstorms stop as the dog days of summer come along but Uncle Sam moved me back north to Fort Dix in New Jersey where the weather was much more un-predictable. Another location with all sand and pine trees!
Gonut



Date: 05/23/23 10:17
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: RayH

Nice selection, thanks for posting.

Congrats on the retirement! EVERY day is now a potential railfanning day.



Date: 05/23/23 17:17
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: NiagaraMike

Great stuff-thanks



Date: 05/23/23 17:17
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: DTrainshooter

Bucee's is the BOMB !



Date: 05/24/23 19:57
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: 8notch

Great trip report, sounds like you had a nice time. Lots of FEC action. I worked for the FEC between 1982 and 1986. I remeber some of those GP40-2S along with the GP38-2.
FEC #419 was built in 1979, FEC #428 was built in 1980, FEC #430 built in 1984 with dynamic braking and FEC #511 (GP38-2) built in 1978.
There was a great article on the FEC in the Trains Magazine dated 1996. The cost back then was $3.95.
Robert now retired in Island City Oregon 



Date: 05/25/23 07:00
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: 8notch

Congrats on making the VOTD.
Robert in Island City Oregon 

sscannella Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Friday I had the morning to try to get 210, 202,
> and 905 again.   I decided not to try to get any
> of the 4 moves in darkness, though the rumble
> outside of my room did rouse me from my slumber. 
> 103 is not scheduled to run on Fridays
> (unbeknownst to me until later Friday morning), so
> 210 made its appearance at 6:45, precluding me
> from getting any reasonable photos.   But I was
> able to get 202 coming across the San Sebastian
> River trestle from the adjacent US 1 / Ponce de
> Leon Avenue bridge 



Date: 05/25/23 07:34
Re: Quick Florida trip last Wed - Fri (FEC and some Sunrail)
Author: amtrakbill

Great photos and a great recap of your trip.  FEC is a class railroad all the way!



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