Winter Wonderland

Winter storm Helena covered the state of Virginia in a blanket of white on January 7, 2017, and the town of Christiansburg was no exception.

That morning, I hiked the 3/4 of a mile from my new home to the depot in historic Cambria to watch some trains.

This is what I saw.

Cambria Station, covered in snow from Winter Storm Helena.

The morning was still, as most folks had heeded the authorities’ advice to stay home. This allowed me to get some pictures I normally couldn’t capture.

After getting a few artistic shots of the depot, I set up to capture a couple of approaching trains. I didn’t have to wait too long.

The signals at Pelton give a green on main two.

On the western end of the straight in Cambria, at CP (control point) Pelton, a clear signal shone bright, indicating a train was close by.

A few minutes later, westbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train 233 arrived.

NS 233 starts to make its way past the defect detector after cresting the grade of Christiansburg Mountain.

NS 233 stirs the freshly-fallen powder.

NS 233 passes the Christiansburg Depot, partly caked in snow.

BNSF ES44C4 8388 has its nose fully covered in snow as it lends a hand to leading NS 233.

“NS 233, clear, main two, Pelton.”

The containers of 233 make up a chilly wall through Christiansburg.

Well cars and containers of 233 cross Cambria St.

Not long after 233 cleared, another clear signal showed itself.

Snowflakes silently fall as the signals at Pelton await another train.

Not long after, empty coal train 821 hove into sight.

NS 821, with Union Pacific power leading makes its way through the heavy snowfall.

UP GEvo 7695 and an NS cousin lead the coal empties back toward West Virginia.

“821, clear, main two west, Pelton.”

NS 821 takes the bend as it enters CP Pelton.

The coal empties of 821 roll past the former N&W depot in Christiansburg.

The tail of 821 finishes crossing Cambria St.

2013 – A Train Review

So, I was going through my archives and came across some pictures I had taken back in 2013, the only time I really took train pics until after I got my current camera.

There were only two instances of trains that year, but they were special ones.

I’d like to share these pics with you, as a way for you to relive those memories with me. πŸ™‚

Windsor, VA: March 23, 2013
As part of the inaugural year of Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program, Southern Railway steam engine 630, on loan from the Tennessee Valley Railway Museum, lead an excursion from Norfolk, VA to Petersburg, VA and back.
My father and I headed to Windsor to catch her as she headed toward Petersburg. It was a crisp morning, with a mid-level cloud deck present, perfect for pictures.
A bit after 9am, we hear her lovely steamboat whistle break the silence. Camera at the ready, this is what I caught.

Southern 630 approaches Windsor.

Southern 630 approaches Windsor

The trees are filled with her steam.

The trees are filled with her steam.

630, looking marvelous

630, looking marvelous

My father, who, back in the late 70s/ early 80s, served as a fireman on this engine for steam excursions, watches as 630 puts on a wonderful show.

My father, who, back in the late 70s/ early 80s, served as a fireman on this engine for steam excursions, watches as 630 puts on a wonderful show.

Pelham, NC: August 10, 2013
A visit to my family in Danville, VA for my birthday was made even more special by getting to share my hobby with my young nephew Caleb. Bright and early on a lovely Saturday morning, we loaded up in my car and headed to Pelham, just south of Danville, to catch some action on Norfolk Southern’s busy Danville District.

My nephew, on my brother's shoulders, reacts to the loud northbound manifest about to pass us. The engineer gave him a small show with his horns.

My nephew, on my brother’s shoulders, reacts to the loud northbound manifest about to pass us. The engineer gave him a small show with his horns.

A southbound intermodal train approaches Control Point Swann with a special unit in the consist

A southbound intermodal train approaches Control Point Swann with a special unit in the consist

The intermodal takes the signal at Swann, with Norfolk Southern's Nickel Plate heritage unit looking good.

The intermodal takes the signal at Swann, with Norfolk Southern’s Nickel Plate heritage unit looking good.

A pacing shot of NS 8100.

A pacing shot of NS 8100.

Crossing Law Rd

Crossing Law Rd

I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures. I welcome your comments.
Have a great day! πŸ™‚

Highball on the Main!

Hello there! I’m Gavin!

I’m the resident train expert, though I will concede I have a lot to learn.

I currently live in Christainsburg, VA, a lovely small town in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with my beautiful bride, Kathy.

Kathy and I with N&W 611 in April, 2016.

I’ve had a life-long love affair with trains, thanks in large part to my father. Before I was born, and even a bit afterwords, he was active with the Atlanta chapter of the US Railway Historical Society, helping run steam specials, to include being a fireman and engineer, on the Southern Railway in the mid-1970s. Going back a bit further, there is family heritage in the railroads, as his grandfather was a conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Over the years, I have learned and studied the industry, from my father, my own observations, and Trains Magazine (a highly-recommended publication if you have a love of trains).

Last year, my lovely wife bought me a very nice Canon Rebel T5, that began in earnest my sub-hobby of railroad photography, which I am constantly honing my skills at. I even started an Instagram account especially for my train pictures (which you can find here if you’re interested). I’ve been known to roam up toward and into Roanoke for a good train picture, and even a bit south, toward Radford.

I hope to share pictures from my many train watching trips (a bonus to living so close to Norfolk Southern’s Christiansburg District), along with my thoughts on the industry, and, a train trip report or two.

All aboard!
-Gavin

611 B&W

Norfolk and Western 611 dirties up the sky in Christiansburg, VA on May 8, 2016.

A trio of Norfolk Southern heavy locomotives lug a mixed manifest up the Christiansburg Grade just south of Shawsville, VA on July 14, 2016.