Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chasing the Train

I was out on the deck this morning talking on the phone when I heard a set of mighty horns from across the river. My ears perked up and when I could tune out the ambient noise of the nearby expressway I made out the distinct rumble of an approaching freight train. It's more of a vibration that I can feel than a sound I can hear, and though sometimes I might mistake construction noise or the drone of an idling truck somewhere for the low throb of a train, I'm usually dead on. I was at the end of my call and decided that I'd try to beat the train to the crossing in Hudson a few miles away.

I got there with time to spare and started thinking that maybe I'd been mistaken again. There are three at grade crossings over which the train has to pass to get to where I was waiting and usually I can hear the horns at each one telling me that the train is getting closer. I didn't hear the horns a second time, though, until I could see the approaching headlight cutting through the trees as the train made the bend and triggered the gates at the next crossing about a quarter mile from where I was waiting.

I waited till the train came into view in the viewfinder where I'd already positioned the scooter, pressed the shutter button, and hoped for the best. Another half second and I might have gotten the reflection of the lead engine in the water puddle too, but I was pleased enough with how this shot came out.

I'm not a car counter like a lot of rail fans so I don't tally up the individual cars as they pass by. I simply watch the procession and enjoy the sounds and colors of the moving freight. These containers were headed north into New York and possibly Canada and are of the kind that are lifted off ships and placed onto the flat rail cars which then transport them overland.

It was a train of moderate length. Not short so as to have made the trek to Hudson hardly worth it, nor long enough to have made watching the whole thing go by an exercise in impatience. I was reminded of one of the things my mom said often while I was growing up: "Too much of anything is no good." I don't think I believed nor understood that till I was out of my teens. In general it seemed that my mom and my dad got a lot smarter when I had kids of my own. But, I digress as usual.

The end of the train is never as interesting as the front (since they abandoned the caboose within my lifetime) unless there are some engines on the rear acting as pushers. The grade isn't so steep here as to require them unless a whole train full of coal comes through going northbound, but coal trains are rare on this line. I've always been a fan of the engines in particular and sometimes even turn around without bothering to watch the whole manifest after they pass by my vantage point. I'd guess that my fondness for the diesel locomotives is that I'm power hungry, but here I am on a little 250cc engine of my own so it can't be that.

What a Difference Some Key Words Make

The stats on this blog reached a peak over the weekend as folks searched Google for pictures from the Johnstown Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally. There I was only a few sites down on a Google search! It was a momentary thrill that's now passed, but it was sweet while it lasted.

1 comment:

R.G. said...

I live in a town where the trains cut right through the middle dividing the town into North and South side. There are four crossings to get through town and I chuckle at how creative they get with the horn blasts at each one,especially late at night.