Mance is probably the most popular spot on the SandPatch east slope.

This is the east 'S' curve into the famous horse shoe curve at MANCE.

Above: Westbound Q137 roars west into the Mance horse shoe curve. The lead locomotive is passing the "Training Camp", a rather sophisticated, albeit ostentatious, railfan camp along the right of way. This had always been a popular camping spot, but some guys from Virginia decided to build a nice cabin and some other fixtures here. I've used it myself on a rainy night or two, although most of the time I can be found at more obscure camping spots. The cabin has been very popular with visiting railfans. This 'S' curve can provide dramatic shots throughout the day and can be worked from the hillsides and the distant cliffs.
Left: The Brant family has owned one of the surrounding farms at Mance for generations. Their barn makes a nice photo prop for eastbounds descending the grade past the red clay cliffs at the east 'S' curve. Here we see Q130, one of the newer trains to grace the Pittsburgh to Cumberland main. The engines are belching out exhaust because the train is light, so it is not pushing too hard on the downgrade. The power had to throttle up to drag the long intermodal consist through the nonstop curves behind.
Right: In my early travels to Sand Patch, this was one of my favorite photo spots on the hill. I would climb up on the red clay cliffs to wait for westbounds climbing up Wills Creek Valley. The trains are always working so hard when they round the corner, and by that point you have already been listening to them for about 15 minutes or so, so the excitement is great. I would always be looking forward to what kind of paint the lead unit might have, if I had not gotten a lineup from my friends at the tower and checked my "Bullsheet" locomotive roster.

Here we see westbound R135 with a newly painted GP40-2 in the lead of a massive lashup of similar geeps. Until the mid nineties the second morning westbound intermodal train on Mondays would be supplanted by a single, long R135, which would take 8 geeps.

Above: SD40-2 8449 is one of four 6 axle units on duty in the helper pool out of Cumberland on this crisp October morning in 1998.
Left: A pair of wide-cab GEs lead an extremely heavy loaded grain train east in thick fog at the east 'S' curve.
Right: On the same morning, the first glint of sun breaks through the trees and fog to caress the sides of the power on this eastbound mixed.
GO: < EASTWEST > Copyright 2001
Iron Horse America