East Portal,
West Manila

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On the final stretch of main before plunging into Sand Patch Tunnel this westbound has a high green on the "East Portal" signals, just west of Manila
I only wish that I had been shooting good pictures earlier so that I could have gotten more of the Chessie before it faded away. Some of the best lashups I ever saw I only saw or captured with a crappy print camera and the shots aren't any good. Plus I had no clue about composition or lighting until my late teen years. This shot may be my favorite Chessie image. Not because of great lighting or an artistic angle just because of the timing. I happened to be stepping up to get a boring shot of the CSX pusher at the tunnel when this surprise eastbound roared out from behind. I love when it works out.
Around the corner we find Sand Patch Tunnel, a little over 5000 feet long. The double track bore replaced a slightly longer and slightly steeper single track bore that still lies about 1000 feet over the hill to the left. here the eastbound Capitol Limited emerges from the "new" bore which was completed in 1913.
Not much more than a gaping cave, the original tunnel can be found by walking through the woods east of the current bore. This tunnel is badly collapsed in the middle, but a daring railroad archaeologist might find poking around in either end to be fascinating. There are still visible support timbers and stone and brick linings inside.
On the hilltop over the original tunnel one can still find this ventilation shaft in tact. It stands not far off of the highway over the hill. The new bore also has a vent shaft, two in fact but they have square structures and roofs. They also can be seen from the highway.
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Copyright 2001
Iron Horse America