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A map and information for Sand Patch Grade in Pennsylvania. The orange lines represent the local roads including those that access the tracks. Many are dirt. Use a local map to augment our RR map.

Enjoy.


Sand Patch Grade, in southwestern Pennsylvania is one of the great railroad landmarks of America. The mountain crossing of the former B&O has been visited by railfans from all over the world. By far, the most popular section of the mountain pass is the steep approach section near the summit. Sand Patch tower and helper pocket, the summit tunnel, Manila interlocking, the horse shoe curve at Mance, Keystone, and Salisbury are just some of the attractions on the east and west slopes. Trains battle grades as steep as 1.94% to reach the summit of the Alleghenies at Sand Patch, many with helper engines to assist on the long grade.

The scenery of the Alleghenies can be breathtaking at times, especially in the fall foliage season. A visit to the mountains east of Pittsburgh can be very rewarding if train traffic and weather cooperate. The mainline currently sees more than 20 trains per day. Check out the photo feature about Sand Patch in this issue's Editor's Corner.

One might want to pack a camera and head to Sand Patch to get a taste of the line's magic. Our Into the Allegheny Range Volume 4, is a two part video about the east and west slopes of Sand Patch Grade, which takes the viewer on an in depth tour of the famous railroad, CHECK IT OUT, then head to the hill yourself.


A map and information for Sand Patch Grade in Pennsylvania. The orange lines represent the local roads including those that access the tracks. Many are dirt. Use a local map to augment our RR map.

Enjoy.


Deep into the country on the west slope of the famous Sand Patch Grade is an area known as the Lower Turkeyfoot Region. The natives to the area many centuries ago so named the region for its three converging river valleys. This territory is home to the most interesting section of the west slope on the old B&O mainline. The line, now run by CSX Transportation, has 4 tunnels, 2 separated single-track grades, a horse shoe curve with 1 of the tunnels bisecting it, and a short section of singletrack in an all double-main railroad. The singletrack was created to center the mainline through 2 of the tunnels, to increase height clearances.

The railroad is relatively remote in the areas of the tunnels, with the exception of the west portal of brook tunnel, which lies just off of the edge of Pennsylvania route 281. Access to trackside is available at several places throughout the valleys; Markleton, Fort Hill, Ursina, Harnedsville, west of Benford, East Confluence, Confluence, and Draketown. At most of these locations there are CSX access roads that follow the tracks, providing access to the remote locations of the valleys.

The mainline currently sees more than 20 trains per day. One might want to pack a camera and head to Sand Patch to get a taste of the line's magic. Our Into the Allegheny Range Volume 4, is a two part video about the east and west slopes of Sand Patch Grade, which takes the viewer on an in depth tour of the famous railroad, CHECK IT OUT, then head to the hill yourself.


A map and information for the incredible Magnolia Cutoff in West Virginia and Maryland. The orange lines represent the local roads including those that access the tracks. Most are dirt. Use a local map to augment our RR map.

Enjoy.


The Magnolia Cutoff is a 14 mile segment of CSX mainline 25 miles east from Cumberland Maryland, along the Potomac river. This famous stretch of the Former B&O Baltimore to Pittsburgh double track main is one of America's best railfanning destinations.

The line boasts 4 long tunnels, (2 of which are curved) 2 open deck trestles, numerous deep rock cuts and many sweeping curves, plus a unique concrete retaining wall that supports the tracks along a mountainside curve. The double track mainline is signaled bi-directional with the classic B&O "position lights", and a talking defect detector is located just east of Doe Gully Cut, both the signals and the detector can give a bit of advanced warning of approaching trains. Currently CSX is replacing the classic position lights with new traffic light style signals, so get those B&O lights while you can.

Currently the Magnolia Cutoff has fairly heavy traffic. Daily one can expect to see 4 to 6 intermodal trains, 6 autorack trains, 2 Amtraks, about 10 mixed freights and a handful of coal trains and their empty counterparts. When trackwork season is on, long lulls can happen during the daylight hours but generally about 18 of the near 30 plus daily trains could be seen on a good day before dark.

Access to the area is very easy from route 51/9 at the Maryland-West Virgina border in the town of Paw Paw WV. Adjacent to the old apple warehouse a long dirt road (the original B&O main, abandoned since 1962) heads east and mostly follows the tracks to the point at Kessler, where the current main bridges the valley. After following the river for about 2 miles the road arrives at the old Magnolia townsite, and a paved road can be found which leads out to West Virginia route 9. The main crosses overhead on a trestle at Magnolia before disappearing into Stuart tunnel, while the road follows the river for 4 and 1/2 miles before rejoining the tracks. A shortcut (muddy and rough) can be found just up the paved road, that comes out at Hansrote and the east portal of Stuart tunnel, (just keep making left turns until you see the tracks.) from Hansrote the dirt road follows the mainline all the way to Orleans Crossing where another paved road arrives trackside from route 9. Currently CSX does not have any gates along the many access roads into the area, but that can change quickly if people misbehave while trackside.

Good trains, easy access, spectacular scenery and railroad engineering, are the hallmarks of the incredible Magnolia Cutoff. Print out the map, the orange lines are the roads to help get you to trackside. Also, the Into the Allegheny Range Volume 1 video, covers this territory in detail, if you want to check out the "Cutoff" from your couch before you go!


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Last updated: 20,SEP,01 URL: http://www.ihavideo.com Information and Comments:Webmaster
Copyright 1996, 1997,2000,2001 Iron Horse America Video ABOVE PHOTOS AND MAP By Will Holloway