Just before reaching the Manila interlocking trains like this westbound are still pulling through nonstop s-curves on the steepest portion of the grade.
The last curve before Manila passes through a pair of signals at a spot called Otters Spur. Here, a lone SD pusher drifts down the snowy tracks just after uncoupling from a westbound it shoved up the hill.
Again we see Otters Spur but this time from a hill above as an empty westbound coal drag approaches Manila. The grassy spot to the left of the third car is a popular spot to camp. It is where the first photo on this page was taken from. In fact, I did not get out of my sleeping bag, or the back of my truck to take it! It was t-t-too c-c-cold.
In the earlier years of CSX one could count on the morning westbound "Jet" trains to have a quartet of geeps on the point and that meant Chessie much of the time. This perfect consist is blown by the CSX unit but beggars can't be choosers I guess. Still looks pretty.
Westbound Q135 bangs through the 1st crossovers as it enters the Manila interlocking. I shot this from near where the old GR tower once stood. The tower's control was "remoted" to the summit tower in the '60s where it remained until Sand Patch was closed.
Getting some work done! Where a joint had been bolted there will now be a weld. First a bit of rail must be cut to accommodate the new thermite weld.
Between the mains at Manila is a long helper pocket which is also the 2nd crossover. Here a westbound roars up the grade past a waiting helper unit. After this train gets by a second westbound will pass and once it cuts off its pusher the two helpers will head down to Cumberland in a single efficient move. Below, we see the helper still waiting in the pocket as the second hotshot cranks up the hill. Today all of these classic B&O "position light" signals, like many on the mountain, have been replaced by the more cost efficient "traffic light" style.
The train stops at the summit but is long enough to stretch through Sand Patch Tunnel which is just ahead. The fireman climbs down with the rear end telemetry device and attaches it, before the westbound pulls over the summit and heads on. Sometimes trains can "cut off on the fly" and sometimes if they are really heavy the pushers stay on to the summit on the other side of the tunnel.
BACK GO: < EASTWEST > Copyright 2001
Iron Horse America