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The Connellsville pusher rolls by SA having just cut off from an eastbound mixed. They are following the train down to the west portal signals, and will then return west through the crossovers and cruise back down the 60+ mile west slope to await their next shove.
On a cold winter day a Connellsville helper waits on the number 1 main near the tower. The crew has run up to get fresh coffee in their Thermoses and have a chat with the operator before heading back down the hill. There was a time when it was common to find a single Chessie geep shoving trains out of C-Ville. The geeps can still be found, but with fewer than 6 left in Chessie paint......

As for the days of SD50s in Chessie paint, (or any other colors besides CSX "Bright Future", for that matter,) populating either slope's helper pool, well those days are gone....But if you consider the occasional appearance of newly acquired Conrail power to be a CSX fallen flag... then who knows what exciting thing may appear on the end of that next train, cutting off at the summit.

Hard winter weather: not very friendly to camera equipment or railway hardware either, but the three combine to make for nice shots. Here, Q135 roars over the summit as fast as they can knowing that Q137 is only minutes behind. A lone helper waits in the pocket to be returned to Cumberland.Along with the tower closing and new signals at the summit, another Sand Patch icon will soon disapear: the helper pocket. It will be eliminated in favor of just the crossovers.
As promised, Q137 cranks past only a few minutes later. I had run at top speed through the snow drifts, and barely made it to the tracks to get this one shot. To me it really captures how the wind blows the snow around in these mountains, and how cold it can really feel. (Time to head down to Sheetz in Meyerdale to get cocoa and subs.)
I never saw the Western Maryland outside of its confines in the post-Chessie era. Here we see one of the WM geeps as it leads another fallen flag unit over the summit. (At least with model trains I can recreate these great lashups forever.)
Minutes before a pair of widecabs roar out of the tunnel-cut with a westbound rack train, signal maintainer Gall greases the switch points of one of the crossovers at the summit. On a busy railroad, a man's work is never done.
Just west of the summit road bridge, eastbounds pass the approach signals for Sand Patch. Trains are coming out of a mile wide horse shoe curve that stretches around the low valley leading down to Flaugherty Creek. This eastbound is seen just before it reaches the summit as it passes the signals and the small CSX maintenance yard located here.This signal was still in use in Octeber of 2001 but is now out of service.
Our last shot at the summit shows another eastbound approaching Sand Patch on the big curve. This can be a great place to camp, as there is plenty of wide flat ground here, and trains can be heard for miles climbing up from Meyersdale at night.
BACK Copyright 2001
Iron Horse America