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Bad weather and PC & Lackawanna Heritage on the NS Louisville District

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  • Bad weather and PC & Lackawanna Heritage on the NS Louisville District

    all know that old saying about sometimes your the bug, and sometimes your the windshield? When it comes to railroad photography, that old saying is true, and on Sunday (12/15) the bug I was.

    After missing the NKP Heritage unit earlier in that week due to work, it looked like I might have a good chance to get it that Sunday as it would be leading train 23G out of Louisville. The forecast was not all that encouraging, but a couple of friends joined Carmon and myself and we headed out anyway. 23G is usually a pretty reliable train, always getting out of Louisville around Noon...usually.

    We departed from home around 0900 and made our way West, following the Louisville District and shooting a few trains. Along the way, we were treated to some outstanding impersonations, I managed to make my wife blush so many times her face matched her hair, and generally enjoyed each others company. That seemed to ease the pain of to many GE's leading a never ending string of rack trains. Unfortunately, shortly after we arrived at the Pope Lick bridge to wait on 23G, we got the word that the train would not be leaving Louisville until dark...not the news we wanted to hear.

    With the news that our objective would not be obtained, we decided to call it a day early (not something I am known to do very often) and head for home. Later in the week (Thursday 12/19) we did manage to get the Penn Central 1073 as it lead a (on time) 23G East, and the sun even made a brief appearance!

    Saturday 12/21/13, the Lackawanna Heritage unit, NS 1074, was the leader on the Detroit to Shelbyville KY rack train #289. Thanks to some advanced notice on this one, several of us were able to get out and get a few shots.

    I had to go into work for a few hours that morning, and honestly figured it would be long gone before I was able to escape. 289 usually runs in the early morning, and has vanished into the mixing center by Noon or so most days. As luck would have it, the train got some delay up North due to a HOTD issue, and that was just enough delay to allow me to get it. Thanks to the usual great information our group here in KY, I was able to keep track of the train and make a plan. While we have a lot of places on line to keep track of this stuff, when it gets down to "real time" the text messages and phone calls between a bunch of us flow freely, and that is always a great help. I feel very fortunate to have such a reliable group of friends with the same goals that always band together to make sure everyone gets a shot.

    I left my office in Frankfort right at 1130, and headed to Lawrenceburg (KY) for the first shot. The temperature was in the upper 60's by the time we got trackside, and the clouds and rain hung on tight. Central Ky had received a lot of rain ealry that morning, and the storms were building seems that every time something good is running, its cloudy and raining, and that would be the case once again. Seeing as how it would be almost imposable to shoot a Westbound train on the Louisville District in the early afternoon on a sunny day, the clouds actually helped us.

    289 usually runs long, and Saturday would be no exception. The train was over 12,000 feet in length, and that meant he was to long for most of the sidings. After our shot at Lawrenceburg, we headed for Waddy KY (the longest siding on the line) where our train would wind up rusting to the rails for almost 4 hours to wait on 223, 285 and 23G. Due to the steep hill coming into Waddy, I was able to get him 4 times as the train slogged upgrade on wet rail, and then headed back to the house to hunker down for the next round of bad weather.

    Below are a few samples from both days, and be sure to check them all out over on Pbase, just follow this link >>> NS Louisville District 2013 Photo Gallery by E.M. & Carmon Bell at


    A light mix of rain/snow is falling as Westbound 22A comes flying up the hill at the East end of the Waddy (KY) siding.

    Later in the afternoon, we set up for a shot of Eastbound 223 as it passed through the tight cut under the Gene Snyder Freeway just East of Louisville. I think this may be the first time I had ever shot at this location...and that is saying something!

    NS 8115 leads 223 around the curves near Clarks Station, KY as the train climbed towards Veechdale. The train has been in emergency twice by the time I shot this (bad EOT) and while I took the chance the it might just do that again and shot from the wrong side of the tracks anyway, the other guys choose the "chicken" side, closer to the warm truck Luckily for me, the train zipped right on by and I was able to avoid frostbite and what would have been a endless torrent of "I told you so" comments.

    Thursday 12/19 while at work, I got word that 23G had the PC unit leading. It had been in Louisville for a few days for a 92 day inspection, and no one was really expecting it to be out. Thanks to some great updates that afternoon, I got lucky and made it home from work just in time to pick up Carmon, grab the camera and get to the fence at Vanarsdale KY less than 5 minutes ahead of the train...and the sun even came out! This was the first time in over a month that I had shot anything in the sun..


    The 116 year old Lawrenceburg Hotel looms in the background as Lackawanna 1074 leads NS 289 through town. This scene used to be complimented with the depot, which stood between the mainline and the house track (where the 8770 is setting). This is my hometown, and I spent (what seems like) the majority of my childhood right here watching trains and learning more about 19R train orders and how a RR was run than any child probably needed to know. Today, the hotel still watches the trains roll through town, but the Southern RR, and more importantly the people that ran it, are nothing but a fond memory.

    With 12k + feet of train behind them, the 1074 and a GE are struggling to lift the train up the steep grade at the East end of the siding at Waddy KY.

    With about half the train over the crest of the hill, 289 wraps around Turtle Tree Curve at Waddy, just in time to start slowing down for the stop at the West end.
    E.M. Bell, KD4JSL
    Salvisa, KY