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Trains to the Kentucky Derby, NS, CSX, RJC & Amtrak

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  • Trains to the Kentucky Derby, NS, CSX, RJC & Amtrak

    Saturday May 3rd 2014 was Derby day here in the Bluegrass State, and along with all of the events and parties to kick off the day, there were also a lot of special trains running. This year marked the 140th Run for the Roses, and those special passenger trains are just as much of the tradition as the horses and Mint Juleps.

    NS Kicked off the show the week before the race, running its OCS into Louisville under the cover of darkness. That train consist of the NS F units (in a somewhat rare A-B-B consist) and the company business cars. NS has not operated a occupied train to or from the Derby in several years now, and only uses it to entertain and provided plush lodging for company officials and customers. The NS train departed Louisville on Sunday the 4th , Amtrak also operated a charter with several PV's into Louisville Union Station from Chicago late in the week, which is sadly the only action the platform at LUS now see's. That train would turn back North late Saturday night after the race.

    On Derby morning, the former L&N "Old Road" sub which is now leased and operated by R.J. Corman, was the place to be. RJC would operate an abbreviated Derby train out of Lexington (No F units this year, only a pair of GP38-2's and Three cars) which is a far cry from the big show they used to put on before the death of Mr. Corman last year. The Corman train made a short and sweet trip from Lexington to Louisville, unloaded passengers and flipped right back to Lexington. The train was needed for a dinner train charter that evening, and the Derby passengers would get to ride a BUS back to Lexington after the race.

    CSX brought a pair of FP40's and and its usual lengthy train (charted by the State for the use of our Governor) to Frankfort KY on Thursday, and as soon as the Corman train got through town, CSX departed and would follow them to Louisville. The CSX train would return its passengers to Frankfort late Saturday night, and then deadhead back South on Sunday. We were lucky and had some awesome weather both days (that is very unusual for Derby weekend it seems) allowing us to shoot everything that ran in several locations. The Old Road sub is very scenic, but sadly does not see much traffic under Corman these days, so these Derby trains (and more-so the Deadheads) let me cross off a couple of shots I had been wanting to do, but never had a train and good light at the right time.

    Below are a few samples, and I invite you to check out the whole set over on Pbase at this link >>>> Trains to the 2014 Kentucky Derby Photo Gallery by E.M. & Carmon Bell at

    The R.J. Corman Derby Train races through a beautiful Spring morning, seen here at Duckers, Kentucky 05/03/14 (and for the record, those are former SOUTHERN Gp38-2s)

    The Corman train passes through downtown Midway, Kentucky during a deadhead trip back to Lexington.

    The Amtrak Derby special sits at the "New" platform at Louisville Union Station while the occupants of the PV's enjoy a day at Churchhill Downs.

    And, just to prove I DO have an open mind....The CSX Derby train departs Frankfort, Kentucky on Sunday morning after taking the KY Governor to the races the day before. This is One of those shots I had been wanting to try for a long time, but never had a train at the right time until now. 05/04/14

    The CSX train passes through the Horse Farms near Midway, Ky Sunday morning 05/04/14

    Carmon tries out her new lens at Cliffside, KY and Tyler and myself recorded the event. She seems pleased to not have to fight me for glass now...

    The outbound NS Derby train departed Louisville on Sunday 05/04/14 a little later than normal, and it was up into the evening before they made it down to Waddy where a few of us had spent several hours waiting. At the last minute (Mostly to avoid getting the same shot as 50 other people) Carmon and I changed locations and headed down the hill. Here is 956 as he started the long climb out of the Benson Creek Valley at Avenstoke, Ky on the Louisville District.

    And just before dark, the Outbound Derby train races by "The Fence" at Vanarsdale, KY in some awesome low light.
    E.M. Bell, KD4JSL
    Salvisa, KY