15_the_circle: (amtrak)
Saturday, December 24th, 2011 08:21 am

[OT from cottage renovations]

This image was yesterday morning's consolation prize. 
Shorter days and longer nights this time of year mean that one has to leave the Grove before there's light, and return to it in darkness.  The situation wasn't helped by some sort of operational problem on the railroad that caused the cancellation of our train (it's more of a big deal for us because there are only three of them in the morning). 

When this happens the fallback is to cross the tracks and take the No. 61 Ride-On bus to the Metro.  The resulting 20 minute time offset gave this splashy sunrise a chance to happen, us a chance to see it, and me the opportunity to share it in this space. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)




(HDR image from Android 'phone)

15_the_circle: (MARC train)
Monday, January 3rd, 2011 11:39 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

The best commutes I've ever had have been when I could take the train to work, or could bike there.  Each mode has its advantages, but they have shared the same drawback: the opportunity cost of having to give up the other. 

This is no longer a problem.  Since the Capital Bikeshare system got started it is now possible to start in the Grove, take the MARC train downtown and then complete the journey by bike. 

More people than not seem to dread the commute to work, I actually look forward to it. 

Interestingly enough, for that last leg through urban traffic cycling is hands-down faster than any combination of subway, automobile, bus and walking.  The only way to beat it would be with a personal jetpack. 

15_the_circle: (MARC train)
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 11:43 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]


(aboard MARC train P881 yesterday evening, heading off the terminal lead onto the CSX Metropolitan Subdivision and stopped for a red signal at QN Tower)

Conductor to passengers:  "We're going to have to hold here for one of those hot Wal-Mart trains.  The dispatcher says he's sorry." 

15_the_circle: (ATCS)
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 02:01 am

[OT from cottage renovations]
[selected images crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] texture]

 
here's where it all happened: 

CSX 'A' Line, Petersburg VA to Selma NC
CSX 'A' Line (North End and South End subdivisions)
Petersburg VA to Selma NC (milepost 22 to 161)



the second day started early, hours before sunup.  we cleared out of our Stony Creek lodgings to catch CSX freights barreling through the cool and crisp night.  with voice radio and ATCS packets as our guides we followed the main line's traffic, catching a breathtaking view of Amtrak's Auto Train gliding North across a cold steel viaduct, its silver sides gleaming in starlight.  Jarratt, Emporia, Halifax, Enfield and Whittakers: cloaked in shadow their hardscrabble small town details were lost in the nightscape magic of railroading in the dark. 

as light brought forth the day the setting came into plainer view, providing the context for dropping through abstraction down to the physical layers around us but also softening edges: morning light will do that. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)

not of iron

not of iron

one who waits along the main line for an oncoming train can provide a few moments worth of morning entertainment to these locals, their grazing set aside long enough to assuage their curiosity.  the one on the L might seem to be wearing a jeweled halter but it ain't so: the bright circles of light are pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) berries in the foreground, dipped in autumnal morning dew in the light.  ugh. 




cash crop

what does a damnyankee know about cotton? 
not much: plantations, boll weevils, Eli Whitney, aspirin bottles. 

cotton

cotton
gossypium hirsutum

this field, through which a dirt track might have led to the Delmar control point, was obviously ready for harvesting. 




sweet spot

years ago the railroad was downsized from double track to single, with passing sidings to permit bidirectional operation.  this location near milepost 71.2 in Dahlia VA is on the outside of a curve, an excellent spot to stop for a little while and give the trains a chance to come to us. 

sweet spot

when the railroad switched its signal system from trackside wires to radio communications two things happened:

  • movement information became accessible through the ATCS Monitor
  • the poles were cut down, opening up the view along the tracks

another consequence was this material for texture studies. 

pole line down

pole line down
pole line down



where the trains meet

having emerged from single track segments onto a few miles of passing track at the right time, these passenger trains met at speed. 

meet
meet

a still photograph really doesn't do justice to the spectacle of this pair of trains, their approach heralded by the sounds of whistles at grade crossings, charging off the straightaways and slipping around the curve with a whoosh and a clatter, hurrying along the line to the next stops on their respective runs. 




a few short hours later it was my turn to ride rather than to chase: the next Northbound passenger train brought me back to Union Station whence I headed back to the Grove, leaving the main line across the Piedmont to host again its nightly fleet of fast trains under the darkest of skies and the clearest of stars. 


15_the_circle: (snow cottage)
Saturday, February 23rd, 2008 10:16 am

[OT from cottage renovations]

with another ice storm the external texture of everything changed once again.  a little rain or snow doesn't really have much effect on my commute, but ice is a condition that causes me to make a modal choice in favour of the railroad and circulator bus. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



Railroad Street

the ice encased the rails ...

ice on rail

... and changed how tracks and platform responded to the train's headlight

ice on tracks and platform


the Circle

the day didn't get warm enough for any of it to melt so after dark the ice still on these tree branches picked up and amplified a neighbour's porch light. 

ice on tree branches

15_the_circle: (snow cottage)
Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 11:14 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]
[select images crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] texture]

the past couple of days it was cold.  cold cold.  then yesterday afternoon the air warmed up and it started to rain but the ground, and everything else, hadn't followed suit up so it froze on contact.  even our gravel walkways were so slippery that it was safer to walk alongside them on the crunchy grass. 

by this morning conditions hadn't improved so it was operationally convenient to forego biking in favour of the train and circulator bus, with additional time alloted for getting down to the train stop at the other end of the walkway. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



Grove Avenue at Brown Street

iced branch

the ice coating on this branch formed interesting patterns of texture that don't really come through in the thumbnail image above; click on through for more detail. 



MARC station

rain falling onto ice on slate under grey skies ...

ice on slate

ice on slate
roof detail

icicles
icicles,
seen from the inside against a backdrop of our trees



tie plate
tie plate










15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 11:59 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

the Grove is a flag stop for the later trains so there's always a personal touch to the privilege of being let off at the end of the street:  one has to ask for it. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



Railroad Street

into the night

once again indecision sets in as to which image is the keeper: the one in which our Historic Bridge is illuminated by the locomotive's headlight, or outlined a few seconds later against the old granary. 

into the night

15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 11:53 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

some months ago the railroad "improved" the Rockville intermediate signals by replacing the B&O Colour Position Lights (CPL) with these modern units, seen in clear morning light. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)



Rockville station

CPL killers

with a bright morning sky for a background, chain link and barbed wire in the foreground for texture and sycamore branches to frame them it should be hard to hold the grudge, but don't go asking me unless you're ready for the answer. 

15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 11:52 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

the commuter train pulls in, lets off and takes on its passengers and then heads down the line into the morning sun where it will do the same at the rest of its stops.  there's enough time before the scheduled departure of the circulator bus to take a moment to linger on the platform for a moment to watch as the train pulls out. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)



Rockville station

morning MARC

15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 11:50 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

anybody can take pictures when there's light, but when it runs out sometimes things just get more interesting. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



Rockville station

it's almost time for the westbound passenger train when an eastbound freight rolls through the station. 

eastbound
eastbound

eastbound - shadows
shadow patterns



spray paint vandalism seems to afflict more freight cars than not these days.  at first glance that might seem to be what's going on with these trilevel auto racks but (you might need to click through to the larger image to make it out clearly) the dark markings are actually the shadows of evergreens and lamp posts, cast by lights in the station's parking lot. 



Woodward Park

the Moon had come up above the clouds and behind this sycamore tree. 

moonlit sycamore
moonlit sycamore



this view is from further along Grove Road with camera braced against one of the tennis court's fence posts. 

clouded moon

I couldn't decide which one was the keeper so sorry, you have to look at both of these. 

clouded Moon
clouded Moon

15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 11:48 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

chafing though I am for not yet being able to resume the bike commute, the othermodal consolation prize ain't too shabby: riding the train to and from the office is nearly as good a way to begin and end the day.  the Millville-to-Bladensburg Rock Runner often comes through around the same time. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)



Railroad Street

rock runner
 K951  Q751 rock runner

though it's been quite a while since the first and second trick rock runners had their symbols changed from K951 and K953 to Q751 and Q753 I still haven't made the mental adjustment. 

15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Saturday, November 24th, 2007 11:58 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

... from the day along the Magnolia cutoff.  some are crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] texture

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



Paw Paw WV

water tower
water tower

window detail
window detail, B&O station

signs
slow order signs, B&O station








Kessler Bridge

detail
detail


Magnolia WV

sedimentary stone
sedimentary stone


leaves ...
leaf floating

leaf submerged
floating / submerged



15_the_circle: (old stonework)
Saturday, November 24th, 2007 11:24 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



Magnolia WV

sometimes it happens: a visit to the site occurs during a lull in traffic.  the previous day's derailment of Q405 in Baltimore was likely a contributing factor. 

bridge pier and girder spans
bridge pier and girder spans

the Magnolia bridge has eight piers and nine girder spans.  the proportions are pleasing to the eye even if there's no train. 



Randolph Tunnel

no sooner did we clear out from Magnolia, having waited through the last of the usable light, than the radio came alive and the trains started to roll.  heading E to Hancock along the access road we missed some, caught fleeting glimpses of a couple more, and managed that right place + right time combination at the W portal of the Randolph tunnel for three trains in a row: some westbound autoracks, an eastbound intermodal (not shown) and westbound coal empties. 

westbound auto racks
auto racks

hopper empties' shadows
hopper empties' shadows





W of Orleans Road

this post begins and ends with images whose lack of trains does not make them incomplete. 

curve
curve

15_the_circle: (tank cars)
Friday, November 23rd, 2007 11:56 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

the Magnolia cutoff is one of those places the railroad doesn't just pass through so much as transform into something completely different. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



with the descending sun tipping the ridge behind the bend to the S a westbound freight crosses the bridge. 

westbound
westbound


up on the ridgeline, over on the Maryland side of the river, clouds and sunlight provide a pleasing backdrop while the trees and the bony spine of the hill give a start foreground delineation.  it doesn't really hold a candle to [livejournal.com profile] duccio and [livejournal.com profile] djaza's California hills, but then it ain't half shabby either. 

ridgeline

reflection
ridgeline / reflection


[image crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] texture]
the same clouds and light are also showing up in the river's surface. 



westbound reflection
westbound reflection

stark tree
stark tree




[image crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] photogrove]


warmth from the firepit and light from a lantern: it takes a certain amount of combustion to keep things going.  later on the area was flooded with the brilliance of a full Moon. 

lantern reflection
lantern reflection

15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Sunday, November 18th, 2007 11:29 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

lots of overcast today but now and then the light came through and did wonderful things with the leaves; the Maples (both sugar and Japanese) are about at their peak now. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



Grove Avenue

it's not just the trees whose leaves turn at this time of year.  look down and you'll see it happening at the lower elevations, too. 

hosta
hosta


our Historic Bridge

viewed from the N abutment this eastbound intermodal train looks for all the world like it's running into a thicket of ailanthus though it doesn't seem to be any the worse for the encounter. 

Q130
Q130

later on, though, watching its progress on the big screen, it took a delay on account of showing up at QN Tower and the Washington Terminal lead around the time Amtrak's Capitol Limited was due to head West to Chicago.  the AU desk dispatcher had to choose between certain delay to a hot intermodal and the chance of delaying Amtrak.  the passengers made it out on time and the freight got a chance to sit at a red signal for a while. 

there are other railroads (and others who staff the desks in the CSX operations centre) who would do well to follow suit.  let's just say it doesn't always happen and leave it at that.  no point in naming names, is there? 

15_the_circle: (spike)
Saturday, September 15th, 2007 11:09 am

[OT from cottage renovations]
[crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] texture]



while down at the station this morning for some location scouting for another project, opportune light made these texture images possible at the crosswalk. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)



MARC station

crossing texture

crossing texture



... as well as a chance to evaluate the spiking technique of the last T&S gang to pass through here. 

spikes

it's possible that there's room for improvement. 

[disclosure: this is a composite image, a pastiche of three exposures with different depths of field]

15_the_circle: (snow train)
Saturday, July 21st, 2007 09:35 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

heading over for a market run, and just as I'm getting to the crossing: bells sound, lights flash and down come the gates.  errands can always wait when there's a train! 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)



Aicheson Crossing

eastbound racks

eastbound autoracks, pretty routine for the Metropolitan Subdivision.  but they are the optimal visual and auditory embellishment for an afternoon whose weather has been nothing short of perfect. 

yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as an aesthetic of railroading. 

15_the_circle: (snow train)
Saturday, June 23rd, 2007 02:35 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

I had posted this to the [livejournal.com profile] texture community yesterday. 




(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)

Q415 and Q261

cropped from this image, taken from the summit of our Historic Bridge over the rail line shortly after this other image

15_the_circle: (snow train)
Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 11:35 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)



Railroad Street

as we get past February into March the days are starting to get longer, though still a few minutes too short for the light to fall upon this train as it climbs out of Derwood Dip, rattles across Aitcheson Crossing and expresses its way out the Metropolitan Subdivision for West Virginia (next stop: Point of Rocks). 

P877-27 a/k/a the Bue Ridge
P877-27, the Blue Ridge

877, the p.m. Martinsburg express, used to be an Amtrak run, and then for a while MARC was operating it on Amtrak's behalf though I think their contribution to its funding was dropped years during one of their many budgetary crises. 

there's lots of visual clutter in this ill-lit image, but I like it there for the reminder it provides that the Grove, for all its quiet and natural beauty, has the 'burbs washing up on its borders like waves crashing on a seawall, always eroding and only to be put off for a while.  there would have been even more had I not cropped out the line of autos on aptly-named Railroad Street. 

15_the_circle: (amtrak)
Wednesday, February 14th, 2007 11:54 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

snow on the ground is kind to the trains; reflected light comes up softly from underneath and the visual distraction of ground clutter is cleared out, leaving the crisp arc of the rails. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)




Railroad Street

last stop inbound
P880-14
last stop inbound

taking them home
P875-14
taking them home


P029-14
Amtrak's Capitol Limited









photo platform for this last image was provided by the County Depf of Transportation in the form of a snow-and-ice pile incidental to clearing our station's parking lot.