[OT from cottage renovations]
[selected images crossposted to texture]
here's where it all happened:
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
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.
what does a
damnyankee know about cotton?
not much: plantations, boll weevils, Eli Whitney, aspirin bottles.
this field, through which a dirt track might have led to the Delmar control point, was obviously ready for harvesting.
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.
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
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.
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.