Monday, October 09, 2006

Ah....Trains

Well, I'm back after 5 days of trainy goodness. First I went to Charleston for a meeting with the widow of a noted railroad photographer and the archivist of West Virginia at the cultural center in Charleston. I was traveling with a fellow Historical Society member and a noted expert on diesel locomotives. We met at my place and were on the road at 5:30am for our first stop: Cumberland, MD. Some thoughtful soul put a Roy Rogers right next to the B&O Main Line there and we had a nice breakfast as dawn broke over the Queen City of the Alleghenies. However, I did spill my coffee all over my pants to start things off. Fortunately I was standing up, so no vital equipment was burned and lo and behold, I had a change of pants in my suitcase!
Then we did a short jaunt to Mexico, MD to look at trains. Then back in the car, a fill of the tank at Sheetz and we were on our way to Charleston.
We took I-68 to Morgantown and then broke off south on I-79. The trip too longer than planned due to our jaunt to Cumberland with it's trainy goodness and "The Coffee Incident." Our ability to make up time was not enhanced by SIX MILE LONG work zones on I-79. Oy vey!
We made it to Burnsville, WV, got gas at the Exxon there and again enjoyed more trains as a CSX coal drag was waiting to go north to Grafton, WV with a load of hopper cars. There were also some leased locomotives belonging to the short line that services the coal mines in the area visible from the road. However, time was a factor here and we had to hustle south.
We arrived in Charleston and spent the next six hours adding caption information to railroad photos that had been donated to the state archives. Then we had a nice dinner with our hostess and hit the hotel. My traveling companion and myself had a total of 4 hours of sleep between us before we left (he was keyed up about the trip, I was doing a class assignment due the Sunday I was to come back) and we were out like lights by 9:30pm. The only thing we noticed was a hellacious thunderstorm that hit Charleston at 2am Thursday and was loud enough to wake us both up.
Thursday we were back on the road at 8:30am after a fine breakfast at the hotel. We arrived early in Parkersburg, WV at our convention hotel. This was fortunate as there were some logistical problems that needed to be addressed and my traveling companion went to work and I vegged out until the Board of Director's meeting.
Following the 5 hours of "fun" that is a BOD meeting, our convention began in earnest. I only caught some of the presentations as I was running around doing errands and...checking my email...yes, it was there and I had to get my fix.
Friday was Tour #1 in the rain, it was a good time and the day did clear up so that the afternoon was magnificent. Had a grand time. Again, got the short end of the presentations but still circulated enough to meet some new people.
Saturday was glorious and a great day to be running around, WV and Ohio. We toured a Carbon Black Plant and had some nice historical vignettes on the B&O Railroad in the Ohio River Valley. I was surprised by how important that area was and is to our industrial base even today. During the trip I did have one interesting adventure on my own. My digital camera gave me the "batteries are dying dude" light and I went in search of new batteries in Marietta, OH. Walking through town during the lunch break I found a hotel where I was informed that a CVS was "2 blocks down the street." Now, this is 2 Ohio blocks not DC or Baltimore blocks as I walked about a mile and a half to get to the CVS. Still, I got my batteries, got my lunch and made it back onto the bus for the trip back to the hotel and a chance to clean up for the formal banquet.
The banquet was really nice, had a great speaker and I made it a point to sit with some society members who I didn't know. I try to do that each convention and I think it's a good way for me to meet people and for people to meet their society archivist. One never knows who one may meet or how one can help them out.
Afterwards I helped pack up our society retail store set-up and went to bed. I awoke Sunday for breakfast and a general business meeting where I presented on the state of the society archives. Then back in the car with my cohort and we were on our way home...the long way.
We took US 50 East to Grafton, WV. This is a holy grail of B&O railfans, lots of locomotives and still rather busy. On our arrival we just happened to meet a noted railfan and RR Historian who advised us that he was about to go chase a train that was leaving the yard going eastbound and inquired if we wanted to go. We looked at each other and said, "Let's roll." and off we went at some unsafe speeds on narrow country roads chasing a freight train. I have to say, it's hard on the driver to do this, especially if the driver has no bloody idea where he is and is only following the jeep in front of him for dear life lest he be lost DEEP in the wilds of WV. I was able to keep up, boy I was tired afterwards. Got some nice pictures though.
Then we split up from our guide and went to Rowlesburg and M&K Junction, WV. Another B&O railfan hot spot. We met a kindly tower operator who allowed us to take photos within the bounds of safety of the locomotives and the tower there. She was also kind enough to tell us that a westbound train of empty hoppers would be at Terra Alta, WV around 3 or so. Again, into the car and off we went. We made it to Terra Alta with 15 minutes to spare, got our pictures and then went to Oakland for dinner and pictures of the 1884 Baldwin Station there. Then straight home. I got back in after 6pm. A long day, but a good day.

1 comment:

sluggyjunx said...

Sounds great! Get those pics online!