Rails & Trails Pages

Monday, September 2, 2013

New York Trip 2013 Part 5

Today I am riding the Saratoga & North Creek Railway tourist train.  They have a full dome car and guess where I am riding.  As I step out of the motel I am greeted by a beautiful sunrise over the city of Albany.
 Saratoga Springs looks like a neat town with many historic homes or mansions.  We passed the massive horse track complex but my camera was still packed away.
 The neat Saratoga Springs depot serves Amtrak trains as well as the Saratoga & North Creek Railway.
The ticket office inside the depot.
Our train today will travel from Saratoga to North Creek.  The S&NC track and the Amtrak track are both former Deleware & Hudson (D&H) Railroad tracks.  We will run about one mile on the mainline before branching off to North Creek.
Here is our train for today.  Guess which car I am riding in!!
Here are interior views of our dome.
It is difficult to get good pictures through glass because of reflections--and this glass dome was very dirty.  The first part of our trip was mainly through wilderness but a few places opened up for pix.  But check below for much better pix.
We cross the Hadley Bridge where the Sacandaga River enters the Hudson River.  This is the most photographed location on the route for publicity shots.
The front of the dome was especially dirty so I couldn't get "down the tracks" shots through it.
We now parallel the north Hudson River and the scenery is much better.
We are now at North Creek where after a 3-hour layover, we will head back south.  North Creek is the "home station" for the S&NC and the home of their shop and where they keep their equipment.  One of the S&NC's diesels is the classic BL-2 of which only 59 were built.  BL stands for branch line so these diesels could be used in road service or switching.  They were often called "Ugly Ducklings" but most railfans seem to enjoy them.

Did you notice the rear handrail is missing?  A couple of weeks ago the conductor forgot to remove the chains between the walkways of this engine and one coupled to it.  When they separated them, the chains were stronger than the walkway!  Probably hard to get replacement handrails for this engine.

One reason I like riding tourist trains is the crews and staff are always very friendly, unlike Amtrak and most Class 1 railroads.  Conductor Mike and Engineer Brad were great and Brad gave me a personal tour of the BL2.  Here's the inside.
Brad is really proud of this engine, keeps it very clean, and calls it his baby.
Wouldn't it be great to run this engine at track speed??  It won't happen today as a traction motor is shot and would be replaced the next day.  But we can imagine . . . 
Here is just some of their other equipment.
Much of their equipment is painted in Illinois Central colors.  Owner Ed Ellis worked for the IC and is especially fond of their color scheme.  Here are his E units.
They have a neat turntable which they use infrequently to rotate their equipment.
This coal shed proudly displays its D&H heritage.
Note this neat switchstand's handle.  Lifting the handle lifts a whole casting to allow the track to be moved.
Our diesel today is a model B39-8E.  It pulls the train each way so it runs around the train on a side track at each destination.
History abounds here.  Years ago, a lot of lead ore was shipped out on this line to places like Albany.  The S&NC wants to get involved in freight service but so far has moved only 2 boxcars.  But they are hoping to start hauling lead tailings for use as road fill.

North Creek is well-known for the Teddy Roosevelt story.  It is here that Roosevelt found out that President McKinley had been assassinated and he would be President.  If you want more of the story, here it is:

The coach cars were basically empty--almost everyone wants to ride in the dome.  There is a lower level in the dome also, serving first class.
On the return trip I was allowed to stand in the vestibule.  These pictures are much clearer as I'm not shooting through glass.
As the sun sets over Albany and my vacation, I cross more items off  the Bucket List.  Another great railfanning trip for this railfan.

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