Saturday, December 7, 2013

Black Friday 2013, Syracuse NY

When most people hear Black Friday, they think SHOPPING! Not me, I think TRAINWATCHING! And so it was last weekend that my wife and I headed south to Syracuse NY; she with visions of bargains dancing in her head, and me with, well, oil trains in mine. Not to be disappointed, having dropped my wife off at a craft store, arriving at the CSX Transportation yard in DeWitt, a fresh dusting of snow blanketed this westbound empty oil train behind CSX 8098-BNSF 8872-BNSF 5924-BNSF 6179 at 0740.
Before the oil train headed west, a garbage train headed east behind CSX 643-CSX 7887:
This time of day I should be enjoying some toast. All I needed was some bread, because here's a bona fide Toaster:
Two words: Turbocharger Fire!
Each oil train has a buffer car separating the power from the tank cars, in this case BNSF 808343. As the train pulls out, it curves away toward another shopping/trainwatching destination to the west - the former Carousel Mall, now Destiny USA. This was my second visit to East Syracuse C.P. 286 at the Bridge Street overpass. Another (unseen by me) oil train headed west on the track behind this one - six trains in an hour!
At 0800, a westbound autorack train passed, followed soon thereafter by an eastbound oil train with BNSF 4184-CSX 5287-BNSF 6141 and STAX tank cars built 5-13. At 0820, an eastbound stack train with CSX 5362-CSX 3002-CSX 5496 kicked up the snow, with a CSX switcher visible at far right beyond the Highway 481 overpass.
Re-arriving at the yard at 1017, my wife safely transported to another store, another BNSF-led oil train behind BNSF 5530-BNSF 9313-BNSF 5295, with buffer car BNSF 808323 and UTLX/TILX tanks arrives under blue skies. You are to be forgiven if you think this is North Dakota:
Amtrak Empire Service scampers eastbound at 1040: 713-82758-82718-82711-82694-48193.
Manifest trains often enter the north side of the yard, scooting past a lumber yard and the CSX yard office on East Ellis Street. CSX 459-CSX 7674 are leading. Someone kindly explain CSX's locomotive numbering system to me...two, three and four digit numbers abound. Three trains in 90 minutes.
Former New York Central 1937-built coaling tower at the TransFlo facility just west of the yard:
The afternoon was slow, beginning with this empty autorack train westbound, approaching the Bridge Street overpass behind CSX 869-CSX 285.
I noticed a bit of graffiti on a safety pylon as the autoracks rolled. Probably penned by a similarly lulled railfan. Amtrak did its best to liven things up with the Lake Shore Limited east at 1408: 85-24-baggage-25014-25115-28012-25039-25095-25051-25091-25104-8505-62044-62xxx-1733.
Saturday morning began with westbound stacks pulled by CSX 738-CSX 7815-CSX 7625-CSX 730 and 130 platforms, crawling towards the west end of the yard.

As the intermodal tailend trailed off, a manifest freight arrived on the near track behind CSX 934-5003. (CSX locomotive consists read like phone numbers.)
Did I mention that all these photos are taken in good lighting from Manlius Center Road/East First Street? A public road linking several stores, restaurants, strip malls and businesses? No need to trespass or drive into the yard. Simply Google "Rico's Ristorante, East Syracuse, NY" to get a satellite view of this perfect railfanning location.
Any keen reader who can count the number of times STOP signs are pictured in this post, email me with your answer to win the Syracuse Stop Sign Prize. Bonus points for counting the back of STOP signs). Ten minutes later, another manifest wandered into the yard with CSX 5481-CSX 395 in the lead.
A stack train is working the yard as an autorack train with CSX 8731-CSX 8510 appears behind the manifest.
That's not snow on the cab roof, it's to keep the heat off the crew in summer. At 1040 the westbound stack has emerged, powered by CSX 4810-CSX 11.
Another eastbound Amtrak Empire train blew through at 1057: 702-82533-82759-82721-82772-21603-48188. Thirty minutes later it's the locomotive consist of the day: BNSF 5498-BNSF 9837-NS 1021 with SHPX oil tanks.
Two words: Grinstein Sandwich.
BNSF 808199 was the tail-end buffer car, stencilled Buffer Service Only:
Watch for an upcoming post on some of the unique freight cars I observed and photographed during this visit. Emerging slickly from behind the oil was a westbound stack train behind CSX 544-CSX 389:
The stack train looks like it's leaving, but no, it was still working on its train. A manifest from the yard, with many CN cars, made it through first behind CSX 7373-CSX 7766:
The orange windsock is NOT on the locomotive.
The last train of the day heads west as lunch beckons and the shooting and shopping wrap up. Eight hours and 20 trains later, I departed Syra-satisfied! Not to say that we don't have very good CN and VIA train frequency here on the Kingston Sub, but it's nice to travel to a different railfanning location in a different country, only a couple of hours away, and see some big-time railroading, before returning home to our northern nation.

Running extra...

Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy made a midwest tour, sampling curling in Winnipeg, sitting in on the evening news in North Dakota. Ron revealed that the name "Winnipeg" is rooted in Latin, meaning "the small tundra bunny who lives inside the hole on the hill".

Did you see the first live, three-hour musical drama broadcast by an American network in over 50 years? The Sound of Music featuring Checotah, Oklahoma's Carrie Underwood was an ingeniously-staged live production of a much-beloved story featuring multiple sets on one sound stage with orchestral accompaniment and only occasional commercial breaks from Wal-Mart. (The tweeters in their cynical hater world could not ruin it for us!)

Speaking of brightening up the winter blahs, CP's glittering Holiday Train has once again criss-crossed Canada and the US collecting donations for food banks while entertaining the crowds. Our local news had a nice story on the train's visit to Belleville ON, while John Longhurst's CP Rail Manitoba & Minnedosa Sub blog (see sidebar) has a fine post on the Canadian train's visit to Winterpeg.


Unknown said...

Nice pictures Eric as always.......speaking of the "holiday Train, I would not say that it criss-crossed Canada. Never made it to the Maritimes unless Canada ends in Quebec :(
I don't understand why CP does not try and negotiate with CN and have it travel to Halifax.


Eric said...

Good to hear from you, Jamie. Thanks for your comments.

I think it would be great to have 4 or 5 Holiday Trains, on both CN and CP lines. Think of the food and cash donations they could collect!

Until that happens, I would like to see CP change the name of the trains to 'Christmas Train'. (I still miss the TRAINS magazine Christmas Issue.)

It's been a long time since Canadian Pacific billed itself as the World's Greatest Travel System!


BArailsystem said...

Turbo fire on a Gevo, thats the first time I have seen a photo of an ES44 with the infamous GE toaster burn damage. Up until now, I thought that was unique to dash eight, nines and ac forty four hundreds. I learn something every time I read Trackside Treasure!

I also liked the detail photos of the logos on the locomotives. One of my favourite things to photograph while trackside, especially brand new ones on rolling stock. I make a game of it to try and frame them perfectly to get a portrait shot.

For the record, I counted 5 stop signs :)


Eric said...

Toaster time! Yes, I saw a CSX C40-8W with toaster damage on my last Syracuse Black Friday visit, Ben. Very dramatic indeed.

Glad you liked the logo photos - simple but striking, and nice to photograph something graffiti-free, at least in a close-up.

Your contest guess is correct and watch for notification in the next post...

Thanks for your comments!