Recently, a friend and I drove back down to the Kanawha Valley to catch some railroad action at Dickinson yard. Our morning started out as a cool, foggy morning in the valley, with the smell of the area chemical plants permeating the air.
The sun had yet to come up shining its rays down into the valley, but the valley was already alive with hard-working families up and about getting ready to start their day. Smoke was coming out of not only area plants, but also out of house chimneys, and out of the yard office in Dickinson yard, where crews were preparing their paperwork for the days business, while drinking their coffee. Coffee was brewing in homes up and down the mountains while breakfast was being cooked.
We started off as usual with a hearty breakfast over at Sam and Mickey’s, a local hotspot outside the yard. After wolfing down a breakfast of ham, eggs, toast, and coffee, we headed over to the friendly confines of the yard office where friends were congregated, to see what was lined up train-wise. We weren’t disappointed. Out first would be the day turn headed westbound up the valley.
As we were leaving the yard office, we could see PC GP-7 5628, an old standby here in Dickinson making up its train.
Today’s day turn looked like a mixed bag of cars headed west. I’ve always been interested in freight cars actually, their builders, road names, color schemes, advertising slogans on the older cars, and how they’re weathered. I’ve always been interested in where a car is going, and its contents. Working for a prototype railroad gave me that insight on all of this when I had to carry out my functions as a brakeman/conductor. I wound up taking a few shots of some of the consist:
I also took this shot of one particular car I found interesting in the consist:
After taking photos of the consist, we then caught one more photo of the turn stopping by Sam and Mickey’s so the crew could refill thermoses with coffee. We also did the same.
Already having their clearance from the dispatcher up in Charleston, the turn headed west up the valley. We took off in pursuit, along the way spotting a herd of deer alongside the highway. We noticed before leaving Dickinson the old 5628 must have recently had a scrape and run in with something, as its handrails were a bit bent. I guess the next trip up to Columbus and the diesel shop will fix that.
A fairly leisurely pace with switching along the way allowed us to get ahead and stake out a spot for photos. We eventually caught 5628 pulling two empties out of the Kanawha Valley Feed & Seed, and spotting a loaded boxcar on the siding.
A foggy, cool morning turned into a cloudy, rain affair after this, so we shut down the photos for the day. We did however continue to follow the turn up to Nitro, where the turn had a considerable amount of switching to do at the numerous chemical plants located there. We decided to eat lunch there and await the eastbound arrival of PC OD-2 inbound from Columbus, Ohio. We weren’t disappointed here as well, with four four axle units leading the long train, with one unit being a GP-9B. As the rain by then was a gully-washer, we decided to call it a day. Hopefully our next trip down will find sunny warm conditions!