One foggy morning in a modest house on a ridge overlooking one of many valleys in West Virginia, I awake to a cool, crisp morning. As the seasons change from one to another, especially from summer into fall, the fog rolls into the mountain valleys and stays until the suns rays reach up over the hilltops.
On this morning, a wood fire is going in the fireplace, as I sit down to a cup of coffee while my wife prepares a breakfast of eggs and bacon. I get an early start this morning, as she knows I’m on a railfan journey this day. My loving wife knows I can disappear for most of a day while I savor the sights and sounds of the outdoors and my love for all things railroading. Railroad history runs deep in this part of the country. Railroading still carries on today with hard-working men out on the rails 24/7. I guess my love of railroading comes from my first train set at age 5, followed by my first camera at age 14, then my stint as a brakeman/conductor on the railroad. Being retired now, I get to enjoy even more the sights, smells, and sounds of this state, of railroads, and of just daily life.
I take my time lounging around on this cool, foggy morning, taking time to savor the eggs and sugar-cured bacon. I take too much time however, as I drink my coffee, looking out at the edge of our property where a herd of deer have come out of the woods to feed. Soon however, I hear the local railroad turn blowing its horn for one of the crossings down in the valley, its horn echoing off the surrounding hills. Oh well I tell myself, I’ll catch him further up the line, as the curves and grade will keep him down to a slow pace.
Finally getting out of the house and on the road, I head up to the end of the line. It takes me awhile as well, for the narrow, twisting roads adds time to the journey. I climb the steep grade to my final destination, an unincorporated area back in the hills. I find a spot in the parking lot of the Morris Fork Hardware and Farm Supply, which has already seen its share of business today, and climb the hill next to it for a better vantage point.
Sure enough, I’m here in plenty of time, as I hear the Penn Central turn grinding upgrade, its locomotive in run 8, giving all it has. I can tell that 567 engine is running full bore! Soon enough, the turn winds around the last major 12 degree curve and comes into sight down the valley. When the turn gets closer, I can see through the fog that they’ll be switching out the hardware and farm supply today, as well as delivering some empty hoppers to the Morris Fork mine’s truck dumps. I’m enjoying the action and view from atop the hill overlooking the tracks as the crew goes about its business. Almost finished, I’m so enamored with the action, the sights and sounds of GP-9 7466 running through the crossover to run around its train for its westbound trip back to Dickinson yard. For now, I sit and enjoy the sound of a hard working diesel, the smell of smoke from the exhaust, the sound of squealing flanges, and when the railroad sounds go quiet, the sounds of birds chirping in the hills of West Virginia….