Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Friday, September 12, 2008

NER Syracuse Day 2

Friday starts off cloudy with rain threatening. I registered late for this convention so I am not doing any of the prototype tours this year. Instead the focus will be clinics, layouts and railfanning. After breakfast in the Hampton Inn lobby (got to love that free breakfast buffet they all have!) we headed over to the Holiday Inn convention hotel to get registered. A contingent of NJ Division modelers was found wandering the area (PJ, Bruce B. and Bob P.) and we traded notes on what was seen so far.

Anton and I decided to get some railfanning in before the weather turned bad. This worked well as most layouts did not open until the afternoon anyway. We headed over to Solvay yard where the CSX interchanges with the Finger Lakes Railway. Lots of big industry here such as Crucible Steel, a paperboard mfgr. and several chemical industry receivers. We scoped out the entire area and watched the ex-CR FGLK Quality diesel do some switching, but by now some rain started to fall. It was still early so we decided our best bet was to take advantage of overhead shelter and do our railfanning at the Syracuse Transportation Center, shooting trains from the Amtrak platform. We were quickly rewarded with a CSX train already passing by as we ascended to the platform. Next up was an Amtrak commuter train (Buffalo-Albany). While this was in the station a westbound CSX passed by. We quickly got our cameras repositioned to catch the train.

Listening to the scanner was fun too. There was some back and forth between the ND dispatcher and a work train trying to get track time to do their work. The scanner was vital too to find out when trains were coming of course. Both an eastbound and westbound train were in the area and sure enough the headlight of the eastbound was soon upon us. However the westbound track was now showing a green signal. As luck would have it both trains would be passing right in front of us. I did my best to get a still shot of the eastbound before switching to video to get the westbound.

The scanner talk died off, so we decided to get lunch and head to another trackside location to eat and wait for more trains. As luck would have it we missed two trains while trying to find a suitable spot to park trackside. The first "train" that passed us by was this CSX track car:

Later the Amtrak Maple Leaf snuck up on us but I was still able to grab a shot:

It was then time for some layouts and we headed off to see a nice Pennsy layout featuring Horseshoe Curve. Now, coming from an area outside Philadelphia you might think the last thing that I'd want to go see is a PRR layout. There are plenty back home, so PRR is not high on my must-see list. But this layout was really great. The wharf scene alone was easily 8' x 12' and was incredibly detailed. In fact all the areas were great like this and we were really happy with our decision to visit this layout. (This layout was recently featured in RMC).

We also made a stop a Central Hobby Supply to exchange some money for hobby items and then went to visit a new developing layout that featured many of the areas we have been railfanning. Dewitt Yard, Solvay, CSX, Finger Lakes, it was all here. We could find the places where we stood trackside to take pictures. It will be nice to see how this layout develops once scenery and structures are added.

Back at the convention hotel, we checked out a couple of clinics, including Earl Smallshaw talking about a new section he has finished on his classic layout (one of the structures was scratchbuilt 55 years ago!). A clinic on using photos for backdrops was interesting and made me think about some areas I might be able to incorporate some photos onto the layout. There was time for one more local layout, an N scale D&H, before calling it a night.

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