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NRHS Convention 2003 Baltimore, Maryland

by Chris Guenzler

I signed up for this year's convention at last year's Grand Canyon Rails 2002 in Williams. I got the three events I wanted which was the Baltimore Transit Tour, the Harrisburg Circle and the Blue Mountain Limited. I wanted to fly in on the late night but there were no flights. I used my Alaska Airline Mile but the only seats left on that day was First Class so I will get to experience that as well. The Convention Hotel was already sold out and I did not feel like paying a $135 or more a night for a room. My AAA book for this region found me the Best Inn-Moravia east of Baltimore in the low $60 range. I contacted the Maryland Transit Agency who planned my Light Rail and bus trips from the Airport to the Hotel and return plus my routing to the convention activities. With all that set in early May, I lived my life, took my trips and could not wait to get some new eastern rail mileage under my belt.

I was up early at 4:30 AM to pack my bags for the 7:10 AM flight to St Louis. I drove the van to John Wayne Airport and said goodbye to my mother before entering the busiest I have ever seen this airport. The American Airlines ticketing line was at least a hundred deep and the First Class Line had fifteen people in it. It took 15 minutes to reach the counter and less than two to get my boarding pass. Why did not I get it on-line again? I had to exchange the Alaska Airline tickets they sent me for those of American Airlines. Security check point was in ten minutes in the First Class Line verses the regular line which stretched out of sight through the south terminal door. No problems with security this time and I was seated at the gate by 6:25 AM.

American Airlines Flight 2858 7/02/2003

Boarding the 757 jet into First Class was enjoyable experience as I had seat 2F. The coach passengers and baggage took their time and we left the gate ten minutes late. I had pancakes and a coke for breakfast. Beautiful views of the Salton Sea and then the in flight movie was "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days" which took me from the Colorado River to eastern Kansas. We looped into Illinois before we arrived in St Louis where I had less than fifty minutes to my flight to Baltimore. I walked from Gate C16 to C2 in less than two minutes.

American Airlines Flight 2902 7/02/2003

This plane was a Super 80 model and we left the gate on time but we were sixth in line for takeoff and it started to rain which was my first rainy takeoff ever. We ran over scattered clouds as far as Louisville before running over the top of the left over moisture of Tropical Storm Bill that had Louisiana over last weekend. We landed in the rain and I walked off the plane through BWI Airport to the Light Rail Station.

Baltimore Light Rail 7/02/2003

The ticketing machine would not sell me a weekly pass as they do not go on sale until Thursday but not valid until Sunday. I just missed a train and had to wait ten minutes for the next one to appear. The route starts with a brief section of curving single track before it becomes double track again. We left the airport after the Ferndale stop and entered the forest where we joined the line from Glen Burnie. We stopped at the Lithicum Station followed by North Lithicum, Nursey Road crossed the Patapsco River then the Baltimore Highlands and the Patapsco Station. We went under a CSX Line as we made our way to Cherry Hill which is located along the CSX line to the harbor. We ran by the waterfront industries as we made our way to Westport. The middle branch of Baltimore Harbor came into view as the line became single track again to cross another branch of the harbor. The Baltimore Ravens Stadium followed by Camden Yards home of the Baltimore Orioles came into view to the west and we reverted to double track once more. We stopped at the Camden Yards Station as a MARC Train was waiting to go to the storage yard. The LRV ran into downtown with a stop at the Convention Center before I got off at University Center.

I walked over to the Wyndham Hotel, the convention check in to pick up my tickets and convention goodies. Out into the rain I went to Charles Street where I caught the 3 bus out to Loch Raven and Belvedere where along with some other locals we waited for the late 44 bus that took me to the end of Frankford to the Best Inn-Moravia. I checked in for a five night stay. I called Vizzinis for an order of Chicken Wings, Fries and Gaelic Bread. I looked over the convention materials before I called it a night.

Baltimore Light Rail 7/03/2003

I woke with the alarm, showered and dressed before I walked out to the 44 bus stop. It was still wet out but at least it was not raining. The connection to the 3 bus worked out really well and I debussed at Penn Station. I stopped at the news stand before walking down stairs to the closest platform Track 1 to catch the Light Rail train with a MARC Bi-level train on Track 2. These light rail vehicles were made by ABB Traction. We headed south along the leads to the station before we climbed a hill and crossed a bridge to join the mainline from Hunts Valley before the University of Baltimore/Mount Royal Station. We next passed the old B&O Mount Royal Station complete with its train sheds and active CSX mainline to Philadelphia. Now back in downtown we ran on the side shoulder of streets to the Cultural Center, Center Street, Lexington Market and back to the University Center stop I had detrained at late yesterday afternoon. Trains from Penn Station run to the Airport and those from Hunts Valley run to Glen Burnie. So I have now ridden the whole airport line. I walked to McDonalds for a breakfast of hot cakes and sausage before walking four blocks to the MARC Station at Camden Yards.

MARC Rail 851 7/03/2003

The train pulled in from Washington, DC with GP-40WH-2 57, coaches 7772 and 7794 along with cab car 7757. The passenger cars were made by Nippo Shanyo of Japan in 1991. The trip will be new mileage as far as Dorsey. The Night Owl had run so late back in 8/18/2000 during that 33 day train trip which caused me only to reach Dorsey before turning back to DC. We left with the Howard Tunnel line joining ours as we passed the Baltimore Ravens stadium before my train and a CSX train heading out of the tunnel came to a stop. Inbound MARC train 402 was the cause of the delay. We headed out of Baltimore through an old industrial area before going under Interstate 95. Another CSX freight was passed before Carol before the train passed a line of cabooses of CSX and pre CSX railroad which looked like a museum. We crossed over the Northeast Corridor followed by speeding through the flag stop at St Denis. We crossed the historic Thomas Viaduct over the Patapsco River designed by Benjamin H Latrobe II and completed in 1835. At that time it was the largest stone bridge in the United States as well as the first masonry bridge built on a curved alignment. There are obelisk monuments commemorating the viaduct. About six minutes later we arrived at Dorsey ending my new mileage. All I then had to do was to sit back and relax to Washington Union Station which we arrived at on time.

Washington, DC 7/03/2003

It was still trying to rain and with more expected plus my body was still on Pacific Daylight Time, I decided to forgo the Capitol Trolley Museum for another trip and walk over to the US Capitol Building. I stopped by my old liquor store for some decent priced Coca Cola before heading to the Capitol. They are constructing a new visitor center in front of the Capitol with a high wall that made taking a picture of our Capitol difficult.

I took a picture of the Supreme Court Building before walking up its steps for a picture of the Capitol Building through the trees. On the way back to Union Station a better view presented itself to me.

I returned to Union Station I remembered on my Amtrak Guest Rewards Card that it had Club Acela stamped on it so I went and toured the lounge which was very nice. After purchasing more Coca Cola, I walked out to Track 10 to board a MARC Train back to Penn Station in Baltimore.

MARC Train 414 7/03/2003

This train had GP-40H-2 75, coaches 7726 and 7725 followed by cab car 7756. I sat back and relaxed as this is a route I have covered in all sorts of equipment. These MARC low level cars today and the Bi-level cars from the Maine Trip on 1/02/2002. On Amtrak the cars have been Amfleet I and II's, 10-6 Sleepers, a Viewliner Sleeper, Metroclub, Acela Business and Acela First Class Cars plus the odd diners and lounge cars. You can read all about this part of the corridor in my Maine Story when I spent a couple hours at Bowie photographing trains. The neat thing about riding MARC is that you are truly riding MARC on a seat covered with 16 little MARC in each rows of the design covering the seats. We arrived back in Baltimore and while I was shooting our train the Acela Express arrived from points north.

I went outside to wait for the bus and photographed Penn Station in Baltimore. I caught an 11 bus by mistake out to Northern Parkway to connect with the 44 bus which allowed me to see a really nice high priced home area of Baltimore. I had to wait 44 minutes for the 44 bus which returned me to my room by 1:00 PM with a plan to relax the rest of this day. Off in the distance from my room was some golden arches so I walked to McDonalds for an early dinner plus a gas station for some Coca Cola for my Saturday and Sunday Trips.

7/4/2003 The day started off rough, first I cut myself shaving, then I left my watch up in the room when I went to the bus stop. I went back to the room to get it then left the room keys in the room as well. Minor rocks on the road of life but as I always say, "Everything works out if you let it!" The 44 bus came and took me to Loch Haven where I waited for the 3 bus to take me to downtown. I got to downtown and got off at Fayette Street going to McDonalds for my usual breakfast prior to going to the Liberty Street side of the Wyndham Hotel to wait for the bus to the Transit Tour.

Baltimore Transit Tour 7/04/2003

We departed at 9:00 AM heading out to the Metro Subway Shops for an intensive tour of their facility.

Here we saw cars up with their trucks off and over the work pits having all sorts of work done to them.

We saw the machine, electrical and motor shops. They let us tour two cars, an original model and one which has been completely rebuilt. These cars were the last cars built by the Budd Company. It was a fascinating experience after all my trips on heavy rail systems I finally got to see one of their shop buildings and learn how the cars are maintained. After learning all about the Metro Subway, the bus took us out to the Owing Mills Metro Station for a trip over the complete system.

Baltimore Metro Subway 7/04/2003

The Baltimore Metro Subway line was a late subway line in our country and opened on November 21st, 1983. After taking a picture of our train, I boarded the first car to start my new mileage of the 15.5 mile system. We took off running in the middle of the Interstate 795 running with the former Western Maryland CSX line I would be riding on Sunday off to the east. We ran to Old Court where we switched to Interstate 695 meridian before leaving the freeway for private right away. We ran down the valley with the Green Hills of Maryland on both sides to Milford Mills, Reisterstown Plaza and Rogers Avenue. We passed the Metro Shops then stopped at the Warm Cold Spring Station. From there we then descended underground for the rest of our trip into Baltimore.

We stopped at Mandawmin, Penn North, Upton/Avenue Market, State Center, Lexington Market, Charles Street, Short Tower/Market Place and the last stop at Johns Hopkins. We detrained and went up to the surface to see the towers on top of the original Johns Hopkins Building.

Each of the stations has unique artwork in their design.

We then went back to Owing Mills with me riding the front of the car. From there we bused back into town to the Baltimore Street Car Museum.

Baltimore Street Car Museum 7/4/2003

We pulled in and while half of our group went inside to eat, I decided to take a ride. We rode over the former Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad or the Ma and Pa for short. This car I was riding was their 1164 Rolland Park and Riverview built by JC Brill in 1905.

Leaving the car barn tracks we went past the station building and by the North Avenue Loop. We went under the CSX mainline to Philadelphia and by the George F Nixon Substation. They pointed out where the Glen Avenue Tunnel was behind the trees covering the hillside before we passed the 1890's Wheel for the Baltimore Cable Car System. Our trolley made a turn to the right next passing the former Ma and Pa Freight House now the Elmer H Packie Jr. Rolling Stock & Shops Department. Next we came along to the former Ma and Pa Roundhouse now used by the city of Baltimore Department of Public Works for Salt Storage. Here we changed ends and headed back to the station. Other cars on display were the Baltimore Traction Company's 544 built 1896 9 bench open, Baltimore Consolidated Railway Company 1050 built 1898 8 window closed, United Railway Electric Birney 4533 built 1904 one man safety, the 1888 built Baltimore City Passenger City Railway 417 ex horse car, Baltimore Traction Company 554 an 1896 9-bench open, all steel United Railway and Electric Co. 1930 built 6119 as a Peter Witt Car, a PCC built in 1941 7407 and a former El Paso later San Diego PCC 503. After I had my lunch, I rode the PCC 7407 which was the last car in service in Baltimore running a night time excursion for the Baltimore NRHS Chapter on November 3rd, 1963.

The 6119 followed us out to the 28th Street Loop where the four of us riding the cars got off for a photo runby of the 6119 on the loop and our car sitting.

It was a unique experience to visit this museum but all to soon we had to board the bus to our next stop on our tour, the light rail shops.

Baltimore Light Rail Shop Tour 7/4/2003

A GE switcher greeted us when we arrived at the system's shop whose system opened from Timonium to Camden Yards for Oriole Baseball Games on April 3rd,1992.

This was the first light rail shop that I have ever been in before. What an incredible experience I received today. If I had to design a light rail shop I would base it on this design. It is clean and efficient. The overhead crane can replace the car's trucks or the whole car body in fifteen minutes or less. The module makeup of the LRV makes this all possible. This shop is capable of doing all of its own work. The shop is absolutely spotless inside and out.

They had a car up on the lift and several over the pits.

I would like to thank the MTA for the excellent shop tours and the Washington Chapter of the NRHS for planning such a spectacular tour of Baltimore's Transit System.

Baltimore Light Rail Tour 7/4/2003

We boarded an originating northbound train at the North Avenue Station for Hunts Valley. The shops were passed before we ran along a steam and under Interstate 695 to Woodberry where there is a large brick building that was a sail factory for Clipper Ships and then in the 50's, 60's and 70's was a London Fog Factory. We ran north below I 695 to Cold Spring Lane then on to Mt Washington and soon after that Falls Road. We curved through a ravine before crossing Lake Rolland. The train curved and climbed prior to coming to a red signal at the end of double track. Once a southbound train passed we proceeded to Lutherville. The Timonium Business Park was our next stop before we ran to Timonium where there is the last half mile horse track in Maryland. We waited for another train before sprinting to the next double track segment then making a turn at an old wye before stopping at Warren Road. We ran by the buildings of light industry to reach Gilroy Road. We made a tight curve before McCormick Station then a sharp left turn followed by another tight right hand turn to Pepper Road. It was then another tight left and right turn to Hunts Valley, the north end of the line.

I returned to Baltimore with the train picking up baseball fans for the game I was going to be attending. I would forgo going to the south end of the line at Glen Burnie for another trip when the B&O Museum is reopened. Once we got back to North Avenue, the new mileage would start again as far as the junction with the line from Penn Station. We went along the CSX line with the Baltimore Trolley Museum below crossing over the Northeast Corridor and over to a cut where the CSX line enters Mt Royal Station. I rode on down to Camden Yards to detrain for the game at 5:05 PM.

Toronto Blue Jays vs the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards 7/4/2003

I entered off of Utah Street and took the escalator up to the third deck seat AA3 section 334 right behind home plate. I enjoyed a pair of expensive hot dogs and Coca Cola. The view behind center field is downtown Baltimore. The warehouses behind right field are the old B&O Buildings. Game temperature was a humid ninety-seven degrees. The game was scoreless into the 6th Inning when Eric Hinske hit a grand slam to deep right center to break the game open. The Blue Jays scored five runs in that inning. The Orioles came back in the bottom of the 8th sending fourteen batters to the plate and scoring eight runs with two outs. It started to rain in the top of the ninth and the ground crew was ready with the tarp just in case. Third baseman Tony Beausti made a great diving catch to double the runner off first. What a play it was. The final Blue Jay went down on strikes and I was first down the stairs and out ahead of the crowd leaving the ballpark. I boarded an empty Penn Station bound train and off we went.

Off at Penn Station and out to the street just as the 3 bus arrived and I was off on it. Off at Belvedere just as the 44 was arriving to take me back to my hotel. They were the best connections of the whole trip and a trip just under an hour from Camden Yards to the hotel.

NRHS Harrisburg Circle 7/5/2003

Up at 5:00 AM for the 5:35 44 bus to Loch Raven then the 3 bus to Penn Station arriving while the station was empty. I went to the cafe for breakfast then down to the platform to watch the Federal formerly the Night Owl arrive from Boston. After it had departed for Washington, I photographed one of MARC's new electrics.

Following a picture of Amtrak Regional 162, in the concourse I ran into Roy Wojahn and Bill McCraken of our Orange County Railroad Historical Society.

The NRHS Harrisburg Circle was posted on the departure board and forty five minutes later they let us down onto Platform 7 to wait for our train. At 8:05 AM the Pennsylvania E-8s lead the train into the station.

I boarded a Business Class Amfleet Car and settled in before we departed at 8:19 AM. Heading out we went straight into the Union Tunnel and out by the usual Baltimore Row Houses. My new mileage will start at Perryville when we turn off the Northeast Corridor to Harrisburg. I sat back and relaxed until we got there. Out in the eastern reaches of Baltimore we crossed the Middle River then cruised down the corridor through the Gunpow Interlocking where we crossed the Gunpowder on the mile long concrete deck bridge. We passed the Edgewood MARC Station and then through the forest before crossing the Bush River on a half mile long concrete deck bridge with a semi movable bascule draw span. We sped through Aberdeen with the MARC Station. The train slowed through the Oakington Interlocking before the next bridge which was the center swing span at Havre De Grace over the Susquehanna River before we reached Perryville.

Here we turned off the Northeast Corridor onto the Port Road starting my new mileage. We took the south wye with the Perryville MARC Station in the middle of it. We went under the CSX {B&O} Baltimore to Philadelphia before we reached the end of double track. I met Saul Wilson, a fifth grader who has his own web site about trains. We exchanged business cards. The Susquehanna River is off to the west with a few islands out in its course. This line used to be electrified but the wires were removed but the catenary support poles still remain. We traveled through Rock Siding, Maryland before crossing Octoraro Creek before another arch bridge then reaching Pilot Siding.

We passed through the Wildcat and minutes later the Fraziers Tunnels before entering Pennsylvania.

Our consist for this trip was Pennsylvania E-8 5809 and 5711, P-42 DC11, Amcafe, Metroliner Coach 20047, Amfleet 44837 and 82078, Powhatan Arrow, Clinchfield, Echo Canyon, Mohave, Split Club {Amtrak}, Silver Larch, Golden Sands, City of Milwaukee, Greenwich Harbor, Warrior Ridge, Colonial Craft, Dover Harbor and PRR 120.

We passed through Peach Bottom and on the opposite shore of the river was the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant. The river is visible the whole route but mainly through the trees. The river narrows and we climbed before passing beneath a highway bridge high above us. We passed the Aldren Dam which created Lake Aldren stretching for miles behind it.

Our train passed the slide detector fences on the right before passing by House Rock and the Old Bridge Curve before getting to Peque, home of the world famous Peque Inn. The next dam on the river we traveled by was the Safe Harbor Dam which produces electricity for Amtrak Northeast Corridor.

The low grade freight line to Trenton took off and climbed up over the ridge on a spectacular high trestle to our right.

From here we ran along the bluffs with three flumes carrying the runoff water over the tracks we traveled.

The river opened up with several more islands out in it as we reached Cresswell before our train reached the Port Road Interlocking. The Village of Washington was next up and we stopped to load the box lunches.

We reached Columbia where the Columbia Secondary joined our route which would be our return route from Harrisburg on this trip. Behind the Fire station here was the Reading Freight House before we went under the arch highway bridge over the Susquehanna River. We went over Chickies Creek and then ran below Chickies Rock prior to going through the town of Marietta. The river valley opened up here allowing farming down on the floodplain. We turned to the west to cross the Susquehanna River on the Shock Mills Bridge which is 2,221 feet long completed in 1905 with 27 priers and 28 arches. Now running north on the west side of the river, we passed through the town of Clay before reaching the community of Goldsboro where the Cooling Towers for the Three Island Nuclear Power Plant became visible across the river. A few miles further we went under Interstate 76 then by the former New Cumberland Distribution Center then through the town of New Cumberland. We went under the Reading Company Bridge with a CSX train on the multiple concrete arch bridge. A few minutes later the former PRR Cumberland Valley Branch crossed the river on another arch bridge.

We pulled into Lemoyne and the former site of Lemo Tower. We crossed the Corrodougtrel River before reaching the former site of Day Tower and entering Enola Yard which is a sad shade of its former glory. We passed the engine facility where I wondered if Conrail would have taken over Norfolk Southern would those black units all have blue patches instead of the Conrail unit today having those white patches on them. We went under the Interstate 81 bridge before we reached the Iron Bridge that has holes in it for Railfanning. We arrived at the junction of their line over the Rockville Bridge but had to wait for a westbound NS Stack train to clear.

Once out onto the Rockville Bridge my new mileage was at an end as we were back on the Amtrak route into Harrisburg. Once off this historic bridge, we passed the site of Rockville RJ Tower before we stopped to refuel our engines. On the move again, we passed the Harrisburg Diesel Shops and yards then went by Harris Tower, owned by the Harrisburg Chapter of the NRHS. The State Capitol Building Dome came into view on the right before we arrived at the Harrisburg Amtrak Station where we were free to detrain.

Harrisburg Layover

I tried to walk down the platform off to the left to get a front shot of the train but they had it marked off with caution tape. New idea, I walked into the station to get some Pennsylvania post cards. Once I was done with that, I walked out to the bridge to the east of the station for a picture through the wires. I saw a man coming back off the property from the inside of the wye so I ventured out there next and quickly took a full train as well as roster shots of each of the E-8s. I got out as quickly as I came in as someone else had taken my lead and followed me in to take pictures.

I returned happy with my success in what I just did so I went back into the station and downstairs to buy some more Coca-Cola. I went out to the platform to visit the GG-1 4859 and PRR Class N6b Caboose 980016 on display there.

I returned to the nice cool train as the temperature and humidity was in the high nineties. For the last hour of the layover I listened to some "Twisted Sister". About twenty five minutes before we were to leave, the sky opened up and that forced everyone back into the train as a major thunderstorm with lightning to behold rumbled through town. We pulled forward so all the first class cars would be under the station shed.

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