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NRHS 2003 Convention Part 2 Our return to Baltimore 7/5/2003

by Chris Guenzler

The signal system had been hit by the lightning delaying our 3:00 PM departure. At 3:40 PM we backed out of the Harrisburg Station to the east end of the Harrisburg Yard where we stopped right next to the eastbound Amtrak Three Rivers who had been waiting for us to clear. After a switch was thrown, the Three Rivers made the station stop in town. At 4:08 PM we headed east stopping to align a switch to enter the NS Freight Bypass Line behind the station so here my new mileage would start. We traveled east along the tracks I had always traveled on Amtrak until now. Heading through Steelton with the Susquehanna River to our right. We went through Highspire then underneath the Pennsylvania Turnpike prior to going under the flyover of the Amtrak owned lines before passing the Harrisburg Airport. We traveled through Middletown where there is the junction with the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad. We stopped at the junction with the Columbia Branch after running to here at 20 MPH since leaving Harrisburg. We sat waiting our orders and at 5:20 PM we started moving again crossing the Swatara Creek.

We went through the junction and headed due south with the Susquehanna River to our west all the way to Perryville. We passed through Collins before we reached a slow order as that thunderstorm had a micro burst in it that knocked down trees across our power lines as well as onto the tracks. The NS maintenance men had been busy moving branches off our tracks. Cars fared much worse as at least two dozen cars had trees land on them doing unique damage to these poor cars. We crept along with trees rubbing against our train cars. We ran across a lake from Three Mile Island but the trees blocked all chances but one for a good picture.

The train picked up speed for the trip down the rest of the branch reaching Jeb Interlocking before we ended my new mileage for the day as we reentered the Port Road Mainline.

I had been riding in the vestibule from Three Mile Island south to try to get some pictures of our train running through on this beautiful route. I really enjoy riding out in the fresh air but one must be on constant lookout from branches from the line side plants. The lighting was prefect and I really enjoyed myself all the way down to MP 10 of the Port Road. There I returned to my seat to catch up on the story. We arrived at Perryville at 7:34 PM and sat waiting to get onto the Northeast Corridor. Our train started moving again at 7:43 and entered the Northeast Corridor crossing the Susquehanna River and started towards Baltimore. I relaxed all the rest of the way back to Baltimore and it had been a great day of train riding and one of the most unique trips I have ever taken. We arrived back at Penn Station at 8:30 PM. I was first off the train, up the stairs, through the station and out to a waiting taxi cab which took me back to the hotel in fifteen minutes for less than a dollar a minute. If I took the bus back I would not have been picked up until 9:05 PM and then there would have been that connection to the 44 bus. Tomorrow night will be another cab ride. Tonight, early to bed for another early rise.

The NRHS Blue Mountain Limited 7/6/2003

Another early morning but it was my final bus ride of the trip if all goes right. The 44 bus came right on time and the 3 bus then took me right into town followed by the usual McDonalds breakfast. I walked over to the Camden Yard MARC Station to wait for the train to arrive. It pulled in at 8:00 AM with MARC GP-40WH-2 66, Cafe Parlor 190 PRR Braddock Inn, Parlor 191 Hagerstown Inn, low level coach 7759, Bi-level coaches 7802, 7874, 7890 and 7805 with GP-40WH-2. I boarded the 7805 for my trip to New Oxford.

We departed right at 8:30 AM with the Camden Yard Stadium where I saw the Orioles play and then the Baltimore Ravens Stadium to the west and the entrance to the Howard Tunnel to the east. {I was riding backwards at the point.} We paused at HB Tower{site} to throw a switch before we headed to Carroll where we took the Westport Branch and my new mileage began on the Baltimore Terminal Railroad. The train went east under the Baltimore Light Rail bridge where we headed forward after the switch was hand thrown as entered the former Western Maryland tracks of the CSX company. We passed a large sand and gravel plant before running under the old B&O route I was on Wednesday with a CSX Freight passing overhead. We went under Interstate 95 then under the longest continuous in use railroad bridge in the United States, the Mt Claire Branch of the B&O that leads to the B&O Railroad Museum with a CSX freight crossing overhead. We traveled up a beautiful wooden valley with Gwynn Falls Creek running alongside of our route as we went under the Northeast Corridor. Our trip is in Dark Territory {no signals}. Our train climbed up a ridge through West Baltimore before we reached the Metro Subway which would parallel for the next ten miles. A subway train passed over us when we went under their bridge. We passed the Cold Springs Metro Station before running by the Metro Shops. We went under I 695 then I 795 with the subway in the middle. A few minutes later we went under I 795 for the last time then out to Owing Mills. The countryside is forested except where man has intruded. Our train passed the former Emory Grove siding where the Western Maryland Station still stands. The old Western Maryland line to the west is now the Maryland Midland Railroad and we entered the Western Maryland Dutch Line for the rest of our trip to New Oxford.

Agricultural interests are now taking place between the groves of trees with many horses visible. Minutes later we traveled through the rolling hills covered with corn. The train passed through the community of Boring which by the looks of it just might live up to its name. The train ran next through Fowblesburg and Hampstead which has the old Black and Decker plant located here. Hampstead also has a nice wooden station. The next town of Greenmount has a former station now acting as a restaurant before we reached Maple Grove. We wound of way through the hills as the train crossed the much smaller Gunpowder River than the one on the Northeast Corridor. Here it was just a small stream. We crossed it several times before reaching Linesboro where we crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania.

We passed through Glenville on the north side of the hills we had just crossed and then through Brodbeck before heading back into the forest to Pentland along Cordorus Creek Valley. We reached Porters where there is a wye which is the connection to the ex WM line to York now run by the York Railroad. The train traveled through Smiths with its active siding before entering Hanover with the large food plants and where the CSX power for their limestone trains layover at the former western Maryland Shop location. The Hanover station still stands as does the Smuck Factory. Is this where all Smucks in the world came from? A little meridian street running was done as we headed out of town passing more industries. At Bittenger there is a large limestone quarrying facility which ships out unit trains to the International Group-Bethlehem's Sparrow Point Furnaces.

The tracks then run through a ridge of hills and we passed a lake before Berlin. We made our way into New Oxford via the backyards then through a cut prior to passing the New Oxford Station and coming to a stop at our destination.

New Oxford 7/06/2003

I detrained having to walk through two cars to get out and out into a very hot and humid New Oxford. After the customary pictures of our train, lunch was now in order. Finding all three of my possible food eating places in the Chamber of Commerce Guide closed on this Sunday noon, I went on a walkabout. I walked east out of town finding a Subway and I was so happy to have it open I took a picture of it.

On my return to town I found a sign welcoming our train to New Oxford.

I was sure not to many of our passengers from the train would ever see that sign. I found another sign along the Lincoln Highway explaining the town's name.

Back in town, I next toured the Depot Museum and saw the model railroad layout in the passenger car behind the depot. Across the street was an ice cream parlor in more passenger railroad cars. I walked out to the west end of town before returning for a view of the Pennsylvania Railroad Caboose on display here.

It was now time for this Chris to get out of the heat and humidity for the coolness of the train. I caught up the story, took a nap, put my music on and just relaxed until departure time. I made one more shorty trip out to visit Roy and to buy some New Oxford post cards.

The Return to Baltimore 7/6/2003

We had a medical emergency aboard prior to our departure but we left on time at 4:30 PM. It was an enjoyable trip back as we had a Western Maryland Historical Society member who pointed out everything of interest along our route. The weather was dry all the way back to Baltimore as we crossed the rolling green countryside. Once we got back to Baltimore another CSX freight was on the Mt Claire Branch and I was amazed that there was a freight on it both times we went underneath it today. To the surprise of the passengers in my car as we crossed that beautiful Gwynn Falls Creek for the last time we got mooned by a group of kids.

That lead me to talk about the Mooning of Amtrak Event the second Saturday in July at the Mugs Away Bar in Laguna Niguel. Two hundred people cheek to cheek. That is something really to be seen! We arrived back at Camden at 7:23 PM but had to wait for the paramedics to take off that same passenger from the New Oxford call there.

I took the next Penn Station Light Rail Train back to Penn Station before taxing back to the hotel before the electrical storm hit. The hotel was right in the middle of it as lightning cracked loudly and rain pounded the windows. I enjoyed all this before calling it a night.

The Airways Home 7/7/2003

The taxi cab driver gave me a special rate to the airport so I got to go under the harbor and was at BWI twenty minutes later. The First Class Line was only four deep as I walked through Security before sitting at the gate at 5:45 AM for my 8:46 AM flight. I worked on the story, listened to tunes and did word fill ins until boarding time. I enjoyed watching the sunrise and the passengers running to their planes barefoot because Security had backed way up causing people to almost miss their planes.

American Airlines Flight 883 7/7/2003

I boarded the 737 with my First Class window seat 3A at 8:15 AM to begin my flights home. We left the gate on time and soon took off with me looking down on both the B&O and Northeast Corridor lines I had ridden back on last Thursday. The inflight program was CBS Eye on American Airlines. Due to a huge thunderstorm cell we were routed via Peoria then skirted the western side of the cell to Burlington, Iowa then over to Janesville, Wisconsin before making our approach to O'Hare from the northwest. O'Hare was still under a ground stop when we landed which meant nothing has taken off this morning. The runway was very wet as a major storm had just left. They gave our connection assignments as we would land at H11B and I would need to get to K5 once on the ground. Saw a Metra train on its way to Harvard and downtown Chicago off to the southeast in the distance. We touched down at 10:02 AM and taxied to the gate.

American Airlines Flight 1475 7/7/2003

Once on the ground I went to K5 only once I got to that gate they sent me back over to H8 to catch my flight there. I needed my exercise anyway! Back at H8 they were bringing a plane from the hanger since the plane from Detroit could not get here through the storm and no one knew when our plane would get to the gate. The plane arrived at 11:00 with the same crew that had brought me from Baltimore as they were taken from their normal San Francisco flight. I was aboard at 11:08 in my usual 3A seat. It's another 737 and we pulled away from the gate at 11:31 AM. We were forth in line to go out on runway 3-2 left. We left the ground at 11:47 AM with the inflight movie was Star Trek Nemesis. Later great views of Shiprock, NM and the Grand Canyon with the steam train parked at the South Rim Station. I got a great view of Ash Hill one of my favorite train watching places. We touched down at 1:32 PM and I was picked up by my mother ending this most interesting National Railroad Society 2003 Convention in Baltimore.