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B&O Washington Branch Photo Tour


B&O Washington Branch
Modern day photo tour

Accompanying each photo below are:

Click a photo to see a larger view. Please send your comments and corrections to Steve.


Brief Historical Background: Annapolis Junction Aggregates Delivery

All Quiet

All Quiet
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T-: 52m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

west view A full complement of red signals turned out to be deceptive on this gray November day.

On the nearest track, CSX stages autoracks that are arriving or departing the Jessup Auto Terminal a mile northeast of Annapolis Junction. The next two tracks over are the CSX Capital Subdivision's main lines. The farthest of the four on this side of the gravel mound is a team track that facilitates stone deliveries.

Curving at far right is part of the wye that has a claim to fame: at over 180 years of age, AJ's is the world's second oldest intact wye that remains in railroad use. The world's oldest such wye is also of B&O origin: Frederick Junction.


CSX 790

CSX 790
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B T-: 24m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

west view Some 30 minutes later, action picked up, with simultaneous eastbound and westbound trains. CSX 790 escorts a consist of autohacks bound for Jessup Terminal. Fortunately this train continued rolling and did not block the view of what came next.


CSX 5239

CSX 5239
Mile: 18.0 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 0
Map: Ho 20 G 10, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

After 20 quiet minutes, I was ready to depart when CSX 5239 arrived and slowed to a halt with buddies CSX 292, and CSX 15.


Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones
Mile: 18.0 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 2m
Map: Ho 20 G 10, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

It was followed by about two dozen hoppers filled to the brim with crushed rock. This was the first time I'd witnessed a delivery to the Vulcan Materials' aggregates facility. Such trains are often called "rock runners" though "rolling stones train" also fits.


Warm Up

Warm Up
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 4m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Soon VM's idle switcher coughed to life, belching smoke that revealed its health, or lack thereof.


Pushing

Pushing
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B T+: 5m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Once the main line switch was reset to lead into VM, the engines began pushing the hoppers.


Open Hopper

Open Hopper
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B T+: 6m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Gravel is often carried by open hoppers. Each hopper is loaded from two dispensers, and has three doors on its bottom for unloading contents by gravity.

Open hoppers like these can carry up to about 100 tons. Most open hoppers with this CSX paint scheme began life with L&N during the 1970s, followed by time with SBD.


MOW Equipment

MOW Equipment
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 6m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

After sitting idle for days/weeks, the blue switcher anxiously awaits activity by which to break up the monotany. A person guards VM's road entrance, where empty-then-filled trucks frequently pass. One such truck can be seen through the trees on the right. At the time, no one knew it would be the last filled truck to depart for awhile...


CSX 15

CSX 15
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B T+: 9m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The power trio begins to reverse off the main line.


We Have a Problem

We Have a Problem
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T+: 12m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The lead engine continues to creep backward, until...


Hmmm

Hmmm
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: S
Area: B+ T+: 13m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

operator display ... uh oh, there's not enough room for all the hoppers!

Hmmm...


Oops

Oops
Mile: 17.9 Date: Sep 2017
Ease: A- View: NW
Area: B T+:
Map: AA 5 F 9, Ho 20 H 10 Topographic Maps

Apparently the switch at the southeast end of VM was in the wrong position, and the hoppers wound up on the shorter (right) of this pair of repurposed old tracks.

No big deal, right? The train can pull back out onto the main, and after the switch is realigned, push the hoppers back onto the longer track.

Except it had already released the main, where another westbound train was rapidly approaching. Fortunately, there had been just enough room for the lead engine to tuck itself behind the dwarf signal...


CSX 906

CSX 906
Mile: 17.9 Date: Dec 2013
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 21m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

... so that a few minutes later a mixed freight led by CSX 906 could squeeze past.


Rocks Going

Rocks Going
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T+: 22m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

With a sense of irony, the westbound's consist contains some broken up concrete and gravel. AMGX is the reporting mark of AMG Resources Corporation, a scrap metals processor.


CSX 763

CSX 763
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 39m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Then everyone twiddled thumbs, or smoked, for about another 20 minutes, waiting for this second westbound to also roll through.


Red

Red
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T+: 50m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Still stuck at the red signal, with moss threatening to gather on the stones. Is a third westbound coming?


19 Corvids

19 Corvids
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 54m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The vultures, sensing trouble, began to circle. Actually, those are crows, a type of corvid.


Climb Down

Climb Down
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T+: 54m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The signal had changed a few minutes prior, but it was too close for the operator to see, so he climbed down to verify.


Pull Forward

Pull Forward
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B T+: 55m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Finally, with permission the delivery train pulled forward, someone at the other end realigned the problematic switch, and...


Push Back

Push Back
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 57m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

... now there was room to push the cars back far enough that VM's blue switcher had room to roll in front of them.

On the other side of the trees, note the red lamps of a group of trucks wishing to pick up gravel, but being unable to because the delivery blocked VM's entrance.


Uncouling

Uncoupling
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 59m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

An hour after arriving, the delivery has been completed, and the trio has uncoupled...


Pull Away

Pull Away
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 1h 1m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

... and begins to pull away. It's not Miller time for everyone yet, as the delivered hoppers need to be unloaded.


Align Switch

Align Switch
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 1h 2m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The patient blue switcher chugs into action, the first step of which is to be switched onto the track with the hoppers.


Awaiting Instructions

Awaiting Instructions
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 1h 3m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The trio pulls onto the team track and waits to hear from BC dispatch.


VULX 2779

VULX 2779
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 1h 12m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

VM's beastie is a 1974-built, ex-Lehigh Valley, ex-Conrail U23B switcher model known affectionately as a U-Boat. It's VM's only U23B, inherited as part of a deal with Tarmac/Wimpey Materials. After years of exposure to the elements, it has taken on a somewhat menacing visage. If Steven Spielberg should ever want to create a railroad version of Duel, this is a machine he should consider casting.

At distant right, a VM employee wearing a yellow jacket begins the unloading task.

Link to other pictures: ~2005


Screen

Screen
Mile: 17.8 Date: Jan 2002
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: B T:
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

Per this older photo, as the gravel is unloaded it pours though a screen into a pit where a conveyor system waits below. The conveyor lifts the rock up to a movable point where it is dropped to form a pile.


Dumping

Dumping
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 1h 17m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

At the pit, a worker uses a tool to pry open the door and let gravity do its thing.


Full

Full
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 1h 19m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

Dumping happens faster than the conveyor system can lift the rocks, so sometimes a temporary backup develops.


Conveyor

Conveyor
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: N
Area: B T+: 1m 21m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

the conveyor at work


Uncouple

Uncouple
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 1h 45m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

After a few hoppers have been emptied, the worker uncouples the group...


Three Empties

Three Empties
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B T+: 1h 46m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

... and the blue switcher pulls them clear of VM's main entrance. The switcher is operated by remote control.


Grouping Empties

Grouping Empties
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B T+: 1h 47m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

The empties are pushed toward, and later, onto the other leg of the wye.


Next

Next
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B T+: 1h 48m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

The blue switcher glides back for the next group of hoppers...


Reconnecting

Reconnecting
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B T+: 1h 49m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

... and connects to pull them forward to the dumping pit.


Foot Bath

Foot Bath
Mile: 17.8 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: N
Area: B T+: 1h 55m
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

Exiting trucks go through a tire washer to reduce the amount of dust they carry onto nearby roads.


Rock Pile

Rock Pile
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 2h 16m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Here's the process as seen from the Howard County side of the tracks.


Four Empties

Four Empties
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 2h 36m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

This time it's four empties. All must be pulled past the switch at which the worker is standing.


Farthest From Home

Farthest From Home
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 2h 37m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

After the switch is realigned...


Reversing

Reversing
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 2h 37m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

... the blue switcher reverses to push the empties.


Not Done Yet

Not Done Yet
Mile: 17.9 Date: Nov 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 2h 38m
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Lather, rinse, repeat until all the stone has been unloaded.


Different Trio

Different Trio
Mile: 17.9 Date: Mar 2020
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 4.1 months
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

CSX 404 fire Come spring, a different trio waited for orders to tote empty open hoppers back for more rock. That's CSX 5434, CSX 404, and CSX 818 on the team track, while in the foreground CSX 3413 and CSX 895 lead an eastbound. CSX 404 has not yet been repainted after being singed by a small fire during 2017.

At distant left, Maintenance of Way also waits upon fresh orders after having patched an apparent low-speed derailment along the wye.


Repairs

Repairs
Mile: 17.9 Date: Mar 2020
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T+: 4.1 months
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

A track worker tightens bolts holding what appears to be a temporary fix for a rail broken during the presumed derailment. Note how that rail is freshly nailed, and appears uneven or damaged on the top.


Empties

Empties
Mile: 12.8 Date: Mar 2020
Ease: A View: W
Area: B+ T+: 4.1 months
Map: Ho 17 E 11, AA 1 C 11 Topographic Maps

The trio found their assigned empties, and here rolls them east through Dorsey on the way to a refill.



Thanks for looking.

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