Streamliners at Spencer:
In the summer of 2013, I read on the Illinois Railway Museum Yahoo group’s message board that the North Carolina Railway Museum in Spencer, North Carolina was having a gathering of many preserved streamlined locomotives from across the U.S. I thought it was interesting and decided to go in May of 2014 when the event was scheduled.
My plan was to ride the Maple Leaf to Schenectady and overnight there. The next day, I would take Amtrak train 280 to New York and connect to the Crescent. I would ride the Crescent to Salisbury, North Carolina where the museum is. I would be in Spencer for the four days the event would be held. After, I would take the Crescent to New York and spend a few days there before I caught the Lakeshore Limited to Syracuse before returning to Toronto the following day. The trip unfolded as follows.
May 27, 2014:
I got to Finch at 6:45 am. I boarded a crowded Toronto Rocket subway train and rode to Union. At one point, we passed a northbound four car train of T-1s deadheading to go into service on the Sheppard line. We also passed Toronto Rocket train set #5891-5896, the highest number of Toronto Rockets I've seen in service. However, a few weeks earlier, I photographed cars #5905 and #5906 on flatbed trucks at Wilson yard.
I got to Union 50 minutes later and joined the line up for train 97. While waiting, a VIA employee checked our tickets and asked to see identification. This is obviously a knee-jerk reaction to the foiled terror plot to derail the Maple Leaf.
Boarding began after 8:00 am. I was seated in Amfleet 1 coach #82773. I thought it was a bit odd since in previous trips where I've ridden the Maple Leaf into the U.S, I rode in an Amfleet 2 coach. I noticed the tray table at my seat was not level.
The train left on time. Shortly after we left, we stopped for a minute due to GO Transit commuter train traffic. However, we were soon underway again. We passed VIA train #82 which I filmed. A few minutes later, I filmed the combined trains 62 and 52 as the passed.
As we passed VIA's Toronto Maintenance Center, I filmed the equipment in the yard including ex BC Rail lounge car Glenfraser and LRC locomotive #6917 owned by the TRHA. The TRHA recently were able to start the 6917, but they couldn't get it to move due to a stuck gear preventing the locomotive from being able to be shifted into forward or reverse.
My ticket was taken. I was given a form to fill out for customs. I then went to the cafe car for a snack. The train stopped at Oakville. I returned to my seat. We passed the yard with the ex TTC D40hf, but I didn't film it. I then filled in the customs form.
The train stopped at Aldershot. As we pulled into Aldershot, I saw a GO train with MP40 #605. If I recall correctly, #605 was the locomotive leading the GO train that got caught in a flash flood! If that's the case, it's nice to see it back in service since water can cause quite a bit of damage to a diesel locomotive.
After leaving Aldershot, we passed though Hamilton. I saw a Southern Ontario Railway GP38 doing some switching in a yard.
We passed a freight train near Grimsby. At one point, we passed by some railfans filming the train. We stopped at St. Catherines a few minutes later. Another freight train passed shortly after we departed.
The bridge over the Welland Canal was down though a ship had passed through not too long previous.
The train stopped in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I saw a couple Niagara Transit Orion 5s at the garage across the street from the station. We departed and crossed into the United States. We passed the Niagara Falls, New York station and then reversed in. Like the last time I rode the Maple Leaf across the border into the U.S, we were made to get off the train and be processed in the station. The customs agents cleared the coach in front of mine. My coach was next. I was the third person from my coach to be processed.
Once I was done, I got back on the train and logged into the Wi-Fi. An Amtrak conductor took my ticket and then I was allowed onto the platform. I took some photos.
I then got back on the train. The train left Niagara Falls, New York on time. However, we would be encountering track work between Niagara Falls and Buffalo Exchange Street. However, we stopped for several minutes. Eventually, we were underway again.
The cafe car reopened. I went to the cafe car and bought lunch. I took it back to my seat. The train stopped at Buffalo Exchange Street. We departed a few minutes later. We passed the old Buffalo Terminal. A few minutes later, we stopped at Buffalo Depew. A fairly large crowd boarded at Buffalo Depew, but I didn't get a seatmate. However, I was told beforehand that the train would be full.
We were caught behind a freight train. At one point, we passed a CP freight.
Train 63 passed but I was unable to film it. 45 minutes later, we passed a stopped freight with four locomotives. The first three of them were from BNSF.
A little while later, we were approaching Syracuse. I filmed the equipment on display on the fairground. Train #281 passed, but I was only able to get a blur. We stopped at Syracuse a few minutes later. We departed a few minutes later and went pretty slowly as we passed a westbound CSX freight. We then stopped completely. We soon started moving again.
We soon passed another westbound freight and at the same time overtook an eastbound CSX freight. A few minutes later, we overtook another eastbound CSX freight. This train was powered by two Union Pacific diesels.
I was feeling a little thirsty, so I went to the cafe car for a milk. When I got there, the attendant told me “no credit cards” even though my previous visits, I paid with cash as I did this time. The credit card machine wasn't working though.
A little while later, we stopped at Rome. The stop was quick and we soon departed.
A few minutes later, we stopped at Utica. As we stopped, I filmed two of the Adirondack Scenic Valley's F-units noting that they obviously won't be participating at Streamliners at Spencer.
Amtrak train #283 passed and I filmed part of it. Outside of Amsterdam, we stopped to let a freight train pass. We stopped in Amsterdam a little while later. We departed Amsterdam. A little while later, we were approaching Schenectady. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off.
Train 64 arrived into Schenectady 49 minutes late. I got off and photographed the train.
I then filmed the train pulling away. A few minutes after #64 departed, the Lakeshore Limited pulled in. As it pulled in, I filmed it and then took some photos.
I then filmed the train pulling out. I then walked a couple blocks to where the Wendy's restaurant I had eaten at during the past but found the restaurant was completely gone! I then walked back to State Street and caught a bus to my hotel. I was staying at the hotel I stayed at on both my 2007 and 2008 Adirondack trips. However, in 2007 and 2008, the hotel was owned by Econo Lodge. It was now an America's Best Value Inn. I checked in. A few minutes later, I walked over to a Denny's for dinner. On the way, I photographed the ex Great Northern Alco RS-3 on display.
I got to Denny's and phoned home. After dinner, I stopped at a convenience store and bought some milk. I then returned to my hotel. I watched TV. I eventually asked for a wake up call at 7:00 am and called it a night.
May 28, 2014:
I got up and got dressed. I went to the lobby to see if the breakfast was improved from the hotel's Eco Lodge days, but it wasn't the case. I went back to my room and finished packing. I then checked out of my hotel and caught a bus down to the train station and eventually had breakfast at a Burger King across the street from the Amtrak station.
I phoned Amtrak and found out that train #280 was running late. I went to the station and waited. Around 9:30, I took the incredibly slow elevator up to the platform. Shortly after I got to the platform, I photographed a Norfolk Southern freight train.
Train #280 arrived 25 minutes late. As it pulled in, I filmed it.
I was seated in Amfleet 1 coach #82981. I got a window seat on the left side of the train. We departed 29 minutes late.
It wasn't long until we arrived into Albany. I filmed the Amtrak yard as we passed. I saw Amtrak's only dome car which was repainted into the Phase 3 livery. I was looking for the first new Viewliner 2 baggage car which had recently been delivered, but I didn't see it. I also filmed train 63 and some other Amtrak trains near the station.
Albany was a smoke stop. I used the time to photograph the train.
I then got back on the train and we departed. At one point, I went to the cafe car for a snack. Train 69 passed, but I was unable to film it. We stopped at Hudson a little while later. A few people boarded at Hudson.
The next stop was Rhinecliff. After Rhinecliff, I we passed a CSX freight. We were now running alongside the Hudson River. A little while later, we stopped at Poughkeepsie. Amtrak train #281 passed, but I was unable to film it.
A Metro North Commuter train passed. A few minutes later, we slowed down. Amtrak train #233 passed. I filmed it as it passed.
As we approached Croton-Harmon, I saw two former MU cars on a siding. We stopped at Croton-Harmon a few minutes later. I filmed the Metro North yard at Croton-Harmon as we pulled into the station.
The cafe car closed as we departed Croton-Harmon. We crossed a bridge over a river.
South of the Tarrytown Metro North station, we passed a LORAM maintenance train.
The train passed through Yonkers non stop. We eventually curved away from the Metro North trackage. We were traveling slowly. However, we soon picked up speed. We passed a MTA New York bus garage with several Orion 7s of both generations.
We were getting close to New York's Penn station. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off. Train 280 arrived 19 minutes late. I got off and took some photos.
I went upstairs. At first I went to the lost and found in the off chance that they still had the hat I lost on my 2013 trip to Washington DC last year. However, no one was there. I bought lunch and went to the Amtrak seating area. I asked a red cap what track the Crescent would be on. I found out it would be on track #7. I sat down and worked on this report some more. I also went on line. I soon decided to line up to await boarding of the Crescent. I didn't have to wait long. An employee was passing out information cars about looking out for suspicious behavior. One example was “Taking unusual photos of equipment, infrastructure, facilities, and secure areas”; AS IF!
I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25107. I was assigned an aisle seat with a seatmate. On the track next to my track was Amtrak train #20, the New York bound Crescent. I also noticed the train was being led by what I thought was an HHP-8 electric locomotive.
The conductor made an announcement that the train would be full. The northbound Crescent deadheaded to the yard. We departed three minutes late.
We went through a tunnel under the Hudson River. Shortly after we came out, I saw the Freedom town standing where the World Trade Center had once stood.
The train stopped at Newark as a northbound Acela Express arrived at the same time. The Acela departed before we did. We departed Newark a few minutes later.
The lounge car opened. I decided to go there. I brought my laptop with me. A northbound Regional train passed. I worked on this report some more. A northbound Keystone train passed. I bought an Amtrak comfort kit for $8 which consists of a blanket, an inflatable pillow, earplugs, and an eye mask. Amtrak no longer hands out pillows to coach passengers on long distance overnight trains due to budget cutbacks. Another Acela passed. We stopped at Trenton. I decided to go back to my coach seat.
The train stopped at Philadelphia. At Philadelphia, I saw another northbound Acela which departed before we did. I then went to the dining car which was a heritage diner and made a reservation for 7:00 pm for dinner. I could tell the dining car was a heritage diner and not a Temoinsa refurbished diner. I went to the lounge car. I filmed the equipment at Amtrak's Bear shops outside of Wilmington. I saw one of Amtrak's new ACS-64 electric locomotives as well as a Horizon fleet coach in the Phase 4 livery. The train stopped at Wilmington. After we left Wilmington, we went around a curve and I saw that it was one of Amtrak's new ACS-64 electric locomotives leading the train and not a HHP-8 like I first thought. I returned to my coach seat and worked on this report some more.
The train passed over a bridge over the river. A little while later, we passed some Amtrak track units. A little while later, we passed an Amtrak work train. A northbound Acela train passed.
Outside of Baltimore, we passed by a Norfolk Southern freight yard and I saw some freight cars that were off the track and on their sides and looking burnt or rusted. Unfortunately, I was unable to film them.
It was lightly raining as we stopped in Baltimore. While we were stopped in Baltimore, a southbound Acela pulled in on the track next to us. As a result of the Heritage baggage and dining cars, long distance trains in the Northeast Corridor aren't allowed to go as fast as Regionals or Acela Express trains. Sometimes, faster trains get caught behind the slower long distant trains. The new Viewliner 2 cars will fix this as they would be allowed to run at higher speeds and will replace the aging heritage equipment.
Both the Crescent and the Acela departed at the same time. However, the Acela pulled ahead of us.
We passed a few MARC commuter trains. We passed non stop through New Carrollton. We passed a CSX freight as well. We ran parallel to the Metro Orange line. We were getting close to Washington DC. This would be a smoke stop as well as the electric locomotive would be switched out for diesels.
As we approached Washington DC, I filmed the equipment in the yard. I saw the Eastbound Capitol Limited back into the station. We stopped to let some MARC commuter trains pass as well as an HHP-8 from Amtrak. We then proceeded into the station where I was surprised to see the Westbound Capitol Limited hadn't left yet! I saw some maintenance crews doing work on the dining car. The Crescent stopped and I stepped outside and took some photos.
An Amtrak employee let me go to the rear of the ACS-64 electric locomotive and take some pictures. I did just that.
The ACS-64 locomotive on the train was #601, the second unit built. After it was uncoupled from the train, I took some more photos.
A few minutes later, #601 passed on another track. I filmed it. The engineer blew the horn. Meanwhile, the Capitol Limited left at 6:09 pm; over two hours late! I said “Good luck” to an Amtrak employee standing in the door of the last Superliner coach. I doubt the train would be able to make that much time up! I took one more photograph of the Capitol Limited as it departed.
I then photographed equipment on display from “National Train Day” a few weeks earlier which included ACS-64 locomotive #603, business car “Beech Grove”, and track geometry car #10004 which was converted from one of the two prototype Viewliner sleepers that were built at the same time as Viewliner dining car #8400 which I got to eat a meal in on the last two times I rode the Lakeshore Limited.
I saw the diesel locomotives that would be leading the Crescent south of Washington DC come. I photographed them before I filmed them coupling up to the train.
I then saw the equipment from the display train from National Train Day reverse out of the station. I make an attempt to film it before I got back on the train.
The HEP was still off, but it was soon restored. I worked on this report some more. The Crescent left Washington DC on time. From the train, I could make out Washington National Airport. We stopped at Alexandria. A little while later, I went to the dining car for dinner. I had the chicken. However, they ran out of chicken shortly thereafter! While I was in the dining car, the eastbound Cardinal passed. I saw it had a private car on the end.
After dinner, I paid for my meal and went to the lounge car. The train stopped at Manassas. I chatted with two railfans in the lounge car about trains. One of them was going to Streamliners at Spenser as well. The train made a double stop at Culpeper. I returned to my seat shortly before we stopped at Charlottesville. I was told it was a smoke stop. I used the time to photograph the train.
My seatmate had also stepped off for a smoke. The train departed Charlottesville. For a few minutes, I didn't see my seatmate and I wondered if he was left behind. Fortunately, he wasn't. I worked on this report some more. We were running pretty close to on time. I played Plants vs. Zombies for a little while. The crew turned off the interior lights. We passed a Regional train before we stopped at Lynchburg. I asked if it was a smoke stop, but I was told no. We left Lynchburg 11 minutes late. A little while later, I went to the lounge car and bought some milk. I stayed in the lounge car for a few minutes before I returned to my seat.
The train stopped in Danville. We were soon underway again. I decided to try to rest for awhile.
Click here to read about the first day at Streamliners at Spencer: Streamliners at Spencer first day