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Fall Railfanning Trip - Railfanning In Amsterdam & The Trip Home - October 21st-23rd, 2002

Fall 2002 Railfanning Trip:
Railfanning Report - Amsterdam & Vicinity
Also The Trip Home To Buffalo
Monday - Wednesday, October 21st-23rd, 2002

CSX Train Q-169 (Formerly Conrail Train TVBN)
arriving into Amsterdam on October 22nd, 2002

Monday Evening, October 21st, 2002:   

   After arriving into town, I got a Taxi over to the Best Western of Amsterdam where I checked into my hotel and left my scanner on in the hopes the batteries would die so I could recharge them. (You can't recharge Ni-Cd batteries until they're dead or else they'll develop memory and won't hold a charge as well). I proceeded to walk back to the station and wait for my friends Rich and Bill to arrive. It was a good mile and a half walk back to the station but I didn't mind. I brought my MiniDisc Player along and the time flew by. It was now past sunset so I didn't bother bringing the camera as there wasn't any light left for photography.
   Just as I was walking into the parking lot of the station, Bill arrived and Rich arrived soon after. The 3 of us then went back to Russo's Grille for dinner and railfanning as I said in a previous travelogue, this restaurant has a nice view of the tracks from it's front window! We all headed back to the station for some more train watching before I headed back to my hotel to get another good night's rest as I now was on my second streak at being awake some 24 hours without sleep!

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2002:

   Bill would pick me up from the station around 1pm as I slept in late! We drove back to the station where Rich met up with us and we took a drive around the area to get in some railfanning along different scenic spots on the Chicago Line. Among the places we visited were East Canada Creek Bridge in Manheim, NY near Milepost 210. Later on, we drove to Little Falls, NY near CP-215 and found a rather rocky and hilly overhead viewing area to watch trains, though unfortunately none were in the area. So we took off from there, drove up NY Rte. 5S another mile or so, found another spot and waited for Amtrak Train #281 to pass through. After Amtrak passed by, we decided to head back to Amsterdam where our friend Armand would meet us. The 4 of us headed back to Russo's for dinner, I had their chicken wings, and being from Buffalo, I know how chicken wings should taste, and these were delicious!
   After dinner, the 4 of us went back to the station for some more train watching and railroad chat. We would be there another few hours before I headed back to the hotel for the night after a good day of railfanning with friends.
   I said before, my hotel was the Best Western Of Amsterdam and this room was very nice, clean and warm as temps outside were in the 40's for most of the trip. I had only one minor problem, my TV didn't work because of a bad AC outlet but that was fixed quickly and otherwise the room was fine.

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2002:

Bill had to head back to the Adirondacks late on Tuesday Night. Rich picked me up from my hotel around 11am and we drove over to a nearby KFC to get some lunch before heading out to do some more railfanning. After lunch, we headed back to the station and decided to check out another old railroad line in the area that has long since been abandoned but the right-of-way is still there.  
   On the South side of the Mohawk River is some old railroad roadbed that was once part of the New York, West Shore & Buffalo Railroad. We'll just call it the "West Shore" for this travelogue. This railroad was actually built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1881 as a competitor to the New York Central's "Water Level Route". It began originally in New Jersey and ran all the way to Buffalo, following the Hudson River North then turning West and following the Mohawk River. In response to this, the New York Central began to build the South Pennsylvania Railroad between Philadelphia and Harrisburg to compete against the Pennsy, though they would only dig the tunnels and have the roadbed graded but no track would be laid.
  After a few years, an truce was called by the two railroads to stop invading each other's territory as the West Shore had gone bankrupt in 1884. In the truce, the Pennsy gave up on the West Shore in exchange for the New York Central giving up on their railroad in Pennsylvania. The right-of-way that was built in Pennsylvania later became the roadbed for the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the New York Central now operating the West Shore.
   In due time, the West Shore's traffic dwindled away and eventually, the line was abandoned with the exception of a small piece of industrial track near Rotterdam Junction (CP-RJ on the Selkirk Branch), a spur around the city of Rochester, and all the track between Rotterdam Junction and Selkirk. The rest of the old West Shore is now bike paths for the most part with the CSX Selkirk Branch being the largest piece of this old railroad that is still in operation, as it is the mainline into Selkirk Yard from the West. An extension of the original West Shore to the Chicago Line was built and today is known as CP-169 on the Chicago Line. The line now runs northwest first out of CP-RJ then crosses the Mohawk River then crosses the Chicago Line overhead where the the tracks turn and merge with the Chicago Line.
   Rich and I were driving down NY Rte. 5S when we found the large bridge over Schoharie Creek and pulled over to take a look at it. It appears to have regular street roadbed on its decking as it was used as a detour bridge for Rte. 5S when Rte. 5S was being used as a detour for the New York State Thruway when its own bridge over the same creek collapsed in the late 80's and had to be rebuilt. This bridge of course was part of the West Shore and appears to have been built to last virtually forever. After leaving the bridge, and driving over the Mohawk River near Fort Hunter, NY, we drove back to the station, then drove East to Hoffmans, NY at CP-169 where the connector to the Selkirk Branch begins and the Chicago Line continues towards Schenectady. We sat at Hoffmans for about a half-hour and saw 1 CSX Freight and Amtrak Train #286. After leaving Hoffmans, we went back to the station as it was now less than an hour before my train back to Buffalo, #281 would be arriving.

Segment 6:
The Trip Home on Amtrak Train #281:

At 3:20pm, running 11 minutes late, Amtrak Train #281 arrived into Amsterdam to bring me back home to Buffalo. Rich contacted Amtrak and was able to ride with me to Utica where he would pick up Train #64 and come back to Amsterdam. He pointed out to me the various spots that him, Bill and myself traveled to on the previous day. By the time we arrived in Utica, about an hour later, Rich got off the train and I would be headed home. Special thanks to Rich and Bill for driving me around town and for the railfanning in the area!
   Our next stop was Rome, NY where the station platform has been reconstructed and is in very nice shape! In Syracuse, our next stop, we were there maybe 3 minutes before leaving and arriving in Rochester just after sunset. Kodak Park looks very nice all lit up at night as you ride past it. I took this part of the trip as an opportunity to just relax and enjoy the scenery. I had a nice MiniDisc playing of Smooth Jazz Music while I enjoyed a beer as we did 80mph while watching the fall colors pass by! One thing I took a look at was the "Arrive Magazine" located in the seat back of every seat in the coach. There was an interesting article about Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band's new tour. There was also a message from David Gunn, President of Amtrak on how Amtrak is doing with its reorganization and such, a very good read.
   On this trip, I met some people from England who were on a vacation in America, I noticed both myself and one of these passengers had the same MiniDisc Player! We chatted for about a half hour. I also chatted with some passengers as we were coming into Buffalo-Depew Station about railroad history in Western New York. By the time we left Depew, the train had very few people left on it with only 2 stops left.
  My stop at Exchange Street in Downtown Buffalo was next, so I gathered my luggage and would draw to a close a 6 day trip on Amtrak that had me visit several different areas riding 6 trains. This proved to be a great trip even with the delays on a few of the trains. All of the Amtrak crews were friendly and professional. The conversations with the train crews were informative and interesting. All of the trains were run safely and there were no major reported problems on any of them, more points for Amtrak.
   If you haven't done so yet, I urge you to write your Congressman and ask he or she to support the full $1.2 Billion request that Amtrak is asking for as the money is necessary to get the system back on stable ground again. I've said this before and I'll say it again, America needs Amtrak. Lets face it, we need another alternative to driving on overcrowded and dangerous Interstate Highways. Amtrak is environmentally friendly as a fully loaded long distance train could mean lost more cars taken off the road, not adding more pollution to the air, and besides that, Amtrak is safer than driving cross country as far fewer train accidents occur as compared to auto accidents. Support your National Passenger Railroad, take a trip for a day, or take a vacation, but use this service. You'll get to your destination and you'll have a lot of fun meeting new people and enjoying the overall experience of riding a train. The Consist of my last train home is located in the table below, until next time, Happy Railfanning...

Amtrak Train #281 - October 23rd, 2002
Car/Engine Type:
Amfleet I Cafe Car
Cafe Car
Amfleet I Coach
Coach (My Car)
Amfleet I Coach
Amfleet I Coach
Amfleet I Coach

At East Canada Creek in Manheim, NY is this formerly 4 track bridge which shows that this line was 4 tracks at one time. Witness this CSX van train heading West on Track #1. (10-22-02)

Looking up from the overhead viewing area near CP-215 is this old coaling tower, long since abandoned and buried in the woods. (10-22-02)

Near Milepost 216 in Little Falls, NY is Amtrak Train #281 heading West at 3:54pm with P32AC-DM #706 for power. (10-22-02)

Amtrak Train #283 arriving in Amsterdam at 5:26pm with P32AC-DM #717 on the lead. This is the highest numbered unit in this group of locomotives (700-717). (10-22-02)

This bridge over Schoharie Creek is actually from the old New York, West Shore & Buffalo Railroad. The reason for the highway decking on the bridge was for its use as a detour route from NY Rte. 5S which was used as a detour for the New York State Thruway when its bridge over Schoharie Creek collapsed in the late 1980's. (10-23-02)

Part of Lock #12 on the Erie Canal near Fort Hunter, New York. The Erie Canal and the Mohawk River are one in the same through this area. (10-23-02)

This Westbound train full of autoracks heads through CP-169 from Selkirk at 2:04pm on Track #2. (10-23-02)

Amtrak Train #286 with P32AC-DM #717 on the lead heads through CP-169 on its way to Schenectady, Albany and New York City. (10-23-02)

This CSX Manifest heads East through Amsterdam on Track #2. (10-23-02)

Finally, Amtrak Train #281 with P32AC-DM #704 on the lead, arrives into Amsterdam to bring me back to Buffalo at 3:20pm. (10-23-02)