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  • Blog Post: Making odds on the future of an iconic mountain grade: Rust in place Saluda

    I was going to write a sentimental post about Norfolk Southern’s sale of two lines out of Asheville, N.C., to Kansas-based shortline conglomerate Watco, which launched its brand new 91.8-mile Blue Ridge Southern on July 26. Both routes were once Southern Railway territory. One line was part of...
  • Blog Post: The dynamic duo

    This is about two beautiful heritage locomotives that were paired in Roanoke, Va., last month. The two have brought enjoyment to railfans across Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio for the last month. I know. I was one of them. For me, it started on July 15th as I began my day at home...
  • Blog Post: When the road meets the railroad

    NS 6169 led the Peach State Whistle Stop Safety Train , and we see it here after arrival in Dalton, Georgia. Look between the ditch lights, and you'll see the lens hood of the camera mounted on the front. All photos by David Lester. Growing up in Southern Railway country, I became aware of the Operation...
  • Blog Post: Enjoying Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam Program

    Having witnessed the steam excursions originating this spring in Bristol, Va., and Grundy, Va., only one word comes to mind when describing them: awesome! Norfolk Southern and the Tennessee Valley Rail Museum went above and beyond to put on a fabulous show for railfans and individuals riding the train...
  • Blog Post: 23 reasons to be excited about this weekend’s Norfolk Southern steam trips

    After departing Bulls Gap, Tenn., train 976 swings through an S curve on the east side of town with Southern 2-8-0 No. 630 leading a public passenger excursion part of Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam program on April 6, 2014. Photo by Samuel Phillips. We’re now at the start of the fourth...
  • Blog Post: Southern Railway No. 630's trip across the Buchanan Branch

    I've had many people inquire about locations and chasing information regarding the 21st Century Steam excursions powered by Southern 2-8-0 No. 630 in Grundy, Va., this weekend, and figured a blog post containing information might be helpful to many of you. First off, the line this train is traveling...
  • Blog Post: Foreign power invades Norfolk Southern

    A splash of fresh color has swept across Norfolk Southern in recent weeks, as foreign power has invaded Virginia and West Virginia. Everything from old and new, and BNSF to Canadian power, is roaming rails of the former Norfolk & Western and Virginian. Going trackside is nothing short of a guessing...
  • Blog Post: CNJ in 4 separate states in two months

    Ever had a particular locomotive follow you around? Or have you ever made a trip and photograph unit, then see it in your home turf weeks later? I have, and that is Norfolk Southern's Central of New Jersey heritage unit, SD70ACe No. 1071. Starting with a trip to Pennsylvania in late October, I photographed...
  • Blog Post: Norfolk Southern's cab units: Among the most technologically advanced streamliners around

    Norfolk Southern's four executive cab units roll through Harrisburg, Pa., in August 2012. The units have seen substantial internal upgrades since their debut in 2007. Jim Wrinn photo ALTOONA, Pa. — We’ve all come to admire Norfolk Southern's set of four tuxedoed cab units' two As and two...
  • Blog Post: Winter photography

    The leaves have fallen, cold temperatures are the norm, and white-stuff is beginning to fly: yes, Winter has arrived! We saw all of these conditions in Virginia within the last month and snow is actually falling as I write this. As I look out my window, I see a beautiful layer of white covering everything...
  • Blog Post: Autumn and all its glory

    Autumn is special time of year for me. When I starting taking pictures in 2002, autumn’s potential for photography was apparent for me. My dad and I started a tradition by attending the Bluefield, W.Va., model train show when I was just five and continuing nine years. There is nothing better...
  • Blog Post: Catching all 20 NS heritage units in the wild!

    After the event at Spencer, most of us Eastern rail buffs have spent immense time and money chasing the fleet, sharing one goal in mind: catching all 20 in the wild! Residing in a part of NS's system where heritage locomotives show up frequently has enabled me to photograph the fleet in a relatively...
  • Blog Post: Contrasting old and new: The iconic Norfolk & Western coaling dock at Vicker, Va.

    Standing tall and proud after years of serving the former Norfolk & Western, a concrete coaling dock spans Norfolk Southern’s busy double-track main line at Vicker, Va., as an eastbound manifest silhouettes the structure in heavy fog. The train is grinding uphill, piercing the night air with...
  • Blog Post: Watching Norfolk Southern trains at Shawsville, Va.

    I want to take you to a place that has become a favorite of mine to visit again and again. Shawsville, Va., situated along the westbound assault of Christiansburg Mountain on Norfolk Southern’s Christiansburg District, is a spot on the former Norfolk & Western main line between Norfolk, Va...
  • Blog Post: Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630 visits Asheville

    Few mountain crossings in the eastern United States are as fascinating as Norfolk Southern’s twisting, climbing route between Old Fort and Ridgecrest in the western North Carolina mountains. Its amazing engineering to gain 1,000 feet of elevation via 13 miles of track using loops, seven tunnels...
  • Blog Post: The climb to Clark's Gap via the former Virginian Railroad

    Some of you may already know that I have an affinity for the Virginian Railway. Something about the railroad has always intrigued me since my love for railroads materialized young in life. The former Virginian was one of the places I first visited as a railfan. When I first began taking pictures, my...
  • Blog Post: Chasing NS' Norfolk & Western heritage unit across home rails

    Overview: With Norfolk Southern’s announcement of Norfolk its 20 “heritage fleet” of new diesels in March 2012, I immediately thought, "I have to catch the N&W engine (NS 8103) on former N&W rails and the VGN unit (NS 1069) on former Virginian rails." Since I reside near some...
  • Blog Post: How the rain and fog can infuse your photos with mood

    I am 17 years old, and I live in the remote and beautiful countryside of Southwest Virginia, in the small community of Indian Valley. My main interests are photography and railroads; both have intrigued me since I was 5, when I acquired my first camera. Honestly, I don’t know where these interests...
  • Blog Post: Railfanning at 30,000 feet

    I am on the way to the world’s largest railroad trade and technology show, InnoTrans, held every other year in Berlin. I am taking the long way to the show, via one of Europe’s most spectacular steam-powered tourist railroads and some incredible fast trains that put Amtrak’s Acela to...
  • Blog Post: Fifty shades of blue: How Conrail’s paint scheme changed from brown to blue

    Norfolk Southern’s first heritage unit, ES44AC No. 8098, proudly wears Conrail’s blue paint and trademark “wheels-on rails” logo. Photo by Norfolk Southern It’s June 1, 2012, and 13 years ago to this day, Conrail was dissolved, split among Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation...
  • Blog Post: Sunset (and a New Dawn) at Andover

    "If you want to see the last Interstate unit to leave Andover, you'd better get up here!" The voice on the other end of the phone was Sonny Burchfield, an operator for the Southern at the newly combined Interstate-Southern yard at Andover. As the evening sun set behind the southwestern...
  • Blog Post: Norfolk Southern’s heritage units sure are gorgeous, but they need nicknames; also the story behind 8099’s odd suffix

    Eastbound Norfolk Southern train 38Q passes through serene countryside at Atkins, Va., on March 23, 2012 with Southern Railway heritage unit No. 8099 on its maiden run in revenue service leading the train. Jonathan McCoy photo OK, first a confession. I admit that I am one of the legions of fans who...
  • Blog Post: Larger than life, Bennett Levin enjoys sharing the railroad experience

    Bennett Levin enjoys time on board the Susquehannock passenger excursion on Oct. 1, 2011. A pair of NS light helpers pace the rear of the excursion train descending into Altoona, Pa. from Horseshoe Curve on Oct. 1. Descending Pennsylvania's famous Horseshoe Curve on board an excursion...
  • Blog Post: On the Southern loops, Norfolk Southern is a busy railroad

    The general consensus is that the loops that enable Norfolk Southern to climb the Blue Ridge near Old Fort, N.C., are less busy today than in the past. Before the 1982 NS merger, Southern sent more traffic up and down the mountain that stretches a 3-mile climb over impossible grades into a 13-mile spiral...
  • Blog Post: Welcome back old friend; I have missed you

    Ears pinned back, Southern No. 630 rolls at 40 mph on Sunday on the NS main line at Chattanooga, Tenn., on one of the first trips of NS's new 21st Century Steam program. Photo by Jim Wrinn I saw something I thought I'd never see last week: A steam train rolling down the Norfolk Southern...