As I mentioned in an earlier post, Kitty, Al Bear, Dexter Fox, and I traveled from New York City to Pittsburgh on July 4th by train. The fare for business class which included unlimited soft drinks and electrical outlets at every seat was about $80/person. Add that to fact that there was no airport hassle, the hotels in NYC and PGH were both 1 block from the train stations, and it was nice to be able to kick back an relax in comfortable seats, it made the 8 hour trip very enjoyable.
At Philadelphia the train switched engines from electric to diesel-electric. Even though there is still electric power to Harrisburg, they do the switch in Philly. I got off to take pics of the engines when the engineer asked if I wanted to get a pic at the control of the engine. Hell yeah! He then asked if I wanted pics with the other engine. Hell yeah! When they hooked up the diesel, he invited me into the cab for pics. He then asked if I would be interested in riding in the cab all the way to Lancaster. I was about to faint! This was a dream come true! It's also something that is HIGHLY frowned upon by the railroads for liability issues. The engineer had a lot of years of service, however, and really didn't care what management would think. He knew he had a supporter of all things rail related and this was just good public relations.
The engineer asked is my friend, Al Bear, would also like to ride along. I got on the cell phone and called him. He was back at our seats. A few minutes later and Al had joined us up in the cab. We rode along for well over an hour. We got quite the lesson in all of the workings of the engine and the rules of the rails. The highlight was when he asked me to blow the whistle for one of the very few grade crossings on the Northeast Corridor. I did it like a true professional! (long, long, short, long with the last long lasting until the engine had reached the grade crossing).
After Lancaster we returned to our seats and settled in for a nice ride. The route took us across the famous Horseshoe Curve to the east of Altoona. Once again, to a non-railfan it would mean nothing, but to a railfan, it's a pretty cool deal! Surprisingly, since we're talking Amtrak here, we arrived in Pittsburgh early! We were soon at the Westin hugging and chatting with friends and searching desperately for food downtown on a holiday.
I'll post a few other non-con pics of Pittsburgh as well. If you were at the con and never made it up to the roof, you missed a great thing. It's really beautiful up there at night and you can get hyp-mo-tized by the scrolling blue lights. I also found a really cool "sculpture" that could easily get missed. If you walked along the railing of the patio, there were stainless steel(?) or aluminum(?) plaques scattered along the entire length. If you walked the whole thing, what you saw was that the panels added up to a scale model of the Allegheny River. To a hydrologist, this was pretty damn cool!
So lets get to the pics starting with one of my favorites of the convention center roof at night.
On the NYC-Philly route the train used AEM-7 electric units. Between Trenton and Philly we hit our maximum speed. I was using my GPS connected to my laptop when I captured this.
Amtrak 158. The engine I rode in. A GE Genesis P42DC.
At the controls of the AEM-7
Looking back at the train from the engine while leaving Philly
The Zoo Interlocking outside of Philly
One section of the scale model of the Allegheny River
Close up of the detail of PGH
Sunset over the Monongahela River
Pittsburgh! Home of the Heinz Co. and the Andy Warhol Museum. This is a pseudo-Warhol found in the convention center.
Finally, a fish-eyed view of the city including the Westin