Lost & Found

This time of year is great for photography, especially when the photo subject includes a train or two! When I was able to go out Wednesday evening for some railfanning, I didn’t think that I would get the chance to go out again so soon afterward. But wonderful wife Sarah took the kiddos with her Saturday morning to go yard sale-ing (one of her “hobbies” :)) so I could finish up my lesson for Sunday morning. I finished up sooner that I thought I would and soon felt the trackside tug. It was a gorgeous day with sunny, blue, clear skies and the leaves were starting to show their colors more and more. Quite simply, it was too much to resist. I packed up my radio and camera, and headed out.

Before I go any further, I have to share a story with you. Friday night, I got lost. Yup, you read right. He of the internal compass, the human GPS, got lost. I stopped by Papa John’s on my way home Friday night and, instead of going down Electric Road to 220, I decided to try to find my way through the back section that meets up with 220 a little further south and thus avoid both the Tanglewood Mall area and the traffic lights near Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, I missed the turn that would bring me out in the Cloverdale area and kept going straight. I realized something was amiss when the road no longer had the line markings and I passed a sign that said “End 40 mph speed limit.” BUT at the same time I was driving parallel with the railroad tracks. Since I knew they crossed 220 near Boones Mill, I figured I’d keep on going and see where it led me. Sadly, I eventually had to stop at a house (once I the road turned to gravel) and ask how to get back to 220. As it turns out, I was only a less than a couple of miles from where I needed to be.

The great thing about my excursion is that, as I said, the road I was on followed the tracks almost the entire way (this, by the way, is the Winston-Salem district often called the “Punkin’ Vine Line” because of all the twists and turns.) There are some great spots for photography including trestle bridges and waterways. Even though I was lost (only for a minute, though!), I thoroughly enjoyed the drive and the scenery, and determined that I would come back for some train photography. That’s where we pick up again on Saturday.

The first spot I stopped at was the trestle bridge over Willow Branch Rd. Parking on the side of the road, I made my way up the steep hill through the trees to the tracks. If a train came from the south, I would’ve had the perfect vantage point to get a shot as it crossed the bridge. If one came from the north, though, it would be on top of me without hardly any opportunity for a picture. After enjoying the scenery and solitude for a little while and with the newly gained knowledge of a southbound train coming from Roanoke (scanners are great!), I climbed down and drove a little farther down to the next bridge, this one going over Starlight Lane. Scrambling up the incline, I found the perfect spot. It had a great view in both directions, perfectly lined by trees with a gentle curve at both ends.

**(We interrupt this blog to bring this safety message) If you find yourself wanting to go out and do a bit of railfanning, NEVER EVER EVER walk onto a rail bridge. Not only is it trespassing, it’s just plain stupid. There are plenty of spots for pictures or waiting without endangering your life by risking getting trapped on a bridge with a train bearing down on you. (We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.)

I didn’t have long to wait before the stillness was interrupted by the distant horn of the V74 Roanoke to Winston-Salem local. Even before it rounded the curve, I could hear the low rumble of the approaching engines. As it came around the corner, I snapped a few shots and then stood back to admire the view of the black (and one blue) behemoths roaring through the once-quiet glen. Knowing that the V74 had to slow down as it approached Boones Mill, I raced ahead of it to another vantage point to get a few more shots. Because of the shadows, some of the pictures didn’t turn out quite as I hoped. But for an unplanned day of railfanning, I had a great time and am eager to get out to these spots again before the autumn colors disappear.

Bridge over Willow Branch

Bridge over Stalight Lane

V74 heading South

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One Response

  1. I’m so glad you enjoy trains and that you got to go out for a while and chase a few down!!

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