|Chessie System; Hyndman, Pennsylvania; December 1986|
Back in December 1986 a group of us went to Sand Patch Grade, located in southern Pennsylvania. It is located on the former main line of the Baltimore & Ohio, but by the time we visited it was run by Chessie System (today it is part of CSX Transportation). Heavy trains heading west from Cumberland, Maryland, would need extra power for the run up the Allegheny Mountains, and after crossing into Pennsylvania they would stop at Hyndman to have locomotives added to the rear for a push.
Hyndman had an operating signal tower, one of several still active along the old B&O, and the operators were generally friendly. On this particular evening, we parked in the employee parking lot for the tower, walked across a railroad bridge, and ascended the tower steps. We wanted to do night photos of the power stationed at Hyndman, and we knew our flashes would attract attention. The operator was understanding, and said there were no train movements in the area and sent us on our way. "When you're done," he said, "stop back here. We just got a new shipment of B&O baseball caps."
We took several night shots of the helpers, a pair of yellow SD50s (at the time these were big engines) and just as we were wrapping up I saw a set of headlights coming up the tracks from the east. Not a train headlight, but truck headlights from a rail/highway hybrid "hi-rail" truck. Now, even though we had gotten "permission" from the operator we were still technically trespassing (we weren't even supposed to go in the tower), and I hoped no one in charge was in the truck or we could be in a heap of trouble. We moved our tripods off the tracks and the truck rolled up and stopped next to us. Much to my dismay, a guy in a white hard hat -- a supervisor -- was in the truck. We were in trouble.
"Hey, you guys," he yelled out the window. "When you get finished taking pictures, go up in the tower. We just got a new shipment of B&O baseball caps if you want to buy one." And with that he was gone.