Back when I lived in southern New Jersey, the Southern Railway Steam Specials (and later the Norfolk Southern Steam Specials) came within a one-day trip from the house only on one of their departure points -- Alexandria, Virginia, was three hours down I-95 and trips departed there bound for either Charlottesville or Front Royal. I chased many a trip to both places.
In August 1982 I had chased Southern's ex-Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 No. 2716 to Charlottesville (2716 was a magnificent locomotive, but sadly only served in the Steam Specials for a little more than a year when mechanical issues sidelined in permanently). I knew the locomotive would put on a spectacular show climbing Fairfax Hill on the last leg of its northbound trip, but I didn't know where to go. Marc Balkin of Custom Steam Productions (he was producing audio tapes then; video was still not available) clued me in on a great spot on a curve on the hill. Fairfax Station Road winds its way out of the town of Clifton, and a few miles out of town it turns left at a T intersection before turning right again and heading into Fairfax Station. But turning right at that T put you on Colchester Road, which went under the tracks. At the underpass, there was a good location if you walked up the hill. And it was good.
On that first visit in August 1982, a freight train left Manassas ahead of the steam special. It was a Chessie System freight running on trackage rights over the Southern.
|Chessie System (on Norfolk Southern); Clifton, Va.; August 1982|
|Southern Railway 2716; Clifton, Va.; August 1982|
|Norfolk Southern; Clifton, Va.; August 1982|
|Norfolk & Western No. 611; Clifton, Va.; September 1982|
|Norfolk Southern; Clifton, Va.; August 1987|
|Norfolk & Western 1218; Clifton, Va.; August 1987|