Monday, January 27, 2014

Florida Pot Pourri

Florida Northern; Ocala, Fla.; December 16, 2013
With a polar vortex gripping a lot of the U.S. right now, let's warm up a bit with a trip down to Florida. Over the past few weeks we've shown parts of this trip with posts on an evening in Jesup, Ga., street running in Augusta, Ga.,  chasing the Pickens Railway in South Carolina, and a set of night photos from the trip. To recap, my brother and I were delivering a car to Florida and spent some time railfanning along the way. Now we're in Florida, and we'll see some of the interesting sites the state has to offer. We'll start with the Florida Northern in Ocala on December 16, where GP9 No. 60 from sister railroad Florida Central was returning from delivering cars to an industry on the west side of tow. Spanish moss makes for a nice frame as the train returns to its yard (above).

Back at the yard, the crew continued on another branch to pull cars from a scrap dealer. The train made for a nice shot as it entered the yard on the return trip.
Florida Northern; Ocala, Fla.; December 16, 2013
There was a time when the Florida Central was known for its CF7 fleet. The CF7s were built by the Santa Fe on frames of old F-units; once the Santa Fe was finished with them, they became the de facto short line locomotive of the 1980s as they scattered on the second-hand market. Florida Central's No. 63 still sits in the Ocala yard. with traces of moss and vines showing that it hasn't run in a long, long time.
Florida Northern; Ocala, Fla.; December 16, 2013
Florida Northern also has a line that heads south, crossing CSX on a diamond at the Ocala passenger station before doing a few blocks of street running. Alas, the railroad did not run this direction on the day we were there, but CSX polished the diamonds with several trains, including this southbound led by C40-9W No. 9023.
CSX Transportation; Ocala, Fla.; December 16, 2013
Next up we find a CSX northbound on the south side of Ocala, with AC44CW No. 561 in the lead. Trailing the power is a string of white refrigerator cars carrying Tropicana orange juice to New Jersey. The orange juice is not concentrate -- it's pure as-squeezed orange juice in cartons ready for the store shelves of the northeast.
CSX Transportation; Ocala, Fla.; December 16, 2013
Finishing off our first day in Florida, we scoot a bit east so we're now north of Orlando. A northbound Amtrak train races past a signal at Eldridge on the former Seaboard Air Line. The defect detector nearby, which broadcasts over the railroad radio, indicted the train had no defects and was moving at 79 m.p.h. The signal is of a design that was unique to the SAL; like many other unique signal systems across various railroads, it will ultimately be replaced by generic signals as Positive Train Control is implemented.
Amtrak; Eldridge, Fla.; December 16, 2013
The next day we headed down to the South Central Florida Express, a railroad owned by U.S. Sugar Corp. to serve the cane fields around Clewiston, south of Lake Okeechobee. You might recall we visited this same railroad in February 2013, but a steam line rupture at the mill in Clewiston had all operations shut down. This time the mill was running and cane was being cut. We caught a train of loaded cane cars west of Clewiston as it headed towards the mill. The smoke on the horizon is where cane residue is being burned; you can always find the fields being worked -- and the trains serving the fields -- by looking for smoke.
South Central Florida Express; Clewiston. Fla; December 17, 2013
There are dozens of loaders along the railroad, with trucks bringing in cane from the field to be loaded into rail cars. On any given day, different loaders can be in service. GP11 No. 303 lead a string of empty cars southeast of Clewiston past an inactive loader. The cars are adapted from a variety of original cars, mostly boxcars with roofs removed.
South Central Florida Express; Clewiston, Fla.; December 17, 2013
Sugar cane is highly perishable and needs to be processed within hours of cutting. If an empty train goes out, a loaded train will soon be coming in. Such was the case with No. 303 -- we caught it a little bit later in the afternoon going past another loader as it came back with cane loads.
South Central Florida Express; Clewiston. Fla.; December 17, 2013
With a flight home the next day, our railfanning would be concentrated within striking distance of the Orlando airport. We set up on a parking deck near the old Orlando station on Church Street where we were surprised to catch a SunRail test train running. SunRail is the new commuter service for Orlando scheduled to open later in 2014.
SunRail; Orlando, Fla.; December 18, 2013
The Church Street Station was used by Amtrak, but the passenger carrier has relocated to a new station about a mile south. However, Church Street Station is seeing a rebirth as a passenger station; the platform canopies are all new in anticipation of the SunRail service. Not far behind the test train was a southbound Amtrak train, easing its way through the entertainment district that has grown up around Church Street.
Amtrak; Orlando, Fla.; December 18, 2013
Once Amtrak was through, it was time to leave downtown and head for the airport. On the way, there was time for a quick stop at the Florida Central's small yard at Silver Star, where GP9RM No. 7032 was sitting. This locomotive started life working for Canadian National and was later transferred to work for the Agence metropolitaine de transport, a Montreal commuter railroad; the locomotive still wears its AMT colors. After this stop, it was off to the airport to catch a flight, bringing an end to the southbound trip to the Sunshine State. A complete photographic gallery of the trip can be found here.
Florida Central; Silver Star (Orlando), Fla.; December 18, 2013

No comments:

About Me

Newton, New Jersey, United States

Thanks For Visiting