CSX East Coast Route
Philadelphia, PA -- West Baltimore, MD
This tour segment is a portion of what has become a major railfan effort to provide a detailed self-guided railfan tour of the entire CSX East Coast route, from northern New Jersey (the Shared Assets Area) to the south of Miami, Florida. We begin this segment in the southwest portion of the Philadelphia metropolitan area, in the village of Glenolden, and travel on in to Delaware, through the Wilmington area, and across northeastern Maryland to the Baltimore City border. With a timetable distance of 79 miles, this route is packed with railfan locations, and you'll need several hours to do this section of the tour. In fact, if you wish to set up and spend some time watching and photographing trains, this could easily be a 2-day tour.
Contents And Navigation
For information concerning the other Frograil tours which have been put together, go to the Tour Guide. Besides links to all the Frograil tours, there is a suggested packing list and some practical advice, which can save you time and grief.
Sean McDonnell, tour guide Glenolden - Elsmere Junction.
Train Gif Artists. Train gifs add life and color to this page, and take almost no time to load. I stick these gifs in whenever I get the urge -- there is no rhyme or reason, I just like them. You can see hundreds and hundreds of train gifs by clicking on the Train Gifs navigation button at the top of each Frograil page.
Peter Furnee, CSX logo
Richard Jahn, maps and photos detailing most of the sites within Cecil County, Maryland.
Tony Hill, retired webmaster and text provider -- the guy who made it happen. Unless otherwise noted, any use of the first person pronoun refers to Tony Hill.
If you'd like to contribute to this, or any other tour, please contact me here, and let me know what you'd like to do. We'll work together: You supply the data/info, and I'll do the HTML stuff and upload it. You'll get a chance to review the fruits of your efforts before the general public sees the finished product, so you can let me have your corrections, additions and changes.
NOTE WELL: You will be traveling through the urban northeast for much of this tour. Some areas are dangerous. You should never attempt a tour such as this without having at least one male friend with you. A cellular telephone would also be a good idea.
The Railroad: Both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad built main lines from Philadelphia to Baltimore. There, the similarity stops. The two railroads were as different as night and day, and are even more so today. While the PRR, for the most part, hugged the "coast" formed by the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay, the B&O was built further inland. While the PRR had massive bridges, fills and other engineering headaches, the B&O was considerably easier to engineer and less expensive to construct. That said, the B&O's high engineering standards are quire obvious today.
Technically, the B&O, and now CSX's Philadelphia Subdivision, begins at Park Junction in Philadelphia, a site somewhat north of the Art Museum, on the east bank of the Schuylkill River. South of the museum, the line encounters RG Tower, with the major terminal facility in the area, Eastside Yard, and tracks to the Port of Philadelphia and the industrial south Philadelphia area going straight south, and the main line to Baltimore going over the Schuylkill and beginning a southwestern direction which it will maintain virtually all the way to the end of the Philadelphia Subdivision at Bay View Yard in Baltimore.
The railroad is a single track, freight-only line with 5 major passing sidings (not including Wilsmere yard in Elsmere, Delaware). Maintenance is superb, and freights easily maintain a 50 mile per hour road speed over much of the sub. With few exceptions, the line is relatively free of hills and sharp curves, and when obstacles such as the Brandywine River valley in Wilmington are encountered, they are conquered on a massive scale, allowing for grade, curvature and speed consistency.
The most challenging thing facing the Sub today is the potential increase in traffic made possible as a result of the breakup of Conrail. For the first 15 months or so following the breakup in June, 1999, CSX was mostly a disaster-in-place. A great deal of business was lost, mostly to trucks. Tony Hill visited Philadelphia, Hamlet, Baltimore, Richmond and other locations and reported that traffic was much more fluid in late 2000 (and even better in the Fall of 2001, and so efficient as to be downright boring (just kidding) in early 2003!) than it was just a few months before. The reason freight traffic is gained or lost is less due to speed than to consistency. With the return to a fluid plant, CSX appears to be able to deliver on a much more reliable basis. If so, the inherent economics of steel wheel on steel rail would indicate that business should grow. Five minutes spent on I-95 illustrates the enormous potential for growth.
To that end, CSX must make some significant investments in its physical plant. Going from a perennial retrenchment mentality of many decades to a growth mentality doesn't happen overnight. With regard to the Philly Sub, traffic is currently about 1 train per hour, on average. Since they're never neatly spaced out, the dispatcher will encounter periods of difficulty followed by sheer boredom. Current efforts to increase the length of the Feltonville siding (already 16,555') north towards Philadelphia indicate that a gradual effort to double track the sub is proceeding, but at a very slow pace. [NOTE: In late 2002, total double track from Chester to West Feltonville was already up to 5.4 miles.] It will probably continue to do so, as CSX has other, higher priorities in other areas of its system. Without a major increase in double trackage on the Philly Sub, the addition of a significant number of new trains seems to be problematic.
Mile Points: While the Philly Sub begins at Park Junction, the mile points (MP) for the Sub don't start until just south of there. Mileage on the Sub is identified with the prefix BAK. The first identifiable location is Locust Street, MP BAK 0.5. The end of the Sub is at a point within the Baltimore Bay View Yard complex, MP BAK 89.6. The total length of the Sub is 90.6 miles, Park Junction to Bay View.
Photo Ratings: Tony attempted to score the photo potential of most of these railfan locations, as follows:
1 = Excellent
2 = Good
3 = Poor
4 = Lousy or non-existent
The corners of a crossing are rated individually, e.g., SW (southwest), SE (southeast), etc., and the side of the rails when there is no crossing, e.g. North. What concerned Tony primarily in the ratings are general lighting, clutter, ambiance, etc.
Locations are assigned compass NE, SW, etc., based on the assumption that the railroad is north-south and the streets crossing it are east-west. Keep in mind that the actual compass direction of the railroad and streets are northeast-southwest and southeast-northwest, respectively. If you've reviewed the tours page, you'll remember that one of the things recommended you always bring with you is a compass.
Mapwork: Much of the tour is not easy if you have no detailed map for back country roads. It is definitely recommended to get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.
NAG. A not-at-grade crossing. Unless mentioned otherwise, these are usually not worth the time and trouble to drive to them.
NARL. Not a railfan location. This is because of any number of reasons, such as lousy photo ops, dangerous, no shoulder on a NAG bridge, etc. As a general rule of thumb, it is wise to avoid NARL's.
WEBMASTER'S NOTE: I do not recommend, or even condone, walking along the tracks, as this means trespassing or exposing yourself to danger. You will have to be creative, in some instances, to avoid trespassing while getting to the detailed locations included herein, but you will either have to be creative or not visit those sites. At no point in this tour guide, or any other tour which is part of Frograil, is it recommended that you trespass or expose yourself to danger. If you are a fool and have a leg cut off (or worse), don't come crying to me: You have been warned. Trains are big, powerful, and often surprisingly quiet. Don't end up being a statistic.
February 2012 Update Reid Selby reported updates for Maryland: Jackson -- Aiken East, Jackson -- Winch Road, and Joppa -- Clayton Road
December 2012 Update Tim McFeely provided a photo of the Perryville Cold Storage unit at Belvedere, with the hood tarped, taken earlier in the year. He wasn't sure if the unit was still in place at the end of the year. He also reported that for the Aiken - West Aiken section, the Portside Grill is no more.
Glenolden, PA - Van Bibber, MD -- Railfan Sites:
[WEBMASTER'S NOTE: Eventually, if some contributors come forth, this will be part of an east coast main line tour from the Shared Assets Area in northern New Jersey to Miami. Most of the trackage is CSX today. There are several segments now completed, and you can view them here. If you've got the knowledge and energy to become a donor to this ambitious effort, please contact me, and we'll talk.]
Glenolden. From I-95 south of Philadelphia International Airport, take exit 9, PA-420, and go north towards Prospect Park. At the intersection with U.S. 13, take a right and go north on U.S. 13. You will go under the Northeast Corridor (NEC) [WEBMASTER'S NOTE: Watch out for left turners backed up under this broad overpass. It's dark under there, and if you're trying to see trains, you've got a good chance of rear-ending someone. Watch the road, not the tracks.] About 5 blocks after the underpass, turn left and go north on Ashland Avenue. The street signs in Glenolden are very small, and are black with white letters. They're really cute, but almost impossible to read. Cross the tracks and immediately turn right and park next to the grassy area. This is a safe area. We start our tour here, at MP BAK 7.4.
Glenolden is a small town/bedroom community on the CSX (ex-B&O) Philadelphia Subdivision of the Baltimore - Philadelphia mainline. Here, eastbounds are geographically northbound, while westbounds are geographically southbound. A scanner is only helpful here to let you know what's coming and where it currently is, as grade crossings are abundant in the area, and the horns of approaching trains will give you a few minutes to set up for your shot. Eastbounds can be heard calling signals at Feltonville, East Feltonville, Chester and Holmes before reaching Glenolden. Conversely, westbounds call signals at 58th Street, Darby and Collingdale. Also, you'll hear westbounds talking to RG tower in Philadelphia to see how (and if!) they will get through the perpetual congestion there. Eastbounds carry even-numbered symbols, and westbounds carry odd-numbered symbols.
This is probably best an afternoon to late afternoon location for southbounds, because close trees make for shadows from the east most of the morning. In the summer, when the sun is much higher than it was during late November when we researched the location, you'll have fewer problems with the shade from mid-morning on.
NE = 4
SE = 3
SW = 3
NW = 1
Norwood -- MacDade Mall. Continue north on Ashland 2 blocks to busy MacDade Boulevard. Turn left and go southwest on MacDade. After less than a mile, MacDade Mall will be on your left. Enter the mall parking lot and drive (slowly -- it gets rough) to the extreme southwest corner of the lot and park. Walk up to the tracks. While viewing from the north is OK (maybe a 2), you'll have to fight the sun most of the day. If you walk to the south, viewing is tight, and trees will cause problems with shadows (3 at best).
Prospect Park -- 17th Avenue. Go back to MacDade and take it left to go further southwest. Note that turning left onto MacDade at other than a stoplight intersection can cause you to have several birthdays while waiting for an opening in traffic. After about 6 blocks, take a left and go south on Holmes. Cross the tracks and then make an immediate right onto 17th Avenue. Park and enjoy the view from the southwest corner. This is one of the best train watching locations between Philadelphia and Wilmington. Breakout the coolers and lawn chairs.
NE = 4
SE = 4
SW = 1
NW = 4
Folsom -- Edgewood Avenue. Continue southwest on 17th Avenue, and it will curve to the left. Follow it around and take your first right (16th Avenue), and go southwest to Lincoln Avenue. Take a right on Lincoln, go over the tracks (not a railfan location), and Lincoln will become Kedron Avenue. Your first real left from Kedron is 2nd Avenue, and you'll follow it almost to its end. This is an area of apartments. Turn left on Edgewood, which is somewhat less than an alley here, and park and walk to the tracks. There is a nice curve, but you'll have to battle shadows and tightness. Plan ahead and pick your times well, and you'll do fine, but on average:
North = 3
South = 3
Ridley Park -- Haverford Road. Take any northbound street from 2nd Avenue to get back up to MacDade Boulevard. Turn left to continue southwesterly, pass the Morton Avenue/Swarthmore Avenue intersection (the crossing on Swarthmore is so-so at best, and there is heavy street traffic. It's not recommended as a railfan location.), and then turn left and go south on Ohio Avenue. This will end at Haverford Road, and you'll take a left to go southwest. This will gradually get closer to the railroad, and you'll have to take a left and then an immediate right to go over the tracks and stay on Haverford Road.
NE = 1
SE = 1
SW = 1
NW = 1
While the viewing is excellent, the tracks are about 45° from the east-west plane, so southbounds will give great photos, but northbounds will be affected by the sun. Especially for southbounds, this is a fine location.
Fairview -- Youngs Lane. Continue southwest on Haverford Road through Woodlyn until it ends at Fairview Avenue. Take a right and go over the tracks (not a railfan location); take your first left on Sherman Avenue (probably unmarked), and after 2 blocks, go south (left) on Young's Avenue. There is a vestige of a road (Youngs Lane) leading towards the tracks. This may actually be an extension of Youngs Avenue. The lane will end at the tracks and the approaches to I-495, the Blue Line. Obviously, this is a very noisy location, and the photo views aren't really much to write home about. There is no longer any crossing.
East = 3
SW = 3
NW = 2
Feltonville Oxford Place. We now enter a significant stretch wherein the railroad and I-95 move southwesterly pretty much parallel and very close to each other. There are some underpasses reached by going back up to MacDade, and then south on several streets, but the crossings are all underpasses with ziltcho photo ops. Therefore, probably the smartest thing to do is go back to Fairview Avenue and take it all the way to its end at the Chester Pike/U.S. 13. Turn left and go NORTH on U.S. 13, go under the Northeast Corridor, and then take a right on the U.S. 13/PA-291 connector. There is a sign and arrow pointing to I-95. The connector will take you south for a very short way, and then you can enter I-95 southbound at exit 8. This is all somewhat out of the way, tour-wise, but we'll be going rather far south, and you'll make good time on I-95.
After about 5 miles, take U.S. 322 west at exit 3A, go over the tracks, and take the exit for Market Street/PA-452 southbound. Go past Meetinghouse Road, cross over the tracks (not a railfan location), and then take your first left (either Bellview Terrace or Broadway Avenue), then the next left to get down to Oxford Place and the tracks. There is a footpath along the Feltonville siding here, and you can often see some action. However, the area on the south side of the tracks is tight with bushes and small trees, and the north side is inaccessible. There is no crossing. At over 16,000 feet, this is the longest siding between Philadelphia and Baltimore, and it is my understanding that it is being extended north, as double tracking slowly creeps forward on CSX.
North = 4
South = 3
Feltonville -- Meetinghouse Road. Retrace your route back to Market Street and go right (north) to Meetinghouse Road, the first real road to the left (west). Turn onto Meetinghouse and cross the tracks. This is still part of the 3-mile-long Feltonville siding. [Webmaster's Note: From Glenolden all the way to this point, very large, hard to miss power poles have been right on the railroad's right-of-way. It makes it very easy to know where the railroad is. Here, at the Meetinghouse Road crossing, the power poles go off to the southeast, away from the tracks.]
NE = 2
SE = 1
SW = 3
NW = 4
Boothwyn -- Clemons Avenue. Continue on Meetinghouse Road southwest. At Johnson Road, turn right and go up to the tracks. The Delaware County Supply Company will be on your right. Park at the intersection of Johnson and Clemons Avenue, and walk behind the supply company to the tracks. There is no crossing here.
North = 3
South = 2
Boothwyn -- Naamans Creek Road. Go back down Johnson Road, and turn right to continue southwest on Meetinghouse Road, past Chichester Avenue, and all the way to Naamans Creek Road. Here, you'll enter a triangle of railfan activity and streets. This is a right angle triangle, with Naamans Creek Road the A side, the railroad from Naamans Creek to Meetinghouse Road the B side, and the hypotenuse being Meetinghouse between Naamans Creek and the tracks.
There is a nice-looking restaurant and tavern for life support functions on the northwest corner of the Naamans Creek/railroad crossing. There is also a nice big parking lot there with excellent viewing. At this crossing:
NE = 1
SE = 2
SW = 2
NW = 1
The Meetinghouse Road crossing is not nearly so good, so stay with Naamans Creek. Note, however, that there is a wide service road to the southeast of the tracks between Naamans Creek and Meetinghouse. You can take excellent photos from there most of the day. You're a good 30 yards back from the tracks (if you use your head and stay well back), so you'll probably not be bothered. That said, you're wise to get in place for your pix, take them, and then get back to the parking lot at the restaurant.
Arden -- Greentree Park. Continue southwest on Meetinghouse Road into Delaware, where it will become Carpenter Road. Cross Naamans Road (not the same one as above)/DE-92, and the road will end at Darley Road. Turn left on Darley and go over the tracks. Take the first left into a subdivision, and then the first left again. This will take you to a small, cozy Greentree Park. Park on the street. While your kids run around the park and enjoy the nice playground, you can watch trains. Also, in between trains, there are picnic tables for life support.
Photos are down on here, but should be nice from the area of the telephone pole. If you walk further north from the pole, you should first get permission from the homeowner. Be careful not to trespass. Mid-morning southbounds would be superb. There is no crossing here, and the Darley Road overpass is not a railfan location.
North = 4
South = 1
Wilmington -- Miller Road. Retrace your route back to Darley Road and head north all the way to Naamans Road. Turn left on Naamans, and go northwest to Marsh Road. Go left (southwest) on Marsh all the way to Silverside Road. [Webmaster's Note: This is a confusing intersection.] Take Silverside southeast until it goes under the tracks and I-95 (not a railfan location -- however, this is approximately MP BAK 21.0, and there is a talking defect detector at MP BAK 21.5). The first major right turn is Carr Road; take the right and head west. You'll skirt the northern boundary of Bellevue State Park and Bringhurst Woods Park, all of which are lovely and great places to visit with the family, but CSX is on the other side of I-95 and inaccessible, so just enjoy the countryside.
Carr will end at Washington Street Extension, and you'll take a right to continue southwest. At Rockwood Road, go north towards the tracks, and then turn left to go west on Miller Road. Miller parallels the tracks. You'll pass a mosque on your left, and then you should look for the 4001 Miller Road Building on the north side of the street. Park in that building's parking lot, and walk north past the row of evergreens at the end of the lot. This is one of the best places to shoot and enjoy trains between Philadelphia and Baltimore. Get out the lawn chairs and coolers.
North = 3
South = 1
Wilmington -- Brandywine Arch. Continue southwest on Miller Road, and it will become North Broome Street past Concord Avenue. Broome will end at West 18th Street; take a right and go north. The street will bend to the west and join Augustine Cut Off. (Note that the crossings at Concord Avenue and 18th Street were not railfan locations.) Take Augustine Cut Off west over the Brandywine River. You'll see the impressive concrete arch bridge carrying the railroad over the river just to the south. Just after the river, take your first left and enter Brandywine Park.
The park itself is fairly large, and its streets are confusing (and not named or marked), but it's a very beautiful area. The river itself is small, and is far below the level of the street and railroad above. Just keep taking roads to get down to the river. There is no open, grand view of this multi-arched bridge, but if you love great architecture and engineering, this is a must-see structure. If you're a real photographer in good physical condition, spectacular photos are possible, but you'll have to work hard and earn them. The scene is well worth the time for us run-of-the-mill railfans also. The area around the river itself is an excellent family place.
Wilmington -- Acme Store. Retrace your way back up from the river and leave the park, but do not cross back over the tracks. Instead take North DuPont Street left before them. After 5-7 blocks, you'll come to an Acme supermarket on the north side of the street. Enter its parking lot and park in the far northwest corner of it. Walk up towards the tracks. There is a large open area well back from the tracks. While some half-collapsed line poles mar the view somewhat, this is still an excellent photo location. The store itself is a comprehensive source of all kinds of life support items.
North = 3
South = 1
Wilmington -- 9th Street. Continue south on DuPont to West 9th Street, and take a right to follow 9th to the tracks. The railroad goes under 9th on a rather deep, narrow cut, all somewhat cluttered up with wires and trees. However, if you need to get trackside in a pinch, this place is OK, as there is a protected sidewalk both north and south of the street bridge.
NE = 3
SE = 3
SW = 3
NW = 3
Elsmere -- Elsmere Junction. Go back the way you came on West 9th Street, and take a right on North Bancroft Parkway. Go south to West 4th Street. Take a right on 4th, go under the tracks (not a railfan location), and continue all the way up to North Cleveland Avenue. Turn left on Cleveland, and continue until it ends at North DuPont Road/DE-100, then go straight south on DuPont. You'll cross the remains of the ex-Brandywine Valley, exx-Octoraro, exxxReading Railroad to Reading, Pennsylvania. This is now Penn Eastern Lines trackage. Penn Eastern hauls lumber, vegetable oil and scrap metal inbound.
Just after crossing these tracks, New Road will go off to your left. Follow it eastward to the tracks. The tracks you cross on New Road are those of the previous B&O/Reading connection, and are used by PRL to get in and out of Wilsmere Yard.
There is no crossing any longer, but there is a connection from the yard via the southeast quadrant of the junction giving CSX access to Norfolk Southern's Wilmington and Northern industrial trackage (via the Northeast Corridor) in the southern part of Wilmington. This is used for interchange. The location of the old crossing is MP BAK 27.2.
Viewing of the main line is OK, but there is a lot clutter, the area is old and industrial -- hardly photogenic -- and the neighborhood is undesirable. To make matters worse, DE-2 is a freeway going over the southwest quadrant of the junction, making it very noisy, and much of it deep in shadow. This is an interesting place, but it not recommended as a railfan location. One more thing: Track speed for through freights is 50 mph, so be very careful and alert.
Thanks to Joe Walder and Tim McFeely for providing some of this material to us.
Elsmere -- Wilsmere East. Wilsmere Yard is the classification facility for CSX in the northern Delaware area. It is the major such facility between the Philadelphia and Baltimore terminals. Like most big-city facilities, it is virtually impossible to railfan from within the yard itself. We'll detail an area to the east, and then give you one in the west.
Go back to DuPont Road via New Road, and take a left to head south. Cross Wilmington Avenue/DE-2, and then go over the tracks on a large overpass. There are 4 tracks here, as you are crossing over the east yard throat. Both the largest and next-to-largest blow-ups from MapQuest show a "B&O Road" going west from DuPont right into the yard, but I could not find such a road. However, in an e-mail sent to me after this tour was first posted, Eric Lyons has provided directions for us, and I'm pleased to include them here.
Go over the 4-track yard throat on duPont Road/DE-100 south. Immediately after the overpass, take the first left (at a traffic light with a liquor store on the corner). This road bends back around to the left to parallel duPont. You're now going in the opposite direction to that which you want, but Eric will get us there just fine. Make the first left onto an un-named street. This is the B&O Road that maps refer to -- what you have done is to go northeast of the overpass, and then go under it via B&O Road. There is a sign on the telephone pole at this corner which says "B&O Lane", You'll go through a rundown light industrial/commercial area. After about 300 yards, you'll go through a tree line, and the road you are on will suddenly be paralleling the eastern half of the yard on the south side.
You can drive along here for about 1,000 yards to get to the yardmaster's office. For most of this stretch, this is a public street with small businesses and parking opposite the tracks. There is a parking lot at the yardmaster's office, and if you're unobtrusive, you will probably not be bothered. There is plenty of switching activity, and yard power often ties up at the office area. As with any yard, however, you always run the risk of having some humongous railroad cars parked between you and the engines you so much want to photograph. Thanks, Eric.
Elsmere -- Wilsmere West. Get back on the new DuPont Road, and go back north to Wilmington Avenue/DE-2. Take Wilmington west to DE-141, and then go south on DE-141 over the tracks. Take exit 5 just south of the tracks, which will take you out to Newport Gap Turnpike. Go south on the turnpike to your first real left at Boxwood Road. Go east on Boxwood, across DE-141, and then turn left and go north towards the tracks on Centerville Road. These tracks are the western yard throat of Wilsmere Yard. All traffic in and out of Wilsmere goes through here, and photos are pretty much as follows:
NE = 2
SE = 1
SW = 3
NW = 4
WEBMASTER'S NOTE: This is an extremely busy area. There is a Saturn automobile plant, a logistical bulk distribution facility, the yard itself, a busy street, and God only knows what else. Parking areas are mostly on private property. Nowhere is there a nice, back from the tracks, off-railroad or other private property location. Therefore, your Webmaster takes the somewhat unusual position of recommending that this location should be visited only on weekends, holidays and after 6PM weekdays. There are no real junctions here, so everything in and out of Wilsmere will be seen virtually anywhere southwest of the yard on the main line.
The northernmost track here, entering the CSX main just to the west of the street is the lead from the Wilmington and Western Railroad, possessor or 4 steam engines and 2 SW-1's. Their newest power dates from 1942. The track from the tourist road comes south through Ladenburg Junction and into Wilsmere. There is no way to get to the junction without blatantly trespassing, and it is not recommended. With a good telephoto, you can get pix of trains coming east by the Ladenburg signals [MP BAK 29.4].
Thanks to Bruce Friedman, Greg Mazzie, and Joe Walder for providing some of this material to us.
Stanton. To head on towards warmer weather, go back down Centerville to Boxwood, and re-cross DE-141 to Newport Gap Turnpike. Take the turnpike just 2 blocks, and turn on either Clyde Street or Meadowbrook Avenue. Be sure to go slowly through here, as there are lots of speed bumps with very little paint on them. The first major road you'll encounter is Kiamensi Road. Take a right on Kiamensi, and follow it around to Stanton Road and take a right to head up to the tracks.
NE = 3
SE = 2
SW = 3
NW = 3
Harmony. Continue north on Stanton, and it will bear to the left to become Old Capitol Trail. Continue westward, and you'll see a sign for Kirkwood Highway and pointing to the right. Even though you can see Kirkwood straight ahead, take this right, go through what appears to be a mall parking lot, and you'll be able to get on Kirkwood at a red light. If you ignore the sign and the arrow, you'll have to enter Kirkwood and take a very painful, time-consuming U-turn to head southwest as you should. Continue southwest on Kirkwood past Limestone Road and Telegraph Road (their crossings are not railfan locations). When you get down to Harmony Road, take a left and go over Harmony Brook and then under the tracks (not a railfan location).
Take the first left past the tracks and enter a large subdivision on Tamara Circle. The third left leads down to a dead end at a grassy field identified on the map as Harmony Brook Park. If I were you, I'd park on Tamara. As you stand at the end of the little road at the edge of the park, look straight ahead and you'll see a very large, off-while power pole towering over the trees. Walk straight across the park to the pole (maybe 70-100 yards), and you'll come to a shallow line of trees. Just to your right will be a well-defined path leading back to the tracks. While the viewing isn't perfect, the trees are nice, the area is quiet, you have good privacy, and you can stay fairly well back from the tracks. I like this place.
North = 3
South = 2
Harmony -- Brookhaven. Depart the Harmony Hills area by retracing your way via Tamara Circle. Take a right and go back via Harmony Road under the tracks, to your first right onto Green Ridge Road. This leads into the development known as Brookhaven. Continue straight to the end of the road, and park near the basketball court. Walk through the court and to the northeast, towards the tracks. CSX crosses Harmony Brook on a combination deck trestle/stone arch bridge. There are very good photo ops from ground level, and you can climb an embankment to get track-level shots. There is a signal visible to the west. You can get good shots without trespassing on railroad property.
This entry on our Philly Sub tour was contributed by Dave Bahm. Many thanks, Dave! Incidentally, Dave recommends you not fan in the area at night as "...parties take place in the deep woods a little further from the tracks."
Newark -- Eastern Suburbs. From here in to Newark (pronounced "new ARK") the trackside area is increasingly subdivisions, and roads which look to give good access to the railroad merely end in someone's back yard. Go back to Kirkwood Highway (again, do not ignore signs pointing to Kirkwood Highway -- do not trust your intuition) and continue southwest. Here are three locations which I wanted to check out, but we missed our turn, and time constraints forced us to continue on. Perhaps you could check them out and let me know whether to include them. You'll pass Liberty Plaza Shopping Center on your left, cross a creek, and come to South Dillwyn Road. We did not see this road.
Dillwyn makes a large circle, of which about 600 yards parallels the tracks. Go around the Dillwyn loop clockwise, and as you end the track-paralleling portion, continue southwest on Stafford Avenue. Stafford continues to parallel the tracks for probably 3/4's of a mile, and there are two small parks between it and the tracks which you can check out. Stafford Park is followed by Lumbrook Park. The latter is at the western end of Stafford Avenue. From there, swing north on Poplar Avenue and then west on Woodlawn Avenue, which will take you right to Kirkwood Highway. Go straight across Kirkwood and stay on what is now Cleveland Avenue.
Newark -- College Avenue. As you go west on Cleveland Avenue, you parallel the tracks, but they are a little elevated, and there are no photo locations. When you get to College Street, go south, and you see a very large parking lot on your right before you cross the tracks. This lot does not appear posted, although it apparently belongs to the University of Delaware. Ask someone if a sticker is needed to park there. We were there on the Saturday after Thanksgiving so the lot was empty. From the lot, walk to the tracks. It's fairly tight, but if you know something's coming and you don't have time to get to the next location, you can get a decent shot here.
NE = 2
SE = 3
SW = 4
NW = 4
Newark -- Elkton road. Continue south on College Street, cross the tracks, and then turn right to head west on Main Street. You'll come to a confusing intersection and crossing, all jammed together. The railroad comes in from the northeast and goes southwest. Before the railroad crossing, Elkton Road goes to the southwest to parallel the tracks and head towards Maryland. Main Street goes at a northwest angle over the tracks, and another busy street, New London Road, goes off at a more vertical northwestern angle. This is a very busy area, especially since the crossing is at grade.
Turn left onto Elkton Road, and immediately turn into the CSX parking lot for their building [Newark, MP BAK 37.4]. This building, incidentally, is the old B&O station for Newark. This parking lot is posted, but I wanted you to know what's here -- just don't stay there more than a few minutes. If you park elsewhere and walk back here, these are the photo ratings (based on the crossing of Main Street and the railroad):
NE = 4
SE = 1
SW = 2
NW = 4
Additionally, I would rate any angle between the tracks and New London Road as a solid 4.
Remember that Newark is a college town, and University of Delaware students need more parking than currently exists, so the CSX is probably more zealous than usual in keeping unwanted cars away from it's building. Here's what to do: Continue southeast on Elkton, and just past the CSX building is a park-like area between the street and railroad. There is excellent viewing here, and it's much quieter and safer than the area back at the Main Street crossing. Parking, especially a little farther southwest, is no problem. Continuing on down Elkton Road, there is a crossing via Apple Road, but it's not at grade, and is not a railfan location.
Caution: There is another crossing just further southwest. Casho Mill Road, a major connector which goes up to Main Street/DE-273, goes under the tracks on an extremely low and narrow underpass. The maximum height is only 8'9". Betsy 2 is a high top van and won't make it. If you've got a mommy van with a cargo box on top you probably won't make it. Forget it in any towed or self-contained RV. The viewing is lousy here, anyhow, and I'd avoid this crossing completely -- it's not a railfan location.
Webmaster's Notes: We now begin a section of this segment that was researched during the Thanksgiving holiday, 2002. I had major help with this effort from Richard Jahn. He provided me with maps, photographs, and photographic viewing considerations for the primary locations within Cecil County, Maryland. I'd like to extend my thanks and gratitude to Richard, and to also let you know that if there are any errors in the following text, those errors are mine, not Richard's.
Cecil County, according to my mother back in the 50's and 60's, was the home of Harford County's country bumpkin cousins. I do remember that growing up back then, we tended to look down our noses at Cecil County, which was known only as the place where you could get married really, really fast (at the county seat in Elkton). All this is somewhat surprising, as the county occupies a truly strategic location on the I-95/U.S. 40/PRR/B&O east coast routes. Somehow, the prosperity of the northeast corridor never got very far from the railroads or highways themselves. This is very apropos this tour, because you'll have to make a significant mental and mechanical shift from the busy, urban environment of Philadelphia - Newark to Cecil County, and you'll have to do so in a hurry. All that said, I think you'll enjoy driving around an almost completely rural portion of the northeast Megalopolis. There are some darned good photo locations, and even a few "lawn chair and cooler" locations -- the best Frograil has to offer! So....let's continue the tour.
Barksdale. In Newark, Delaware, from the B&O station, go over the tracks on Main Street, and take the first left, Hillside Road. Hillside will roughly parallel the tracks a few blocks north, and will end where Apple Road comes up from the tracks. Actually, Hillside doesn't physically end, the name just changes to Barksdale Road. Barksdale will continue southwest through the increasingly suburban part of Newark, and will change very abruptly once you hit the Maryland border. We saw no sign, but believe me, you'll know it, as the change is pretty profound. You are now on a very narrow, twisty, hilly road with no shoulders. Slow down and be careful. The area you're now entering is very rural, and it's often hard to remember that the Northeast Corridor is not much more than a stone's throw to the east.
After passing Catswamp Road on your right, there are a couple of doozie curves, and then a relatively straight stretch to a stop sign at Appleton Road. Turn left and you'll shortly encounter a signature feature of this tour. Almost all crossings are NAG (see Abbreviations, above) and often are NARL'S, because they are very steep and narrow. While track visibility is often excellent, the ability of drivers to see people on the bridges is very compromised. While the overpass on Appleton Road is NARL, park beyond it near the entrance to the industrial plant on the right, and walk back towards the overpass. There is a primitive road leading down to a small substation, and it curls around behind it and goes down to the tracks. There is excellent viewing close to the tracks. The area is not posted, but if you venture out to the tracks themselves, you're obviously trespassing, so stay well back. A weed whacker would be a useful tool down here.
Elk Mills. Continue south on Appleton Road to an intersection with Elk Mills Road/MD-277. Take a right to go west towards the community of Elk Mills. Cross the tracks at grade, and park off to the right. The crossing itself is NARL, but the area NE of the tracks offers good visibility. There is an intermediate signal in this quadrant that gives warning of approaching movements. On the SW quadrant is a spur leading into a railroad car repair facility that is reported to have a 44-ton, steeple cab locomotive. You might try Knob Hill Road to get to it, but I make no promises, as I did not visit the facility.
In mid-2005, Tim McFeely provided an update for us. He states the railroad car repair facility is "hugely anti-railfan", and your that your chances of seeing the locomotive are poor, as it "seems to hide the critter on purpose."
Singerly. We now head towards what is arguably the best train-watching location between Newark and Harford County. Continue northwest on Elk Mills Road, pass Brewster Road on your right, and take a left as Elk Mills makes a 90° turn. Elk Mills will very shortly run off more westerly, but you want to bear to the southwest on Molitor Road. At the stop sign, take a left onto MD-213 and head south, but do not go over the railroad. Turn left onto Johnson Road, pass Mars Road on your right, and continue until you see a very minor-appearing road on your right. This is Rail Lane. Take a right and go over the tracks. This is BAK42.48, and is in the middle of the Singerly passing siding. While the crossing itself is OK for pix, continue a short ways to the NE as Rail Lane swings to parallel the tracks.
Be advised that Rail Lane is much more heavily traveled than it first appears. It's a dirt road, but is fully 2-lane width. There are several houses along it, and it extends farther than you first imagine. Also, the road might be referred to as the "King of the Potholed Roads", as it has a truly world class collection of gargantuan holes. Don't exceed about 10mph, or you'll be sorry. The road is only a mile or so long, but at the crawl you'll want to drive it, it takes a while, so don't try to pace a train!
Just past the crossing, there is plenty of room between the road and tracks to get your lawn chairs and cooler out, fire up the scanner, and swap railfan lies. This is a fine railfan location, and the sun will be your friend most of the day. Further down towards the end of the road is another fine location. This one features more of a photogenic curve, the distant East Singerly signals at the beginning of this double track section, and a little less street traffic. It is also definitely a lawn chair and cooler location, so scout them both out before you set up. Plan to spend some time at Singerly.
The overpass on MD-213 is NAG/NARL.
Leslie. Backtrack to MD-213, and take a right to go north. At the same intersection you turned off Molitor Road, take a left to go southwest on Childs road. This will take you to a stop sign at MD-545, where you can turn left to go south to a NAG, but the overpass itself is much too narrow to be safe, so it must be considered NARL. Therefore, cross MD-545 to continue southwest on Star Route Road, which will end at Leeds Road. Turn left to go a very short distance to another left onto Deaver Road, and to another NAG/NARL. It is certainly possible to get good picks from the overpass, but I consider it to be too dangerously narrow. Continue south and Deaver will swing 90° to the right and become Marley Road, which in turn will lead you to a stop sign at Nottingham Road.
Take a right onto Nottingham, and go northwest to another NAG/NARL at Eder. Like the two previous NAG's, this one offers photo possibilities, but it is too narrow to be safe, and is NARL. Incidentally, just east of this overpass is the Eder defect detector, at BAK 46.3 the first detector in 25 miles. At the T and stop sign, take a left onto Stevenson Road, and then shortly another left onto Mechanics Valley Road. This is an easy turn to miss, so be alert for it. There is good viewing from the bridge, but like the three previous ones, this is narrow. To make the situation even worse, there is apparently a quarry nearby, because in the 4 minutes I was on the ground walking to and from the bridge, 8 huge dump trucks went whizzing up and over the bridge. It was not pleasant. Don't get your dauber down, however, as better things are just ahead.
Before we leave the Mechanic Valley Road overpass, however, something else is here that merits a mention. There is a Maryland Materials quarry that ships ballast by rail. MM has a GP-7 that comes out (quite rarely, apparently) to deliver cars of ballast to CSX. The engine will most likely be seen in warm weather, when CSX crews are doing re-surfacing work.
Continue south on Mechanics Valley Road all the way to U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway. Take a right and continue to the major intersection with MD-272. There is life support all along U.S. 40, but if you're hungry, hold off, because I've got a suggestion for you. Anyway, take a right onto MD-272, and as you approach the railroad overpass, take a left onto South Leslie Road, which is really a vestige of the original road between Leslie and North East. Where the "main" road swings to the left to go dead westerly, swing to the right and go north towards the tracks. Park well back from the houses in the area and walk to the tracks. There is a small gate that seems to be always open, and the area beyond the gate is posted. However, there is plenty of room back from the tracks, and if you know a train is coming, you can get in and take a quick, safe shot, and then move on. Photo ratings are South 1, North 3.
Leslie -- Baron Road. Go back to MD-272, and if you're hungry, take a left, go over the tracks on a NAG/NARL, and head due north towards I-95. On your left just before the interstate is a fairly large grocery/liquor/deli named "Shroeders" (sp?). They make truly excellent subs, and the prices are extremely reasonable. You can get a 6" sub for about $4.50, and a 12" jobber for only about $1.50 more. In a moment of incredible stupidity, I ordered a 12" sub, and ate it for the next 3 hours. It was wonderful, but I needed about 2 more guys to help me eat it. This was the second time we've eaten there and it was every bit as good as the first. The ladies working there are very nice, and I highly recommend the place. If you need to leave the tour at this point, you can go north for about 1/4 - 1/2 mile to an intersection with I-95.
If you're continuing the tour from Leslie, the road that swings due west from South Leslie Road is Baron Road, and you want to take that west. It will take a 90° turn to the north and go over the railroad on another accursed NAG. However, in this area, the roads are very lightly traveled, and this old, wooden bridge offers excellent viewing both east and west. You must be mindful of traffic, and it would be best if you had one person taking photos and another operating as lookout. If a car comes, you need to get off the bridge, even if it means you'll miss a photo.
Belvedere. Continue north on Baron Road, and it will T with Bethel Church Road. Turn left onto Bethel Church and go all the way to a T with Red Toad Road. Take another left and drive all the way to U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, and take a right. Just south of the intersection of Bethel Church and Red Toad is another NAG/NARL. Once on Pulaski Highway, go a few miles and you'll see MD-7 come in from the left. Shortly after this, a minor road, Belvedere Road, goes off to the right, crosses the tracks and meanders through the countryside for several more miles. This is a very quiet, lightly traveled road, and the crossing, like that at Baron Road in Leslie, is a NAG, but offers excellent views. Again, even though this is a lightly traveled road, keep your wits about you and yield to any vehicular traffic.
As you are approaching the overpass on Belvedere Road, there is a new logistics park on the right. The first entrance, Logistics Way, has no railfan area. The second entrance is for Perryville Cold Storage. If you go on a weekend, the place is deserted, and usually the plant switcher is sitting pretty right at the end of the parking lot.Tim McFeely has provided this information for us
Jackson -- Winch Road. Backtrack down to U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, and go west (right). After crossing a creek, look for Jackson Station Road on your right. Take that right, and then almost immediately take your first right onto Winch Road. Just like Belvedere Road, this thing just meanders all over creation on a more or less northerly tack, but the crossing is just a short distance from Jackson Station Road. Again, even though a NAG, the very low traffic levels coupled with the excellent viewing NE and SW make this a decent railfan location.
See the Google Map location.
February 2012 Update Reid Selby reports that the Winch Road bridge has been reopened. There’s no shoulder to speak of and no safe place to park. There are nice views of the tracks, just nowhere safe to stand and watch.
Jackson -- Holly Tree Road. [NOTE: This location is thanks to Jay Grant.] Retrace your drive back to Jackson Station Road, and take a hard right. Just before the tracks, take a right onto Holly Tree Road, which leads to Holly Tree Park. This road dead ends at the CSX tracks. The Jackson Station Road crossing is to the southwest, and will be our next location visited. Directly across the tracks from this parking area is a house that marks the location where the double track southbound begins.
Jackson -- Aiken East. The at-grade crossing (a miracle! it seems) is rated as follows: NE1, SE3, SW2, NW1. As the numbers indicate, this is a great afternoon location for westbounds. There is parking in the NW quadrant, but really not enough room to get out the coolers and chairs. Just to the NE of the crossing is the signal and switch for the beginning of the Aiken Siding at BAK 54.5.
See the Google Map location.
February 2012 Update Reid Selby reports that he was railfanning at this site one evening when he was asked to leave by a Cecil County Deputy Sheriff. His grounds were that it was "private property" even though it's not posted as such. Reid left, stating it was because he was "being the courteous citizen I am." After a later discussion with another railfan, he discovered that the person who lives in a house near the crossing calls law enforcement when there is anyone there, at least after dark. Be advised to avoid a run-in with law enforcement, even though they are just doing their job.
Aiken -- Aiken West. Drive back to Pulaski Highway via Jackson Station Road, turn right, and continue southwest. MapQuest shows a road named "Cedar Corner Road" crossing the tracks, but it was cut decades ago. Therefore, continue to MD-222/Perryville Road and go north. Turn left after the NAG/NARL and go towards the tracks on David N. Clayton Street. When you reach the area of the tracks, park. You can walk to the tracks, but the viewing is very poor from the north side -- a 3 or 4. In days gone by, this was Aiken Avenue/Perryville Road, and it went over the tracks at grade. When the new MD-222 was built, the old crossing was cut. Walk across the tracks to the south side, where the old Aiken Avenue has a dirt turn around. This area gives excellent views in both directions, and because the railroad is almost dead east-west here, the sun is your friend virtually all day. This is a lawn chair and cooler place, but make sure you're away from the turn around and private property.
You are near the end of the Aiken passing siding here, and the signals are easily visible to the west. The railroad is about to leap over the Susquehanna River, but we have one more diversion before visiting the last railfan location on the north/east bank of the river. Remember Shroeders Deli back in the North East area? Well, if it was too early to eat back then, here's another suggestion. Go back to MD-222, and follow it north and all the way into the quaint, historic village of Port Deposit. There are several nice places to eat.
Tim also mentions that there is a rarely used and almost overgrown connection from the west end of the Aiken siding down to Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. It comes out on the latter at CP Perry, just west of MARC's Perryville station on the NEC.
Perryville -- B&O Bridge. Continue along the railroad west on what is now Sumpter Drive. This will lead steeply down towards the river and a little north of the tracks. You'll T at Frenchtown Road, which parallels the river. Between the road and the river is the NS (ex-CR, exx-PC, exxx-PRR) formerly electrified line to Harrisburg, PA. It joins the Northeast Corridor maybe a mile further south of where you are. Up overhead and just to your south is the B&O bridge. My notes suggest "Be creative", and get out and wander around, and I think you can get some decent shots from this area, although you'll definitely want to do it in cold weather with no leaves.
Havre de Grace -- Lock House Museum. This is a really cool "train watching" location, but it will take some high class explanation to tell you how to get to it. You're on the north bank of the Susquehanna, and need to cross the river and drop down into the old city of Havre de Grace. Go back east on Sumpter up the hill all the way back to the point where Sumpter becomes David N. Clayton Street, and eventually to Perryville Road. Take a right and go south to U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway. Go east over the NS Port Deposit line far below, the river, a big island, more river, and then into the Harford County side of the river. Get off U.S. 40 at Superior Street, taking a left, and going east to North Juniata Street. Take a right and go to Erie Street and then take a left. You will shortly see a sign to a Lock House Museum, but Tony doesn't remember the exact verbiage on the sign. The formal name of the museum is "Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace at the Lock House", but the wording on the sign was obviously much shorter.
Take the left towards the museum. This is Conesteo Street. There are parking areas to the west and south. Park anywhere and get out and look around. This is quite a place. History buffs, railfans, and anyone who loves the growth of transportation will enjoy this spot. Just past the Lock House is a segment of the Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal's lock structure in Havre de Grace. Look to the south, and you'll see a big open field, and then the far-overhead U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway bridge that you just came across from Cecil County. In the distance beyond is the bridge carrying the CSX (ex-B&O) over the river. This is maybe .5 to .75 miles from the parking areas. You can walk out towards the Pulaski Highway bridge, and get much better photo access to the B&O. Be creative and energetic. Note that you'll hear all kinds of noise from eastbound (compass north) trains behind you, well before you see them on the bridge, but you'll get no warning from southbounds.
You'll hear other things here -- perhaps a lot of things. Behind you, to the north, is the famously-photographed NEC (ex-CR, exx-PRR) bridge over the river. This bridge is only about 1/4 mile north of the lock area, so you're in a position where, within a mile, you've got the Northeast Corridor and CSX Philly Sub sending trains back and forth across the Susquehanna River. If it rolls up and down the eastern seaboard, chances are that you'll see it here. This is a great place to meet railfan friends, swap railfan lies, and enjoy the beautiful river and trains. For those of you that don't have to rush trackside to take a 3/4 of every engine on every train, this is a premier railfan enjoyment location. Lawn chairs and coolers, indeed!
Havre de Grace -- Ontario Street. From the park, go north on Conesteo, which will T at Erie Street. Take a right and go to Juniata and a left. Go south 2 short blocks to Ontario and turn right. You'll go under Pulaski Highway/U.S. 40, and then go up a long hill, crossing the B&O at grade. The railroad is almost north - south, and the street is dead east - west. Parking, except in the southeast quadrant is problematic, and the street is very busy, so be careful. At, NE1, SE2, SW4 and NW4, the photo ratings aren't great, but you'll be treated to fine views of morning southbounds with lots of sun on their noses. This is BAK 58.8, and there are intermediate signals just west of the street.
Havre de Grace -- Lewis Lane. Go back down Ontario to Ohio Street and turn left to go one block to U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway. After a little more than 1/2 mile, you'll come to the traffic lights at Lewis Lane. Take a right and drive to the tracks and park. The viewing is excellent -- as wide open as you're going to see anywhere along this line: NE1, SE1, SW1, NW1. Lewis Lane goes virtually nowhere beyond the tracks, so there is almost no traffic. However, it is posted private property, so stay in the vicinity of the tracks. Looking to the north, you can see the signals by Ontario Street.
Aberdeen -- Beards Hill Road. Go back to U.S. 40 and take a right to go compass south. FYI, the Northeast Corridor is very close to you here; it's just on the other side of the highway. You'll pass the intersection with MD-7/Old Post Road and the map shows a Blenhiem Lane leading north from the highway about a mile later, but I didn't see it, so if it exists, the crossing was not observed. You'll pass the intersection for Robin Hood Road, but the crossing is a NAG/NARL. After another mile or so, you'll come to the Beards Hill Road intersection. At this point, you can almost throw a rock north and hit the B&O, or south and hit the PRR. Not quite, but they are not more than a football field or so away from each other.
This is a pretty good photo location, with NE1, SE1, SW1, NW3, but the lighting is quite different from Lewis Lane, as the railroad is now almost 45° northeast - southwest again. This is a fairly noisy area, so be careful. You're at BAK 62.4.
Aberdeen -- Station Area. Via U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, continue on into Aberdeen. In the downtown area, take a right to go north on MD-132/Belair Road, and you'll cross the tracks in about 5 blocks. [If you are interested, continue north on MD-132 for no more than half a mile, and you'll be treated to some fine old Victorian homes, many of which have been completely restored.] As you cross the tracks, the station is to your left on the northwest quadrant (again, the tracks are northeast-southwest, so the crossing is really an x and not a +), and there is a large open area around it. Park in that area. The building itself is condemned, and will probably not exist very much longer, so get your pix soonest.
If you look at a map, you'll probably be surprised at how few at grade crossings there are in Aberdeen. In fact, from Beards Hill Road in the far northeast part of town, all the way through town, only one at grade crossing exists -- and you're at it. Obviously, this makes MD-132 a very busy street, so be careful. Fortunately for the railfan, the crossing is a pretty good spot to take some pix, at NE1, SE1 to the north, and maybe SE2 to the south, SW4, and NW1. You can get decent pix here just about any time of day.
The station is at BAK 63.4. The area southwest of the station along Baltimore Street looks (on the map) like a good place for pix, but is treed in and NARL.
Belcamp. When I was a boy growing up back in the 40's and 50's, the Bata Shoe Company had a plant adjacent to U.S. 40. It was several stories high, and was the biggest industrial building in the county (not including the buildings on Edgewood Arsenal or Aberdeen Proving Ground). Amazingly, in 2003 the building looks almost the same. There are some 1-story additions, but the building is instantly recognizable, even for someone who's been away from the area for many years. However, everything else in the area has changed radically. The area south of U.S. 40 is getting crammed with what appear to be hundreds and hundreds of nice-looking condos, but for the railfan, the changes have all taken place north of the highway. Between U.S. 40 and MD-7 (about 2 miles north), a huge distribution area has been built over the past several years. Mercedes-Benz, an appliance manufacturer, and other distributors have very large facilities.
From U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, take the exit for MD-543, which is a relatively new road, and is missing on some older maps. This is a left turn, but will curve 180° to go north over the highway and railroad on a NAG/NARL. Look north and you'll see a few tracks along the main line that serve the distribution facility. The tracks are inaccessible from non-railroad property. Take a right on Brass Mill Road, and then take a right on Mercedes Drive. You'll cross a set of tracks just east of a large warehouse identified as 4611 Mercedes Drive. Turn left into the parking lot for the building, and drive all the way back to the tracks.
The tracks that cross Mercedes Drive are a spur from those tracks you saw on the MD-543 overpass, and just north of Mercedes, there is a very short spur used by CSX to park the engine that works the interchange area. Expect a GP40-2 (according to Tim McFeely in mid-2005, a GP38-2 or GP40-2, with a slug is the usual power) because there are a LOT of big 86' hi-cube boxes to the north and northeast of this place. In fact, if you're lucky, you'll see a small green and yellow industrial engine switching these boxes prior to turning over a string to CSX. There seems to be a lot of activity going on.
Van Bibber -- West. Leaving the Belcamp distribution center via MD-543, go back to U.S. 40 and take a left towards Baltimore. Ignore B&O Road/Abingdon Road, as it is NAG/NARL. Also ignore MD-24/Emmorton Road, which is another relatively new road, and is a limited access highway (it's a new Edgewood Road, in effect) leading from Edgewood Arsenal (now part of the Aberdeen Proving Ground) up to I-95 a few miles further north. You can see the Van Bibber siding below you on the NAG overpass, but it's definitely NARL. So keep going southwest on U.S. 40 a short distance to the intersection with Edgewood Road (the old one).
Take a right onto Edgewood Road, go over the tracks via a NAG/NARL, and then take a right onto MD-7/Philadelphia Road/ Old Post Road. As you're going up a long hill, take a right onto Van Bibber Road. This is a very old road and neighborhood, and will take you down to a moribund industrial/commercial facility and the tracks. Park back from the tracks and walk through the trees up to them. This is the west end of the Van Bibber siding, BAK 72.1. You can walk about 100 feet west to a fairly large open area well back from the railroad and enjoy excellent viewing from the south virtually all day. Do not approach the switch and passing siding, as you must blatantly trespass to do so, and you are so close to the tracks that you can't take a picture anyway.
NOTE: In early 2005, Roger Hammond contacted Frograil and explained that CSX has erected a substantial gate, and has clearly marked the area with a No Trespassing sign. Further, local residents are (politely) asking non-residents to leave the area. One assumes that perhaps some unsavory folks have been hanging out near the tracks. It appears that a good railfan location has been lost. Roger's information was verified by me in July of 2005. This is no longer a railfan location, but the one-time tourist will probably want to visit it just to see the railroad station list point.
Joppa -- Clayton Road. Drive back out to MD-7/Philadelphia Road, take a left, and continue southwest. Cross Edgewood Road, which has a NAG/NARL underpass, and continue 1-1/4 mile to Clayton Road and turn left. Clayton Road is not well marked, but is the first crossroads since Edgewood Road. Park to the southeast of the crossing. Do not park on the southwest, as that quadrant has an ugly sign warning about trespassing, etc. Avoid the southwest quad altogether.
See the Google Map location.
February 2012 Update Reid Selby reports that Clayton Road is still a decent place. There’s a pull off on the NW side back from the crossing about 100 feet or so. He was talking to a Harford County Deputy Sheriff while at the Edgewood MARC Station (a DYNAMITE place for Amtrak, MARC and NS freights after 10 PM, Reid reports) one evening about Clayton Road and he said there's "no problem there, just stay back away from the tracks."
Joppa -- MD-152. Continue southwest on Clayton, which will T at MD-152/Mountain Road. Take a right, go over the tracks, and then take the first left, which will take you to the remains of the original Mountain Road, now labeled simply as "Old Mountain Road. Turn left and park at the end of the stub. Walk down to the main road and out onto the overpass. There is plenty of room on both sides for photos, but be careful, as there is heavy traffic.
The viewing from the bridge is quite good, as the roadbed used to be double tracked, and the cut is therefore fairly wide: NE1, NE2, SW3, NW2. There are some line-of-sight issues with dead trees and the usual suspects, but all-in-all, this is a good spot.
Joppa -- Joppa Road. Go north on Old Mountain Road, and you'll soon approach MD-7/Philadelphia Road. Before getting there, you'll notice a minor split in the road, whereby a small alley veers to the right. The first house, a modest 2-story home, is where your Webmaster lived from about 1949-1960. Was surprised to see it still standing. Turn left onto MD-7, and head further west to Joppa Road. Turn left and park on the southeast quad of the crossing. Ratings are NE1, SE1, SW4, NW2. Mile point BAK 75 is immediately to the southwest of the crossing.
Gunpowder. Keep going south on Joppa Road, and take a right onto U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway. Pass up Joppa Farm Road, as the crossing is a NAG/NARL underpass. The next right will be Jones Road; take it and head to the tracks. On your left will be a parking lot for Gunpowder Falls State Park visitors, and there will be plenty of them on hot summer days. Park there and walk to the tracks.
Here are the photo ratings, but take them with a grain of salt, as I may have them turned around 180°. My notes and map work are in conflict. NE4, SE1, SW2, NW3. No matter the exact ratings (if there ever is such a thing), there are plenty of ways to get a photo virtually any time of day. Note that the railroad is now once again on a very distinct NE-SW bias from here until the Baltimore Terminal is reached (after I-95).
Webmaster's Note: I've seen fairly close-up pix of the CSX trestle over the Gunpowder River, and suspect that they were taken from the swimming area just to the west of the crossing. You can walk there from the parking lot, probably, but I did not have the time to personally check it out. However, in mid-2005, Tim McFeely provided the following info for us:
Instead of walking up Jones Road to the grade crossing, the adventurous can walk down the trail to the river, and then follow the river north to the bridge. Cross under the bridge and follow the trail on the north side up to grade level. Reasonable vantage points back to the bridge in both directions as the track curves south to line up with the trestle.
Cautions: 1. The trail down from the parking area can be a muddy mess, and it is heavily traveled by horse and riders, and 2. Don't walk back to Jones Road via the roadbed. It's longer than you think, and it's blatant trespassing.
White Marsh -- Ebenezer Road. Go back to U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway and continue southwest. Pass Allender Road (NAG/NARL), and take a right onto Ebenezer Road. Just before going over the tracks, take a right onto Railroad Avenue. Park to the right and walk up to the crossing. To the northwest is what appears to be a "cluster" of defect detectors, at MP BAK 80.5. Ratings are: NE2, SE3, SW3, NW2. Because of the track bias, pix are possible most any time, but this is really just a spot to get trackside in a hurry. Ebenezer is extremely busy, and I don't recommend you remain in this area for more than a few minutes.
White Marsh -- Mohrs Lane. From back on U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, continue southwest past the MD-43 expressway, and the next real right will be Mohrs Lane. This has a bridge that's a throwback to the 1950's, and its wooden deck was rated for all of 4 tons. The bridge has recently been closed to traffic, but makes an excellent place to watch trains, especially if you like down on shots. Be aware that even though the bridge has been closed, there is still plenty of traffic just south of it, so be alert.
I'd rate the photo ops as: NE4, SE1, SW2, NW4. The southeast quad is really good for AM southbounds. I do not know what will happen to this bridge and it's road, so if anyone has info, I'd like to include it herein as an update. Thanks in advance.
Golden Ring -- Contractors Road. Further southwest on U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, pass Middle River Road (NAG/NARL), and go all the way to Rossville Road. As a matter of interest only, you can take a left on Rossville, go under the tracks, and take the first left into a commercial/warehouse area. Turn left past the parking lot of the first business on the left, and go all the way to the end of the lot. I'd suggest parking elsewhere during regular office hours. Looking towards the tracks, you'll see the big, traditional B&O double signal masts to your right over the short trees. This is the beginning of double track which will continue on into the Baltimore Terminal (BAK 84.4). You can climb over the poison ivy, blackberries, smilax, etc, etc, to get a fairly poor view of the tracks, but this is not really a railfan location. It might be OK in a pinch in the winter, but with full vegetation, it's just a place to get ticks and chiggers. Therefore...
Continue past Rossville Road via U.S. 40, go past the I-695/Baltimore Beltway interchange, and then take a left onto Contractors Road. Mapquest doesn't show it, but there is a short stub off Contractors which crosses the tracks. This is the first of 3 dead-end crossings that we'll explore, but quite honestly, it is far from the best: NE3, SE3, SW2, NW3.
Rosedale -- Todds Lane. Continuing southwest on U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, Schaefers Lane is on your left, and crosses the tracks, but it is clearly marked "Do Not Enter", so I never figured that one out! No matter, as you just continue to Todds Lane, take a left, and zip down to the tracks. Photo ops are pretty decent: NE3, SE1, SW2, NW3. About 150 feet northeast of the crossing is MP BAK 86. This is a good location, and it's mostly very quiet.
Rosedale -- Batavia Farm Road. A little further southwest on U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, take a left onto Batavia Farm Road. I think this is the best of these 3 dead end road crossings, at: NE1, SE1, SW2, NW3. It's very quiet, and there aren't too many such places in this big-city area.
Rosedale -- Chesaco Avenue. Still further southwest on U.S. 40/Pulaski Highway, take a left onto Chesaco Avenue. This is a small, 2-lane road, but is quite busy, so be alert. The crossing is on an overpass; in fact, the overpass itself has 3 lanes, and the 3rd makes an excellent parking spot for you on the right side. Park there and enjoy the following: NE2, SE1, SW1, NW3. If you like down on photo spots, this one will make you a happy camper.
This has to temporarily end our tour of this segment of the CSX East Coast Tour. The next installment will take us into and through the Baltimore Terminal. At West Baltimore, the tour picks up here. If you can act as a tour guide through Baltimore, please e-mail me here.