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AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 08/14/2010 :  11:55:59 AM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi, everyone --

I've found a new outlet for my obsessive/compulsive behaving - bicycling. Garth gave me his old bike. Beware of "free" bicycles - they're like free wooden boats or free horses.

Anyhow -- Pittsburgh has lots of great rail trails. I've been riding the Montour Trail (formerly the Montour RR), the Butler-Freeport Community Trail (formerly the Butler Branch of the Pennsy), and of, course, the Great Allegheny Passage, which is the former Western Maryland ROW along the Youghigeny from Pittsburgh to Cumberland.

You can find books about the railroading that once happened on these old trails and having read the relevant book - or even having it in your carrier on the ride - adds a lot of fun. Many of the fallen flags have historical societies that are happy to answer questions like "what is that old stone bridge foundation on the left at mile marker X?"

It is a bunch of fun to ride along the GAP trail, imagining yourself in the cab of a Western Maryland steam loco!

Also, you get to railfan some modern railroading. CSX has a very busy line (former B&O) on the other side of the river. And I've watched switching at The Tube Works in McKeesport - got a friendly wave from the engineer.

I'm pushing my mileage up each week, getting ready for That Dam Ride on 9/11, on the GAP, from Little Boston to Confluence and then back the next day. It's 70 miles each way and I think I'll be ok. I have a couple more weeks to get ready.

Don

Country: USA | Posts: 5005

simon1966
Fireman



Posted - 08/14/2010 :  12:01:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit simon1966's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Don, I have been doing the same thing this past month, got myself a bike and been riding the rails-to-trails routes here in the St. Louis area. In my case it is Illinois Central, Wabash and Nickel Plate routes that have been converted to bike trails. There are still vestigial remains of the past use like an old water tower and track side markers. It is fun and the side benefit is the weight coming off and fitness going up.


Country: USA | Posts: 2861 Go to Top of Page

Rick
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 08/14/2010 :  12:34:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Don and Simon, welcome to the world of bicycling.
It is great exercise and as Simon noted an easy way to lose weight.
Combining it with rail-fanning is a bonus.

Don, good luck getting ready for that Dam Ride.
Let us know how you did.


As you think, so will you be.

Country: USA | Posts: 21451 Go to Top of Page

George D
Moderator

Premium Member


Posted - 08/14/2010 :  1:06:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Also, you get to railfan some modern railroading. CSX has a very busy line (former B&O) on the other side of the river. And I've watched switching at The Tube Works in McKeesport - got a friendly wave from the engineer.

Just like a kid on a bike.

Like Rick said, welcome to the world of cycling. We donít have any old railroad right of ways for bike trails, but we have plenty of country roads (and no hills).

George



Country: USA | Posts: 13634 Go to Top of Page

AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 08/14/2010 :  1:46:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I kind of wish the trail developers would leave a bit more railroady stuff behind - some sections have been so cleaned up that there's no evidence that it ever was a railroad. Not complaining, though; I'm really grateful to all the volunteers who struggled to create these trails and work to maintain them.

Here's a link to That Dam Ride in case you want more details:
http://mysite.verizon.net/thatdamride/index.htm

Thanks for the comments,

Don



Country: USA | Posts: 5005 Go to Top of Page

AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 08/23/2010 :  5:22:13 PM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I did a couple more nice rides on the GAP this past weekend - from West Newton to Connellsville and return (54 miles total) and a shorter ride with a friend from Connellsville to Ohiopyle and back (35 miles).

Even though I couldn't see the CSX very often, I could hear those big diesels working. And while I'm not a huge fan of modern railroading, I've discovered I do enjoy the "sound of power" from those big honkin' prime movers. Throw in a little couple clank and flange squeal and it a nice accompaniment to hissing of your tires on the crushed limestone.

I'm finding more railroadiana, now that I'm more relaxed and looking more. There are a couple of old signal masts still standing, and a lot of concrete signal bases. There are even a few old line poles and once in a while you can spot a few ties off to the side. You can also see what might be old grades leading off to mines or something.

Heck of a nice way to spend some hours.

Two more weekends of riding before the long ride.

Simon and others - yes, it's a great way to lose some weight. I put on about 25 when I was on the med's - I've lost about 15 and I expect to lose the other 10.

Don



Edited by - AVRR-PA on 08/23/2010 5:28:10 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 5005 Go to Top of Page

brakie
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 08/24/2010 :  10:37:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have hiked several old railroad beds and found some interesting things like the footers for a long forgotten water tank,a whistle post and my favorite a former MOW shed being used as a shelter..The oddest was a high Ramapo switch stand with ties that was used as a information post/mile marker.

My roughest hiking was in Kentucky and finding who owned the land.I will say 99% of the land owners was cooperative and shared their railroad story.The other 1% was agreeable but,didn't quite understand my reason "fer lookin' at that there old train path since there wasn't much left back thar".



Country: USA | Posts: 6979 Go to Top of Page

FiatFan
Engine Wiper



Posted - 08/24/2010 :  10:16:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here's my official train-chasing vehicle for around town.



Tom



Country: USA | Posts: 308 Go to Top of Page

AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 08/25/2010 :  07:38:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi, Tom -- nice vehicle!

Don



Country: USA | Posts: 5005 Go to Top of Page

AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/27/2013 :  7:45:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Today was a beautiful day for bicycling, and I now have a camera that's small enough to easily carry in the pocket of a cycling jersey. I haven't actually learned to use it yet - but it's more intelligent than I am, so that doesn't matter too much.

I started out by riding a little local trail segment that runs by our dog park (great place to pet other people's dogs) and ends at the old B&O trestle to Herr's Island. If you like to model NBW's - this is the bridge for you:




Then I rode the Millvale Trail along the Allegheny River through downtown Pittsburgh, where it become the Ohio River Trail. Plenty of rail activity along that part of the trail:



NS along the Millvale Trail

Next I cycled across the National Register of Historic Stuff Smithfield Street Bridge. From the bridge, I noticed the cool old Drover's Caboose at Station Square:




I decided to bike down into Station Square (the former P&LE Station) and take a couple of closer pictures:









Pittsburgh History & Landmark Foundation developed Station Square and still has their offices in the old P&LE building. They have a large library. I wonder if they have plans for this caboose. It would be fun to build a model of it. It's certainly unusual.

Here's something you don't see all that often - a boat with a real, working paddle-wheel - not just a decorative fake. This one really drives the boat:



From Station Square, I headed down the Mon River on the South Side trail.

The former P&LE tracks are still very active and run alongside the trail as it passes through "South Side Works" - a big restaurant and shopping complex on the site of the former mill. The tracks passed under the mill - specifically, under the open hearth. They are adding enough height to the tunnel so that double-stacks can pass through - I guess that was easier than lowering the tracks. Here's a picture of the tunnel mouth - you can see the new higher roof:


Tunnel entrance with higher roof


The biggest excitement on that trail at the moment is the nesting pair of American Bald Eagles - cyclists have to thread their way through the eagle watchers:



Eagle watchers

I actually caught a glimpse of one of the eagles - looked big enough to carry off a small cyclist. I was wasn't quick enough to get a picture but did take a picture of the nest. Eagles are messy homebuilders:




The other big excitement is that the last segment of the trail is about to be completed and you'll be able to ride from The Point (where the Three Rivers come together) all the way to Washington, D.C. The last little bit will be paved in about a week.


I reversed course and rode back toward downtown ("dawntawn" if you prefer Pittsburghese) to the old Hot Metal bridge and rode across the river to the beginning of the Eliza Furnace trail (aka The Jail Trail) There isn't much left to remind you that this used to be the B&O's passenger line into Pittsburgh or that there used to be a huge industrial complex here - but I did spot this old line pole, which has been put to use as a light pole.





I rode the Jail Trail into downtown and then rode city streets back home.

All in all, a very nice day.

Don




Country: USA | Posts: 5005 Go to Top of Page

Rick
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 04/27/2013 :  8:06:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"All in all, a very nice day." I'll say.

Thanks for the pics.
Riding from Pittsburg to DC sounds like fun.
Is it all paved?

One nit pick.
Is that your bike in the fourth picture down?
If so, you've got to lose the streamers.
Real bikers don't have streamers.

Weather round my area has been getting nicer and I've had some time to ride.
Rode three times so far this week.
Not sure if I'll have time to ride tomorrow.


As you think, so will you be.

Country: USA | Posts: 21451 Go to Top of Page

AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/27/2013 :  9:32:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rick

"All in all, a very nice day." I'll say.

Thanks for the pics.
Riding from Pittsburg to DC sounds like fun.
Is it all paved?

One nit pick.
Is that your bike in the fourth picture down?
If so, you've got to lose the streamers.
Real bikers don't have streamers.

Weather round my area has been getting nicer and I've had some time to ride.
Rode three times so far this week.
Not sure if I'll have time to ride tomorrow.



Hi, Rick --

"Is it all paved?" Depends on your definition of paving. From Pittsburgh to Cumberland, it's former railroad right-of-way and is, at worst, crushed limestone and at best, asphalt. From Cumberland to DC, you're on the towpath of the C&O Canal - it's a lot rougher. It has been described as "riding in 100 year old mule s**t."

This summer, I'm riding with a friend to Cumberland, with two nights in B&B's. At Cumberland, Garth will meet us and all three of us will ride the steam excursion train to and from Frostburg. Then Garth will SAG us back to Pittsburgh. Should be a great trip!

You got a problem with my streamers? Pfui! They went with me across Iowa and I'm keeping them. They get a lot of smiles.

It's great that you're getting out on the bike! Keep on riding!

Don



Country: USA | Posts: 5005 Go to Top of Page

reklein
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/28/2013 :  11:52:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ya made me think of the Plummer Idaho to Mullan Idaho trail. 88 miles of biking trail which actually crosses Lake Cour d'Alene. I've driven parallel to it. (except across the lake) and it would be quite a nice ride. It so happens the roadbed was built from mine tailings which had the usual concentration of toxic elements. They were going to charge the miners to dig it all up and haul it away but instead settled for pavement to seal the roadbed and create a bike trail'
Another interesting trail to ride which I have done is the Hiawatha trail which is the old Milwaukee electric route over St.Paul pass on the MT/ID border. Beautiful ride!! BILL



Country: USA | Posts: 261 Go to Top of Page

AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/28/2013 :  5:38:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi, Bill --

Both trails sound like they'd be fun to ride. Maybe someday...

Don



Country: USA | Posts: 5005 Go to Top of Page

BBLmber
Fireman



Posted - 04/28/2013 :  5:59:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Don, just south of you around Morgantown is the trail along the Mon where the B&O used to run. Accross the river is the NS ex Mongehela tracks used by NS and CSX.

Mark


W,L,&E

Country: USA | Posts: 5899 Go to Top of Page

AVRR-PA
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 05/17/2013 :  7:44:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit AVRR-PA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi, everyone --

The weather today was beautiful and I got in a nice 51 mile ride on the Great Allegheny Passage. Since it was a work day, there were a lot of trains on the nearby rail lines. I'm afraid I didn't do a great job of photographing them. It sometimes difficult to get stopped and get a camera out of your pocket quickly enough. And digital cameras can be kind of slow to get going. Anyhow, here are a few pictures:



Download Attachment: Grab shot of CSX at crossing.JPG
62.79 KB

Download Attachment: Idling Union RR switcher at US Steel in McKeesport.JPG
89.21 KB

Download Attachment: NS train idling at Duquesne Works.JPG
52.05 KB

Download Attachment: Old roundhouse at McKeesport sand tower.JPG
58.48 KB



Download Attachment: Old roundhouse at McKeesport 02.JPG
72.49 KB

Download Attachment: Old roundhouse at McKeesport 03.JPG
73.4 KB

Download Attachment: Old roundhouse at McKeesport.JPG
79.48 KB

Download Attachment: P and LE boxcar on display at Boston PA.JPG
67.17 KB

The next time I ride, I'll see if I can do a better job of catching the many CSX and NS trains that make the ride even more interesting.

Don



Country: USA | Posts: 5005 Go to Top of Page
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