Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- Flagging the Crossing, June 14, 2011

Today's rather nocturnal train of thought brings us to the county seat of Oldham County in north Central Kentucky during the predawn hours.

Most towns would consider a busy railway line running right down the middle of their main street a nuisance or hazard. LaGrange, KY however, seems to embrace the presence of CSX on the former Louisville & Nashville Short Line between Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH that runs down the town's main street. Heck- the downtown business association's website proudly features an image of a CSX train trundling through downtown LaGrange.

Located along I-71 and the CSX LCL subdivision (short for Louisville, Cincinnati & Lexington, the L&N predecessor that built the line in the 1850s), the town of LaGrange is about 20 miles northeast of Louisville and 75 miles southwest of Cincinnati. Although the line has seen significant improvement in terms of trackwork, clearance and capacity over the last decade, LaGrange itself is something of a bottleneck due to the 10MPH speed restriction through downtown. Even with those restrictions, the line sees anywhere from a dozen to 20 trains daily hauling anything from auto racks to grain to general freight.

Here, Vermont's own Gary Knapp (who has drawn comparisons to O Winston Link) meticulously set up some lighting and played an hours long waiting game to snap a northbound general freight with Old Glory prominently in the foreground and CSX SD40-2 #8118 leading a pair of widecab GEs towards the end of October 2007. The trains arrival and departure will be relatively quiet, as the downtown area is a 'quiet zone'- passing trains do not blow their horns for crossings on their way in and out of town.

Knapp identified the red brick house with the white pillars as the mayor's residence, which along with the mayor's then new VW Beetle, shows up in the foreground of some pictures taken earlier in the night.

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