Friday, August 16, 2013
Today's Train of Thought- Geeps and Juice, August 16th 2013
Today's train of thought takes us to the Sunshine State and upon closer examination seems to involve things that are immediately evocative of Florida, such as orange juice, water and things coming down to Florida after having spent much of their lives in the northeastern USA.
Here, railpictures.net contributor Barney Rebel caught CSX GP39-2s #4303 and #4301 trundling across the Manatee River in Bradenton, FL in February 2008 with a cut of general freight and refrigerator cars for Tropicana's Bradenton plant bringing up the rear. On one side of the lowered drawbridge is the older wooden pilings for the trestle while further back and on the other side is the newer, concrete portion of the former Seaboard Air Line span.
Bradenton is also the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates- although many other teams make their home in the Grapefruit league in nearby towns. Meanwhile the Manatee River does in fact boast a manatee population, although depending on the time of the year, they're usually found further upstream.
The white refrigerated boxcars towards the very rear of the train are part of the Tropicana fleet. For 40 years, the company has been shipping juice and concentrate some 1200 miles from the Bradenton area to New Jersey [with unit trains to Cincinnati also eventually added- NANESB!].
The two units actually started out life on Pennsylvania's Reading railroad in the mid 1970s, and while the line was folded into Conrail by 1976, the Reading's fleet of GP39-2s were sent to the Delaware & Hudson along with a handful of former Lehigh Valley GP38-2s in addition to being awarded trackage rights to Buffalo, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Washington DC. CSX predecessor Chessie System had apparently financed the Reading's purchase of the GP39-2s and when their lease came up shortly after the Canadian Pacific purchase of the D&H in the early 1990s, the former Reading units were turned over to CSX where they traversed the system in a motley assortment of colors ranging from Reading green to Guilford charcoal grey to D&H's classic 'Lightning Stripe' scheme before eventually being repainted into CSX colors.
After nearly 20 years of service, the former Reading units seem to generally congregate around the Tampa, FL area hauling aggregates, orange juice, phosphate or general freight. I would make the 'Northeast-retiree-moves-down-to-Florida' comparison, but it isn't analogous- the former Reading GP39-2s are still working on a daily basis [plus its entirely possible that CSX may end up selling them to an out-of-state shortline or regional- NANESB!].