Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Raleigh Railroading

CSX operated General Motors Type SD60

As is evident by the photos sometimes posted here, train spotting is a hobby of mine. Part of this is from hearing family stories when I was younger. My grandfather on my mom’s side spent years seeing the country by hopping boxcars. It was by train hopping that he wound up in Washington state to join the CC Camp before heading off to World War II. My mom’s grandfather was a conductor as well.

above image credit: uliveandyouburn

My dad’s pop was the conductor of “The General“, part of the L&N line (later CSX). During The Civil War, The General was involved in Andrews Raid–which eventually became known as The Great Locomotive Chase. It was later restored as an oil burner for the Civil War Centennial. He’s in a photo on the linked page, as well as my grandmother. He later was the conductor of the Hummingbird. Unfortunately, I never got to know him or my grandfather and great-grandfather from my mom’s side of the family.

Although family history plays some part in my interest in trains, a good part of it lies in the experience of simply watching one go by. The loud roar (or screeching) of metal train wheels on the rails, the highly efficient humming diesel engine, and the overpowering (and often startling) horn is just a humbling experience. It’s also a throwback to the past, as locomotive transportation is what enabled the United States to expand westward during the 1800s. Many times when I’ve sat watching them go by, I’ve pondered what it would be like to hop on one without knowing where it was going–just to wind up in a new place and see the way there in a new way.

Amtrak operated GM F95PHI near the former West Martin Street Viaduct.

Having two dogs and having a full time job (not to mention keeping up with this site) makes that just a dream, though. Instead, I’m often hanging out near the Boylan Wye, the Amtrak Station, or other various lookout points taking pictures and wishing I could spend a month riding rails aimlessly.

And speaking of the Amtrak Station, it’s one of the busiest along the NY to Miami corridor. I have yet to have seen it, but I hear you can occasionally see a private railcar attached to the end of the passenger cars.

Another angle of the GM SD60s near the CSX Turntable close to Seaboard Station

It isn’t hard to find relics of Raleigh’s Railroad History. According to Will, the turntable partially visible in the image above has been there since the days of steam engines. He goes on to say that:

There was a brick roundhouse where the engines were serviced, and a water tank and a coaling station used to refuel the steam locomotives. You can still see the concrete strips radiating out from the turntable which supported the tracks leading to each roundhouse stall.

It also isn’t hard to find great vantage points to watch trains in downtown Raleigh. They are always slow moving at the crossing with West Hargett Street. It was here uliveandyouburn and I decided to make a quick hop off in front of a crowd of club kids leaving Five Star. Hanging on to the side ladder of a grain car is no way to travel at high speeds!

Such a small stop sign for such a large engine

To read a great train hopping story, visit uliveandyouburn’s blog to read about winding up in an unknown town and having to ask a store clerk where you are.

above image of the CSX yard credit of: uliveandyouburn

Stay tuned, as there is more Raleigh Railroading history in store to come from Raleigh Boy!

above image of a lost caboose credit of uliveandyouburn

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