Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Santa Train

This year's Santa Train included the CSXT Heritage engine 9998 (it's an F40PH-2, usually seen as AMTRAK engines). I wanted to get a picture of this engine - and a picture of Santa on the last car - but the stops along the route are always too crowded for a clear shot, and the traditional photo locations are full of other picture-takers too.

So, I used Google maps to scout out a location that would be devoid of other folks and provide some background scenery for a train picture. I settled on the south portal of the Clinch Mountain tunnel which is about 1/2 mile from where the train makes a stop in Kermit. I was unsure of the terrain because Google doesn't have a street view of Yuma Road in Kermit - go figure - so earlier this week I took off at lunch and made the 45 minuted drive to the spot I had selected. It was an excellent location; nice long incoming shot, some interesting background, and a going-away shot to get a Santa picture. So now the only worry was whether other folk would be there or not when the train rolled through.

The Santa Train runs on a pretty strict time table, so I felt good about only getting there about 30 minutes early. I scouted out the right angle that would include the ruins of the Kingsport Glass sand towers in the background and a shot of the end of the train where Santa would be. Then I borrowed a piece of firewood to prop up my iPhone for video and waited for the train.

Well, first off, I was disappointed to see the 4043 leading, not the heritage engine 9998.

CSX 4043 (SD40-3)
Since it was trailing the only shot that makes sense is this angle ... stupid CSX, don't they know that folk want to see the cool heritage engines out front, not the plain old average everyday SD40's ?

CSXT Heritage 9998 (F40PH-2)
And then Santa rolled by on the observation deck of the last car ... and he waved at me !

Santa waving at me !
Somebody should tell the folk at CSX to think about the order of the engines when they include them on special runs. I mean seriously, how much effort would it take to make sure the heritage engines are leading on the runs when it counts?

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