UP 1996 - Southern Pacific Heritage Unit on NS Trains 212 and 211

UP 1996, the Southern Pacific Heritage unit, leads Norfolk Southern train 212 through the Pennsylvania countryside on the Reading Line and through New Jersey on the Lehigh Line on a beautiful sunny November 21, 2012—the day before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day, the same power comes back on 211, seen on the Harrisburg Line.

November 21, 2012 - dozens of railfans head trackside with the commotion of UP 1996 being well known ahead of time since 212 originates in Atlanta the day before. 212 is a tough one to catch in Pennsylvania because it is generally hit or miss at this time of year it terms of day light. Well, I partially met that fate at the first location...

Quick tabs:
0:00 - Topton, PA - Reading Line
2:27 - Jutland, NJ - Lehigh Line
4:44 - Prescott, PA - Harrisburg Line

Topton, PA - Norfolk Southern Reading Line - Milepost RV 18.5.
Sunrise was at 0700 sharp, however, the train passes the camera at 0714 just as the sun is cresting the hillside behind me. Wanting to catch the train passing through a scenic farm location and knowing ahead of time that this spot was the first place for sunshine on the Reading Line, I went trackside along the farms in Topton to press my luck, literally following the train in the blue dawn light from Lebanon County to this location in eastern Berks County. As I set up for the train with K5LLA blaring in the distance and echoing across the valley, I watched the distant shadows of the hillside draw closer to my feet. However, hearing the horn getting louder and the shadows growing shorter, I wondered if the sun or the train would arrive first? It was a nerve racking and nail-biting situation, surely I held my breath the whole time. But soon enough, the headlights round the curve, just as the edge of the sun is cresting the hill. "Rats!" I thought—just a couple of minutes later and it would have been beautifully illuminated. But who could complain when such a beautiful locomotive is leading the train? Nevertheless, it was interesting to literally watch the sun rise on the train. In fact, it's a bit ironic to see the sun rising on a locomotive representing a railroad that the sun set on some 16 years ago.

Figuring it was worth the chase, I pounded the country roads to the nearest interstate, and headed east until I knew I was far enough ahead of the train. I beat it to Jutland, NJ along the Lehigh Line with about 10 minutes to spare, thanks to a train ahead. The light was beautiful now, and I'm certainly glad I chased. The best part is that I was the only railfan at each location! Plus, I figured it appropriate to catch it once again because I missed the horn first time around. A defect detector at the crossing can also be heard.

Power for the 212 is:

UP SD70ACe 1996 "Southern Pacific"
UP SD70ACe 8628
NS D9-40CW 9708

On Thanksgiving Day 2012, train 211 heads west in the afternoon by Prescott, PA, Milepost 83 on the NS Harrisburg Line. Unfortunately, the power did not turn around, but it was nice to see the UP 1996 from another angle in even better sunlight!

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving!

Thanks for Watching!!!