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Bob Bufkin

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Train Watching Platform
« on: February 26, 2013, 07:49:08 PM »
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Friend of mine sent me this.  What's of interest to me is that it is located in my old hometown.  Hard to believe they would spend a dime on something like this but i think it's great.

Clickity clack go the railroad tracks




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After 182 years, railroads still generate a lot of interest

By DALE HEBERLIG
Managing Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 2:21 PM EST
 
A train-viewing station on tap for construction as a park and recreation feature in Southampton (Cumberland) Township figures to a hit with a surprisingly large field of rail enthusiasts.

Township Supervisors approved $30,000 for use in the project in their Feb. 12 meeting by a 3-0 vote, although it remains uncertain exactly what form the viewing platform will take.


What is clear at this time is that the observation area will be a safe handicapped-accessible facility with a roof and a parking area on a narrow patch of land that runs along Airport Road opposite the township office.

Supervisor Butch O’Donnell says the train watching idea surfaced in informal discussions a year ago. He says Tom Algatt, a township resident and train enthusiast, promoted the concept.

“We thought it would make a nice addition to the park facilities we have now,” O’Donnell says. “A lot of people around here enjoy watching trains and some drive to spots in Chambersburg to watch.”

O’Donnell says the strip of land that’s wedged between the Norfolk Southern line and Airport Road isn’t much good for anything else.

“It’s too narrow to develop for many uses,” he says. “It’s not wide enough to meet setback requirements.”

In fact, according to O’Donnell and Supervisor Tom Ginnick, supervisors need a variance permit from the township’s zoning hearing board to ease the setback requirements before a train viewing station can be erected.

If they secure the setback variance, Supervisors will have some decisions to make. The biggest question is whether to use a pre-built structure as a shelter or to build a foundation and erect a permanent building to keep train watchers out of the weather.

“We’re not quite sure yet which way to go,” Ginnick says, “Our engineers says he could build up the base there and put a storage-shed type building about 12-feet by 24-feet in. That would avoid some permitting. The other option is a foundation to bring the ground up to the level of the railroad, then build a block building.”

Ginnick says the goal is to have something in place by summer that includes shelter from sun and precipitation, parking for about a dozen vehicles and handicapped-accessibility.

Township Supervisor George Bauserman sys the train viewing station should be a welcome addition.

“You see train watchers along the crossing on Goodhart Road and at the Big Pond crossing,” he says. “People monitor the routes and show up when there are special loads. I’ve seen them watching a load of Humvees and another time when a big piece of machinery of some kind went by.”

Algatt and Charlie Myers, another Shippensburg resident hooked on trains and railroads, say they can’t put their fingers on what draws them to the tracks, but they agree that whatever happens along Airport Road will be popular with the train watching community.

Railroads have been a focus of attention in America since the Baltimore and Ohio railroad opening in 1830.

Algatt says his love for trains stems from his childhood.

“I’ve loved trains since I was a kid growing up in Berwick,” he says. “Our town was home to American Car and Foundry that manufactured railroad cars.

Although the ACF plant closed in 1962, devastating the Berwick economy, Algatt never lost the railroad fever.

“We know what the (train) schedules are and we keep an eye on them,” Algatt says of local train watchers. He says special circus or carnival trains are popular, along with the office car special.

“It’s not like Walt Disney,” he says. “The animals are all covered up.”

Another attraction is a Norfolk Southern locomotive painted to honor military veterans.

“That veterans unit is a piece of history,” Algatt says. “We watch trains but we also pursue history.”

Myers says trains struck a cord with in childhood, too.

“I’m just a train buff.” He says. “I like to watch them and I like to ride them. Trains fascinate them and have since childhood.”

His dad’s employment on the railroad may have been a factor. In planting the seed.

“I traveled with him a lot,” he says. “I remember going to the tool house with him, I remember the mail being dropped in Oakville and I remember seeing military coffins in cars, bringing soldiers who died home.”

Myers says his fascination has not diminished over the years.

“It’s worse now than ever before,” he says.

Myers says he still gravitates to the end of South Washington Street to watch trains.

“Mondays and Wednesdays the CSX ‘local’ comes through from Hagerstown and it comes through here real slow,” he says.

The watcher’s perch planned in Southampton Township is targeted for completion this summer.

“Everybody has their own ‘spot’ for watching trains, but this will be a safe place for young and old. Rather that just standing along the tracks somewhere, there will be a covered platform with fencing to separate the tracks, parking space and handicapped accessibility,” Algatt says.


C855B

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Re: Train Watching Platform
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 07:55:33 PM »
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Do you have a direct link to the newspaper article, Bob? I would like to pursue a similar railfan park here, and including this kind of material will help my presentation to the prospective funders.

  ...mike
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

Bob Bufkin

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Re: Train Watching Platform
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 08:06:06 PM »
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Mike

It's from the News Chronicle in Shippesburg, PA.  They do have a web site which might have the article. 

C855B

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Re: Train Watching Platform
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 10:45:20 PM »
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...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross