The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

with onyx

with 5 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

Philadelphia’s Market Street Bridge, in its modern or fifth incarnation, is pictured above. Leading directly to 30th Street Station, Market Street bridge was erected in 1932. It sports ornate masonry along its roadway, including four “Pennsy” eagle statues salvaged from New York City’s original Penn Station. This November of 2021 post describing a previous visit to Philly – “Menacing Dreams” – shows what the scene looks like from above, rather than below, here on the Schuylkill River Trail.

The history associated with this crossing is fairly ancient for the United States, and includes a ferry which crossed the River as early as 1673.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, the pathway I was using here in Philadelphia – the Schuylkill River Trail – was very, very well used by the locals. As always seems to be the case with me these days, when people see the camera on the tripod they want to come over and talk cameras with me. Tell me what camera they have, or want, or ask about where they might sell some old equipment which they inherited from a dead relative. Find out what I think about the Sony vs. Canon ecosystems…

I try to be polite, but… c’mon… I’m obviously, and literally, focused in on what I’m doing… sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To my understanding, there’s a subway tunnel under the water here leading into 30th Street Station’s innards. If I’m reading things correctly, it’s in between the John F. Kennedy Boulevard Bridge (left) and Market Street Bridge (right). Called the Market Frankfort Line Tunnel, it carries local subway and streetcar traffic of Philly’s SEPTA and PATCO transit operations into the intermodal sections of the rail facility. Grain of salt on the location, btw, as mentioned – I’m a tourist here, not an expert.

Of course, when the shutter was open for the shot above… that’s when I heard the jingle jangle of an approaching railroad train behind me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to quickly “rekajigger” the camera from “dreamy landscape” to fast motion capture modality, but managed to do so before the freight train got to me. It was a CSX freight unit.

Funnily enough, since the camera was firmly affixed to the tripod and that fence in the shot above was at least five feet high, I just hoisted the thing above my head with the swing out screen pointing down. Clumsy, but effective. Click, click, click.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Conrail came into existence in 1976 at the behest of the Federal Government, which combined the bankrupt (private capital, publicly traded) but strategically and macro economically important holdings and routes of the Penn Central and Erie Lackawanna outfits (amongst others) under a single management team. Conrail became profitable by the middle 1980’s, and in the northeastern USA, two privately held companies – CSX and Norfolk Southern – ended up absorbing the Conrail property and stock (42% and 58%, respectively). Conrail is still around, and owns a significant amount of rail tracks which they perform “maintenance of way” work on.

CSX operates 21,000 miles of track all by itself. Its business ranges from Canada’s Ontario and Quebec, and all over the eastern coast of the United States – including servicing the Atlantic and Gulf coastal ports, as well as the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, and the St. Lawrence Seaway. CSX is what is referred to as a “Class 1 railway.” They do freight, not passenger. A Fortune 500 company, CSX’s total assets are worth (as of 2018) $12.25 Billion in Shareholder’s equity, and CSX has a portfolio of assets which is worth $36.729 Billion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

CSX engine no. 104 was pulling this train along these tracks by the Schuylkill River. Built by General Electric Transportation Systems sometime between 1993 and 2004, the model GE AC4400CW’s manufactured during that interval generate 4,400 horsepower of motive force. A diesel electric locomotive, some 2,834 of them were produced for CSX and other freight operators including Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific, Ferromex, and Cerrojón, and others.

Choo Choo! More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 27, 2022 at 11:00 am

5 Responses

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  1. Playing catch-up on this week’s Philadelphia Story installments, I actually dug into my e-mailbox to read them in M-Tu-W order — usually I’d just read ’em backwards, which somehow seems right for me. I even followed the link to the Nov 2021 post, and glad I did. I’m lucky if I remembered 10 percent of it. Loving the trip! For some reason I especially loved knowing how those “multitudes of people” trekking the Schuylkill (don’t think I didn’t double-check the spelling!) River Trail got disappeared by the tech setup for the shots. Thanks, Mitch!

    Kenneth Furie

    April 27, 2022 at 12:25 pm

  2. You like trains, right? Check out a bit north of Philly in Scranton: Steamtown National Historic Site:

    (The turntable alone is worth the trip.)

    Boogie your way there:

    georgetheatheist . . . choo-choo chi'boogie

    April 27, 2022 at 3:05 pm

    • Steamtown is the Cooperstown of railroad museums. Unfortunately, you can’t take a train to get there. Amtrak will hook you up with a bus from Philly to Scranton. Good call, Mr. George.


      April 27, 2022 at 4:06 pm

  3. Looks like you took the CSX photos on the other side of the river. Tracks there were originally the Baltimore And Ohio which until 1958 also hosted passenger trains between New York and Washington DC. Route was over the Central RR of New Jersey from Jersey City, to the Reading and then the B&O from Philly south. T was known as the Royal Blue Route.


    April 27, 2022 at 3:15 pm

    • Yup, this was on the shore opposite 30th st station. Thanks for the details! As mentioned, my knowledge of Philadelphia is surface level at best. Interesting place, and I hope to learn a lot more about it in future trips.

      Mitch Waxman

      April 27, 2022 at 3:39 pm

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