The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

It’s a train!

with 2 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

After scuttling about for nearly an hour along the waterfront in Pittsburgh’s South Side section, a humble narrator found himself at an ‘at grade’ rail crossing. Contrary to normal habit, I decided to sit down and wait. I played with my phone for about twenty minutes until I heard the train horn in the distance and then the signal arms descended.

That’s a CSX freight train, and it was hauling minerals. Specifically, the cars were labeled with the screed “Coke Express,” so there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The locomotive is of the General Electric ES44DC type, manufactured sometime between 2004 and 2010, which provides about 4,400 HP of locomotive power. If interested in the nitty gritty – check out this railfan page. I like taking pictures of trains, but don’t really “nerd out” about the things.

The cars that the train was pulling were filled with hot Coke, which is what you can turn coal into via an industrial process. It left behind a contrail of coal and coke dust, and the park smelled like an unlit BBQ after it passed by for quite a few minutes and until the prevailing wind blew the odor away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After walking back to the Mobile Oppression Platform, which is what I call the car, I drove back up the hill towards HQ. Stuck at a red light, I couldn’t resist getting a shot of what the locals refer to as “heavy traffic” leading into the Liberty Tunnel. Said tunnel is bored through Mount Washington and leads to the South Hills region where HQ is located.

Back tomorrow with something different.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 5, 2023 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Great blog post! Your photos really capture the grit and industrial nature of the area. I was curious about the process of turning coal into coke – do you have any more information on that? Thanks!
    David Brock
    Philly Local Support

    David Brock

    April 9, 2023 at 6:27 am

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