Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Friday, May 27, 2011

Google Maps Catches A Train

The Union Railroad Roundhouse

Roundhouse Coordinates:   N40º 26.068’ W79º 48.127'

Note! Click on images to view in full size.

I was fooling around with Google Maps in satellite view, and decided to follow the Union's tracks to the tunnel (possibly another adventure) that ends up in North Bessemer where the Union ends and the B&LE begins,  I followed the tracks out to about Frey Road in Penn Hills and noticed that the satellite caught a train also heading to North Bessemer.  So I followed the train along until I found the engines.  Google maps updates their satellite views from time to time so for posterity I did screen dumps of the engines, the crossing at Thompson Run Road, and the caboose.

You can view these images on Google Maps.  Copy the coordinates given for each screen dump.  Access Google on your computer.  Click the Maps tab, and paste the coordinates into the search bar.  Zoom in on the results and click the hide panel button to get rid of the query and info panel on the left side of the map. Sometimes when you zoom in, the map shifts, so zoom in using steps and re-center the green arrow to keep it in view.  If you get lost zoom back out and look for the green arrow.

Engine Coordinates:   N40º 27.844’  W79º 47.629’

The Engines

 The engines are located just south of the cement elevators in the old Universal Atlas plant.  Click on the image  to view it full size and you should see three blue engines and one red and yellow which could be #33 with the new paint scheme.  All the hopper cars are empty.

Crossing Coordinates:   N40º 27.140’  W79º 47.773’

The RR Crossing

This railroad crossing is located on the northern section of Thompson Run Road in the Municipality of Penn Hills.  It is about one third the distance between Old William Penn Highway and Main Street in Universal.

Caboose Coordinates:   N40º 26.980’  W79º 47.722’

The Caboose

The Union Railroad still uses cabooses.  I adjusted the longitude slightly east so that the green arrow would not obliterate the caboose.

The Train Highlighted

I wanted to include an overall shot of the train to show its length.  However when I zoomed out far enough to encompass the entire length, the train got lost in the resolution.  I highlighted the train in magenta.  The rather grungy looking triangle of land bordered by Lott Road on the northeast, Thompson Run on the west and the forested section on the southeast looks grungy because it is grungy.  It is a huge slag dump brought out of the Monongahela valley mills by none other than the Union Railroad.  The site was at one time under consideration as a Super Fund site by the EPA.  I am not sure what the status is now.  The white strip immediately to the left of the train is the remnants of the old Universal Atlas Cement plant, which was owned by United States Steel.  I could be wrong but I think that many of these operations were shutdown when US Steel bought Marathon Oil and became USX and got hoity-toity.  Then USX cast off US Steel and renamed itself Marathon.  Shenanigans by the big hitters at the cost of many jobs no doubt. 

How long is the train?  I set the coordinates for the engine and caboose in the mapping software Garmin provides with one of my GPS units. I then used the distance tool (yellow highlight) to calculate the length of the train, then did a screen dump of the map.   If you look at the bottom of the screen, you will see the distance is one mile.  The area and bearing are meaningless in this case.

I also did an overview to show the train in relation to the roundhouse. 

Last night I had to drive over to Monroeville and I took this route quite intentionally.  I was treated with a train at the crossing, a rare event any more.  Alas I missed the engines.  It moved very slow, maybe 10 mph and I got to look at a lot of B&LE hopper cars.  Yes there was a caboose with a guy in it.  This Google Street View is what I saw except there was no train when Google come by, and there were no red locater balloons!  Imagine 50 years from now, Google will project holograms of the balloons at the actual location.  The chip that Intel implanted in your head at birth, will make the balloon visible only to you and what ever friends you Tweet the balloons to, all done with thought of course, unless your subscription to Microsoft's Internal Bio-chip Operating System has expired. 

And while I am fooling around with Google Maps, here is the Street View of the repair shop.  Google managed to catch an engine sitting at the doorway.

Image Credits:

All satellite and street view imagery:   Google Maps

Maps:   MapSource software, Version 6.13.7, Garmin Ltd.


No comments:

Post a Comment