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

Monday, May 23, 2011

Who Has Time For Chores, There Are Railroads to Look At

 Note!  Click on photos to view full size.

View Of The Round House Location  N40º 26.068’ W79º 48.127’
April 30

On Saturday, in keeping with the fine tradition of screwing off instead of chores (actually only delaying the chores), I returned to the Union Railroad to have another look at the roundhouse turntable.
May 21

It is in a different position!  They must still use it.  Look at the photos.  For comparison I included a photo from April 30.  In the April 30 photo, the left end of the turntable is aligned with the first set of tracks and the lateral centerline of the black superstructure is somewhat aligned with door 9.  In May 21 photo the left end of the turntable is aligned with the third set of tracks and the centerline of the superstructure is aligned with the left edge of door 11 (Receiving).

Zoom of the turntable's whee
When I was taking the photos, I thought the wheel was toothed which seemed odd because the rail is smooth.  Looking at the photo at home on the computer, the wheel is smooth but has the shadow from the grating above it. 

I took a couple of photos of the woods again from roughly the same spot as before.  Fully leafed and quite beautiful.

Here is a honeysuckle, but for the life of me I can’t key out which species.  It is blooming here in Pittsburgh on May 21.  It was blooming in the middle of March when I was at Augusta, Georgia.

The doors were open on the boxy end of the repair facility so I tried to get some zoom shots in the doors.   

Alas I see no locomotives.

A zoom of the roundhouse turntable from track level.


I stopped under the bridge again to get some shots of the truss in the sunlight. 


I was treated to three Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) performing a behavior called puddling.  

The young males congregate on puddles or mud to attain salts and amino acids.  I have seen this before, but never realized that it was a behavior.



As I tried to get closer two of the swallowtails flew off, but I managed to get a nice zoom of this guy.  Unfortunately he never opened his wings. 

Here is a shot of the overpass for the railroad over Thompson Run creek.  As kids we used to walk though here to get from our side of the railroad to  this side.  Note the blue cast to the water.  It is partially treated sewage.  It does not stink but it looks like hell.  There seems to be endless sources of this blue water in Allegheny County.

The view up Thompson Run Road toward the Hall Station Bridge. I looked at the leaning pole on the hill and realized I would be gone in a puff of smoke if it decided to fall.

Here is a shot of some of those lousy invasive dame’s rockets with the Hall Station Bridge in the background.

The view down Thompson Run Road.  Near the utility pole, there is a roadside memorial to a young woman whose vehicle slid off the icy road and plunged into the creek last year.  The guard rail appears to have been installed after the fact.

 Moving along I stopped to get a photo of this cliff.  It has the usual rotten Allegheny Count hardened sediment rock and is constantly falling down.  A few years ago there was a tiff between the Borough of Monroeville and the Union Railroad about this cliff, but I never heard what the result was.  The other notable is this is where my father discovered purple flowering raspberry growing with my brother-in-law.  It was one of his major finds.  I have seen it in many places while Geocaching, but in my father’s mind this was a real find.  I will have to return here later in the summer and see if it is still here.

Here is a shot of the overpass for the railroad over Thompson Run Road.   

Click to view full size.
This is the same over pass, although the other side that I shot from high on the hill in Sears parking lot on Easter Sunday.  You can see the cliff behind the overpass in that photo.  Wow that was way back when I was still employed.  I prefer my unemployed status.

 Some more creeping buttercups.   

This shot of the leaves show the blotches which only the creeping species has. 

Toxicodendron radicans

Well one last plant, the national flower of Allegheny County, at least one would think so with the extensive growth found in the county.  Well the fun was over and it was time to go cut grass.


  1. Good detective work Sextant. You're on top of your game ole boy. Bravo.
    Now if I were down there with you. You and I would be making further forays into URR territory..fences or no fences...bulls or no bulls.

    Very nice telephoto work...your camera is superb. Now if you just get the angle of your camera to shoot into the doors ??

    So....what do you make of the moving turntable ? Is it the wind ? Nah can't be . just kidding. So, if there are no locomotives..why the need to move the turntable ? You must investigate this further Sextant.
    Don't leave this dangling mystery. I mean there is sleuth work and then there is sleuth work. I guess anyone could pick up the telly and ring the maintenance shop and just plain ole ask, or you can do some digging the other way.??

    I love the shot of the zoomed round house turntable.
    Gotta run....more comments later.
    Work on that mystery will ya.!!

  2. The open doors were in the boxy part at the south end. The round house doors were all closed. So the round house could have engines. As far as criminal trespass, sorry I am too old to get my ass dragged off to a magistrate.

    "Now son, can you tell me what you are doing out in the middle of the rail yard with a camera with a telephoto lens?"

    "Well sir, I was trying to get pictures of the engines in the repair shop for a friend in Manitoba."

    "How well do you know this friend in Manitoba?"

    "Well not at all sir, he has a blog on the Internet."

    "So son are you in the habit of taking photos of American transportation facilities and sending them to foreign nationals?"

    "Well sir it is just for a blog."

    "I see you have been caught in the past stealing railroad property, and you were under suspicion of malicious vandalism with firearms against railroad property."

    "Well sir it was wild strawberries growing near the tracks. Someone shot the place up with pellet guns sir. I don't know anything about that."

    "Uh hug, that's what they all say"...

    Not that curious. I will have to check it out during the week when they are working, I am always over there on a weekend.

  3. BTW, Welcome back to Winnipeg! According to Stat Counter you are back in Winnipeg. You have been in Toronto for about 3 weeks. You were still there this morning, but you got back to Winnipeg this evening.

    There must have been and equipment failure in Winnipeg and they had to transfer traffic to Toronto.

  4. All right, stay legal if you must......makes it more of a challenge that way. No trespassing and a camera is your only tool.

    'Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to ascertain why the turntable has been moved and and if there are any locomotives in the roundhouse.'
    ' Not too much pressure, but 2 weeks is your deadline. Since you are gainfully retired, this is your new part time job.'

    'This post will self destruct when Harold Camping gets his end of world prediction sorted out."

    'Good Luck Sextant'

  5. "Very nice telephoto work...your camera is superb."

    Thanks. I wished I knew how to use it. My camera is awesome in good light. It can do what appears to be a macro shot at 20 feet. I was about 12 feet from the butterfly. But it ain't worth a shit in dim light as the yellow violet in the Trillium Trail post attests. What is amazing on that butterfly is that it was hand held and I was drifting all over the place with the zoom. It has amazing shake correction.

  6. I keep coming back to that zoomed photo of the roundhouse and assorted buildings. I like the old brick buildings and weathered steel, old roof vents and chimneys.......neat neat neat...

  7. On my visit on Saturday, I notice some really old looking ornate (like Victorian) roof vents on the south end, but failed to take any pictures. With the leaves out now trying to get photos is very difficult. I will try again here soon to get more photos of the place from some different vantage points. I would love to get some from the highway bridge, but bastards put the sidewalk on the wrong side of the bridge, plus there is always the ubiquitous fine mesh chain link fence.