Sunday, August 13, 2017

Railfanning: Macungie, Pennsylvania

When I travel for any reason I always do a little research to see if there are any good railfanning spots in the area.   You never know if you're near a hotspot of how much rail traffic might be in the area.

So I'm planning on our annual trip to Allentown for the DCI East Coast finals.   Having driven around Allentown for Drum Corps, I did notice lots of tracks in the area, but had no clue what traffic went where, or where some good spots are.   Plus, not everyone on the trip is a railroad fan.   (OK, none of them are).   But I didn't want them to stop me.

The park

Searching the internet I found a place in Macungie, PA - a park dedicated for railfanning!  I found an article that details the planting of the  Flower Park adjacent to the tracks,  but only this fellow railfan's article on the construction of the station-like pavilion that sits next to the flower park and the tracks.

The only remnant of the original train station is a crumbling curb which was the station platform back in the day...   However, the flower park is quite nice, and worth walking through while waiting for trains.  Even during my August visit the park was in full bloom - the park is certainly well cared for.

Railfan Park
Entrance to the flower park off of the main street.   
Tracks are behind the white fence, and the pavilion is off photo to the right.

Macungie Station
Macungie station/pavilion.   
Flower park on the left.  Tracks on the right.  Grade crossing near the van in o the left.

As a railfan, it was nice to see a place for us.   Railfanning is often pulling your car to the side of the road or some other out of the way place near tracks where you can see trains and not trespass on railroad or private property.   Here the pavilion is adjacent to parking, provides shelter from the sun and rain, and has plenty of seating!    When I was there Saturday I also ran into some locals there to train spot as well - everyone was very friendly!

But to the trains...

An Eastbound autorack train at the crossing

The action was pretty good at the location.  I was there on a Friday afternoon and Saturday late morning, and saw many trains bother times.  Flow isn't consistent - 4 trains in one hour, then nothing the next hour sometimes.    There were a lot of trains Saturday morning as (we assumed) they were clearing the yard and sending all the trains out...

7506 returns
A Westbound mixed freight.   I'll see this same locomotive again the next day.

If you don't have a scanner, it's still easy to spot when trains are approaching.  Eastbound trains go over 2 other grade crossings before reaching Macungie, so if you keep your ears open you can hear the whistle for those crossings and be ready.

Westbound trains have no grade crossings, but looking west there is an approach-list signal, so when that turns green something is most likely on it's way.   There's also a good sight line both east west, so you can just keep your eyes open.    but trains come through at a good clip, so once you can see a train, it'll be on you within 30-odd seconds.

Macungie East Macungie West
Looking East (left) and West (right) from Macungie station

If you're ever in the area, I encourage you to visit Macungie.   The railfan park is a great resource.  There's a convenience store across the street.  If you're there on the weekend there may be other events going on in the town (there was a giant flea market and antique car show the weekend I was there).  And, if you're lucky, you'll run into some other railfans there!

Some young kids (with Mom) showed up to railfan, and were rewarded with a wave by the engineer.


While snapping photos with the SLR, I propped up the iPhone for some video.    A compendium is below.

Happy railroading!

More of my photos from Macungie can be found here.

Railfan information about Macungie.

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