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Edition #169  March 1, 2012

Growlesburg

Photographer: Steve Hanlon

                                                                      Photo by Steve Hanlon

Growlesburg

On September 14, 2005 I was in Oakland, MD on a business trip. Armed with my Nikon D70 I decided to head to M&K Junction to see if I catch the Q316 and Q317 in daylight, something I had never been able to do given their schedules and mine.  After getting Q317 at Graveyard Curve and Q316 crossing the Cheat at Rowlesburg, I decided to chase Q316 and hopped in the car after a quick talk with a West Virginia State Police officer who was curious why I was standing in the middle of the river.

As I was crossing the new Salt Lick Road bridge over the railroad at M&K I heard the radio crackle life and could only make out “CSX…west…out ” and decided to try and make it to the signals at Amblersburg.  I had never managed to get a train there and had a photo in mind.  I wasn’t sure where the train coming down the mountain was exactly, so I had no idea how long I would have to compose my shot and went every bit of the speed limit and then some to make it before the train did.

I came down the hill and made the left into the gravel area at the curve near the signals.  I parked  right up against the hillside to keep out of my shot and started walking up the paved road along the guard rail.  I was there a few minutes and had sorted out my shot.  I heard the whine of the engines when I heard something strange coming from behind me. I looked over my shoulder and realized it was a pit bull running full tilt toward me from the house across the road.  Just then the train, which was just a set of helpers, came into view and rounded the curve.  I snapped two shots and ran as fast as I could to my car.  I half jumped/slide across the hood and dove into the driver’s door closing it just in time to see paws and teeth, lots and lots of teeth, on the other side of the glass.   Picture the scene in Fletch except I’m not Chevy Chase and this dog really wanted to eat me.  I started the car and gunned it not having the presence of mind to snap a shot of the teeth trying to get through the window.

I drove up the road apiece, still shaken when I realized I hadn’t looked at the pictures yet.  I decided to head up to Terra Alta and wait for the Q316 there, in the safety of my car.  It was there I looked at the photos of CSX 500 and saw what I was able to get in a moment of sheer terror.  The first was slightly out of focus, and this was the second.  I will forever remember that September day and the scene of that dog bounding toward me, open and exposed, while waiting for a train.

Steve Hanlon

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