Above: Photo Credit: Amanda Davis

Chasing the Two Rivers Special
MPRR Club Trip Archive

Chasing the Two Rivers Special Photo Gallery

Above: The excursion passes a photo line in Plainfield, CT. Photo Credit: Amanda Davis

Below: The excursion passes over the Shaw's Cove swing bridge on the Northeast Corridor. Photo Credit: Amanda Davis

Above: The excursion arrives in Old Saybrook to meet with the Valley Railroad. Photo Credit: Amanda Davis

Below: The Valley Railroad's Mikado waits to lead the excursion. Photo Credit: Amanda Davis

Article By: Amanda Davis

On October 29, a few intrepid adventurers gathered at Chaz Fairbrother's house for a chase of the Two Rivers Special train. This train was a special hosted by the Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts.  It started at the P&W yard in Worcester, MA at 8:30AM, although we met it at the railroad station in Putnam. The Putnam station has been restored as a trackside restaurant & microbrewery, which I highly recommend. 

While passengers were boarding the train in Putnam, we jumped ahead to meet it in Dayville, and then Plainfield.  The Dayville location was one where Andrew had helped the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum remove rail which had been donate to them by P&W. At the yard in Plainfield, Chas ran into an old friend who happened to be driving through while we were waiting. A lot of hopper cars were staged here.

We then faced a critical decision: the night before Chaz learned that the USS Illinois was being commissioned at the Subbase, and in attendance would be the First Lady. We wondered if the event would cause traffic problems on RT 12.  The train had been moving at quite a clip so far. We decided not to take any chances, and went straight to New London.  As it turned out, the train was late in arriving, perhaps extra security for the commissioning had impeded its progress, or perhaps it had to wait on the westbound Acela.  Although cold and a little blustery, we got a lot of relaxing and railfanning done while waiting as several Northeast Regionals and the Acela went through. I was happy to see the Coast Guard helicopter circling through, hopefully on a routine mission not a search and rescue. Would that be airspace-fanning?

After New London, it was quite a race between us on the highway and the special train on the Northeast Corridor. She beat us to Old Saybrook, but we made it to the "Y" in plenty of time to see the P&W diesels hand off their cars to the steam locomotive provided by the Connecticut Valley Railroad.  Unfortunately we saw a very near miss, as a car drove across the railroad directly in front of the moving P&W diesels, then panic-braked. Fortunately, all ended well.  I loved seeing the weathered, hard-working diesels and romantic, old-fashioned steam engine together.

Knowing the train would be moving slowly up the valley, we opted for lunch - an actual lunch, not the Spavins railfan lunch.  Nate took a chance on a Cheeseburger Pizza, which had previously been banned from railfan trips! Fortunately, the curse was broken! A work train thundered through while we were eating, but the pizza place had windows overlooking the track and a trackside camera. After lunch, we stayed at the Old Saybrook Station for a bit, marveling how much it looks like Henry's module! I found it interesting the platform near the "Y" had gauntlet track.

After admiring the patiently waiting P&W diesels some more, we headed up to the Essex train station to await the return of the excursion train. It was a "Your Hand on the Throttle" day, so we watched No. 40 being taken out for a spin past the scary Halloween decorations at the local hardware store.  Soon the excursion train rumbled past, and Nate commented that it was probably the strangest excursion train he had ever seen: a steam locomotive headed tender-first, pulling an observation car, then Amfleet cars, and followed by a B unit. It was a long day of successful train-chasing, (even longer for the passengers) and we would soon lose daylight, so we headed home.

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