Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I was down by Tallyrand Park on Sunday, doing my wash at the laundromat across the tracks from Bellefonte’s mostly-ornamental rail station. The most peculiar collection of brightly-colored buggies and mini-cars were collected on the main rail along the station plaza. Each car or buggy was fitted with rail-wheels, and were about as big, on average, as a Mini Cooper. In fact, one of them was a Mini Cooper with the tires replaced with railcar fittings. Most of the rest were variously-painted open-sided cars emblazoned with the logos of various Pennsylvania rail lines, like the Lycoming Valley, or Conrail, or whatever. They were lined up on the tracks facing in the direction of Pleasant Gap and the rest of the valley. Upon questioning some of the drivers and riders as the convoy started moving forward, haltingly and one car at a time, I found out what was going on. The cars are mostly-retired inspection & repair cars, the gasoline-powered replacements of the classic old two-man pump-cars, which themselves have been replaced these days by more automated systems. They were labeled with the logos of various Pennsylvania lines because they originally belonged to those lines. The drivers were a club which made yearly arrangements with various local rail lines to reserve the tracks in a particular area for a leisurely tour. This I got from the second-to-last car in the line, just before they motored off to join the rest of the expedition which was then crossing the railbridge over Spring Creek.

I couldn’t find anything on the specific tour group which passed through Bellefonte last weekend, but here’s someone from a similar group out of California.

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