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By far, however, if you were look-


ing for signature steam power, it just had to be the “Big Sixes” that ruled the roost to Sand Patch and through the 4475-foot-long double track tunnel. These 6000-class, 2-10-2 Santa Fe type engines were dynamic in all senses of the word. They were so good, in fact, that one single engine could lift 1600 tons un- assisted up Sand Patch (and 3200 tons with a helper).


Modern Operations Obviously, change has been made big


time. Today, diesel is king in a constant- ly changing parade of power. When I first visited Sand Patch, EMD GP40s, SD40s, SD50s, and road slugs were in abundance, as well as vintage GE B36- 7s, B40-8s, and C40-8s. Now we are look- ing at high-tech SD70MACs, AC4400s, and AC6000s plowing upgrade from Cumberland. Considering the thousands


of units that CSX has under its charge, nothing is impossible on the slopes of Sand Patch. In addition, while the usual manifest might use three or four units on the head end or as helpers, it is not uncommon to see consists that include eclectic power that can total up to eight units. So what can one expect now from such


a diverse operation? For one, railroad- ers and railfans alike will see any given


RIGHT: The West Slope of Sand Patch provides little resistance for a pair of Amtrak P42DCs leading the eastbound Capital Limited on Janu- ary 17, 2013. The train is about to pass under the State Route 2006 bridge in Sand Patch, a few hundred feet from the summit of the Al- leghenies. BELOW: Eastbound CSX manifest train Q358 rolls over the Baltimore Street crossing in downtown Cumberland, Md., on February 1, 2010. Baltimore Street marks the western end of Cumberland Yard and is often where trains are staged before heading west over Sand Patch or the Mountain Sub. The loca- tion is also home to the spartan Amtrak station, from which all the action can be easily viewed. SCOOTER HOVANEC PHOTOS


32 JULY 2015 • RAILFAN.COM


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