Railfanning in Miami area

ddechamp71 Apr 26, 2010

  1. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi there! I'll be likely going to Miami on next summer. Only a few days (2 or 5, as I'm working as an airline crewmember). Any link to share about interresting railfanning spots, beginning close to Miami Int'l Airport?

    Dom
     
  2. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi there, I've the confirmation that I'll spend a few days in Miami in the middle of August. I'll be located in Hyatt Hotel, 400 South East 2nd Avenue. Is there any nearby freight railfanning in the close area, not needing to rent a car?

    Otherwise What are the best locations for railfanning in the area, that are under car's range (CSX, NS, FEC, etc...)?

    Any input welcome.:tb-wink:

    Dom
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    There should also be some spin-off short lines around that vicinity. Hopefully one of our Florida area folks will help out here.

    Boxcab E50
     
  4. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    Google satellite, baby!:teeth: I check things out whenever I go somewhere. Just punch in the address, and zoom in!
     
  5. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    I've already done it, you can imagine. But if I indeed saw a track going to the nearby harbour, it doesn't give me any train mouvement schedule... And I don't want to spend my time waiting for the only freight in 24 hours, if ever, or worse, spend my time close to what I think is a freight railroad and to see only commuter trains, such as a location I found in Montreal with Google Earth... That's why my question to local railfans remains genuine.:tb-wink:

    Dom
     
  6. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    So it has been a pretty long time since I started this topic and I didn't do anything for it... I'm currently having a few days in Miami, the second lay-over I have been spending there for 6 months. In Miami city and in the close area there are infortunately not many spots for railfanning. One of the reasons, if I understand, is a local regulation that prevents any grade crossing beeing closed for more than 10 minutes during daytime. Thus most freight movements are beeing relegated during night time. As I'm definitly not fond of passenger/commuter traffic I quickly escaped from Miami area. Beeing lucky enough to have an issue of Railfan & Railroad that emphasises railfanning in Florida I quickly came to the conclusion that the most interresting railroad operations in a 2-hour driving circle around Miami lay around Lake Okeechobee, home of a shortline, South Central Florida Express. That road shares an ex-CSX branchline with another operator, US Sugar Company, in order to run general freights yeartime and sugar cane hauling at the end of winter / beginning of spring. SCFE runs rare locomotive models, EMD GP11s, which are EMD rebuilds roughly using GP9 chassis and frames and more recent EMD cabs (coming from GP35, GP38, GP40s, etc). The Home for these operations is Clewiston, close to Lake Okeechobee.

    First stop in August 2010:

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    Dom
     
  7. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Beeing there in the sugarcane harvest era (winter) is a garanty for interresting railfanning sessions. Here are the pics I took yesterday, with an USSC GP38-2 hauling about 50 cars, and in Clewiston yard....

    [​IMG]

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    (A few fallen flag paintschemed hoppers)


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    Dom
     
  8. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

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    Here are the pics I took yesterday, with an USSC GP38-2 hauling about 50 cars.

    Dom
     
  9. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    That said, there are chosen locations in Miami downtown which present some interrest if you go there in the evening or in the early morning (the regs I previously spoke of): I think about the crossing between 73rd St and NE 2nd Avenue, on the Florida East Coast RR:

    [​IMG]
    (An ex-UP SD40-2 with a renting company SD70M2)

    Otherwise there is a yard at the crossing between Okeechobee Rd and NW 72nd street where you may catch some switching operations, such as with this remote controlled FEC GP40-2:

    [​IMG]

    But I'm still unaware of the localregulations regarding security, and I took all these pics still wondering how to deal with a zealous sheriff....:tb-wacky:

    However, there are definitly some interresting features for any railfan in that area.:tb-wink:

    Dom
     
  10. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    (Unfortunately I'm discovering I can't anymore edit the above messages. Their pics became blurred because they are hosted by photobucket, under TB's old forum, and I didn't renew my subscription with them. If one is interrested I may put them again in a new post)

    So yesterday I was back in Clewiston for a railfanning afternoon, and I was happy to find this place is still a busy railroad location, mostly animated by local industrial / short line railroad USSC (US Sugar Corporation). The most obvious change relative to the last time I came in the area (July 2012) is the disappearance of former South Central Florida Express and its colorful locomotives. Indeed that railroad dedicated to local general freight (running on a shortline that goes from roughly West Palm Beach to Sebring where it connects with CSX) seems to have been blended into parent company USSC so now all the locomotives running on this line wear USSC's paintscheme. One can spot former SCFE's rare GP11s, now beeing renumbered and repainted. One of another new feature is the appearance of GP40s or GP40-2s.... All locomotives are now equipped with LED headlights and ditchlights. And a definitly rare and very interresting caracteristic : on rush time, as it was the case yesterday during sugarcane crop, trains run one behind and in sight of each other without any apparent dispatch... A very fine afternoon with a lot of action in a 4-hour time span, more than one can see on numerous Class 1 railroads. This place, at ~2 driving hours from downtown Miami, definitly deserves the visit. ;)

    20191103_180034.jpg




    PB030130.jpg A ghost grain hopper, oddly still wearing a long dead company's reporting marks....



    PB030138.jpg



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    PB030149.jpg



    PB030155.jpg
    Another one just 3 or 4 minutes after... ;)



    PB030158.jpg "VFR" railroading. ;)


    Dom
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
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  11. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I agree VFR, but with an added risk, the freight cars do not have brake lights. :eek:
     
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  12. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    A video that I commited, of the operations that day... Unfortunately it was rather windy.



    Dom
     
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  13. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    Holy Moly-that was a long train!!:eek::cool:
     
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  14. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Not that long nor heavy when one considers north american standards. Depending on when I watch the video, the train consists of 70 to 72 cars, with 2 units at the point. From car to car you may have something like 10 meters, which is ~33 ft. So with its two 4-axle locomotives, this train can be ~750-meter long (2500 ft). But rather heavy for a shortline. Each car must weight 100000 lbs fully loaded at the least, so it must be a ~3000-ton train..;)

    Dom
     
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  15. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    I imagine sugar cane isn't too heavy either!
     
  16. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    I'm not sure indeed. I had infortunately no way to examine these cars when motionless, as USSC is of course closed to public access. So I refer to similar cane hoppers I've been able to spot a few years ago in Dominican Republic (no enforcing of access to private industries over there), some of these wearing markings indicating their "Capacity = 40 tons" (~90000 lbs). In the right lower corner of the car below.. P1020435.jpg

    I don't exactly know what capacity is. Does that mean the car's total weight, or its payload's weight ? I think it's more this last option indeed. So if one considers an empty weight of 10 or 15 tons, yes I bet we are not far from ~50 tons for every loaded car.. ;)

    Dom
     
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