Thursday, March 31, 2016

Waking Up to the Ann Arbor Railroad

As I was heading into work on Tuesday, I drove by the spot where I sometimes see some Ann Arbor Railroad engines.  They were there.
 The Ann Arbor Railroad has been using some of their unused track to store some tank cars.  I think there have been a few complaints about them.  So I think they were moving them around for some reason.
 I'm fine with that because I got to see their engines and I haven't seen them in a while.
This picture was taken from the crossing and the train wasn't moving nor was it occupied.

The Moon Over Pennsylvania

Just a shot of the moon as I stopped at a rest area in Pennsylvania.  I liked the colors.

A Brief Stop at Fort Monroe

As  I was leaving, I decided to make one more stop.  I knew that this area was chock full of US History, but I didn't realize just how much history was here.
 The fort was used to hold Jefferson Davis for a couple of years after the Civil War.  He stayed there until 1867 when he was released on bail.  He never faced trial.
 After the War of 1812, it was decided that the US needed to protect Hampton Roads and the Inland Waters.  In 1819, President Monroe came up with a plan to build a network of forts to protect the coast.  Construction on Fort Monroe began in 1822.
 The fort was built out of stone and brick and would become the largest stone fort in the United States.  With completion of construction in 1834, it would be known as the Gilbraltar of Chesapeake Bay.
 The Fort played a major role in the Civil War.  Shortly after Fort Sumter was attacked, Lincoln had this fort reinforced and it never fell into the hands of the Confederates.  It was used to launch several attacks in the area.  It served as a important point in the US Naval blockade of the South.
 The fort is surrounded by a moat.   In 1907, it would become home to the Coast Artillery School.  In 1973, it would serve as a training point and was closed down in 2011.  Shortly after that, it was declared an Antiquity by President Obama.
 The Fort itself gives you a good vantage point for looking at the harbor.
 There is a path in front where you could probably get a good view of the base.
 General Lee lived here in 1832 while he was an officer at the Fort.
This is probably another thing I would like to spend more time at.

A Visit to the Cape Henry Lighthouses

Someone told me that I had to go visit the Cape Henry Lighthouse.  I was actually planning to go see it anyway but that kind of confirmed it.
 Cape Henry is located at the southern part of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.   Like many harbor entrances, it is dangerous and it is important to alert ships to that presence.  As such it was the first lighthouse authorized by the new US Government in 1792.  It was also the first construction process authorized under the Constitution.
Despite being the first authorized by the Government, it is the third oldest lighthouse in the United States.  The other two were built under colonial administration.  It was built from sandstone and designed by John McComb, Jr.  The lighthouse was damaged in 1863 by Confederate forces but later repaired by Union Forces.
 The first lighthouse was replaced in 1881 after the first lighthouse was damaged by a lightning strike.  This one was built out of cast and wrought iron.  It is also equipped with a more powered first order fresnel lens.
 The tower is 157 feet tall.
 The old tower is 90 feet tall but it stands on a hill.
 In 1983, the new lighthouse was fully automated and is still used today.
 You can go up into the old lighthouse and it makes for a fantastic view.  Both lights were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
You get a pretty good view of the tower from the old tower.
 I saw this ship the night before, but I don't remember her name.
 I'll have to say that this makes for some pretty cool views.
 One more shot of the other tower from the old tower.
 If you go down the road a couple blocks from the lighthouses, there is a little park you can stop at.  In that park is a statue of Admiral de Grasse.  He was in charge of the French fleet that defeated the British fleet that was going to resupply the British Army at Yorktown.  This enabled General Washington to defeat Cornwallis there.  General Cornwallis refused to surrender to Washington, so he sent an aide.  Washington offended by the slight, sent his aide to accept the surrender.
 A monument depicting the battle.
 This is also near the spot where James Smith first landed on the shores of Virginia.
 Another shot of the new tower.
 Both towers.
 Cape Henry is on the property of the Joint Expeditionary Base and this is a tower to control operations there.
 A helicopter passed by.
 Another shot of the new tower.
 I'm not sure what kind of vehicle this is.
One more shot of the old tower.

If you want to visit these lighthouses, you have to actually get a pass to get on the base.  This will involve a few questions and a search of your vehicle but it is worth it.

A Stop at Lamberts Point

Another highlight of my trip was trying to get to see the Norfolk Southern yards.
 As I was researching places to go see, I saw that there was a park that was just off the main yards.  I figured that I would try it out.  Sadly, I had to shoot over the fence but it worked pretty well.
 I'll have to say that the lighting was perfect for me.
 Just off this yard is the coal dock.  This load was actually heading out.
 Another pair of engines.
I didn't have too much time to dally, so I took one more shot.  It actually looked like this would be a good spot for trainwatching.

Wandering the Chesapeake Bay

So I decided to wander to a spot where I could see the Chesapeake Bay.   That involved taking a trip over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel which is a combination of bridges and tunnels that add up to 23 miles.  The current northbound side opened in 1964.  Prior to that, people would have to take ferries to get from the Norfolk area to the peninsula just north of Norfolk.  In 1999, another span was added and turned into the southbound side.  It's kind of an interesting drive and I wish I could have gotten pictures.
 There is a spot roughly in the middle where you can stop and take pictures of both the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.  There is a fishing pier and restaurant there as well.  As I was approaching that spot, I saw this helicopter carrier coming in.  She is the USS Wasp and is the lead ship of the one I posted about last night.
 I'm not sure what kind of vessel this is, but she was following the Wasp.
 A shot of the Chesapeake Bay.  If you look closely at the horizon, you can see a pair of ships.  They are likely heading up to Baltimore.
 A seagull.
 The pair of bridges.  I kind of wish I could have gotten a better picture of them.
 Some of the trees.
 I'm not sure if this is from people littering or stuff washed up from the sea.  Either way, it's not good.
 A shot of the shoreline.
 Looking back towards the bridge.
 Looking the other way.
 We ended up going up the highway for a bit and I passed this building.  I'm not sure what it is, but it looks like it was connected to the railroad at some point.
 Another angle of the building.
As I looked closer, I noticed the railroad ties buried in the ground.  This at least confirmed there was track here.

Again, this is something I'd like to further explore.