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Outside of the Hotspots

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When railfanning it is ideal to look for spots where are lot of action can be seen in a short period of time, these are called hotspots. However, these hotspots are usually not the most scenic places as they are most certainly a yard or a junction. However, with a little searching and some road maps great railfanning spots can be found with-in 5 to 10 miles of the hotspot. These spots are more scenic and have just about the same number of trains and make for great photos.


Allentown is well known as one of the hotspots in the northeast. In the center of Allentown, many trains can be seen but the spots such as CP Burn are not very scenic. To the west of Allentown is where some great spots are found, they have the scenery of the country but still all the action on the hot Reading Line. This is train HBAL-7 with an SD60M on the point. The train is passing signal and milepost 26.2 on the Reading Line, this location is roughly a 20 minute drive from Allentown.

Following right behind the HBAL is this PIAL with Conrail 5585, an Sd60I in the lead. The train originated in Pittsburgh at conway yard and will end its run at Allentown just about 5 railroad miles to the east. The train has an operation lifesaver GP38 as the second unit in the consist.

Heading in the opposite direction towards Reading is this local. The train always has the three matched and very well rusted GP38's for power and heads up a local branch to do its work. The wide-open spaces at MP 26.2 allow for great panning shots.

Yet another Conrail C40-8W is leading a freight west past MP 26.2. The wide open spaces exaggerate the movement of this train.

Rounding out the trains seen at the signal is yet another eastbound headed for Allentown. The train is PIOI and is heading to Oak Island yard in northern New Jersey after a stop over at Allentown to switch cars. The train is led by one of Conrail's many C40-8W's which were found at the head on many trains in late Conrail years.

In the later years of Conrail, the Reading and Lehigh Lines because quite a place for interesting power coming in and out of Allentown heading both east and west. Such is the case with these visitors from the North, the two Canadian National SD75I's came to Allentown on train BUAL and now are returning back up north at the head of ALBU. The open green fields are a stark difference from the concrete downtown of Allentown which is just 4.5 railroad miles to the east.

This is a shot from the same location but looking back to the west. The train is a hot Trail-van train that runs on an expedited schedule from one end of the Conrail system to the other. The power is a set of high horsepower six axle units led by another C40-8W.

One of the best all around locations to the west of Allentown is in a small town call Macungie. The major road through the town crosses the double tracked Reading line in the center of town and there is a 7-11 not far from that crossing. The platform from the old station is there as a rolling mill just east of the crossing.

Conrail SD40-2 6458 smokes it up as it accelerates train ALHB west through Macungie. The rolling mill is just to the left of the locomotive and the track in the foreground is sometimes used to house MOW equipment.

More foreign power on the Reading line as this CSX GP40-2 leads a leased SD45 and another unit through Macungie and east towards Allentown.

Rounding out a great day of railfanning in spots just to the west of a major hub is another CSX led train. This is CSAL running in the late afternoon as it usually does, the train is led by another CSX GP40-2.

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