No. 85: 40 Minutes at Einsiedlerhof

The following post doesn’t have anything to do with modeling.

We threw a big birthday party for one of my daughters on Friday night, and it was a lot of work, so yesterday morning–after dropping the birthday girl off at volleyball team practice–my wife gave me a kitchen pass to “chase trains” for a while.  It was a beautiful, cool, clear, sunny day so I went out to a few places nearby to take some pictures.

The first place I went was Otterbach, a nearby town that has a little museum set up in a retired interlocking tower.  Apparently there was a lot of freight action here in the old days as there is a steel mill next to the S-Bahn (passenger/commuter rail) station.  Here is the interlocking tower, which guarded the junction of at least three lines plus tracks leading to the mill.  Two of those lines are still very active.


The museum was closed but there are a few retired signals on display outside.  A friend in Stuttgart, Peter Aue, told me the signal on the left is called a flieger signal (Flying Signal).  Americans would call it a semaphore.  There are a lot of these still serving on the German railways today. 


An old interlocking machine, below, sits outside.  I understand they have a working machine inside that you can play with–like the one at the Marion Union Station museum in Marion, Ohio.


Just like in America, retired tracks are everywhere.


Next I drove toward Einsiedlerhof, a town near Kaiserslautern, to set up on the Deutsche Bahn double-track, electrified mainline to try and catch some freight trains.  On the way I drove by a place in Kaiserslautern where locomotives are usually tied up.  I saw a switcher there so I drove over to photograph it.  When I parked the car, I noticed that I parked right next to a turntable pit.  I’ve driven by here a hundred times and never seen it before.  How cool was that!


I understand the DB used steam engines here into the 1970s so this turntable was probably in use a few short decades ago.


And finally, below, the reason for the drive by…


I finally made it to Einsiedlerhof around noon.  The Einsiedlerhof station sits right on the DB mainline that is the main trunk into France and Belgium.  There’s a lot of freight and passenger traffic on this line, and a lot of local S-Bahn traffic, so I was sure I would see some trains.    

I set myself up on the inside of a curve to get the best sun, but because I was inside the curve I couldn’t see any trains coming in either direction, and I couldn’t see any signals either.  A few minutes later a high-speed Inter City Express (ICE train) whooshed by.  I didn’t even hear it coming.  I’m mostly deaf in one ear but this guy came so fast that it was no-kidding passing me before I even heard it. 

This is a passing shot…and I barely had time to get this one.


A few minutes later this ghastly S-Bahn train came by.  These trains are ugly, and even uglier with the graffiti.  However, they’re quiet and comfortable to ride in, and they’re fast and efficient and always on time.


I repositioned myself on the far side of the Einsiedlerhof station where fortunately I could see signals in both directions.  I was really hoping to see some freight trains, but the first man up was another S-Bahn.  This train stopped at the depot and a couple minutes later silently sped away.  


About ten minutes later a westbound container train appeared at a full gallop.  This is what I came to see. 


The intermodal was followed a few minutes later by another S-Bahn commuter train…


…and then another, this one entering the main line off the junction with the S-Bahn line to nearby Ramstein village.  After a brief stop this train scooted across to the right-hand main without a clank.


A short while later, with all the signals still at red, an eastbound intermodal freight sneaked up behind me and stopped at the signal where I was standing at the end of the platform.


An engineman got out of the engine, wearing an orange safety vest, appeared to insert a key in the door and lock it, then casually walked to the depot.  Another S-Bahn covered with “gra-filthy” appeared a few minutes later and stopped at the station.  Then, unfortunately, it was time for me to head home. 


It wasn’t quite like a day at Tehachapi, or driving along old US 30 in Nebraska with all those UP trains rolling by, but it was nice to be trackside again…even if it was only for a little while. 

Speaking of Tehachapi, here’s a photo I shot in the Tehachapi area in 1988.  That was 30 years ago…man , how time flies.


I hope you and your families enjoy a blessed Easter celebration!  – John G

One thought on “No. 85: 40 Minutes at Einsiedlerhof

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