FECRS railfanning excursion to FEC's First Division

On November 15, 2014 cabooseMikey joined Gregg Stoll, Tom Loshe, Tommy Chaffee and Austin and Joe Strenecky for a day long FECRS railfanning excursion to FEC's First Division.

Our first objective is to obtain a suitable long-distance photo for a back drop mural for our Jacksonville balloon Ntrak module. The Ortega Bridge is the ideal site because of its long view across the mighty St. John's River but the stiff breeze makes for tough shooting conditions. No matter, it's always more fun in a group with fellow hobbyists.

We'll take a stop to see the St. Augustine FEC passenger depot and freight house which are now used by the FEC MoW Department. Trucks, backhoes and payloaders are tied up inside the compound for the weekend and a small undercutter is on the service track near the depot but everything is quiet right now.

The Moultrie Junction at Palmer Street in the ancient city of Saint Augustine is our next stop and there is a fine view of the skyline off to the northeast. We are really interested in seeing the diverging Wilbur Wright Industrial Lead, though, and its time-locked hand thrown switch. This was the FEC mainline to Palatka one hundred years ago but today the branch only extends five miles and the Moultrie Cut-off carries the mainline south.

After a neat lunch break we are on the way to Bunnell to see the equation at MP67/MP86.4 where the abandoned mainline rejoins what is today's Moultrie Cut-off and we ponder those missing twenty railroad miles. Great photo op here, too, thanks to the magic of the camera remote. We have a lively discussion of self-guarding switch frogs here and then there are more miles to go.

Harwood, National Gardens and Holly Hill slip by our little convoy and soon we are checking industrial sites in Daytona Beach for fecNtrak ideas. Scrap yards and concrete batch plants offer promise for new modules as we check for the spot where Big Willy Burns always used to report penguins clatter-blapping across the frog.
And a brand new intermediate signal poses for us at MP109.3 on the north edge of 2nd Ave just feet from a nifty little trackmobile sitting inside the plant.

With the last of the golden sunlight, we check out the golf course lying astride the FEC mainline from Wilder Blvd to compare Tom Loshe's module handiwork to the real thing. His depiction is right on the money, but I'm afraid that my golfing foursome will have wait on me any time an FEC train splits the course when I'm out there duffing.

In the gathering dusk, we tie up at Canal Street in New Smyrna Beach to check out the north end track lead of NSB Yard. Big honking undercutter snoozing quietly there as the 716 waits on the ready pick-up lead.
We politely set up our train watching spot behind Ace Hardware and in the darkness we can hear FEC101 warning the north end of New Smyrna Beach of its urgency. Ray returns our blue light from 107 and 141 with hoppers, tanks and IM trailing. They are trying to make up lost time and at 6:36PM EoT blinks goodbye to us.

After a race to the south, we nearly catch him at City Point but FEC101 is by the DD at MP170 just ahead of us and it is time for us to break up.

Another hour to Caboose Junction and I return home after 14 hours on the road with a great story to tell.

Best regards, cabooseMikey.

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