After the eastbound Amtrak passed, things got much quieter at Carneys Crossing. Birds chirped in the trees, occasionally a single car would cross the tracks, and the noise of the traffic on nearby Route 53 rose and fell like surf. It was this same traffic which frustrated my efforts at listening for an approaching train - was that distant rumble I heard just a truck winding over the hills, or was it something bigger? Twice I was sure it was the latter and rolled tape, only to shut the camera off again a few minutes later when it became apparent nothing was coming.
The temptation to move on to Cresson was strong, but I stood my ground. After a while I could hear the rumbling again, this time it built steadily in volume. Any doubts I had about wasting more tape were erased when the crossing gates activated, and the birds who had been casually pecking around the ballast suddenly got far more agitated and in a panic to get out of the way of whatever was approaching.
A soft yellow glow appeared on the rails, and my long wait was rewarded as C40-8W 8342 and C40-9W 9350 crawled into view, straining to pull a long train of 3- and 4-bay hoppers filled neatly to the rim with coal. The hoppers clanked out a cadence as they marched past, until the clanking was joined by a rumbling crescendo. In a thunderous finale, SD40Es 6302 and 6309 and SD40-2s 3354 and 3343 appeared around the curve, leaning into the last car, exhaust plumes punching straight into the air, working flat out to keep it all moving. The roar of their effort reverberated all around as the quartet faded into the distance toward Cresson.