RF&P 101 Finale 5-19-18: Final Excursions for the GP7

On Saturday, May 19th, 2018, I woke up even earlier than I do on work days to drive nearly 3 hours to Dillwyn, VA. Why? Because after 65 years of service, (33 with its original owner, and 32 with the Buckingham Branch RR) Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad GP7 #101 was slated for retirement. The engine was rebuilt by RF&P in the mid-1980s using the frame from sister engine #104, and was then leased to the Buckingham Branch Railroad. The engine has served both her leaser and the Old Dominion chapter of the NRHS quite well, hauling wood chips and passenger excursions for each respectively, but at long last, the BB has acquired sufficient power to replace the old geep, which will likely be placed on static display in the beginning of June. As a result, a final series of excursion runs on the 17-mile Dillwyn branch were scheduled, and despite the gray and wet weather, I made the trip to see the old engine run one more time.

The trip began reasonably enough; the train was only travelling at about 10mph, which made leapfrogging it from crossing to crossing very easy. Myself and about five other cars of railfans were having a great time. Then I got to my most anticipated shot of the day; a small trestle over a now-swollen creek, not far from the James River. I parked, walked in to the trestle, set up my shot and waited...
and waited...
and got eaten by mosquitoes, and waited...
and waited...
and threw stones in the swollen creek, and waited...
and waited...
and after about an hour, I reasoned that by this point, the train should have passed me in both directions. My cell phone battery was nearly dead (I had no reception to find out what had gone wrong) so I gave up and opted to return to the depot at Dillwyn, where I found the train had been sitting for a time. It turned out that the excursion encountered high water just a mile or so from my location, and reversed direction earlier than expected. Some of my still images hadn't turned out as I well as I would have liked, but I still chose not to chase the afternoon trip; a fairly wise decision, as I later learned that engine 101 experienced a malfunction, and a second diesel was added in front of it to complete the excursion run. 

Currently, I'm hoping to return to Dillwyn at the beginning of June for a second chance at photographs, and hopefully 101 will be in working order by then, ending its career on a high note! Pictures and video are shown below, and as always, thanks for reading!