Wye junctions have been catching my eye lately, not sure why.
Train travel, in some ways is a bit of an anachronism being mostly superceded by highway and airline travel. Nevertheless, there is a group of people, known as railfans or similar names, "who enjoy recreational capacity in rail transport." Perhaps my goal in hiding these virtuals is to add geocaching to the list of interests often combined by railfans, because "railfans often combine their interest with other hobbies, especially photography and videography, radio scanning, model railroading, studying railroad history and participating in railway station and rolling stock preservation efforts."
After all, geocachers with their self-imposed separation from "muggles," are not unlike railfans, who fit the term "Anorak, a British slang which refers to a person who has a very strong interest, perhaps obsessive, in niche subjects. This interest may be unacknowledged or not understood by the general public."
Another definition, trainspotter, is "a person who collects train or locomotive numbers as a hobby." Or, "A person who obsessively studies the minutiae of any minority interest or specialized hobby."
Recently, I have also become more of a fan of openstreetmap.org. A big difference I observed versus the more popular Google maps is railroad routes appear more prominantly, for example near Yadkin junction:
Also, to be fair, railroads remain the dominant method of transporting heavy goods or minerals over land, and have played important roles in history, both in peacetime and wartime.
So, as I look at maps and geocache locations, interesting (to me) features of railroads catch my eye, and Wyes are one of these. But, you may ask, "why Wyes, what's the interest there?" Or, "what's so special about Yadkin, other than the odd sounding name?"
We've all (those of us who drive) heard of Y turns, or 3-point turns as the maneuver is sometimes called, as a way of reversing direction of a car, where the turning radius is too large to simply do a U-turn on a circle path. Imagine doing similar with a train. Wye junctions may be used for this purpose, or for simply changing direction from one rail route to another.
Yadkin junction is interesting for several reasons. Not least, for me, is Amtrak trains pass by on the route to/from Washington, DC, and thus I've ridden over the feature and junction, previously unaware of its existence or significance. More interesting, historically, is the connection with the "Yadkin Railroad-Southern Railway Albemarle Branch" from Salisbury to to the southeast to Norwood, which dates back to 1891, and passes through historic gold mining and aluminum processing areas, among others. It is possible that northbound trains could reverse direction at the Yadkin Wye junction so they could proceed forward down the Yadkin Railroad line. Similarly for returning trains wishing to head south. In addition, the Yadkin Wye junction is only about two miles south of the "historic Spencer Shops, once Southern Railroad's largest steam locomotive repair facility on the east coast," which is now the site of the North Carolina Transportation Museum (highly recommended). It is also only about 6 miles south of the current Spencer yard in Linwood, which includes a "hump yard" and "is one of the largest classification railroad yards in North Carolina."
To log this virtual, upload a picture of yourself with the North Lee and East Lafayette Street signs, or the North Lee and North Railroad Street signs, and as much of the tower and any other railroad scenery you can catch in the background. If you are particularly daring, follow the sidewalk along North Lee Street a short distance to SouthWest, cross into the middle of the Wye, and take your picture there! Of course, watch out for traffic, both cars and train and heed the crossing guards!! If you're lucky, a train or two will pass while you visit, and please upload pictures.