New England Central at Millers Falls, Massachusetts, December 9, 2012

New England Central at Millers Falls, Massachusetts.
New England Central SD40-2 722 pauses on the former Central Vermont Railway bridge over the Millers River at Millers Falls, Massachusetts on December 9, 2012. Canon 7D 28-135mm lens at 135mm, ISO 200, f5.6 1/400th second.

This morning (December 9, 2012), New England Central 603 worked north from Palmer, Massachusetts to the Pan Am Railways interchange at Millers Falls. To pick up and drop cars, the train worked a north-facing switch that required it to pull out onto the high bridge over the Millers River. The span is classic; a pin-connected Pratt deck truss built in 1905 by the American Bridge Company of New York. The contrast of New England Central’s former Union Pacific SD40-2 on the 107 year old truss looks more like a model railroad diorama than a scene typical of modern American freight railroading. Here the soft early-afternoon sun accentuates the diesel’s details, while offering a stark view of the bridge structure against the backdrop of late-autumn trees. In the summer fully foliated trees tend to minimize the impact of the bridge’s cross members.

I’m mindful of pending change. New England Central is a Rail America railroad, and if the Surface Transportation Board approves Genesee & Wyoming’s bid to acquire Rail America, New England Central’s operations and locomotive colors may soon be different. The implications for photography are impossible to gauge, but the wise photographer will capture the scene as it is today and make the most of every opportunity, for each may be the last.

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