West Shore Bridges, French’s Hollow, Guilderland, New York.


Morning of May 18, 2013.

CSX on bridge.
We only had a few minutes to wait after arrival before we heard this westward train approaching French’s Hollow. One of CSX‘s SD70MACs leads. The train is on the older (and closer) of the two bridges. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 75mm. Exposed at ISO 200 f5.6 1/1000th of a second. (I chose a very fast shutter speed because of my broadside angle to the train).

CSX’s Selkirk Branch, the old West Shore Railroad (New York, West Shore & Buffalo), is part of the busiest rail-freight corridor in the Albany area. This line is the primary westward link from the sprawling Selkirk yard; freight to and from Boston Line (old Boston & Albany), River Line (former West Shore to northern, New Jersey), and Hudson Line (former New York Central Hudson Division) plus Albany-area terminal traffic all uses this route.

Saturday, May 18th promised to be a bright day, so Mike Gardner and I aimed for French’s Hollow, where the old West Shore crosses Norman Kill. This section of line features a New York Central-era grade separation, built to allow the traditional eastward main to fly over the westward main, thus minimizing the need for conflicting movements of freights coming in and out of Selkirk.

Graffiti on railway car.
Decorated auto rack passes over Norman Kill. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

In a wet season, Norman Kill can be a raging torrent making for nice waterfall below the twin bridges. However, it’s been unseasonably dry, and the waterfall was little more than a trickle.

The north-south orientation of the Selkirk Branch and broadside view of the bridges is well suited to photographing westward trains in the morning. Our location was from a closed road bridge, now a hiking trail, immediately compass east of the railroad bridges.

Freight train crosses bridge at Frenchs Hollow, New York.
This was the second of several westward freights to cross the bridge at French’s Hollow. Old topo maps show this location as ‘French Mills’, so presumably there was once some sort of mill on Norman Kill. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 30mm; ISO 200 f5.6 1/1000th of a second.

CSX performed more or less as anticipated; between 8 am and about 9:30 am we had a steady parade of westward trains, and at least one eastward train. This proved an excellent beginning to a very productive day photographing CSX freight west of Selkirk. In addition to more than a hundred digital images, I also exposed a couple of rolls of slide film during the course of the day. I’ve displayed just a few of the French’s Hollow images here.

GE diesels on Selkirk Branch.
There was a time when ‘foreign power’ (off line locomotives) running on the Water Level Route would generate a bit of excitement. Today, it isn’t unusual to see BNSF or Union Pacific locomotives leading train on CSX wet of Selkirk. A pair of BSNF Evolution Series GE six motor diesels glide across the bridge at Frenchs Hollow on May 18, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a Canon 40mm Pancake lens.

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