Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, West Brookfield, Massachusetts

Playing with a Pentax.

A few weeks back, I traveled to West Brookfield to meet with my friend Dennis LeBeau—East Brookfield’s musical godfather and preeminent historian. Dennis had organized for me an informal tour of the former Boston & Albany station—now a local history museum.

Our timing was neatly suited to catch the passing Amtrak’s 449, the westward Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.  A phone call to Amtrak’s Julie (the computerized information voice) advised us that the train was a few minutes late out of Worcester.

I was playing with a Pentax ZX-M 35mm camera fitted with an f1.4 50mm Pentax lens and loaded with Velvia 50 color slide film. While not my regular combination of equipment and media, I like to vary my approach and experiment with different types of cameras.

West Brookfield was once a place of great importance for Boston & Albany predecessor, Western Rail Road of Massachusetts. This was the mid-way point between Worcester and Springfield. Back in the 1830s and 1840s, all trains stopped here for water, while passenger trains also allowed time for a meal stop. It was a meeting point for local stage routes and so serving as an early transportation hub.

As late as the 1940s, water tanks were maintained east of the station and freights would often take water here after the long climb east from Palmer.

The original Western Rail Road station was replaced in the late 19th century with a stone building designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge (the architectural successors to the late H. H. Richardson who’s vision shaped station design on the B&A in the 1880s). The original station was relocated to the west side of the Long Hill Road crossing, and still stands today.

The brick building in the photograph on the far side of the tracks is the original Western Rail Road freight house, dating to the mid-19th century.

Today, the only functional track in West Brookfield is CSX’s mainline. There’s no switches, water tanks, or open railway stations. The surviving buildings are relics of an earlier age. No passenger train has called on West Brookfield since the early 1950s.

Just about 2pm, Amtrak 449 came into sight. I exposed two frames of Velvia. This is the closer of the two exposures. I scanned this with my Epson V600 scanner and adjusted the curve of the film to lighten mid tones and control contrast, and adjusted color balance. (Velvia 50 tends to shift red). Both corrected and raw scans are presented below.

Amtrak 449 at West Brookfield, Pentax ZX-M with f1.4 50mm lens; Velvia 50 corrected scan.

 

West Brookfield, Mass.
Amtrak 449 at West Brookfield, Pentax ZX-M with f1.4 50mm lens; Velvia 50 corrected scan.

 

Amtrak 449 at West Brookfield, Pentax ZX-M with f1.4 50mm lens; Velvia 50 raw ‘uncorrected’ scan.
Amtrak 449 at West Brookfield, Pentax ZX-M with f1.4 50mm lens; Velvia 50 raw ‘uncorrected’ scan.

 

 

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