Friday Night in Palmer, Massachusetts, July 12, 2013


Another Train Intensive Evening

Friday evening  July 12, 2013 represented my latest opportunity to watch and photography trains after sundown as this familiar location. In previous posts I’ve outlined my connections to Palmer (see: Palmer, Massachusetts, Friday Night, June 28, 2013, also Foggy Night in Palmer 28 Years Ago . . ., and Drowning the Light.

Freight cars at night.
A headlight illuminates freight cars at New England Central’s Palmer Yard on Friday July 12, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Although Palmer is a relatively small town, it has long been the focus of railway activity. Today, it hosts yards for both New England Central and CSX, as well as nominal terminal facilities for Mass-Central.

CSX has a four-mile dispatchers controlled siding the runs from CP79 to CP83 (the numbers are based loosely interpret mileage from South Station, Boston). Just past the west switch at CP83 is the level crossing with New England Central—colloquially known as the Palmer Diamond. The popular Steaming Tender restaurant occupies the old Union Station between the two lines.

Palmer Diamond
New England Central home signal at the ‘Palmer Diamond’ on July 12, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Palmer Diamond.
New England Central 606 heading north across CSX’s former Boston & Albany main line. Lumix LX3 photo.

After 10pm, trains converged on CP83. A CSX westbound on the main track met an eastward freight running via the controlled siding, as New England Central’s northward job 606 was looking to cross CSX to double its train together before heading toward Vermont.

The awkward nature of the former Central Vermont yard at Palmer complicates operations over the CSX diamond. Not only is the yard too short to hold long trains, but the yard was built on a grade which crests at the CSX (former Boston & Albany crossing).

Palmer, Massachusetts.
A CSX westward freight holds at CP83 as New England Central 606 heads north. The Steaming Tender is located in the old Palmer Union Station. Lumix LX3 photo.

Challenges for railroaders produce opportunities for photography, especially in the evening hours. As the railroads weaved their trains through Palmer, I made a series of photos.

However, time was catching me up: I’d had a long day and by 11pm, I needed a bit of that elusive commodity—sleep. As Bob Buck would have said, I was the ‘hero’, and departed as more trains were focused on Palmer. The approach lit signals at CP83 were still lit when I hit the road. The regular gang can report on what I missed!


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