On my external hard drive I have a file of photos called ‘Miscellaneous US Railroads’. I picked this photo at random. I thought it’s a neat image. Only after, I selected it, did I learn the the owner of the railroad, R.J. Corman himself, had very recently passed away. Odd how that works.
Back in September 1997, Mike Gardner and I were on one of our many “PA Trips”. (In case you didn’t know, ‘PA’ is the postcode for Pennsylvania). While we would usually head to the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line for a ‘traffic fix’, often we’d then take time to suss out less-traveled lines.
On this day we called into Clearfield (the base for RJ Corman operations on former Conrail branches known as the ‘Clearfield Cluster’) , where we had a chat with some railroaders. They told us that a crew was called to take set of engines up to the Conrail connection at Keating to collect an empty coal train.
So armed with this knowledge we made a day (or at least a morning) of following RJ Corman’s former New York Central Beech Creek line. This traverses some very remote territory and access to the tracks is limited.
I made this photo a few miles south of Keating of the returning train. It was one of the few times I caught an RJ Corman train on the move.
On the morning of November 4, 1987, I made a speculative foray to P&L (Pittsburgh & Lehigh) Junction near Caledonia, New York. At the time I was living in nearby Scottsville, and I’d occasionally check P&L to see if anything was moving.
P&L Junction had once been a very busy place. Here the original Genesee & Wyoming had connected with Lehigh Valley, Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh, a branch of the Erie, and New York Central’s so-called ‘Peanut Line.’By 1987, the only railroads left were G&W and its Rochester & Southern affiliate.
I was fortunate to find a southward train and I made this image of a southward G&W salt train heading across the diamond with a vestige of the old Peanut Line (that G&W used to reach a couple of miles into Caledonia). A classic ‘tilt board’ crossing signal protected the diamond.
Today, it seems that G&W railroads are everywhere. I even saw a G&W company freight in Belgium a couple of weeks ago. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined that this New York state short line would reach so far!
I spent a pleasant and memorable week photographing in Maine in August 1986.This was shortly before I began my studies at the Rochester Institute of Photography, and represented a moment of visual freedom, unburdened by demands of professors, intellectual assumptions, or assignment deadlines.
On August 29th, Brandon Delaney and I had photographed the Maine Central. At Burnham Junction we stumbled upon the Belfast & Moosehead Lake working the Maine Central interchange.
Although this wasn’t my first experience with B&ML, I was delighted to catch this elusive operation at work. We chased the train back toward Unity. I made this image featuring a classic farm with barn and silos.
I exposed it on 35mm Kodachrome slide film using a Leica M2 with 200mm Leitz Telyt telephoto lens mounted with a bellows using a Visoflex viewfinder arrangement on a compact Linhof Tripod. Although cumbersome, this was my standard arrangement for making long telephoto views. Exposure was calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld light meter (photo cell).