DAILY POST: Stone Arch Bridge, Bernardston, Massachusetts.


Boston & Maine GP9 on the Connecticut River Line, December 1985.

Digging through my older photographs, occasionally I come across something really interesting.

Boston & Maine GP9 1736 leads freight CVED southward across the stone arch bridge at Bernardston, Massachusetts on December 28, 1985. I exposed this using a Rollei Model T with a 'Superslide' insert that gave me a 645-size rectangle rather than a 2 1/4 inch square image.
Boston & Maine GP9 1736 leads local freight ED-4 southward across the stone arch bridge at Bernardston, Massachusetts  at 12:03pm on December 28, 1985. I exposed this using a Rollei Model T with a ‘Superslide’ insert that gave me a 645-size rectangle rather than a 2 1/4 inch square image.

I’d exposed this black & white photograph using my father’s Rollei Model T at Bernardston, Massachusetts, where the railroad crossed an old mill dam on a classic stone arch bridge.

Brandon Delaney and I had gone up to Brattleboro, Vermont, where we found a pair of Boston & Maine GP9s working local freight ED-4. I made a number of images of engine 1736 working in the snow. Then we followed the train south into Massachusetts.

Brandon had previously explored this location at Bernardston and so we set up and waited.

For me this is a lesson in balance and composition: By placing the locomotive over the first pier of the bridge rather than allowing it to move further onto the bridge, I’ve created both visual tension and compositional balance.

The GP9 plays off the old mill at the bottom of the bridge to the left, while de-emphasizing the locomotive allows the eye to focus more on the bridge but never so long as to ignore the engine altogether. The bridge, after all, is the main subject, while the locomotive and mill are secondary to the scene.

I’ve been back here several times over the years and the scene has changed. The old mill and mill dam are history. I don’t know if they were washed away in a flood or were deliberately demolished. At the time they offered links to New England’s faded small-scale industrial past.

Today, because the dam is gone the bridge appears taller since the full length of the piers can be followed right in to the river-bed. Trees have encroached on both sides of the bridge, and even in winter, it can be difficult to get more than one locomotive on the structure. Yet, it can still be a great place to pose a train.

This detail is a very tight crop from my original negative.
This detail is a very tight crop from my original negative.

See: Daily Post: Boston & Maine Revisited, PART 2

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One thought on “DAILY POST: Stone Arch Bridge, Bernardston, Massachusetts.”

  1. As my grandfather, an old New Hampshire farmer used to say, there’s an old dam by a mill site, but no mill by a damn sight!

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