EDPO at Derby

DAILY POST: Revisiting Derby Curve.

Photographing on the old Boston & Maine in the Snow.

Old Boston & Maine.
Pan Am Railways’ local freight ‘FI-1’ works west at Derby on its return to Fitchburg Yard. This is the approximate location of the photo in Ball’s book, but a bit higher. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

A few weeks ago I called into Tucker’s Hobbies to visit with Rich Reed who was working the counter. I picked up a copy of Don Ball Jrs’ classic book Americas Railroads, The Second Generation.

I remember finding a copy of Ball’s book at the Wilbraham Library when I was in Junior High School and being very impressed by the photographs and their arrangement.

In October 1981, my parents drove me to Brattleboro, Vermont on a windy, rainy evening to watch a slide show that Ball was presenting. After the show, I spoke to him briefly. I met him once again, two years later on Steamtown’s Vermont final run from Bellows Falls to Rutland. Ball was running the operation at the time.

Anyway, as I was thumbing though the pages, I came across an image at the bottom of page 29 of a pair of Boston & Maine GP9s in the 1970s-Blue Bird livery with a long freight. The location looked familiar, but I couldn’t place it. The caption read ‘Lunenburg, Massachusetts.’

This puzzled me. I’m usually very good with picking out specific locations. I have a memory for that sort thing  . . . most of the time.

“Hey Rich, where’s this?”

“Lunenburg, that’s Derby Curve just west of the new interlocking. We were there a few months ago to roll by the NS intermodal train.”

Indeed we were, I remember!

So then, on Thursday, December 19, 2013, Rich, Paul Goewey and I were back in that part of the world, and we went to the very spot where Don Ball made his photograph. That wasn’t really why we were there, but we were.

The reason for our visit was that the lighting angle suited a westbound train. More to the point, Pan Am Railways’ POED (Portland to East Deerfield) freight had stalled about a mile to the west. A light engine had come out from Ayer and had tied onto the head-end to assist the train up to Gardner.

A Boston-bound MBTA train shoves eastward with the locomotive at the back. This is one of the old 'screamers' featured on Tracking the Light on December 21, 2013.
A Boston-bound MBTA train shoves eastward with the locomotive at the back. This is one of the old ‘screamers’ featured on Tracking the Light on December 21, 2013.

Instead of standing precisely in Ball’s shoes, I scrambled up the side of the hill to get a slightly higher angle. We photographed the parade trains, including the struggling POED. Looking back at Ball’s photo, it is interesting to see how much the location had changed over the years. And the railroad too!

EDPO at Derby
Pan Am Railways was having a difficult time. POED with 102 cars and weighing 4,882 tons, had stalled climbing the hill west of Shirley when its lead locomotive suffered some electrical difficulties. To get the train moving, this Norfolk Southern GE DASH8-40C was sent from Ayer to assist. The train is on the move heading west at Derby Curve just after 1:34 in the afternoon. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Trailing view of Pan Am Railway's POED. The failed locomotive is a former Southern Pacific SD45. I wonder, had I seen this locomotive on Donner Pass or climbing the Siskiyou Line? Anyone have a roster handy? Today its Pan Am 611, what was it back then?
Trailing view of Pan Am Railway’s POED. The failed locomotive is a former Southern Pacific SD45. I wonder, had I seen this locomotive on Donner Pass or climbing the Siskiyou Line? Anyone have a roster handy? Today its Pan Am 611, what was it back then?

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