Back on November 14, 1959, my dad photographed Reading Company T-1 2124 charging through Oak Lane station on Kodachrome.
But where is Oak Lane? Obviously this is in suburban Philadelphia. However, when I consulted a modern day SEPTA rail map, I couldn’t find it.
A puzzle. I called my dad. But he didn’t specifically remember making the photo, nor anything about the station. “I chased a lot of the Reading trips. I don’t know which one that was.”
Perhaps the station had been closed?
Finally, after a bit of research, I concluded that Oak Lane had been renamed Melrose Park. Armed with that knowledge, my brother Sean and I traveled to Melrose Park on SEPTA on Friday December 5, 2014.
Surprisingly, the station isn’t radically different. The old building still serves as a railway station, and the old canopy on the outbound side of the tracks still looks as it did in 1959.
Two big changes were installation of high-level platforms and removal of the center track.
I attempted to emulate the angle and perspective of the 1959 photo as closely as possible. My father was using a Kodak Retina 3C, probably fitted with a 50mm lens, although he also had a 35mm. So using my Lumix LX7, I adjusted the Vario Summilux to about the 45-50mm range. Both photos were made in late-autumn on overcast days.
The other big change is the equipment. Where in 1959, Reading’s class T-1 4-8-4 number 2124 was the star attraction, on December 5, 2014 we had to settle for a 1970s-vintage Silverliner IV multiple unit.
Keep in mind that at the time of the 1959 photo, the steam locomotive was only a dozen years old at the time. Happily, the 2124 is preserved at Steamtown in Scranton.
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