Lucky Break At Belchertown: The Vermonter and More!

Sometimes you get more than you planned for:

On December 17, 2014, I rode the Vermonter to Amherst. This gave me the opportunity to scope the line for photo locations. Although I’ve traveled this route on various occasions, I wanted one last look at it from an Amtrak train before service is moved to the ‘Knowledge Corridor’ at the end of this month.

North of Barretts is Canal Junction, a little known location where the Boston & Maine’s Central Massachusetts line once joined the Central Vermont route. Originally, B&M had its own line that ran parallel to CVs and this old right of way is now a cycle path.

The old Boston & Maine line through Belchertown was abandoned in the 1930s in favor of trackage rights over the parallel Central Vermont. Today the old right of way is a bicycle path. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
The old Boston & Maine line through Belchertown was abandoned in the 1930s in favor of trackage rights over the parallel Central Vermont. Today the old right of way is a bicycle path. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

North of the Old Springfield Road grade crossing, I noticed a swampy clearing that looked like a good place for a photo. So, on December 19th, my dad and I investigated this location.

Earlier in the day we had photographed a Knowledge Corridor test run (covered in an earlier post), and I thought this would make an ideal opportunity to capture Amtrak moves on both lines on the same day.

We arrived at Old Springfield Road, and walked a short distance on the old B&M right of way. I’d gone back to the car to retrieve a lens and make a phone call, when I heard what sounded like a heavy freight coming.

Hark! I think I hear a freight. Richard Jay Solomon has his Lumix LX7 on a Gitzo tripod. We a standing on the old B&M line. There's little chance we'll get run over by a 4-4-0 sprinting for Northampton. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.
Hark! I think I hear a freight. Richard Jay Solomon has his Lumix LX7 on a Gitzo tripod. We a standing on the old B&M line. There’s little chance we’ll get run over by a 4-4-0 sprinting for Northampton. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

Sure enough it was! New England Central’s southward manifest freight from Brattleboro to Palmer had stalled climbing Belchertown Hill, and had just got moving again. Amtrak was only a few miles behind.

New England Central's southward freight on December 19, 2014. Lumix LX7 Photo.
New England Central’s southward freight on December 19, 2014. Lumix LX7 Photo.
Just a few miles behind the freight was Amtrak's southward Vermonter. We'd gone out for the Vermonter, and lucked into the delayed freight train. This was especially fortuitous because we'd stopped for lunch at Amherst on the way to this 'new' location. Lumix LX7 photo.
Just a few miles behind the freight was Amtrak’s southward Vermonter. We’d gone out for the Vermonter, and lucked into the delayed freight train. This was especially fortuitous because we’d stopped for lunch at Amherst on the way to this ‘new’ location. Lumix LX7 photo.

We caught the freight, and about 10-15 minutes later got Amtrak train 55 (southward Vermonter), then proceeded to Three Rivers where we caught the Vermonter a second time.

Try that in a few week’s time!

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2 thoughts on “Lucky Break At Belchertown: The Vermonter and More!”

  1. Especially enjoyed these photos – my Seasons Greetings to you and your Folks.
    I am mixed on the rerouting of the “Vermonter” service – although overall it makes more sense to go on the Conn River, we will miss the “quaint routing” on the former CV through Massachusetts.
    I can’t get aboard this “Knowledge Corridor” name – to me the CV is more of a Knowledge Corridor especially if you include south of Palmer through UConn territory, East Conn at Willi, and the USCG Academy and Connecticut College at New London.
    Let the Conn River be the Conn River!

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