Boston & Maine West End—Symbol freight EDRJ to the Hoosac Tunnel

It’s been more than 30 years since I first chased a train west toward the Hoosac Tunnel.

The railroad makes a steady uphill climb west from Greenfield to the famous bore in western Massachusetts. Relatively slow train speeds make it easy to catch a freight at various locations.

Symbol freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) had an interesting consist of older EMDs. In the lead was high-hood GP40 371. This made for some great sound and interesting photos.

Often as you leave the Connecticut River Valley the weather changes. On this October 2015 day, it was sunny at East Deerfield Yard, but raining by the time we reached the Hoosac Tunnel.

Sometimes rain offers an improvement. Not all great railway photos need bright sun. Mike Gardner and I were undaunted by the rain and made the most of this classic chase.

Roaring west at Greenfield.
Roaring west at Greenfield.
Pan Am's EDRJ works upgrade near Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Pan Am’s EDRJ works upgrade near Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Pan Am's EDRJ works upgrade near Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Pan Am’s EDRJ works upgrade near Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
When used to visit Rices in the 1980s, it was the location of an interlocking. Today its straight rail. Even the old signals are gone. Rices is a few miles east of Charlemont, Massachusetts.
When used to visit Rices in the 1980s, it was the location of an interlocking. Today its straight rail. Even the old signals are gone. Rices is a few miles east of Charlemont, Massachusetts.
The wide sweeping curve at Zoar has been favored by photographers for decades. The growth of foliage on both sides of  the line limits the angles, but this view offers hints of the surround scenery.
The wide sweeping curve at Zoar has been favored by photographers for decades. The growth of foliage on both sides of the line limits the angles, but this view offers hints of the surrounding scenery.

Tomorrow: The Hoosac Tunnel!

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3 thoughts on “Boston & Maine West End—Symbol freight EDRJ to the Hoosac Tunnel”

  1. Brilliant work as always, Brian. The sight of a high hood unit leading the train brought an instant smile to my face!!!! i notice, being an insulator collector, there are only typical plastic one’s on the pictured pole. have you seen any glass ones along this line? apart from a few vague notes, i know nothing, and haven’t gotten a chance to look for myself.

    1. B&M/Guilford installed a new code line (largely on the south side of the tracks) in the early-mid 1980s, so the insulators tend to be of the more modern variety. I assume the older multiple-tier code line from the steam-era had glass insulators. I recall that variety along the Boston & Albany route (removed in the late 1980s/early 1990s when cab signaling and fiber optic lines were installed). Brian S.

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