Boston & Albany West End-Conrail in the Berkshires.

Sunday, September 22, 1985.

This photo was product of one of dozens of trips I made to the old Boston & Albany west end in the mid-1980s.

The west end is the railroad west of Springfield over the Berkshires of Massachusetts toward Albany, New York.

Exposed on 120 black & white film using a Rollei Model T. Exposure calculated using a GE hand held light meter. Film processed in D76 1:1, and scanned with an Epson V750.
Exposed on 120 black & white film using a Rollei Model T. Exposure calculated using a GE hand held light meter. Film processed in D76 1:1, and scanned with an Epson V750.

On this morning I waswest of Chester, Massachusetts perched on the top of an rock cutting  that dated to the time of the line’s construction circa 1839-1840.

This Conrail eastward train was slowly making its way east. It was serenely quite in these hills and I’d hear the freight making its descent of Washington Hill miles before it finally appeared.

Imagine this setting one hundred and forty years earlier when it was the old Western Rail Road (precursor to the Boston & Albany). A time when one of  Winan’s peculiar vertical boiler 0-8-0s would have led a train of primitive four wheel freight cars over this same line.

Fewer trees then. And no cameras!

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This is an adjusted version of the same image. I've slight altered contrast and exposure to make it appear better on a computer screen.
This is an adjusted version of the same image. I’ve slight altered contrast and exposure to make it appear better on some computer screens. On my screen this looks closer the way I would have printed the negative back in 1985 by using a cold head (diffusion) enlarger.

7 thoughts on “Boston & Albany West End-Conrail in the Berkshires.”

  1. Is that your vehicle to the right of the 2nd engine? Is there a way to get to those rocks without walking across that bridge? As you stated, eastbound trains give plenty of notice; but westbound trains less so, the Lake Shore Limited is fast and quiet there, and service vehicles, of which I’ve seen my share at that location, are very quiet, so I’ve never been brave enough to walk across that bridge, especially nowadays.

    Michael Walsh says “That’s a fabulous picture in full screen.” Clicking on any photo in hopes of seeing a full screen photo brings me instead to a “Not Found” error page. Am I missing something?

    1. Regarding the error message. WordPress seems to have changed the software and now the photos don’t seem to enlarge. I’m pretty good with photographic stuff, but not so good with manipulating the computer end of things, sorry about that.

      Regarding the Rock Cut.
      There are several ways into it. The two easiest on foot (shortest) involve walking the line, either from the east end or the west, and would involve walking across bridges. The third way, although less obvious, is to ford the West Branch of the Westfield and walk up the hill. You might find some ruins of an old industry or house in the trees. Obviously this best attempted at time of low water. There’s is also a ridge-line trail that runs from an old observatory to the river level on the south side of the tracks. Its been a few years since I last inspected this trail. You might also be able to access the trail from milepost 129, but it would be a bit of a walk. Google earth might give you some ideas.

  2. That’s a fabulous picture in full screen.

    In positioning and framing, it’s as near perfect as ever I’ve seen.

    The subject matter’s pretty good too!

    1. Conceivable, its true; but to my knowledge there are no photographs of Western’s Winans engines. Although interestingly, Western Rail Road’s “Massachusetts” (a product of the Locks and Canals of Lowell) is believed to have been the first locomotive ever photographed. Or at least the oldest known locomotive photograph c1849.

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