Amtrak Montrealer Detours! 30 Years Ago Today—March 15, 1986.

It was a day of big excitement. Up north, Guilford was in a knot as result of a strike action. Bob Buck phoned me early in the morning to say that ‘The Boot’ (the colloquial name for Amtrak’s Montrealer) was detouring to Palmer on the Central Vermont, then west on the Boston & Albany (Conrail).

Using my dad’s Rollei model T loaded with Kodak Tri-X, I made the most of the unusual move.

This was nearly a decade before Amtrak’s Vermonter began to regularly make the jog in Palmer from the CV/New England Central route to the B&A mainline.

And, it was only four months before Conrail ended traditional directional double-track operations between Palmer and Springfield.

Amtrak 61 followed CV’s southward road freight to Palmer arriving at 11 am. Here I pictured it near the old Boston & Albany freight house in Palmer, Massachusetts. Note the all heritage consist (except of course for the F40).
Amtrak 61 followed CV’s southward road freight to Palmer arriving at 11 am with  Canadian National M-420 2557 in the lead.. Here I pictured it near the old Boston & Albany freight house in Palmer, Massachusetts. Note the all heritage consist (except of course for the F40).
An Amtrak CF7 had come out from Springfield to assist with the reverse move necessary to bring the Montrealer westward over the B&A.
An Amtrak CF7 had come out from Springfield to assist with the reverse move necessary to bring the Montrealer westward over the B&A.

I’d met some photographers at the Palmer diamond and encouraged them to take advantage of my favorite vantage point at the rock cutting at milepost 84, just over the Quaboag River from the Palmer Station.

As detouring Amtrak number 61 approached with a former Santa Fe CF7 leading the train to Springfield, we could hear an eastward Conrail freight chugging along with new GE C30-7As.

Moments after I exposed the classic view of this Montrealer working the old number 1 track, TV6 blasted east with intermodal piggybacks for Worcester and Springfield. I was using the Rollei with a 645 'Superslide' insert that allowed me 16 frames per roll.
Moments after I exposed the classic view of this Montrealer working the old number 1 track, TV6 blasted east with intermodal piggybacks for Worcester and Boston. I was using the Rollei with a 645 ‘Superslide’ insert that allowed me 16 frames per roll.
Conrail TV6 passes Amtrak's Montrealer on the double track west of the Palmer diamond. In July 1986, Conrail cut-in CP83 which ended double track operations between Palmer and the new CP92 in Springfield.
Conrail TV6 passes Amtrak’s Montrealer on the double track west of the Palmer diamond. Four months later, in July 1986, Conrail cut-in CP83 which ended double track operations between Palmer and the new CP92 in Springfield.
Sometimes when the action is unfolding its best to just keep exposing pictures. Here I was cranking the Rollie as quickly as I could.
Sometimes when the action is unfolding its best to just keep exposing pictures. Here I was cranking the Rollie as quickly as I could.

This is among my favorite sequences that show the old double track in action.

Some of these photos later appeared in Passenger Train Journal. Long before I was the Associate Editor of that magazine.

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3 thoughts on “Amtrak Montrealer Detours! 30 Years Ago Today—March 15, 1986.”

  1. The last photo is especially dynamic. It has a great sense of shape, motion, and excellent contrast. Those rail fans at the right only add to its charm. I, too, hope that this photo will find a place in your B&A book. Which everyone I know is anticipating, btw.

  2. I was one of the first firemen hired by AMtrak (for # 60-62, SPG-SLB). This was on 08 April 1986. I remember riding the trailing F-40 being towed from SPG by the CF-7. When we hit the soon-to-be removed Track # 2 at the future CP-92, we immediately felt the diffence in (lack of) track maintenance.

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