Pan Am Southern; retro photos of a retro railroad; old tech in 2016.

Let’s gaze back in time; 30 plus years ago I was a young enthusiastic photographer with a 35mm Leica rangefinder. I was fascinated by the Boston & Maine, operated by Guilford Transportation Industries (as Pan Am Railways was then known).

B&M’s quaint operations, traditional signals, and antique General Motors diesels had a real appeal. Back then I focused on catching the EMD GP7s, GP9s, and GP18s, plus EMD switchers and run-through Delaware & Hudson Alco C-420s and C-424s.

I made hundreds of images trackside in those days.

On June 4, 2016, I picked up my old Leica, as I do from time to time, and loaded it with Ilford HP5 (often my choice film back in the day) and headed for Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield yard before dawn, (as I have since I learned to drive 33 years ago).

Antiques still run the rails on Pan Am.

Pan Am Railways' SD40-2s at East Deerfield Yard on the morning of June 4, 2016.
Pan Am Railways’ SD40-2s at East Deerfield Yard on the morning of June 4, 2016.
A real rare pair in 2016; back to back high-hood GP40s. How sweet is that? This is Pan Am's EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction).
A real rare pair in 2016; back to back high-hood GP40s. How sweet is that? This is Pan Am’s EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction).

©Brian Solomon 582516

As the EDRJ was getting its train together the morning fog began to burn off. Cosmic light.
As the EDRJ was getting its train together the morning fog began to burn off. Cosmic light.

©Brian Solomon 582517

My lens of choice has a long history.

In the 1970s and very early 1980s, I’d often photograph with a Nikon 35mm wide angle made with a Leica screw-mount.

This lens had gone missing for decades and only recently re-emerged. In the interval it had seized up (as old equipment does when the lubrication dries out). My dad sent it for servicing and its now back in our arsenal of working photographic equipment.

Good lenses are relatively common these days. Most off the shelf digital cameras have pretty good optics compared with many consumer-grade film cameras of yesteryear.

But, truly great lenses remain hard to find.

This Nikon 35mm is a great lens. Not only is it sharp, lightweight and compact, but it has a distinctive optical quality that is rarely found with modern lenses. In short it has ‘that look.’ (look at the photos).

Pan Am's EDRJ roars upgrade through Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts passing an old Boston PCC streetcar that resides at the Trolley Museum.
Pan Am’s EDRJ roars upgrade through Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts passing an old Boston PCC streetcar that resides at the Trolley Museum. I used to ride these cars on the Riverside Line in the early 1970s.

After exposing my film, I processed it with the aid of a Jobo film processor to my own custom formula.

Basically, I used a twin bath developer of Kodak HC110 with constant agitation at 71 degrees F for 4 minutes, 15 seconds. Stopbath for 30 seconds; twin bath fixer; rinse; permawash; and final wash. Negs were scanned as TIF files using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner at 3200 dpi . Nominal contrast adjustment was necessary with Lightroom.

Undoubtedly, someone will ask, ‘but isn’t that a lot of work?’

Yes, it is.

And, ‘Couldn’t you just convert your digital files to black & white?’

 You could, yes.

And, so I ask, ‘do you have any favorites here?’

With a roar of 645 diesels and a cosmic cloud of exhaust, EDRJ approaches the east portal of the famed Hoosac Tunnel on the morning of June 4, 2016.
With a roar of 645 diesels and a cosmic cloud of exhaust, EDRJ approaches the east portal of the famed Hoosac Tunnel on the morning of June 4, 2016.
North Adams, Massachusetts.
North Adams, Massachusetts.
The trees are taller at Eagle Bridge, but this station looks today much as it has looked for at least three decades. I've feature this in my book; Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals.
The trees are taller at Eagle Bridge, but this station looks today much as it has looked for at least three decades. I’ve feature this in my book; Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals.
Eagle Bridge, New York, the old Boston & Maine station is a relic of former times.
Eagle Bridge, New York, the old Boston & Maine station is a relic of former times.
Railroading gone retro! Hooray!
Railroading gone retro! Hooray! Ilford HP5; f8 1/200th of a second.

Tracking the Light has new material every day.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Pan Am Southern; retro photos of a retro railroad; old tech in 2016.”

  1. Dear Brian

    These photos are, what I would call, a modern equivalent to classics taken by, say, Shaughnessy? or Winston Link? they have that feel of nostalgia and reminds me of what I see to be the joys of the bygone era of American Railroading.

    I particularly like the last photo where the EMD Jeeps pass by the old station, I can just smell the Berkshire passing by the country depot in another era with some of your famous “Ball” signals 🙂

    Regards
    Mani

  2. Great shots Brian, love those high-short hood units (the SD45s were my favourite).

    DAN SMITH

  3. The first and the last Picture (the Same) looks more like a steam engine with all that smoke. In Russia some of the fans/nerds call the smoky diesel engines for ALCO related units.

  4. My favourites – the foggy dawn with tank cars and glinting switches – the vertical format picture; and the final shot – the derelict depot at Eagle Bridge and a very smoky diesel roaring past.

  5. Brian,

    I’m enjoying your B&M/Pan Am kick. This E. Deerfield with the Nikon lens produced great results. The other topics, such as Westminster, Fitchburg, and Ayer were equally enjoyable.

    It hasn’t worked out, but I’d die to spend a day in Middlefield, MA

    Cheers,

    Brian Burns

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