Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.

The old McClelland Farm Road bridge over the Boston & Maine tracks at the west end of East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) has been a popular place to photograph trains since the steam era.

Known colloquially as the ‘Railfan’s Bridge,’ this vantage point has been featured in articles in TRAINS Magazine Railpace, and other popular literature for decades.

I first visited with my father and brother in the early 1980s, and have made countless photos here, many of which have a appeared in books, calendars, and of course on Tracking the Light.

My friend Tim coined it the ‘waste too much film bridge’ in the early 2000s, owing to our propensity to make an excessive number of photos as Guilford freight trains switched in the yard.

Although hackneyed and perhaps over frequented, it’s been a great place to catch the sunrise, make photos of the locomotives and freight cars, and work the evening glint.

At times, I’ve seen as many as 30 photographers here, all vying for position.

Imagine my surprise last month, when Tim and I arrived to photograph the elusive and much followed Pan Am Railways office car train, expecting to find a wall of lenses, and instead realized that we were the only photographers on site!

In the evening glow, Pan Am Railway’s prized former Canadian National FP9s lead the company office car train off the Deerfield Loop track at the west end of East Deerfield Yard. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
. You can see that the trees have been cut in preparation for the heavy works, expected to begin shortly. Lumix LX7 photo.
How many thousands, or tens of thousands, of photos have been exposed from this vantage point over the decades? FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

I used this opportunity to make some photos of the old bridge, soon to be replaced by a new span located 40 feet to the west.

Why is this my first farewell? Simply, the bridge isn’t yet gone. After it is, perhaps I’ll post a ‘final farewell’.

 

I wonder how the new vantage point will compare?

 

Tracking the Light!

2 thoughts on “Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.”

  1. My favourite railfan bridge was that at the north end of the Saalfeld station yard in the former East Germany. The narrown bridge was busy with motor traffic, and carried a two-way two lane road flanked on each side by narrow pavements, also busy with pedestrian traffic. With a solid line of photographers, mostly on the station side, the pavement was frequently largely blocked for local residents on foot, and there were complaints. Apparently this photoline became known locally as “der Affenfelsen”, which can be roughly translated as “The Wall of Apes”! Trying to run from one side of the road to the other to catch that extra picture was a regular, if hazardous, event, and sadly, as least one “Ape” is said to have been fatally injured.

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