View from the Open Car

It’s always a pleasure to take a train ride.

Strasburg Rail Road’s excursions offer open cars which are a pleasant way to spend a summer’s afternoon in Pennsylvania Dutch country.

The other day, our friend Dan Cupper, invited Kris and I to travel on the railroad, so we rode behind former Canadian National Railways 89 to Leaman Place and back.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

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475 puts on a Good Show

We drove to Cherry Hill Road which is approximately the half-way point on the Strasburg Rail Road.

We didn’t have to wait long before a low mournful whistle announced the approach of the returning 2pm train.

Over the last month, most of Strasburg’s excursion have been led by 2-6-0 number 89, so I was pleased when I saw former Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 number 475 come into view.

As the train pulled away from the Groff’s picnic area, the engineer made a spectucular show of steam and smoke as the train slowly accelerated upgrade.

I made these photos with my Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm lens as Kris recorded the performance with her iPhone.

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Cumbres Pass on Chrome-Scan Comparison

As I write this I am in the final stages of preparing my latest book on steam locomotives for Kalmbach Media.

This is tentatively titled, “Steam by the Numbers” and examines the development and application of steam locomotives in America organized by wheel arrangement.

While many of the illustrations for the text are historical photographs, I have scoured my collection for appropriate photos that I feel provide dynamic illustrations of steam locomotives at work.

Among these is a photo that I made nearly 25 years ago showing doubleheaded former Rio Grande three-foot gauge 2-8-2s at Cumbres Pass, Colorado.

I’d scanned originally this slide in 2010. However, on critical examination of the scan, I found that it wasn’t up to my current standards. Scanning, like so many aspects of photography is an art, and requires patience and experience.

Rather than suffer with a substandard image, or cut the photo from the book, instead I located the original slide and re-scanned it.

I didn’t record the details of my original scan. However with my recent re-scan, I used a Nikon LS-5000 (Coolscan) slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.8.04 software.

I used the ‘fine’ setting and set the scanner to 4000 dots per inch, while using the ‘Auto Levels’ color profile setting. I then imported the scan into Lightroom for postprocessing, which included lightening shadow areas, warming the color balance, and introducing some sharpening.

Below are examples of the original scan and the improved re-scan.

This greatly enlarged section of the original scan shows that the image suffered from a loss of sharpness, blocked shadows, and a cyan edge-effect.
This is the my most recent scan including my post-processing improvements. This is a cleaner, sharper scan with better color and better overall exposure that is better suited to publication.
Englarged section of the improved scan. This more clearly shows detail in the photograph to the point of revealing the grain structure of the film. Altough it isn’t perfect, it is much better than my flawed scan from 2010.

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Irish Rail diesel trains August 28, 2013

Here’s a few views from my old Canon EOS7D from ten years ago.

I’ve Imported the old Canon CR2 (RAW) files into Lightroom (version 5.5) to make a host of minor adjustments that were not available to me at the time of exposure.

Although this older Canon digital camera didn’t capture as much data as my modern Nikons, it still did a wonderful job of preserving the scenes.

It’s been a long time since the 071s wore the black and silver livery.

Irish Rail 074 leads an empty ballast train down road near Hazelhatch. This is the ‘HOBS’ (High Output Ballast System).
A 200mm view near Clondalkin in West Dublin of a down ICR on the quad track section.
Up IWT liner approaching the Memorial Road Bridge with 071 class locomotive 083.
The Up-Cork rolls through ‘the Gullet’ on the last leg of its run to Dublin’s Heuston Station. I made this view from Memorial Drive. 28 August 2013.

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Locomotives—August 27, 2016

Seven years ago today, I caught up with photographer Mike Gardner for a morning of photography near Palmer, Massachusetts.

It was a beautiful and clear sunny New England day. I made these photos using my old FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.

New England Central 3039, a former Canadian National GP40-2L at Palmer, Mass. Fuji XT1 w 18-135mm lens set at 104mm f9 1/500, ISO 400.
CSX Q422 eastbound at Warren, Mass. Fuji XT1 w 18-135mm lens set at 123mm f5.6 1/500, ISO 400.
CSX Q422 eastbound at Warren, Mass. Fuji XT1 w 18-135mm lens set at 18.5mm f7.1 1/500, ISO 400.

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Glory to the old Metroliner Cabs

In its day, the Budd-Metroliner was America’s answer to the Japanese Shinkansen. This fast electric train (MP85) was built for Pennsylvania Railroad and some briefly carried PRR-Keystone heralds before Penn-Central assumed operations of PRR’s lines in 1968. The Metroliner service was introduced using the Metroliner cars in the early years of Penn Central.

In 1971, Amtrak assumed operation of the Metroliner and continued to use the former PRR/PC trains for fast services on the former PRR between New York and Washington D.C.

The Metroliner body style was the basis for the Budd-built Amfleet cars that were introduced in the mid-1970s, and which remain standard for many Amtrak trains today.

Amtrak later assigned locomotive hauled Amfleet consists to its Metroliner services. In their waining years as self-propelled electric trains the former Metroliner train sets worked Amtrak Keystone services to Harrisburg.

Today, some of the much modified old Metroliner cab cars survive on Amtrak’s five-car push-pull sets, many of which are assigned as standard consists to the New York-Philadelphia-Harrisburg Keystone trains. Until 2014, these consists also routinely worked the Vermonter when it was still routed via Palmer, Massachusetts.

I made these views of Amtrak’s former Metroliner cab cars passing Gap, Pa., a couple of week ago.

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Steam to Kilkenny—Ten Years Ago!

On August 25, 2013, I traveled behind 2-6-0 461 on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s The Marble City that ran from Dublin’s Connolly Station to Kilkenny and back via Athy.

At various stops along the way, I made digital photos using my old Canon EOS7D with a 28-135mm lens.

Although I’ve previously published some of these photos on Tracking the Light, for this post I’ve re-edited my selection and made a variety of up-to-day post processing adjustments using Adobe Lightroom, which I didn’t use back in 2013.

Hard to believe this was ten years ago!

Safety valves are lifting at Hazelhatch as The Marble City was overtaken by the down Cork led by Irish Rail 215.
At Kilkenny, I made this roster shot of old 461.
A view from the road bridge at Athy, Irish Rail’s up Dublin-Waterford train was making its station stop while RPSI’s steam crew filled 461’s tank with water.
Classic portrait of the footplate crew at Athy. Look’s like someone needs a cup of tea.

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Steam working in Low sun at Carpenters.

I like 2-6-0s. Old Canadian National No. 89 is a fine looking machine.

It has been getting a work out this summer and I’ve seen it on numerous runs between East Strasburg and Leaman Place over the Strasburg Rail Road.

A couple of weeks back a clear evening made for ideal conditions to catch the 7pm train on its return run from Leaman Place.

I exposed this telephoto view as the train worked upgrade near Carpenters.

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Glinty Reflections in the Susquehanna.

We found a shady place to park in Harrisburg’s Fort Hunter Mansion Park over looking Norfolk Southern’s Rockville Bridge.

We were hoping to catch a coal train. Instead, an eastward autorack freight came rolling across the bridge. As this was passing, a second an eastward train crossed the bridge on an adjacent track—and was blocked from view by the autoracks.

I made this view using my Z7-II fitted with a 70-200mm lens.

Staying in the shade of the trees in the park helped to reduce flare from the sun in the western sky.

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Trailing views at Esbenshade Road.

Over the summer, Kris and I have been photographing Strasburg Rail Road’s late weekend train, the 1900 departure, which is a favorite of mine because it catches the low sun on its return to the East Strasburg Station.

I think that this past weekend might have been the last opportunity to work with the sun on this train for a while.

I made these trailing views at Esbenshade Road near Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Gorgeous Evening Light

The evening began with dissipating fluffy clouds. As the sun sunk in the western sky, I anticipated a colorful late summer sunset.

We drove to Strasburg, where I made this sequence of photos of Strasburg Rail Road’s J tower, and various equipment on dispay at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and in the Strasburg Rail Road’s yard using my Z7-II with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series lens.

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Sunset and a Clear aspect at Greenfield

The days are getting shorter. You can see it in the evening sky.

Yet, the sunsets are vivid.

I’ve been looking for ways to better feature the color position light signal at milepost 64.5 near Greenfield in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I made this view with my Nikon Z7-II and Nikkor Z-series 70-200mm lens of Amtrak Keystone train 653 racing west by the signal. This train had Amtrak’s ACS-64 electrics at both ends; locomotive 621 was leading westbound; and 668 was at the back.

I’d guess that something was amiss with the former Metroliner cab car at the westend of the train.

In this instance because the signal is the subject, I picked a trailing angle and selected a slower ISO setting and comparatively slow shutter speed to allow the train a little bit of motion blur, while keeping the signal sharp.

When I try this again, I may zoom in tighter on the signal.

ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/160th second. 70-200mm lens set to 98mm.
ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/320th second. 70-200mm lens set to 98mm.

This is just a cropped and adjusted view of the photo at center above. However, it approximates how large I’d like to frame the signal in a future image.

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New Holland Vignettes

On Sunday Norfolk Southern runs local H29 over the old Pennsylvania New Holland Branch to it’s namesake.

Last Sunday, Kris and I wandered out along the line, looked at few crossings, and upon reaching New Holland, PA found a pair of GP38-2s with a few freight cars. The crew was just performing a brake test,

We drove a west and parked in the lot at the New Holland post office and waited.

This location offered a relatively unobstructed view the tracks.

After a few minutes the westward local came along and I made a series of photos with my Nikon Z6.

An Amish buggy passes the old Leola, PA station.
NS H29 Local freight in New Holland, PA. Nikon Z6 with f2.8 Nikkor 180mm telephoto.
NS H29 Local freight in New Holland, PA. Nikon Z6 with f2.8 Nikkor 180mm telephoto. A wink of sun makes the photo.
NS H29 at Diller Avenue in New Holland. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Steam on a Monday!

There aren’t too many place in the United States where you can pull up to a rural grade crossing on a Monday and roll by a steam locomotive .

That’s just what I did the other day on my drive through Strasburg.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7. The scene is timeless. Consider; a Mogul type hauling wooden-body passenger cars, and there no wires, no automobiles, no cell-phones . . . well all that is all behind me-literally.

Lumix LX7 photo exposed in RAW, color adjusted in post processing. Compare with the de-saturated mono-chrome version below.
In post processing I altered the contrast and used the ‘saturation’ slider to convert the image to monochrome (black &white).
Clean burning engine, rods down. Now, if we only switch off the headlight, it could be 1925.

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Contrasts at Gap

Amtrak Keystone 656 departed Lancaster, PA on time.

We drove to intercept it along the Main Line at Gap.

This time of year evening trains at Gap are coming directly out of the sun. This can be a challenge or a feature, depending on how you make your photographs.

I like to work with contrasty evening light. In my black & white film days, I’d adjust the contrast in the processing and use a relatively weak (dilute) solution of a highly active developer at comparatively high temperature with minimal agitation.

With my Nikon Z cameras I can achieve similar results in color with post-processing adjustments of the RAW files in Lightroom.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Exposure; f6.3 at 1/2000th second, ISO 200.
Adobe Lightroom work window showing the position of slider corrective controls. (Ignore the prefix ‘auto’ before each slider control).
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Details on the Middletown & Hummelstown

On a July evening, we paused for a few minutes as a rosy sun set over Middletown, Pennsylvania.

I made this sequence of photos using my Nikon Z6 fitted with a 1980s-era Nikkor f2.8 ED 180mm telephoto.

I’ve found that when shooting in raw with this old lens, the contrast and color more closely resembles photos that I made in the early 2000s on Fujichrome slide film.

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Unfair Comparisons: Fuji XT4 versus Nikon Z6

During our visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Kris lent me her FujiFilm XT4 with 16-55mm Fujinon Lens.

I had with me my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikon Z-series zoom

I made a series of unfair comparisons of similar subjects using both cameras.

Since the Fuji had a crop-sensor and the Nikon a full-frame sensor, the two lenses provided equivalent focal length ranges. However, while I tried to make similar photos, I didn’t make perfect matches for angle and compositions so there might be slight variations that have little to do with the cameras. The may be minor differences in metering as well.

Why are they unfair? To obtain the maximum data, each of the cameras have different ways of exposing. The Nikon tends to make Jpgs that seem too dark (under exposed) but these can me easily lightened in post processing for a visually appealing image. By contrast (pun intended), the Fuji makes wonderful JPGs right out of the camera.

However, I’ve opted to show scaled versions of both camera’s RAW files.

For this unfair comparison, I have not implemented subtantive changes to adjust the appearance of either cameras files.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
FujiFilm XT4 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
FujiFilm XT4 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
FujiFilm XT4 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
FujiFilm XT4 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
FujiFilm XT4 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.

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Hartman Station Road on the New Holland Secondary.

While runing a few errands, I found Norfolk Southern’s H29 local working its outbound run on the New Holland Secondary.

Leading the train was Norfolk Southern SD40E 6307 (originally an SD50) , which was making quite a show of climbing the short grade away from Greenfield in Lancaster, PA.

I zipped up to Hartman Station Road for a few quick photos using my Lumix LX7.

Step back a century and imagine this was one of PRR’s H10s 2-8-0 Consolidations. Now that would have been cool.

NS H29 working east at Hartman Station Road, Lancaster, PA. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Siemens Electric at Paradise

It was a pleasant evening. So we drove to Leaman Place to roll by Amtrak Keystone 649 on its run from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

I made a sequence of photos with my Nikon Z7-II. When I reviewd the images I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied.

Yes, the sun was perfect. The sky was clear and cloudless. The train was running locomotive first and clean. The foreground was free from obstructions. My camera performed flawlessly. The lens was sharp and the autofocus was spot on.

So what’s wrong? For example in the first photo, I’d like to see the locomotive slightly further in the frame to block the shadow to the left of engine nose . And, I wished I’d shown just a little more of the catenary mast on the right. Just little picky details.

On refection, I thought, what if that had been a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric with a classic passenger train? Well then I’d be absolutely delighted with these photos! So there’s that.

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Color or Black & White at Carpenters?

Sunday morning Kris and I went out to watch Strasburg Rail Road.

I set up for the returning 11 am train at Carpenters cemetery.

As the train approached, I made photos with both my Lumix LX7 and Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.

In post processing, I converted the Z7-II file to make a black & white photo.

Which do you like better?

Lumix LX7
Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm.

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Philadelphia & Reading Bridge—Harrisburg

Third time’s the charm.

In June 2009, I made my first visit to the former Philadelphia & Reading arched bridge over the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, Pa.

At that stage, I was still using film exclusively, and using my Canon EOS-3 loaded with Fujichrome, I made some photos of the bridge sans train.

Kris and I paid another visit to the bridge in March of 2022, Again, I made photos of the arches, but no luck catching anything on the move.

Toward the end of July, I made my third visit. This time fortune favored me. Not long after I parked on South Front Street, I heard a horn to the west and soon an eastward Norfolk Southern train came rolling across the arches.

I made these images using my Lumix LX7 and Nikon Z6 cameras.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm.

I had the Z6 set up with my 1980s-era Nikkor f2.8 180mm prime telephoto. While a very sharp lens, this is operated manually, which makes focusing a little tricky.

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Visiting the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania with Wayne.

Two weeks ago, Kris and I accompanied Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates on a detailed tour of railroad equipment, artifacts and models displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.

This is just a great place. I’m never bored amoung the beautifully restored and displayed engines and cars. Everytime I visit, I find something I’d never seen before. and I can never tire of seeing a magnificent GG1 electric dressed in the classic Loewy stripes. (And recall the New Year’s morning 43 years ago, when my dad, brother and I inspected this very same GG1 on the ready tracks at New Haven, Connecticut.)

We spend several hours gazing in awe at all the great relics of railroading past.

The airbrake training car was a real treat. I never knew that this restored in fully operational condition!

Somehow, I made more than 300 photos, working with my Nikon Z6 and Kris’s Fujifilm XT4.

I made a bunch of side by side comparisons between the Nikon and Fuji cameras, but I’ll display those images in a future post.

Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Fujifilm XT4 photo by Kris Sabbatino.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Fujifilm XT4 with Fujinon 16-55mm zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor 24-70mm lens.

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Electric, Steam and Diesel in 45 minutes!

Last Thursday morning, I photographed four trains in 45 minutes. Three were scheduled.

I caught eastward and westward Amtrak Keystone trains at Gap, Pennsylvania, then made a short drive over to the Strasburg Rail Road, where I waited for the 10am scheduled excursion to Leaman Place. As this steam hauled train approached Blackhorse Road, I could hear a second horn to the west.

I surmised that Strasburg’s local freight might be following the excursion. My guess was close; Strasburg’s SW8 diesel was leading a ballast hopper toward Leaman Place where it would clear for the excursion to return.

I can’t recall any time in the recent past in America where I caught electric, steam and diesel trains over such a short span of time.

Photos exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Amtrak Keystone train 646 eastbound near Gap, PA. Lumix LX7 photo.
Trailing view of Amtrak Keystone train 646 eastbound near Gap, PA with ACS-64 665 at the rear of the consist. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Amtrak train 641 working cab car first rolls through Gap, PA. ACS-64 667 electric is working at the back of the train.
Trailing view of Keystone 641 with ACS-64 667 electric as it passes Gap, PA. Lumix LX7 photo.
Strasburg Rail Road 2-6-0 number 89 crosses Blackhorse Road with the 10am excursion. Lumix LX7 photo.
Strasburg 89 up close and personal!
Strasburg Rail Road’s former New York Central SW8 leads a ballast car eastbound at Blackhorse Road.
Trailing view of Strasburg Rail Roadl SW8 8618 eastbound at Blackhorse Road.Lumix LX photo

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SEPTA Silverliner V near Wynnewood

A warm July Sunday along the Main Line found us near SEPTA’s Wynnewood Station, PA.

I made this coming and going sequence of an inbound SEPTA Silverliner V using my Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

The trees along the former Pennsylvania Railroad made for nice framing elements in the trailing view.

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Score on the New Holland Secondary

Last Sunday morning, Kris and I were heading to breakfast. Rather than jump on the four-lane, I decided to stick to the two-lane roads. As we drove toward the Greenfield Road grade crossing in Lancaster, PA, the crossing flashers lit.

I was surprise to see Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local approaching. We didn’t know this ran on Sunday morning.

After pulling in the clear, I grabbed my Nikon Z6 and fired off a photo of the approaching freight. Unfortunately, in my haste I’d set the auto focus-point incorrectly and my result wasn’t worth the price of the exposed pixels. (It was garbage).

From this mistake, I decided to delay breakfast and we turned around, and zipped up to the Willow Road crossing, just a couple of miles down the line. Here I had ample time to set up and frame some photos. I’d sorted out the auto focus. Kris filmed a video with her iPhone.

I was pleased with these images. We’ll need to head out on a Sunday morning again soon!

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

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Norfolk Southern’s Royalton Branch

This is a follow up to Thursday’s post. After photographing coal empties on the Port Road at Washington Boro, PA, I followed the train by traveling compass northwest on highway 441.

Norfolk Southern’s Royalton Branch is a former Pennsylvania Railroad line, once electrified, that allows an alternated routing through the Harrisburg area for freights using the Port Road.

Beyond Marietta railroad routes divide, with one line crossing the Susquehanna River via the Shocks Mills bridge to reach Enola Yard. The Royalton Branch runs toward Harrisburg on the east bank of the river.

I’m just learning this territory, so as of now, I’m not completely fluent as the modern names for the junctions and timetable directions of the tracks. However, I know that trains have a choice of routings, so last week I took a chance that the coal empties would run via the Royalton Branch. Previously, I’d scoped out a location near Middletown not far from the famous Three Mile Island.

Fortune favored me, and I arrived with ample time to set up and change lenses. Instead of my 70-200mm Z-series zoom, I was traveling with my 1980s-era Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed focal length manual focus telephoto, which attaches to my Z-series mirrorless cameras using an adaptor.

This is a traditional piece of glass and offers a classic quality, especially when used wide open (f2.8). However, its tricky to set the focus while trying to expose manually.

I made a series of photos with my Nikon Z6 and 180mm and a frame with my Lumix LX7.

NS coal empties at Royalton, PA. Exposed with a Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed telephoto.
NS coal empties at Royalton, PA. Exposed with a Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed telephoto.
Lumix LX7 photo at milepost 11 in Royalton, PA.

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Views with my Nikons at Wanamaker, PA.

The village of Wanamaker, Pennsylvania reminds me of rural German villages in north Central Germany.

I exposed these photos with my Nikon Z-series mirrorless cameras on our visit to the Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern a couple of weeks ago.

The pastoral former Reading Company Lehigh & Schuylkill branch makes for a lovely setting. Although it isn’t very long, the WK&S is a lovely tourist line with rural charm and a laid back operation reminiscent of branchline railroading of another generation.

Their little World War II era GE seemed a bit out of scale compared with the former Lackawanna coach it was hauling, but the train made for an interesting subject.

I wonder what it will be like in Wanamaker in another 60 years? WK&S celebrates it’s 60th anniverary of operation in September!

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NS Coal Empties on the Port Road Branch

Over the course of recent weeks, Kris and I have explored locations on the Norfolk Southern’s Port Road Branch. This is a portion of former Pennsylvania Railroad that follows the Susquehanna River between the Harrisburg area and a connection with the Northeast Corridor at Perryville, Maryland.

PRR electrified the route in the 1930s, and it handled electrically powered freights until the Conrail era. The old electric catenary supports are evidence of this by-gone era. It has been more than 40 years since electric operations ended on this portion of the former Conrail system.

Daylight freight moves on the Port Road seem to be relatively rare, owing to an Amtrak daytime curfew on the Northeast Corridor route.

Last week, I left Lancaster very early and made my way to Columbia, PA where I picked up the Norfolk Southern Port Road line. In the morning glow, I found that home signal was lit ‘clear’ for a train movement toward Harrisburg. Expecting a train, I proceeded against it on the parallel highway to Washington Boro, PA, where I scoped a suitable location near a local park.

I waited for a few minutes, and soon heard the approaching freight.

I set up with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens and exposed this sequence of an NS empty coal train rolling up river.

Since the train wasn’t moving more than about 25 mph, I followed it along the adjacent highway. Stay tuned for more!

Former Pennsylvania Railroad electrified line at Columbia, PA. A high dew point made it difficult to keep the front element of my lens from misting over.
In many places the road, the railroad and the Susquehanna River run adjacent to one another. The classic catenary supports visually identify the line as the former Pennsylvania Railroad.
After just a short wait, this Norfolk Southern empty coal train came into view at Washington Boro, PA.
Soft morning light on the coal train made for a classic view.
This wideangle photo is at the same location in Washington Boro.
Trailing view at Washington Boro, PA.
View of the hoppers from Washington Boro Park rolling along from the opposite side of Highway 441.

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Norfolk Southern’s First Responder Training Event

Last week Norfolk Southern hosted an event at its Harrisburg, Pennsylvania yard geared toward training first responders on the details of railroad cars and locomotives, and focused on how to handle a variety of different tank cars carrying hazardous materials.

Representing Trains Magazine, I accompanied Dan Cupper and Rich Roberts on invitation from the railroad.

We were met by Connor Spielmaker and Mike Pucci from NS Corporate Communications, who gave attending journalists a safety briefing.

“Everything at NS starts with safety.”

Key to the event was NS’s special assembled Operation Awareness & Response safety train than makes annual tours of the NS network.

We spent several hours observing the first responders and their trainers, with opportunities to ask questions and make photographs. While I gathered material that may be used in future articles.

I made these images using my Nikon Z6. Some of the telephoto views were exposed using my 1980s-vintage Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED manual focus fixed telephoto lens.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.