Category Archives: Announcements

Plowing Snow!

Friday, February 11, 2022, New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic operated its vintage Russell snow plow with former Maine Central Railroad GP38 255 pushing it west toward Attitash.

I followed the plow by road and made a few select digital photos with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 70-200mm lens.

To get a good snow exposure I dialed in ‘+3’ to the expose compensation, which helps keep the snow white. I metered manually with the in-camera ‘matrix meter’, then set both shutter speed and aperture manually.

Although I set the camera’s focas point, I let the Nikon’s autofocus system work as intended.

In a few instances, I hiked into locations to get the best angle where the snow was the deepest. On more than one occasion I found myself up to my hips in snow.

It was a good day out with the plow!

A couple of weeks ago, I put together a video for Conway Scenic on the operation of the plow. This was mostly filmed in 2021. It is available on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp5Qg-5_B6M

Intervale, NH.
Intervale, NH looking west toward Mount Washington.
Clearing the line at Glen, NH.
Glen, NH.
Working upgrade along Route 302 west of Glen, NH.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

EXTRA!! The Engine that Saved Itself.


LUCKY BREAK!

This morning (January 2, 2022) a fire started in the cab of Conway Scenic Railroad’s steam locomotive 7470.

At this point the cause is believed to have stemmed from a fault with the engine radio. The fire damaged a spring in the whistle valve that set off the engine whistle. The shrieking whistle alerted our steam locomotive mechanic who called 911.

I was called shortly after 6am and proceeded to the roundhouse where I made these photos in my capacity as Manager of Marketing & Events for Conway Scenic Railroad.


While there is minor damage to engine 7470’s cab and minimal damage to the 1874-built roundhouse, the situation could have been much worse. You could write a story: ‘The engine that saved itself!”
Thanks to the North Conway Fire Department and everyone that assisted in preventing spread of the fire.


Conway Scenic’s ‘New Year’s Special to Sawyer River’ will proceed as advertised. Motive power will be former Maine Central diesels.
Boarding is at 12 noon today (January 2, 2022).

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Three GM Diesels at White River Junction, Vermont

On Sunday evening (July 18, 2021), on our way back to New Hampshire from Massachusetts , Kris and I visited the old station at White River Junction, Vermont where we photographed three vintage General Motors diesels.

GM’s Electro-Motive Division was America’s premier locomotive builder from the late 1940s until the early 1980s.

The 1970s-era machines that we found at White RIver Junction are exmples of EMD’s locomotive zenith, when GM-EMD was synonymous with locomotive excellence.

Although it was a dull July evening, I made photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. Working with Adobe Lightroom, I made nominal adjustments to improve shadow detail, overall contrast, and color saturation.

GMTX 2617 is former Penn Central GP38-2 7925.
Vermont Rail System 202 is a GP38-2 lettered for the Washington County Railroad. Seen here on the old Boston & Maine just north of the White River Junction, Vt., station.

New England Central 437 is a former Florida East Coast GP40-2.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Central Vermont Feature

Yesterday, my author’s copies of NRHS Bulletin Vol 83, No. 4 arrived with my feature story, ‘Growing Up with Central Vermont’.

This personal story of my experiences with the old CV includes a variety of my photos of the railroad exposed between 1977 and 1993.

The opening spread is a photo, previously unpublished, of train 444 crossing the Palmer diamond in September 1977, which I exposed using my father’s Leica IIIC.

An unexpected surprise was the cover story of the magazine, which is a detailed article on Metro North by my old friend (and Tracking the Light reader) Walter E. Zullig Jr!

CV_Ry_447_Vernon_Vt_May14_1986_Fuji50 with Leica.

Although a nice photo, the above view of Central Vermont’s northward road freight at Vernon, Vermont, did not make my final cut for photos submitted to the NRHS Bulletin.

Special thanks to Bulletin Staff Editor Jeff Smith for bringing my article to print.

The NRHS Bulletin’s email is: bulletin@nrhs.com

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

My New Camera: Nikon Z6

Last week I received my latest in a long line of cameras that began with an Exakta back in 1972.

Over the last six months, I’ve been considering an upgrade to my digital cameras.

Sensor technology has progressed and my ability to work with digital photography successfully has matured. 

I considered a variety of cameras in my price range including Canon, FujiFilm, and Panasonic Lumix.

I was looking for a camera that will augment my existing cameras while providing demonstrably better or different image quality.

Two events pushed me toward my purchase: The first was the loss of service of my 18-135mm zoom for my Fuji XT1. The second was the loss of service of my Panasonic LX7. 

After careful and lengthy consideration, I ended up purchasing a Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera on the recommendation of photographer Pat Yough.

I plan to continue to use my Canon and FujiFilm digital cameras as well as my film cameras. Plus, I’m in the market for another Lumix!

The Nikon’s excellent full-frame sensor and the ability to use my older Nikon lenses on the new camera, plus the price point were among my considerations. I bought the camera with a 24-70 zoom.

Below are a few of the photos from my first day out with the Z6 on a wander around western Maine with my girlfriend and photography partner Kris Sabbatino. All were made with the 24-70mm and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Grafton Notch, near Neary, Maine.
Grafton Notch, near Neary, Maine.
St. Lawrence & Atlantic at Bethel, Maine.
St. Lawrence & Atlantic at Gilead, Maine.

I may take me a while before I obtain the full visual benefit of this new tool, as it has a lot of buttons, functions, menus and features to explore and learn.

I am not new to Nikon, as I bought my Nikon in the form of an F3T in 1990, but this is my first Nikon Digital camera.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Farewell MG Tower?

MG Tower in 1987.

Yesterday, photographer Pat Yough sent me an article from the Altoona Mirror concerning Norfolk Southern’s planned demolition of the former Pennsylvania Railroad MG Tower (located on the climb from Altoona to Gallitzin, PA.)

Like the late, great New York Pennsylvania Station, MG Tower will succumb to corporate philistines who fail to value history and architecture. The rationale for such destruction may be justified to satisfy short term financial or safety prerogatives, but the loss is everyone’s. Once destroyed, this classic structure will be gone forever.

So much of the Pennsylvania Railroad has already been lost in the name of ‘progress’ and other abstract concepts. Have we learned nothing from past transgressions? So today’s railroad remain eager to erase the monuments of railroading’s glory days.

Of course the tower can be saved.

Of course future generations could benefit from its preservation.

Instead it will be but a memory ruined by those who fail to value history.

Well done Norfolk Southern! May the names of the persons condemning this structure to dust be enshrined so that everyone can relish in their achievement and congratulate them for their wisdom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Mountaineer Climbs the Mountain!

June 27, 2020 was the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer debut!

This was the big day!

I organized banners for the locomotive  . . .

And a ribbon-cutting photo-op with Dave and Rhonda Swirk at North Conway, New Hampshire.

The guests were boarded.

I departed ahead of the train by road and hiked in to the Frankenstein trestle where I caught the train on film and video. Then, I laid chase to intercept it again at Crawford, NH. A neat trick considering all the equipment I was carrying.

At the end of the day, I was interviewed on the radio for broadcast Monday.

Dave Swirk cuts the ceremonial ribbon for the first Mountaineer!
Mountaineer at Frankenstein.
Mountaineer arriving at Crawford station. Maine Central 252 is the locomotive that hauled the last revenue road freight over the Mountain Division back in 1983, and had the honor of leading the first Mountaineer from North Conway to Crawford.

George Small, Rhonda and Dave Swirk, and Bob Marquardt with the Mountaineer Banner at Crawford.
Conway Scenic Railroad’s president and general manager Dave Swirk (left) with Mountaineer’s first narrator, Steve Nickless at Crawford Station.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

My Canisteo Valley in Trains Magazine

The June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on Conrail in New York’s Canisteo River Valley.

This features some of my favorite Kodachrome slide photos from when the line was still operated as double-track under rule 251 with classic Union Switch & Signal block signals.

One of the outtakes was this view from 1996.

By 1996, Conrail had lifted one of the two main tracks through the Canisteo and removed all the classic signals. While this forever changed the character of the railroad, Conrail continued to make good use of this former Erie Railroad mainline. On November 1, 1996, this eastward unit coal train rolled along the Canisteo near West Cameron, New York.

My new book: Conrail and its Predecessors is now available!

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts EVERY day! Subscribe today!

Snow Train Day and Night

On Tuesday February 18, 2020 it snowed most of the day at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Through out the day the Conway Scenic Railroad was operating its new Snow Trains between its famous North Conway station and Attitash in Bartett.

I made these views of the Snow Train set led by former Maine Central GP7 573 paused between runs at the North Conway B&M station.

Both were exposed using a Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

10 MOre Railroad Hobby SHow Photos!

As I write this, I am getting ready to return to the Amherst Railway Society’s BIG Railroad Hobby Show!

Here’s another ten Lumix LX7 photos from yesterday’s experience.

Tracking the Light Posts EVERY day, sometime more than once!

Conway Scenic December 17, 2019—A Spin and a Surprise Twist

In a world of splashy announcements, bold publicity stunts and loud pronouncements, occasionally subtlety, allusion and understatement still have a place.

Also, I’m always curious to learn who’s paying attention and who just looks at the pictures. (Sometimes the long posts with allusive titles offer the most important messages).

Yesterday, as I was standing in the snow to record Boston & Maine F7A 4268 that was brought out of Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway roundhouse for a spin on the turntable, my friends Dave and Rhonda Swirk quietly announced that I was taking on a full-time position at the railroad in Marketing and Event planning.

And there’s the surprise twist!

Clear signals for exciting things coming down the line! (Bigger bolder pronouncements later).

Tracking the Light will continue to post daily!