Category Archives: railroads

Pudding Pond Posed Panoramic.

If you are not viewing this on post on Tracking the Light, you’ll need to click the link or you’ll miss the panoramic photo.

This is the single-frame conventional view of RDC 23 Millie at Pudding Pond.

Last Friday (July 19, 2019), we traveled on Conway Scenic Budd-built RDC 23 Millie east toward Redstone, New Hampshire on the former Maine Central. On the return we paused at Pudding Pond so that I could make some photographs.

Once I was off the car, by arrangement it moved forward so the front of the RDC was catching the sunlight.

In addition to conventional photos, I also made this panoramic composite using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. The camera has a panorama preset that requires you to make an even sweep across the scene while holding the shutter release. The camera sews together the images and outputs them as a completed panorama.

Panoramic composite view at Pudding Pond exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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Meet at Mountain Junction

On Select Fridays, Conway Scenic operates an RDC trip for children out on its Redstone Line—former Maine Central Mountain Division running east from Mountain Junction. Last Friday, July 19, 2019, I took the opportunity to travel with the crew on this run.

At Mountain Junction we cleared for the Valley Train led by GP7 573 that was on its return run from Bartlett to North Conway, New Hampshire.

When the Valley Train passed us, I made this view from the cab of Conway Scenic’s former Susquehanna (originally New Haven Railroad) RDC number 23, named Millie.

You know, I could have named this post: The Valley Meets Millie at Mountain Junction.

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Every Day is Sunny in North Conway . . .

 . . . except when it rains!

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Last week at North Conway, New Hampshire hot humid afternoon gave way to rain forest-like torrential rains.

In the twilight of early evening, I exposed this raining view using my Lumix LX7 handheld.

The slight blurred effect is a combination of the cascading downpour and relatively slow shutter speed. For me the combination of heavy rain, dusk, and slight camera blur makes for a painterly effect that helps transcend the decades.

Distant Raging Fires Make For Rosy New Hampshire Sunsets.

Fires in Canada and as far away as Alaska have resulted in layers of fine particulate matter in the atmosphere.

During the day this has resulted in gausy skies that diffuse the sun.

At dusk the dust and ash contribute to some stunning sunsets.

Last night, I noticed a rosy glow in the west as I sat editing video in the North Tower of North Conway’s former Boston & Maine station.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed these views in the fading light.

The sky had a magenta hue that reminded me of Stockholm sunsets after the Icelandic volcano eruption of 2010.

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Mount Washington Cog Railway—Revisited

Many many years ago.

In the dusts of time.

Before  I carried a camera!

I traveled on the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

I was very young and it was bitterly cold at the summit, so the charms of the railway were lost on me.

Last Saturday, my friends and I revisited this world famous attraction.

The Mount Washington Cog is 150 years old this year and the oldest cog railway in the world. It is built almost entirely upon a wooden pile trestle with an average gradient of 25 percent (1 in 4).

The views get more impressive as you gain in elevation.

Although largely operated with ‘bio diesels’, there are still some steam locomotives.

I made these photographs from the base station as we were getting ready to board. I largely focused on the diesels, as the steam was only being prepped and not working the mountain.

More soon!

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Mountain Division—Bartlett Sunset.

Wednesday evening July 10, 2019, I made this sunset view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s dinner train at Bartlett, New Hampshire.

The dinner train uses largely the same consist as the railroad’s Notch Train, but operates in the evening from North Conway to Bartlett and return.

Owing to the extreme exposure contrast between the darker areas of the car’s undercarriage and the highlights in the sky, I carefully balanced my exposure using the camera’s histogram to retain the maximum amount of detail, and later adjusted the RAW file in Lightroom in post processing to allow for the most pleasing image.

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Budd Car Sunset.

FujiFilm camera JPG with color profile ‘Velvia’.

The other evening I exposed this trailing view of Conway Scenic’s RDC number 23, Millienear Glen-Jackson on its evening run up to Attiash .

On of the best kept secrets among Conway’s scheduled trains are its RDC runs for Attitash that depart North Conway on select evenings at 6pm.

I like the RDC, a typical Budd Car, that was common to New England passenger services when I was growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s.

For this photo, I was working with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto. The camera color profile was set to Velvia (see photo above), but ultimately I worked with the camera-RAW file in Lightroom to adjust color temperature, contrast and saturation (see photo below).

Jpg file created from adjusted camera-RAW.

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New England Steam: 7470 SundayS and MondayS this Summer!

Through July and August, Conway Scenic Railroad plans to assign steam locomotive 7470 to their North Conway to Conway Valley Train every Sunday and Monday. 

The train departs North Conway at 1030 am and 130 pm, with the locomotive running tender first toward Conway (boiler facing the home station).

The locomotive is turned on the turntable at the roundhouse in the morning and afternoon.

For information/tickets send email to: info@conwayscenic.com

Check Conway’s website:

www.conwayscenic.com

or call : 603-356-5251

I made these photos Sunday, July 7, 2019 using my FujiFilm XT1.

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Fortuity at Bardwell’s Ferry: Lenticular Truss and an Eastward Freight.

Or call this ‘DASH-9 in the Woods’.

Friday (July 5, 2019), I was rambling about with my cousin Stella—visiting from California—when we paused at Bardwell’s Ferry,.

The ferry is long gone. Instead a well-preserved pin-connected lenticular truss bridge carries the road over Massachusetts’ Deerfield River.

While we were photographing the bridge and river, I thought my ears tricked me; the rushing water sounded remarkably like a distant freight.

Since this wasn’t a serious rail-photo excursion, I hadn’t brought my scanner.

I went back to the car to get my omnipresent notebook, when I heard a whistle!

The flashers on Bardwell’s Ferry road illuminated, and sure enough there was an eastward Pan Am Southern freight approaching!

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens, I exposed this series of photos.

I assume that this was symbol freight 16R which forwards Norfolk Southern traffic from Enola (Pennsylvania) and East Binghamton (New York) to Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard. Without a scanner or positive confirmation, guess is all I can do.

An eastward Pan-Am Southern freight approaches the crossing of Bardwell’s Ferry Road.
I anticipated the window of sunlight east of the crossing and adjusted my exposure accordingly.

As the freight approached, I pulled back the zoom lens to widen my field of view. Not all railroad photos can be exposed in full sunlight, but in this case I think the shadowy effect works well.

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New England Central—Telephoto at Brattleboro.

I’ve posted a variety of my New England Central photos on my Flicker account. The link below should direct you there.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/163833022@N05/albums

Today on Tracking the Light:

Toward the end of June 2019, I visited New England Central’s yard at Brattleboro, Vermont.

It was the first time in many months that I used my old Canon EOS-7D, which I’d fitted with a 200mm telephoto lens.

As the 611 crew was getting organized to take Brattleboro to Palmer turn south, I made these photos.

I’ve always like the Canon color palate, which I believe is a function of their lenses and sensor. This is decidedly different than the digital photos I make with either my FujiFilm XT1 or Lumix LX7. Playing with a long telephoto is always fun, although in recent years I’ve shied away from very long lenses, as I’ve found that they tend to be overused.

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Station Stop Attitash

Conway Scenic’s Valley Train makes its station stop at Attitash.

The station is just a flag stop on the Valley run that serves the Attitash Mountain Resort. It has a short platform with benches, railings, a classic enamel metal sign with blue and white letters, and the requisite yellow line.

On Sunday, the Valley Train dropped off seven passengers who had traveled from North Conway via Bartlett. They were among many passengers traveling round trip to Bartlett.

To my disappointment no passengers boarded for the run back to North Conway.

With permission of the operating crew I disembarked with Lumix in hand to expose this photo. The train’s conductor is at right logging the move in the station register.

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CSX-West Warren Waterfall.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT-1 with 27mm pancake lens. RAW file adjusted using Lightroom to create a Jpg for digital presentation. Photo at West Warren, Massachusetts along the former Boston & Albany route.

 

 Last Tuesday, June 25, 2019, I’d photographed an eastward CSX intermodal train at Palmer, Massachusetts that took the controlled siding at CP83 and then eased up to the east end of the siding at CP79.
 
I took a chance and drove expeditiously to West Warren in anticipation of a westward freight. I was rewarded for my efforts.
 
The lighting was tricky but colorful. The sunrise was heavily tempered by clouds rolling in from the west.
 
To make the most of the contrasty scene, I used a Lee graduated neutral density filter over the front of my lens to reduce exposure in the sky, and then underexposed the entire scene by about two thirds of a stop. I used the in-camera histogram to gauge my exposure by aiming to obtain minimal loss of detail in highlight and shadow areas. To the eye, my RAW files seem a little dark, but this is by intent.
 
In post processing, I lightened shadow areas while controlling highlights in an effort to replicate scene as I saw it.
 
Such are the challenges with modern photography. With black and white film, I would have exposed for the shadows and printed for the highlights, but that technique won’t work with digital photography. Where black & white film could hold great detail in dense highlights, but suffered from thin and detail-less shadow regions, digital sensors have the opposite sensitivity range.
 
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Saturday June 29 is Conway Scenic 7470’s Big Day!

Last night I made this sunset view of Conway Scenic’s steam engine 7470 that was being readied for its big outing over Crawford Notch today. It departs at 9am.

The final minutes of daylight produced a cosmic drop-under sunset.

To make the most of this wonderful light, I hand-held a Lee graduated neutral density filter over my 12mm Zeiss Touit wide angle lens.

In post processing, I worked with the camera RAW files to make minor adjustments to contrast and exposure.

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CSX: Early Morning Intermodal—five views and the Spirit of Ravenna.


Tuesday Morning (June 25 2019), I made my way to Palmer, Massachusetts to see how fared the old Boston & Albany.

Not long after I arrived at the old freight house location (the building was unceremoniously demolished by Conrail 30 years ago), I heard ‘Limited Clear CP83’ on my scanner. This transmission indicated that a train was about to take the controlled siding.

Modern six-motor GEs (an Evolution and a Tier IV—standard CSX road power on the Boston Line) rolled east with a short intermodal train, probably Q012 or Q022.

The trailing locomotive was CSX’s Louisville & Nashville heritage locomotive, identified by a tiny L&N logo on the cab and ‘Spirit of Ravenna’ in script. Lucky bonus to catch that in Palmer!

I made my photos at the west end of the yard, working with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto lens and my Lumix LX7.

This was just the beginning of the morning’s photography.

Stay tuned!

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Conway Scenic 7470 Switches the Yard.

Lumix LX7 photo. Engine 7470 switches a tank car full of water at North Conway. (Note the blue placard).

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Experiencing steam in action is always a thrill.

Over the last few weeks, Conway Scenic has been working its former Grand Trunk 0-6-0 on short runs in preparation for the summer season and for its big outing over Crawford Notch to the end of the line at Hazen’s Crossing near Whitefield on June 29, 2019.

Last Saturday (June 22), I was up early to catch 7470 working the yard at North Conway. Call me a purist, but I found watching this 0-6-0 switching freight and passenger cars in preparation for its daily excursion work more enchanting than the excursions themselves.

Why?

First of all, as an 0-6-0, engine 7470 was intended for switching, so what better assignment could it have?

Secondly, the crisp morning with rich low June sun made for nearly ideal photographic conditions.

I made these digital images using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 cameras.

This week, I’ll be scoping places on the old Maine Central Mountain Division looking for the best photographic vantage points to catch 7470 on its ascent of Crawford Notch. The train is scheduled to depart North Conway at 9am.

If you are interested, tickets are still available for the trip, which includes rare mileage from Fabyans to Hazens.

Call Conway Scenic for tickets: (603) 356-5251.

Or check out their website at:

www.conwayscenic.com

Tickets for the special excursion may be booked by selecting the ‘Notch Train’ for June 29, 2019 and choosing one of several seating options.

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Steam and Semaphores at Cobh, Junction—May 2000.

Cobh Junction on 11 May 2000. Nikon N90S with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).

Nineteen Years ago, I was traveling with Denis McCabe and Tony Gray to photograph Railway Preservations Society of Ireland’s annual ‘Two Day Tour’.

We stopped along the N25 opposite the water from Cobh, Junction, Glounthaune, Cork, where I used a telephoto lens to expose this view of former Great Northern Railway (Ireland) steam locomotive 171 hauling Irish Rail Cravens carriages on a trip to Cobh.

At the time, an overcast day photo of 171 working tender first didn’t excite me much, and I left this slide with the other ‘seconds’ from that trip

However, in May of this year (2019)—almost 19 years to the day after I exposed the photo—I rediscovered this slide. It was still in the original box in which it was returned to me from the lab. Time has improved my photo and I think it’s pretty neat now.

I scanned it using an Epson V750 Pro flat bed scanner and processed the file using Lightroom.

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Mount Willard with a Commanding View of Crawford Notch!

A stream in the forest along our climb to Mount Willard.
Lumix LX7 photo.

The view of Crawford Notch from Mount Willard. Highway 302 can be seen at the center of the image, Conway Scenic’s former Maine Central Mountain Division is at right. Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 view of Crawford Notch from Mount Willard with Conway Scenic’s Notch Train ascending at lower right.
This is a FujiFilm XT1 photo with 90mm telephoto lens. Notice the tiny train on the line deep in the valley below. I made several more photos, which I’m saving for special purposes!

I’d spied some rocks high on Mount Willard above the old Maine Central trestle at Willey Brook.

Conway Scenic’s Lisa King offered to bring me on a hike to those rocks for a commanding view of New Hampshire’s famous Crawford Notch.

“We’ll start at Crawfords Station. It takes about an hour!”

So last Saturday, we departed North Conway about an hour ahead of the Notch Train, and drove to Crawfords, where I was surprised to find about 100 cars parked along the road.

I was astounded to ‘discover’ that one of New Hampshire’s most impressive views attracts hundreds of hikers on bright warm weekend mornings!

We walked up through the forests, fording streams, avoiding bugs, dodging potential encounters with bears (we didn’t see any, but I’ll bet some saw us, since, earlier in the week, I’d spotted a bear cub on the line).

At the top, Lisa brought me a great view looking down the valley, and down onto the famous Willey Brook bridge.

I’m saving the bridge photos for a rainy day.

Next Saturday, June 29, 2019, Conway Scenic has scheduled a special Notch Train to be led by its steam locomotive 7470. This will depart Conway at 9am and run over the Notch and beyond to Hazen’s Crossing near the White Mountains Regional Airport for an event called Trains, Planes and Automobiles.

(I’m told tickets are still available, but get yours soon!)

Call: 603-356-5251 or check Conway Scenic’s website:

https://www.conwayscenic.com/notch-train/

Look under ‘Notch Train’ and click on June 29.

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Conway Scenic Video to Promote Rare Mileage Trip on June 29, 2019.

Earlier this week, Dave Swirk, president and general manager of the Conway Scenic Railroad, enlisted my skills to help promote the railroad’s June 29, 2019 special steam trip over Crawford Notch to the Trains, Planes & Automobiles event near Whitefield, New Hampshire.

Dave explained how this excursion is a rare opportunity to see Conway’s only operating steam locomotive reach Crawford Notch—which is beyond its typical operating territory— but also offers the opportunity to travel all the way to Hazen’s Crossing at the western limit of Conway Scenic’s operation of the former Maine Central Mountain Division. The Airshow / Carshow is an extra bonus!

Using my FujiFilm XT1 camera with 12mm Zeiss Touit, I recorded Dave speaking about the railroad’s steam locomotive 7470 that was recently restored to operations and its role in the special June 29th trip.

I edited the video output from the camera using Apple software on my Macbook.

This event is a big deal for Conway Scenic. It has been nearly five years since 7470 regularly worked Conway Scenic’s  excursions, so this trip represents an exciting opportunity and there’s no one better than Dave himself to capture the enthusiasm for this special event. 

Locomotive 7470 is a heavy 0-6-0 built in 1921 by the Grand Trunk for service in Canada. It is significant as the first locomotive to provide service on the Conway Scenic and of great personal significance for Dave.

On June 29th, the special Notch Train will depart North Conway behind steam at 9am.

To book tickets for this event call: 603-356-5251.

See: https://www.conwayscenic.com/notch-train/

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Check out the video on Facebook:

Lower Quadrant at Dusk

Working with my Lumix LX7, I made this view of Conway Scenic’s lower quadrant semaphore in the fading light of evening.

This is an example of a Union Switch & Signal Style-B mechanism powering twin lower quadrant blades was an early type of signal used in automatic block service and once common on Boston & Maine and Maine Central lines in New England.

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New Haven Railroad Geometry at Port Chester, New York.

Exposed with a Rolleiflex Model T set up with a ‘super-slide’ 645-size insert; Verichrome Pan black & white film. Image scanned in May 2019 using an Epson V750 scanner.
Reformatted version of the same image at top. Some viewers indicated they were unable to see the image in the original format. Both should appear the same.

August 1987; with Rolleiflex in hand, I spent an evening at Port Chester, New York along the former New Haven Railroad four-track electrified main line.

Port Chester offered several attractions. The nearly north-south alignment of the track made it a great place to catch eastward trains in the evening light.

Metro-North was operating a variety of trains using its venerable FL9s (dual-mode diesel-electric/third-rail electrics), and these tended to face outbound (east) in the evening.

It was along the portion of the line still equipped with New Haven’s distinctive triangular catenary.

Although I focused my efforts on the FL9 powered trains, I also photographed Metro-North’s more common multiple units.

Among the images I made was this high-structured composition that frames a Grand Central bound multiple unit in the structure of the catenary and its supports. There’s a lot of angles here!

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Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited in the 1980s.

Amtrak 448 approaching milepost 84 in Monson, Massachusetts. March 1986.

On March 16, 1986, I hiked west of milepost 84 on Conrail’s Boston & Albany route to photograph Amtrak train 448, the eastward Lake Shore Limited(Boston section).

This was just a few months before Conrail single tracked the line between Springfield and Palmer, Massachusetts.

I was keen to document the Boston & Albany’s line that passed through the northern reaches of my home town, Monson, Massachusetts, in the railroad’s traditional directional double track configuration.

This lone image is part of my much more extensive project to document the Boston & Albany route on film.

I exposed the photo on 120 roll film using my father’s Rollei Model T. In May 2019, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner. For presentation here, I adjusted contrast and exposure using Lightroom.

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First Trains of the Season at Crawford Notch.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 12mm lens, file adjusted for contrast using Lightroom.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 90mm lens, file adjusted for contrast using Lightroom.

Monday June 10, 2019, Conway Scenic Railroad operated an employee-special to Crawford Notch in preparation for commencement of its regularly schedule excursions, which began the following day.

Trains to Crawfords station from North Conway, New Hampshire operate on supremely scenic and steeply graded former Maine Central Mountain Division.

Last used for regularly scheduled freight in 1983, this route has been a highlight of Conway Scenic’s excursion program since the mid-1990s.

I made these views at Crawfords station of Monday’s excursion using my FujiFilm XT1. Compare the relative perspective offered by a wide-angle versus that with a medium telephoto from a distance.

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Conway Scenic’s Notch Train—low and wide.

The other evening I made this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Notch Train at North Conway, New Hampshire.

I wanted to make the most of the low sun, while featuring the railroad’s former Maine Central GP38 and the lower quadrant semaphore at the south-end of the yard.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with my super wide angle (12mm) Zeiss Touit, I used the camera’s adjustable rear display to compose my image while holding it at arm’s length close to the ground.

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Quiet Evening on The Mountain

At the end of May 2019, I paused briefly at Crawford Notch, New Hampshire to expose some photos in the evening light of the former Portland & Ogdensburg (Maine Central) Crawfords station.

This classic resort station is now seasonally served by Conway Scenic Railroad, and that season is about to begin!

Stay tuned!

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Conway Scenic 7470 Awakes From Hibernation.

On June 1, 2019, after several years of slumber, Conway Scenic Railroad’s 0-6-0 7470 made its first steps, moving under its own power around the railroad’s North Conway , New Hampshire yard.

The sights and sounds of this former Grand Trunk 0-6-0 have delighted visitors and residents of North Conway since the early 1970s, so having the locomotive back under steam represents a milestone event for the railroad’s 2019 operating season.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Among the challenges of photographing excursion railroads is working with high-summer light. Operations favor the schedules of the majority of the visiting public, and during summer often this tends coincide with the dreaded midday sun.

Black steam locomotives make for an extra challenge as the drivers and other reciprocating gear tend to be masked by the inky shadows of the highlight.

In this circumstance high-thin clouds diffused high-sun and resulted in better contrast than on a completely clear day. Working with my RAW files in Lightroom I made further adjustments to shadow areas in order to make my images more appealing.

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Near the End of the Line.

Last week, I made these photos of disused former Boston & Maine tracks north of Littleton, New Hampshire.

This had been B&M’s line that ran from Wells River, Vermont via Bath and Littleton to Whitefield, New Hampshire.

The section from Littleton to Woodsville and Wells River had been abandoned and lifted in 1996.

Abandoned railways make for forlorn photographs, that are sad yet compelling.

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Rails Along the Old Connecticut River.

North from White River Junction the former Boston & Maine line runs toward Wells River and Newport, Vermont.

It’s been nearly a century since B&M conveyed the line north of Wells River to Canadian Pacific, but I’m old enough to remember B&M operations White River to Wells River, although I don’t have many photos to show for it.

Last week I followed Vermont Rail System’s freight operating northward from White River Junction. Unfortunately for photos, many of my preferred locations were suffering from excessive vegetation.

Here’s a few photos exposed digitally. More to come.

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New England Central 437 Works White River Junction.

Last week, I made these photographs of New England Central 437 and Buffalo & Pittsburgh 3000 working a local freight at White River Junction, Vermont.

Old 437 wears some tired looking Florida East Coast paint, revealing its former owner.

This local made numerous passes of the old station, making for ample photographic opportunities.

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Bellows Falls ‘Dusty Diamond’ Found!

Several days ago, I posted a view of a dusty diamond in the Bellows Falls, Vermont yard that I exposed way back in 1978. Tracking the Light readers wrote in and wondered if this disused section of track survived, and one suggested that it did still exist.

So, the other day, I stopped over in Bellows Falls while driving northward and searched for the old diamond at the southeast area of Vermont Railway’s former B&M/Rutland yard.

I’ll admit that I drove over the section of  track in question before I finally spotted it, well buried in dirt and partially covered by a puddle.

Making matters difficult, was that in my youthful focus on the diamond, I completely cropped the building next to it, which if I had included in my earlier photo, would have made finding the location easier.

Below are several comparison views plus a scan from the original slide.

Site of the ”dusty diamond’ in May 2019. This is as close of an angle as could manage and is nearly a direct comparison. Keep in mind the 1978 view was made in late autumn and in the afternoon, while the above photo was exposed on an overcast morning.
1978 view at Bellows Falls.
Close-up view of the diamond, which has been nearly absorbed by the road since my 1978 photograph.

An overall view showing the factory building at left. Apparently this factory didn’t impress me at age 12, and I completely omitted it from my 1978 view. It would have made a good reference point had I included it.

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Conrail Classic: Caboose Rolls West.

Check out my selection of Conrail photos on Flicker at:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/163833022@N05/n8ua9g

Conrail westward freight passing the old Boston & Albany station at Warren, Massachusetts. Notice the old freight house at the left. Today there’s a lot more vegetation around the railroad than back in 1984.

On April 18, 1984, I was photographing Conrail’s Boston & Albany at Warren, Massachusetts, an activity that undoubtedly coincided to a visit with my friend Bob Buck at Tucker’s Hobbies.

Early in the afternoon, I caught a westward train with three (then new) SD50s rolling by the old Boston & Albany Warren station.

This was in double-track days, when Conrail still operated train in the current of traffic in accordance with rule 251 and the long established automatic block signals that protected movements on the line.

Cabooses were still the norm on through freights, but not for much longer. Within a few months caboose-less freights would become standard practice on the B&A route and across the Conrail system.

I made this view on Kodak 5060 safety film (Panatomic-X) using my 1930s-era Leica 3A with 50mm f2.0 Summitar lens. I processed the film in the kitchen sink using Kodak Microdol-X and then made the unfortunate choice of storing the negatives in a common paper envelope, which is where they remained until last week.

Panatomic-X. Now if there was one great black & white film, that was it. Slow as molasses, but really great film. It was rated at 32 ISO (or ASA as it was called in those days) and tended to result in some thin negatives, but it gave great tonality, fine grain, and scans very well.

I’m glad I have these negatives, ignored and stored inappropriately for all these years. If only there was still a Conrail, cabooses on the roll, and Bob Buck at Tucker’s Hobbies to tell you all about it!

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Check out my selection of Conrail photos on Flicker at:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/163833022@N05/n8ua9g

CSX Q263 at Palmer, Massachusetts.

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I have a zillion photographs in Palmer, Massachusetts.

‘Zillion’ inferring an undetermined non-specific large quantity.

So why chase CSX’s Q263 down the Valley?

Silly question!

We arrived at the site of the old Boston & Albany freight house at the west end of Palmer yard just in time to catch Q263 (empty autorack train from East Brookfield) passing Mass-Central’s local freight.

I made these views with my Lumix LX7.

Memory Card Full! (Read On)

Those dreaded red letters in my view finder!

So, there we were, poised and waiting . . . .

Mike Gardner and I had photographed CSX’s loaded autorack train Q264-21 (as featured with ‘DPU’ the other day on Tracking the Light) and were waiting for the crew to take the empty autorack Q263-23 west.

For more than an hour we waited at milepost 67 in Brookfield, Massachusetts.

As recommended, I made several test shots with my Fujifilm XT1 as the lighting conditions changed.

Test shot.

Then finally Mike announced ‘HEADLIGHT!’

I exposed a test burst of photos CSX Q263-3 in the distance and then . . .

OH NO!

[insert expletive here]

With a 32GB card, I can store hundreds of images. So many that I forget to even check how many I have left. And so at this critical moment, I’m left pixel-less.

The last frames in a burst of three . . . Had I only checked to see how many frames were left. You know I had a spare card (several) in my camera bag. Poor show, Brian.

Well, thankfully I had my Lumix LX7 around my neck and so managed a close-up photograph anyway. But there’s a lesson for you in this story. And for me too!

Lumix LX7 photo. The irony in this lesson is that I think I made a better photo with the Lumix.

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A Lousy Slide from a Hazy Day at Enola.

Kodachrome 64 color slide exposed in 1981 scanned and adjusted in 2019.


In August 1981, my family and I set off to Pennsylvania in our 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.

Among our holiday adventures was arriving at Enola on a sweltering hot afternoon.

The consensus was to find a place to stay. I wanted to see the famous railroad yard. The solution proved to be a motel called the ‘Summerdale Junction Inn’ (or something like that) which overlooked Conrail’s sprawling former Pennsylvania Railroad yards.

We requested a room trackside.

While the rest of the family relaxed by the pool, I attempted to make photos from the motel window using my father’s Leica M3 fitted to a Visoflex with 200mm Telyt.

At the time I was delighted to see so many locomotives, including a great many former PRR E44 electrics which had been recently stored owning to Conrail’s decision to discontinue its electric freight operations (long complicated story that will be addressed in my upcoming Conrail book).

This isn’t a great photo. There’s too many wires, too many bushes and the hazy light was less than ideal.

Glad I have it though. I may consider it for the book. Unless youhave a better view of all the stored electrics!

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Diamond in the Dust.


Here’s another photo from the darkest depths of my archives, hidden away for decades and scanned on Monday.

From a technical standpoint it is not a great photo. It was never meant to be.

I exposed this view in 1978. I was aged 12 and the diamond on a curved section of track caught my interest so I photographed what I saw. The making of this image is not more complicated than that.

As I remember it: this view shows some disused industrial/yard trackage on the periphery of the former Boston & Maine/Rutland yard in Bellows Falls, Vermont. I exposed the photo on trip to visit Steamtown and Bellows Falls with my family. I seem to remember insisting that my parents stop the car so I could make the picture.

I’m happy that I had the foresight to expose this photo, but I wish that I could have documented this odd scrap of track in a more effective way. Yet that’s a lot to ask of a 12 year old with a camera!

Not every photo wins a prize, but some age better than others!

Exposed on Kodak Ektachrome 200 using a Leica 3A with an f2.0 50mm Summitar lens.

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Meet at the Diamond!

Conrail’s SBSE (South Braintree to Selkirk) works west as Central Vermont local 561 waits to cross the Palmer diamond on the morning of June 25, 1985. This was 13 months before Conrail single-tracked its former Boston & Albany between Palmer and Springfield.

Or should I say ‘A diamond meet’? This slide sat for more than 33 years in a box.

At the time of exposure it didn’t seem remarkable; just a back lit view of Conrail B23-7s and Central Vermont Railway GP9s at the Palmer, Massachusetts diamond.

This was a common every day occurrence and the locomotives were among the most frequently seen in the Palmer area in 1985.

I didn’t have the best lens and my exposures were lacking refinement.

Conrail’s SBSE (South Braintree to Selkirk) works west as Central Vermont local 561 waits to cross the Palmer diamond on the morning of June 25, 1985. This was 13 months before Conrail single-tracked its former Boston & Albany between Palmer and Springfield.

Adjusted version of the above scan; color and contrast corrected for internet viewing.

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