January 15th and Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 4876

January 15th, a day of significance: while best known as Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, it is less well known for the anniversary of the 1953 Washington Union Terminal crash, when Pennsylvania Railroad’s Federal Express lost its brakes and GG1 Electric 4876 careened into the lobby of the terminal. This spectacular train wreck, on the eve of Eisenhower’s inauguration, made headlines in every major newspaper across the country.

That was 60 years ago today! However, thirty years ago, GG1 4876—then operated by NJ Transit, was still in daily service. It routinely worked between Penn Station and South Amboy on New York & Long Branch trains.  I intercepted this infamous electric on various occasions in its final years of service. I’d hoped to make a photo on the anniversary of its infamy. And I went so far as to write NJ Transit to find out which trains it would be working, to which they kindly replied in detail. However a snowstorm on eve of 4876’s 30th anniversary precluded my travel, so my intended images from that day never happened. What I’ve posted here are few of my black & white images scanned from 1980s-era prints. They were exposed with my battle-worn Leica IIIA from my High School days. I processed the film in the kitchen sink using a weak mix of Kodak Microdol-X.

Pennsylvania Railroad GG1
GG1 4876 at Sunnyside Yard, Queens, New York in April 1979. Leica IIIA w 90mm f2.8 Elmar fitted with Leica Visoflex.


New Jersey DOT GG1 4876 at Rahway Junction in 1982. Leica IIIA w 50mm f2.0 Summitar.
New Jersey DOT GG1 4876 at Rahway Junction in 1982. Leica IIIA w 50mm f2.0 Summitar.
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One comment on “January 15th and Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 4876

  1. Sean Solomon on said:

    I remember seeing 4876 in sunnyside yard on that April Day. I think i have pictures too, color, kodachrome 64 possibly, in the attic, somewhere in the attic…..

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