May 24, 2015, fellow photographer Tim Doherty and I aimed to intercept Amtrak 57, the southward Vermonter at Bellows Falls. Vermont. (Is there another?).
It’d been a few years since I last visited this classic railroad junction. My first visits were back in the late 1960s early 1970s, when my family would come up to experience the old Steamtown.
I was impressed to find the old three-head searchlight signal still in operation by the station. These relics are disappearing fast. I feature the searchlight among other vintage signal hardware in my new book Classic Railroad Signals now available from Voyageur Press.
It was the morning of August 28, 2010. My father and I had arrived at Bellows Falls, on our way to St. Albans. It was quiet and nothing was moving on any of the three freight railroads that serve the town.
East of the passenger station there were a few old Budd RDCs stored on former Rutland Railroad sidings. I took a few minutes to made some photos with my Lumix LX3. My father has some nice Kodachrome slides of Boston & Maine and New York Central cars working in the 1960s. I remember riding them out of Boston in the 1970s.
One of the benefits of Budd’s Shotwelded stainless steel construction is that the cars won’t rust. Yet, the overgrowth makes for some interesting studies in decay. The cars still reflected the light nicely.
More than 30 years earlier we’d explored these same sidings. Back then there were decayed vestiges of wooden sided boxcars around the place, and considerably few trees.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
My father taught me to make railway scenes, and not merely images of equipment. I did just that on this cold, wet, rainy day, when I photographed Maine Central Alco RS-11 crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire.
I’d traveled with Paul Goewey to Bellows Falls on the morning of November 25, 1983, specifically to photograph this locomotive. For reasons I can’t recall (if I ever knew), Green Mountain had borrowed Maine Central 802 to work its daily freight XR-1, that ran to Rutland over the former Rutland Railroad.
Despite the gloomy conditions this was something of an event, and I recall that several photographers had convened at Bellows Falls to document 802’s travels.
Green Mountain’s roundhouse is in North Walpole, just across the Connecticut River from Bellows Falls, and I made this image from the east bank as the engine switched cars.
With this image I was trying to convey that this locomotive was in an unusual place by putting it in a distinctive scene.
Once XR-1 was underway, Paul and I followed it toward Rutland. The weather deteriorated and rain turned to snow. By the time we reached Ludlow, the snow had become heavy; we were cold, wet, and tired, having been up since 4:30 am, and so ended the day’s photography.
Twilight, apparently, may strictly defined by the specific position of the sun below the horizon.
‘Civil Twilight’ as defined by the National Weather Service, is ‘the time at which the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon.’ Key to this period is that ‘there is enough light for objects to be clear distinguishable.”
I’ve always used the term in a more general sense to indicate the time of day when there’s a glow in the sky (before sunrise or after sunset). I suppose, the more appropriate title for these evening photographs would ‘Dusk at Bellows Falls.’
Anyway, it was the end of day’s photography in October 2004, when Tim Doherty and I visited Bellows Falls to witness the arrival of Guilford Rail System’s WJED (White River Junction-East Deerfield) freight.
This train worked interchange from Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain Railroad and I made a series of atmospheric images at the passenger station. In the lead was a former Norfolk Southern high-hood GP35, a rare-bird indeed.
Bellows Falls is one of my favorite places to make railway images. I’ve been visiting as long as I can remember. My family had been taking day trips to Bellows Falls, and some of my earliest memories are of the tracks here. But, I’ve rarely made photos here at this time of day.
Twilight? Dusk? Evening? How about: dark enough to warrant a tripod, but light enough to retain color in the sky?