On the theme of F-units and Budd Vista domes, I thought I’d offer these views from May 2017.
I was looking through the digital archives for a photo from May 19th, and I found that for whatever reason, I’ve rarely photographed trains on May 19th! May 18th on the other hand seems to be a be popular day in my files.
So, on May 18th, 2017, I’d followed a Pan Am Railways Office Car Special on the Connecticut River Line with Tim Doherty.
We caught this classy train at variety of interesting locations.
The two F-units, known as ‘The Sisters,’ had served Conway Scenic Railroad from the mid-1990s until about 15 years ago when they were traded to Pan Am for GP38 252 and GP35 216.
Yesterday, we paused at Plymouth, New Hampshire to document a surviving example of a Union Switch & Signal lower quadrant semaphore on the former Boston & Maine’s Boston, Concord & Montreal route.
I’m sure there is a story about how this relic from the early years of automatic block signaling has survived in place on this rarely used former B&M route.
The signal is long out of service and likely a vestige of passenger services on this once important route. Signals of this type were typically used to protect following moves. In this configuration, the signal was was designed to display three aspects for two block protection in Automatic Block Territory.
I’ve been photographing trains around Greenfield, Massachusetts for more than 40 years.
Sometimes there have been long waits. Sometimes I got lucky.
Saturday, Kris and I were driving south on I-91. I asked, “would you like to stop by East Deerfield Yard”
She said “ok!”, so we jumped off the Interstate at Route 2, and took the roundabout (traffic circle) and headed east. At that moment I saw containers rolling east on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg line.
“That’s 22K, the NS intermodal train”.
We zipped over to East Deerfield Yard—located railroad timetable east of Greenfield—where I had just enough time to make these photos using my new Nikon Z7-II.
Nothing fancy, but these are lucky shots. I was delighted!
I always like it when luck prevails!
With these ‘in the bag’, we drove to the Connecticut River bridge for more photos. Why waste a lucky day?
The other day there was nice afternoon light in the yard at North Conway, NH. The 470 Club’s famous pair of F7As were positioned on the Short Track in front of Conway Scenic’s 1874 passenger station building and the passenger consist was out on the branch which made of a nice photo opportunity.
I made this series of three-quarter roster-style views, making slight changes to my angle to alter foreground and background. Among the items I was trying to include were the station building and the flags in the distance, while also paying attention to the clouds and making slight exposure adjustments.
Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad’s Special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, brought more than 100 guests up to Crawford Notch and enabled them to make photos at various places along the line.
In my capacity as Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped to organize the trip, and traveled on the head-end to work with the crew to select photo stops and spot the train.
A secondary condition of this role was that in several intances I was able to make uncommon views of the train, often in situations I needed to climb down from the lead locomotive ahead of final positioning or during other aspects of the operation.
Among the 400 photos I exposed that day were these views of recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268. All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer over Crawford Notch, NH.
This was the first time recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268 made a trip over the Mountain Division for Conway Scenic Railroad, and the first time that Conway Scenic had the two B&M F7As working in multiple with former Maine Central GP7 573.
All three were painted in the classic EMD-designed maroon & gold scheme.
It is rare that Conway Scenic operates three diesels in multiple.
The weather cooperated nicely.
I helped organize the photo stops and run-bys and traveled on the head-end in both directions.
Conway Scenic advertises boarding times rather than departure times. This train boarded at 9am, and departed 2 minutes ahead of schedule. We performed 8 special photo stops in addition to the normal run around at Crawford Station. The train arrived back at North Conway almost an hour ahead of its target. In other words, it was an extremely successful trip.
I made more than 400 digital images and haven’t had time to look at most of them. Last night, the day had caught up with me before I could go through my images. Today Conway Scenic has another special trip.
More Boston & Maine F7A photos to come in later posts!
On November 10, 1985, I had my father’s Rollei loaded with Verichrome Pan black & white 120-size roll film.
Using the camera with the 645-size insert, I photographed Boston & Maine GP38-2 201 leading one of Maine Central’s former Rock Island U25Bs on a westward freight working the Fitchburg route at Greenfield, Massachusetts.
I scanned the negative with my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then imported the scan into Adobe Lightroom to make a series of contrast and exposure adjustments, while elimintating dusk specs to improve the negative.
I liked the stark quality of Verichrome that made it well suited to November in New England
This was led by former Maine Central GP7 573 and former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 with Conway Scenic’s GP35 216 at the back for assistance.
I assisted with planning and executing photo stops. However, I had some other work to do on the way up the mountain, so I rode in the cab of 4266 (trailing westbound).
The 470 Club had arranged to display its other F7A, 4268 on the North Conway turntable. This locomotive rarely sees the light of day. It is a treasured antique that is undergoing a full operational restoration and has spent most of the last year in stall four of the North Conway roundhouse.
As we were departing North Conway, I made this unusual view of 4268 from the cab window of 4266 using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
Working with my Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with a Zeiss 28mm Biogon, I made thisa color slide at Zoar, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg Line.
Photographer Pat Yough and I had started the day(February 13, 2005) at Guilford’s East Deerfield Yard, where at daybreak symbol freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) was being readied for its westward journey.
We followed the freight west, using the lightly traveled road to the Hoosac Tunnel to reach Zoar.
A few days ago, I’d posted a view of this same train on its approach to the East Portal. See:
Last week I learned, much to my surprise, that the old Boston & Maine station at Berlin, NH is still standing. So yesterday (31 July 2021), Kris Sabbatino and I drove to the east side of this old New Hampshire milltown to investigate.
I made these photos from the street using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
I’ve seen stations in better shape than this one. Also, it has been without regular passenger service for about 60 years. The tracks have been lifted and its a long walk from the center of town. But it has a ‘For Sale’ sign out front! (If you are interested).
A few weeks ago, Kris and I visited the former Boston & Maine station at Laconia, NH.
I’d seen a postcard view of this Romanesque classic and wondered if it still stood, so on an unrelated errand to Laconia we took the time to look for the old building, which, as it turned out, wasn’t hard to find.
A bonus was the ‘Burrito Me’ restaurant at one end! later in the day, I went in and ordered burritos for the two of us, which we consumed under the awning of the old building.
On October 8, 1992, I made this Kodachrome 25 slide of the old Boston & Maine station building at Woodsville, NH.
Although a relatively subtle quality, notice that the verticals are parallel with the sides of the photo. This was made possible by working with a Nikkor 35mm PC (Perspective Control) lens. This had an adjustible front element used to keep vertical lines from visually falling away from the film plane (when the camera was kept level).
I miss my old PC lens, which I sold in 1997.
The line in front of the Woodsville Station was lifted in the mid-1990s.
Among the most pictured locations on Conway Scenic’s former Boston & Maine Conway Branch is the wooden pile trestle at Moat Brook.
This stream is named for the Moat Mountains compass west of the railroad.
A few weeks ago during my bridge inspection with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates, I carefully studied the bridge and its environs, considering how to best find a different angle on the bridge.
It occurred to me: while the bridge is often photographed, the stream itself is not. The reason is simple: much of the year there is very little water in the stream.
Last week Thursday and Friday were very wet. But Saturday was clear and sunny.
I walked the line and secured a new vantage point compass east of the famous bridge and along the swollen stream, where I captured the returning Valley train led by GP35 216 with engineer Tom Carver at the throttle.
These photos were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens,
I posted variations of these images on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page to assist with promotion of the popular Valley train on its Conway run.
As we raced east on Rt2 in pursuit of Pan Am Southern’s ED-8, I kept my eye open for the turn that lead down to the railroad location on the old Boston & Maine known as ‘Farleys’.
I thought back to that February morning, 35 years ago, when working with my father’s Leica, I exposed the final frame on a roll of Kodachrome 64 of an eastward Boston & Maine loaded Bow coal train meeting the westward POPY (Portland to Potomac Yard) at Farleys.
While ED8 wasn’t quite as thrilling as that rolling meet, it was pretty neat to soak in the sight and sounds of this 106-car freight grinding up the grade toward Erving.
I exposed this photo using my Nikon Z6 with an aim to adjust the RAW (NEF) file to maximize the data presented so as to compensate for the excessively contrasty scene.
In scanning my vintage Kodachrome slides, I found two color views at Rices near Charlemont, Massachusetts that I exposed nearly 15 years apart.
The top view was made looking east from a Mystic Valley Railroad Society excursion to the Hoosac Tunnel in May 1982. We had just over taken a short Boston & Maine local freight heading for North Adams. Interestingly this was my first photo at Rices.
The second photo was made of an empty coal train following a late-season heavy snow in April 1997.
The book High Green and the Bark Peelers describes this then-new bridge (built c1949) which had replaced a traditional wooden covered bridge.
The other day, I walked along the banks of the Saco River in Conway, NH to make this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s 7470 on its northward run in freshly fallen snow.
The original image was exposed as NEF (Raw file) with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. I imported the file into Adobe Lightroom to make nominal adjustments to color, exposure and contrast. This allowed me to make the most of the directional winter lighting.
Although a largely monochromatic scenic, this is actually a full color photograph. Perhaps I should return one of these days with a film camera?
Much to my disappointment, When I told my non-railroad friends that ‘I caught the B&M Slug Set on the road,’ they didn’t match my enthusiasm. (1)
But on June 29, 1986, my pal TSH and I made a morning project of chasing Guilford’s AYRP (Ayer, Massachusetts to Rouses Point, New York) from East Deerfield Yard to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.
We caught this at Wisdom Way in Greenfield, then near Buckland west of Shelburne Falls, then at 10:30am, we caught up to AYRP when it was held for an eastbound at Rices interlocking near Charlemont. Here, I made several photos on Kodak 120 Professional Tri-X using my dad’s Rolleiflex Model T.
I scanned these negatives the other day. Most had never been printed.
Footnote 1. A slug set is a locomotive arrangement where by a powered diesel is coupled with a heavily weighted unpowered unit fitted with traction motors for additional tractive power. Boston & Maine built one such combination where a pair of GP40-2s powered a homemade ‘slug.’
Lost in the woods of northern New Hampshire is this relic of an era—all but lost to time.
The long-abandoned Maplewood Station served resort traffic on Boston & Maine’s Bethlehem Branch, a short railway built as narrow gauge in the late 19th century and later converted to four foot eight and a half inches.
By the 1920s, New England railroading was already in decline, and this branch was one of the earliest class I abandonments. Yet the old station building survived.
On the advice of Wayne Duffett, Kris Sabbatino and I made a foray into the forest to find this hollow spectre of railroading, languishing like a sad old ghost, and soon to crumble back into the earth.
I made these digital photos variously using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit and Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor zoom.
Last Wednesday, October 14, 2020, Conway Scenic operated a work extra to Conway to assist with preparations for the annual Pumpkin Patch event being held for the next three weekends.
The train was organized with relatively little advanced notice, and the only available locomotive was former Boston & Maine F7A 4266, owned by the 470 Club. Our other locomotives were out on passenger assignments or out of service awaiting repairs or maintenance.
Since the cab of the locomotive was facing railroad timetable west, the decision was made to use a caboose as a shoving platform and the train reversed from North Conway down the former B&M branch to Conway.
I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Fuji RAW files were converted to DNG files using Iridient X Transformer and then imported into Adobe Lightroom for final adjustment.
Last Saturday, September 5, 2020, the second of our Railfan photo freights operated from North Conway to Conway on the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch.
We stopped the freight at several locations during the journey, and made a pick up at Conway.
I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with my 18-135mm Fujinon Zoom lens. Unfortunately, upon arriving back at the North Conway yard, my lens suffered a failure with the linkage inside the lens that controls the range of view, leaving me to work with my Canon EOS 3 film camera for the remainder of the evening.
In August 1985, on a drive through Holyoke, Massachusetts on my way from collecting film from Frantek (a local photographic supplier in South Hadley), I stopped at the old Boston & Maine station, where I photographed Boston & Maine SW1 1124 working the north-end of the yard.
Holyoke was a fascinating post-industrial setting, where vast empty brick mill buildings told of time long gone.
The station hadn’t seen a passenger train in years.
Even the EMD SW1 was a relic of former times.
These diminutive switchers, rated at just 600 hp, were known as ‘Pups’.
I exposed this view using a Leica 3A fitted with a Canon f1.8 50mm lens.