Tag Archives: #Boston & Maine

F from an F

Yesterday, Saturday October 23, 2021, Conway Scenic Railroad hosted 470 Club’s annual autumn trip.

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.

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Rare Move on Willey Brook Bridge.

Yesterday (October 8, 2021), the 470 Club collected its latest acquisition from the New Hampshire Central interchange at Hazens in Whitefield, NH.

The 470 Club had taken possesion of Boston & Maine GP9 1741 (later Springfield Terminal 72). This was collected by the club’s 4266, an active former B&M F7A, which towed the GP9 east.

On its journey to North Conway, New Hampshire, this short train crossed the famous Willey Brook bridge at Crawford Notch at about a quarter to two eastern time

I made this photo for the Conway Scenic Railroad using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera from a vantage point on some rocks high above the bridge.

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Slug Set at Rices—February 1985.

In February 1985, my old pal TSH and I made a big adventure of chasing Guilford’s GP40-2 slug set (300-100-301) that was leading a westward empty coal train.

We picked this train up at East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) and followed it west toward the Hoosac Tunnel.

TSH drove, I navigated and when we stopped line side, I made black & white photos using my Leica IIIA loaded with Ilford FP4 that I’d bulk loaded into reusable cassettes from a 100ft roll.

I exposed this view at the Rices interlocking along the Deerfield River near Charlemont, Massachusetts.

Today, this scene is very much overgrown, and the interlocking is long gone. For me the photo invokes the thrill of the chase on a cool stretch of the old Boston & Maine.

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EDRJ at Zoar—Rangefinder Slide

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.

February 13, 2005.

A few days ago, I’d posted a view of this same train on its approach to the East Portal. See:

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/08/29/same-bridge-different-day/

Lately, I’ve been scanning my older slides. This is stored in a metal Logan box along with 500-600 select Guilford Rail System/Pan Am Railways photos exposed between 1998 and 2018.

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Misty Morning at East Portal

October 1, 2004: in time-honored fashion, I followed a westward Guilford Rail System freight from the yard at East Deerfield to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.

The river valleys were filled with autumn mist. I arrived at the grade crossing near the tunnel portal several minutes ahead of the freight (symbol WARJ).

As the roar of the EMD diesels grew closer, morning sun began to clear the mist making for cosmic lighting effects.

I exposed a series of Fujichrome slides using a Nikon F3 fitted with f2.8 180mm lens. I calculated my exposure manually using a Minolta Mark4 light meter, as I typically did with the F3.

I scanned these slides last night using an Epson V600 scanner with Epson Scan 2 software.

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Pssst! Wanna buy a Railroad Station?

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).

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Boston & Maine Station at Laconia, NH

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.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

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Woodsville—Classic Chrome

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.

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Clear Day at Moat Brook

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.

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NHV on LPP—October 1993.

During the summer of 1993, Kodak had introduced a new flavor of Ektachrome slide film with a rating of 100 ISO and a warm color balance.

I bought a few rolls for use imaging trains with New England autumn foliage.

On October 6th of that year I drove to Groveton, NH to intercept the NHV local that worked the old Boston & Maine line toward Whitefield.

It was raining and dark when I pictured the train ambling along a few miles south of Groveton.

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Farleys Revisited.

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.

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Pan Am Southern and Searchlights

On Saturday afternoon, a Pan Am Southern freight departed East Deerfield yard eastbound for Ayer, Massachusetts.

Kris Sabbatino and I drove to Lake Pleasant crossing in Montague to intercept the train.

I opted for an unorthodox framing to feature the General Railway Signal searchlight signals that survive at this location.

Once standard on the Boston & Maine, these now antique signals are become increasingly rare and well-worthy of photographing.

Images exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Below the cab, NS has stenciled ‘ACSES PTC’ to indicated the types of advanced signaling that this locomotive is equipped to work with. Installation of these modern signaling systems have largely coincided with the replacement of legacy signaling, including traditional searchlights such as those pictured here.

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Maplewood—Second Visit

Last Autumn Kris Sabbatino and I paid a visit to old Boston & Maine Maplewood Station near Bethlehem, New Hampshire.

This old railway station has been abandoned for nearly a century.

Last weekend we paid a brief second visit to make photos in the stark wintery landscape.

Below are three versions of a RAW (NEF) file exposed using my Nikon Z6.

JPG scaled from unadjusted NEF file. In other words, there were no corrections to the appearance of the image.
Adjusted JPG; color temperature warmed; contrast reduced, shadows lightened, highlights darkened.
Scaled adjusted JPG; color temperature cooled, contrast increased, highlights darkened, shadows darkened.

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East Deerfield—Nice Light, No Trains.

Sunday, January 24, 2021, on the drive back to the White Mountains, we diverted to the old Boston & Maine yard at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

It was my most recent visit to this hallowed ground of New England railroading, a place where I’ve photographed countless hundreds of trains over the last four decades.

It was Kris Sabbatino’s first visit.

Winter evening light made for some wonderful photographs.

These images were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens using the Velvia color profile. Other than scaling for internet presentation, I made no alternations to the camera Jpgs.

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Then & When: Rices 15 Years Apart.

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.

Exposed on Kodachrome 64 using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar in May 1982.
Kodachrome 25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an 80-200mm Nikkor Zoom lens. April 2, 1997.

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Steam Over the Saco.

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?

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Boston & Maine’s Slug Set on the West End.

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.

Buckland, Massachusetts, June 29, 1986.
Rices, near Charlemont.
Rices, near Charlemont, Massachusetts.

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.’

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Old View of Old East Deerfield Railfan’s Bridge.

On the morning of June 29, 1985, I exposed this black & white photo of the McClelland Farm Road bridge over Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard.

This is the famed ‘Railfan’s Bridge’, which was then a very popular place to make photos and watch trains.

Over the years on Tracking the Light I’ve featured many views of this bridge and its replacement being built.

Exposed using a Rolleiflex Model T with 75mm f3.5 Zeiss Tessar on Kodak Professional 120 Tri-X (rated at ISO 320) using a 645-sized ‘super slide insert’.

I processed the film in Kodak D76, and yesterday I scanned the now 34 year old negative using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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November Sun—Boston & Maine 4268.

Low, clear November sun presents great light for color railroad photographs.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I made these photos yesterday (November 29, 2020) of Boston & Maine F7A 4268 that is under restoration at North Conway by members of the 470 Club.

I exposed a few using my 12mm Zeiss Touit, and others with my Fujinon f2.0 90mm (prime telephoto.) All are in-camera JPGs with the Velvia color profile (scaled and watermarked for internet).

12mm Zeiss Touit.
12mm Zeiss Touit.
12mm Zeiss Touit.
12mm Zeiss Touit.
90mm telephoto
90mm telephoto

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Something Spooky for Halloween!

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.

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Wednesday Work Extra

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.

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Conway Scenic Conway Way Freight—11 images.

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.

I’m presently assessing lens/camera replacement alternatives.

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Pup WOrks Holyoke—1985

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, Massachusetts in August 1985.

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.

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East Deerfield Yard, September 30, 1984—Two photos.

I took a break from classes at Hampshire College and ventured to Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) with some friends for a day of photography.

Among the many trains we saw that day was B&M’s EDSP (East Deerfield to Springfield) through freight that operated with a GP18/GP9/GP7 locomotive combination.

At the time this was a refreshing throwback, as more modern and often mixed lash-ups of B&M, Maine Central and Delaware & Hudson locomotives tended to predominate on the east-west Fitchburg route via the Hoosac Tunnel.

I was especially keen to picture GP7 1566, which was among the last to retain its vertical white nose stripe and harked back to an earlier era.

Photos were exposed on Kodak black & white film using my Leica 3A.

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Boston & Maine Silhouette.

June 15, 1985 was a memorable day.

It dawned clear and bright.

On the advice of Ed Beaudette My pal TSH and I started the day at White River Junction, Vermont, where we spent several hours photographing the parade of trains.

By midday, Boston & Maine’s CPED was headed south toward East Deerfield, Massachusetts and we followed it to make photos.

The sights and sounds of four Boston & Maine GP9s working in multiple will always stick with me.

At the time we weren’t well versed with the lay of the land, and did our best to follow the Connecticut River line with little more than a basic map.

At Claremont, New Hampshire we stumbled upon the famous high bridge, just moments before the southward CPED rolled across.

Working with my father’s Rollei Model T loaded with 120-size Kodak Verichrome Pan roll film, I exposed a single frame of the freight in silhouette crossing the bridge.

I processed this in Kodak D76. My processing skills were only slightly better than my ability to find locations on the fly. In retrospect, I should have used a different developer, or at least used a more dilute solution, because my resulting negative was over developed and lacking in broad tonality.

In later years, I refined my photographic skill, however I can’t go back to catch four B&M GP9s on the bridge, so I have to work with the existing negative.

For presentation here: after scanning the original negative, I imported the hi-res scan into Lightroom, where I implemented a variety of contrast and exposure adjustments to make for a more visually pleasing image and then outputted a scaled lo-res scan for internet presentation here.

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Charlemont in the Snow!

Guilford GP40 353 was leading an eastward at Charlemont, Massachusetts in this December 2000 photograph.

I exposed this image on Fujichrome using a Nikon with 180mm Nikkor prime telephoto.

Diffused winter sun made for soft colors.

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Boston & Maine Station—Morning and Evening

This is my office.

On April 15, 2020, I made photos as I arrived and as I departed to show the light at the respective times of day.

In my recent article on the Conway Scenic Railroad in May 2020 TRAINS Magazine, I discussed the railroad’s North Conway station in detail, but didn’t picture the iconic structure.

This will be rectified in an upcoming issue, but I thought I’d present these recent photos on Tracking the Light.

I’ve always focused on my immediate surroundings, photographing the ordinary, the common as well as the unusual and the extraordinary.

Over time, the common scenes often have the best staying power.

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Frosty Dawn

Last week the lights were lit on Gertrude Emma—Conway Scenic Railroad’s 1898-built Pullman open-end observation car—when I made this early morning view at the North Conway station.

Exposed using a Lumix LX7 mounted on a Bogen tripod.

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