I thought in the heat of high summer, it might be a refreshing time to present some frosty views from last January.
Previously, I’d posted some black & white photos exposed during a lake effect snow squall at Brookfield, Wisconsin on CP Rail’s former Milwaukee Road main line that I’d made on a photographic adventure with Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt.
That same morning, I’d also worked in color using my FujiFilm XT1.
Here’s a view of a westward empty grain train passing the old Brookfield station led by brightly painted BNSF GE’s.
It’s a stark contrast from the leafy trees and high summer temperatures of today.
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.
Then finally Mike announced ‘HEADLIGHT!’
I exposed a test burst of photos CSX Q263-3 in the distance and then . . .
[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.
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!
The other evening, on my way over to visit Dennis LeBeau in East Brookfield, I checked CP64, where there’s a set of controlled signals on CSX’s Boston Line. There I found a pair of GE Evolution-Series diesel waiting with a westward empty autorack train. While the engines were shadowed, I thought if this train got the signal to go west, there would be some nice angles.
I met Dennis, and we had a few errands to run. Afterwards he suggested, ‘Ring Julie, and see how the Lake Shore is doing.’
I phoned Amtrak’s automated agent, and learned that train 448 was expected about four hours late into Springfield. Since that is about an hour to the west, it meant the train wouldn’t pass until well after dark. Besides, Dennis was playing a gig, and that was the main reason I’d come out this way.
‘No joy,’ I said. But as we returned to East Brookfield, we saw that the westward autoracks were on the move. ‘We can catch that, no problem!’ And we reversed, and sped along Route 67 out to an open location near milepost 66 in Brookfield. (I’d photographed a CSX empty ethanol train here last October. (Click to see: CSX Empty Ethanol Train Catches the Light at Brookfield.)
After a short wait, the train pulled up and then stopped. We learned that it was waiting for it conductor. This was most likely CSX’s Q283, an empty autorack train that runs from the unloading facility in East Brookfield west toward Selkirk, New York and beyond.
Once the conductor was on board, Dennis and moved west about a mile to the Route 148 Bridge near the old station location at Brookfield. I’d made several photos here last autumn, and was keen to try this spot in June, when the sun swings around. Afternoons in October are more shadowed and didn’t offer a clean view. (See: Boston & Albany Milepost 67, Brookfield, Massachusetts.)
We didn’t have to wait long, and the pair of GE’s came chugging along with about two miles of autoracks in tow. There was great evening light and it was a nice setting. Not bad for a few minutes effort. It is situations like this one that justifies always carrying a camera!
November Views of a Station; Get Your Photos Soon, Before its Too Late!
Brookfield, Massachusetts; Brookfield, Illinois, and now Brookfield, Wisconsin—Have you noticed a theme?
The former Milwaukee Road passenger station at Brookfield, Wisconsin is located between Canadian Pacific’s main tracks at the west end of a grade separation. This unusually situated station has provided a visual link to the railroad’s past for many years, and is one of the last structures of the old order along this line.
Today, Canadian Pacific’s former Milwaukee Road mainline between Chicago and the Twin Cities is largely free from historical infrastructure. The days of an agent working at Brookfield have long since passed. Neither passenger trains nor freights have stopped here in decades. Yet, as of today, the old building survives at its traditional location.
Here’s some advice: get your photos NOW. Don’t wait. Word on the street is that the station will soon be either moved or demolished.
And even if the street gossip changes its tune, the reality is that old wooden railroad stations are ephemeral structures: Never assume the old station that has always stood there, will be there the next time you return.
I made these photos last week while re-exploring southern Wisconsin with Pat Yough and Chris Guss . Back in the 1990s, I made a number of photos of this old station, but I’ve learned you can never have too many images of something (or someone) once its gone.
Might the old station be preserved? Quite possibly, but it won’t be trackside, and thus will have lost its context. This location without the station will just be another characterless wide-spot along the line. Someone might call this ‘progress’; I call it ‘change’.
On Saturday November 9, 2013, I worked with three cameras and photographed the Brookfield station from a variety of angles as the sun came in and out of the clouds. Two eastward Canadian Pacific freights passed giving me ample opportunity to put the old station in context.
Over the last few posts, I’ve alluded to this location at milepost 67. On the morning of October 26, 2013, I was up early. Before 8 am, I photographed at New England Central local at Palmer, and I suspected a CSX eastward intermodal train was getting close.
My feeling was confirmed when I heard that CSX Q012 was at CP 109 (near Westfield, Massachusetts). This was at least 40 minutes away, and I didn’t want to photograph this train at Palmer so I began driving east.
I looked a few old standby locations on my way toward Brookfield, but I was really intend on my location at milepost 67. Why?
On October 25, 2007, I’d caught CSX’s eastward autorack train (symbol Q264) at the Route 148 Bridge at milepost 67. This was a good angle and foliage was just how I like it, but the light was dull.
Move forward six years and the day was clear and bright and the rusty reddish leaves were clinging to selected trees making for a perfect autumn morning.
After a half and hour in the cold, which I used to make some test photos and vignettes of the old Boston & Albany line, I could hear the sound of General Electric diesels working eastbound. In short order the hot Q012 intermodal train came into view with relatively new Evolution-Series diesels.
I’ll tick that off in the ‘success’ category. Since the next eastward train hadn’t reached Pittsfield, I decided to get some writing done and called it a day.
Acting fast, I made the most of an extra move. Earlier in the day, I’d stopped in to Tucker’s Hobbies in Warren, Massachusetts on Friday afternoon October 25, 2013. I was there to visit with Rich Reed who was working the counter.
Back in the day, I’d made many Friday trips to Tucker’s to visit with my old friend Bob Buck, proprietor of the hobby shop (and premier Boston & Albany railroad enthusiast). It’s been a little more than two years since Bob took the final train home, but his spirit still smiles on Warren.
I inquired if Rich had seen much on the mainline (CSX’s former B&A route), which passes within sight of Tucker’s. “No, there’s been nothing except the Lake Shore (Amtrak 449 Boston to Chicago).”
These days, east of Springfield, CSX can be very quiet in daylight. There’s a couple of eastward intermodal trains destined for Worcester (symbol freights Q012 and Q022) that make it over the line in the morning, and recently I’ve occasionally seen trains running to Pan-Am Railways via Worcester and Ayer (Q426 eastbound and Q427 westbound).
Departing Warren for East Brookfield, I turned on my old scanner, just in case.
Driving east on Route 9, I’d just passed the State Police Barracks, when the radio crackled, and I heard a key snippet of information, ‘ . . . clear signal CP64, main to main westbound’ (or something along those lines).
I was just east of milepost 67, and now I knew that train was heading west across the Brookfield flats at milepost 64. But the sun was near the horizon and I had to act quickly if I hoped to make a photograph.
Initially, I thought, ‘I’ll head to the Route 148 Bridge at milepost 67’, but I quickly changed my mind because I realized that the tracks swing slightly to the north before reaching milepost 67, and at the late hour in October, the line might be shadowed. I didn’t want to risk it.
Instead, I pulled off of Route 9, near the old Clam Box road-side restaurant. Here, CSX had cleared the right of way of bushes and trees (during recent upgrading and undercutting work to improve clearances.)
Within a couple of minutes the train came into view. It was an extra westward empty Ethanol train, the first I’d seen in many months on CSX. I exposed several digital photos and made a few images with my father’s Leica M4.
It had been exactly four years to the day, since I made the photos of East Brookfield Station that appeared in my post on October 25, 2013. See: East Brookfield Station, October 25, 2009 Coincidence? Not really. I know the foliage and light angles favor the Brookfields at this time of year.
See tomorrow’s post for action shots at milepost 67.
In 1996, I was living in Waukesha, Wisconsin and working for Pentrex Publishing as the Editor of Pacific RailNews. One evening shortly before sunset, a heavy fog settled in. Twilight is my preferred time to make signaling images because lower light in the sky allows for greater emphasis of signaling aspects. Fog is an added attraction, especially for searchlight signals. This style of signal head was developed by the Hall Switch & Signal Company in the 1920s. The searchlight uses a miniature semaphore in front of a focused beam of light that allows for a very low powered lamp to be sighted at a great distance. This effect is most evident when the focused light beam illuminates water droplets comprising heavy fog.