Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts on the day after Thanksgiving was a bit light on birds. Kris and I had come to see the Polar Express (published previously on Tracking the Light). However, Mass-Coastal’s empty energy train was also on its way.
I made these photos of the short freight as it rolled toward the famous Cape Cod Canal bridge.
We thought it was neat that we caught several moves through this scenic area in just under an hour. What better place to catch Mass Coastal then in this coastal Massachusetts location?
A clear blue dome at Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts made for picture-perfect conditions.
Cape Cod Central’s Polar Express consist was led by a vintage New Haven Railroad FL9, while at the back of the train was a sister FL9 and an even rarer GP59.
The FL9 was created by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division for New Haven in the 1950s to allow passenger trains to run directly from Boston to New York City’s electrified terminals without a need for a locomotive change. Just sixty of this model were built between 1956 and 1960.
Where the FL9s have been widely photographed, EMD’s model GP59 has gone comparatively unnoticed. This is a much rarer locomotive, with just 36 built. For decades these worked for Norfolk Southern in relative obscurity.
One of these unusual locomotives was acquired by Mass-Coastal earlier this year. Finding a GP59 in passenger service is very rare and I was delighted to see this cranberry colored machine in action!
In addition to these digital photos, I also made a few color slides on Fujichrome Provia 100F. Those images remain latent on the roll of film in my Nikon F3.
Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts is effectively the gateway to railways on Cape Cod. The immense railroad lift bridge over the Cape Cod Canal was the largest of its kind when completed in 1935.
This impressive lifting through truss is normally left in the ‘open’ position to allow the passage of water traffic. It is lowered by a bridge operator when necessary to allow a train to pass. The bridge operator is located on the bridge.
Another historic structure is the old New Haven Railroad signal tower. This cast concrete structure was built to a standard plan that was adopted at many locations on the railroad.
Interestingly, Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh also built cast concrete signal towers to this plan.
I made the following photos of these New Haven Railroad icons on our visit to Buzzards Bay in November.
Kris and I went to see the Cape Cod Central on Satuday evening. The railroad had decked out the former New Haven Railroad station and signal tower with an elaborate display of Christmas lights for their Polar Express excursions.
Working with my Nikon Z6 set at high ISO, I exposed this series of handheld night photos.
On Thursday afternoon, Kris Sabbatino and I arrived on the Bourne, Massachusetts side of the enormous Cape Cod Canal lift bridge just as the Massachusetts Coastal Energy train was approaching to cross.
Fortuitous timing considering we had left Center Conway, New Hampshire after 930am.
I exposed these photos using my Nikon Z6 digital camera and modified the color, contrast, and level using Adobe Lightroom.
The former New Haven Railroad lift bridge over the Cape Cod Canal is an imposing structure that dwarfs everything around it.
I exposed these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit flat field super-wide angle lens.
To expose the second image, I extended the XT1’s rear display angling it upward and then looked down to it while holding the camera as close to the water as I dared in order to obtain a more dramatic view.
Among the benefits of the XT1’s display system is the built-in level, which I find very helpful when trying to keep the bridge level with the water.
Using the level with the rear display makes it much easier to make these close to the water photos. Back in the old days, I just had to guess!