Tag Archives: #Central Railroad of New Jersey

CNJ 113 Santa Special at Becks

Central Railroad of New Jersey 0-6-0 113 is one of those ‘Brigadoon’ steam locomotives.

In case you haven’t seen it, ‘Brigadoon’ was a 1940s musical, later a popular film, about a mythical Scottish village that only appears once every hundred years. When I was in high-school, the local summer theatre group performed this production; I played trombone in the pitband.

I use the term ‘Brigadoon’ as an allusion to a tourist railroad (or locomotive) that makes infrequent or rare appearances. In the case of 113, this a locomotive that only makes a few trips a year, which makes it a special treat to see in action.

A couple weeks back, Kris and I made the effort to visit Minersville, Pa., to see the engine, then set up on the old Mine Hill & Schuylkill Railroad route to photograph it in action.

The Mine Hill route was part of my vision for the Wee Reading Company HO-scale railroad that I’d built when we lived in New Hampshire, which made it a special place to see this steam locomotive in action.

In 2014 and 2015, I’d traveled with photographer Pat Yough to catch 113 on this route, and the photos I’d made on those trips were part of the inspiration to make this line the heart of my model railroad.

In this respect, I’d come full circle.

The location we selected was at Becks, west of West Cressona Yard. This offered a relatively open place with good sunlight.

While trying to pick the best place to photograph, I started a conversation with an elderly woman with a house over-looking the line. She told me that she’d grown up to the sounds of idling locomotives at the St Clair roundhouse near Pottsville. “My great grand father had worked for the Reading. He had two train wrecks on a very steep part of the line and told me about many years later.”

I asked if it was ok to stand in her yard to make my photos, and she thought it would be fine. This gave me a better trailing view to picture the steam locomotive at the back of the Santa Special.

I made these views of the passing train using my Nikon Z7-II digital camera. While I was waiting for the train to pass, Pat Yough called to say that Reading & Northern 2003 (the elusive SD38 discussed in previous episodes of Tracking the Light) was in the yard at West Cressona! Stay tuned for more!

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Reading & Northern SW1500

I walked the trail along the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe on frosty morning last week. This trail runs parallel to Reading & Northern’s former Central Railroad of New Jersey yard.

The yard was once a sprawling sea of track largely used to marshall coal cars moving to and from area mines.

Today, the remains of the yard is primarily a base of operations for R&N’s Lehigh Scenic Gorge Railway.

At the northend of the yard, I spied this R&N SW1500, which made for an interesting subject against the autumn leaves on the hillside. I made these images with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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