Tag Archives: #Central Vermont Railway

Central Vermont Feature

Yesterday, my author’s copies of NRHS Bulletin Vol 83, No. 4 arrived with my feature story, ‘Growing Up with Central Vermont’.

This personal story of my experiences with the old CV includes a variety of my photos of the railroad exposed between 1977 and 1993.

The opening spread is a photo, previously unpublished, of train 444 crossing the Palmer diamond in September 1977, which I exposed using my father’s Leica IIIC.

An unexpected surprise was the cover story of the magazine, which is a detailed article on Metro North by my old friend (and Tracking the Light reader) Walter E. Zullig Jr!

CV_Ry_447_Vernon_Vt_May14_1986_Fuji50 with Leica.

Although a nice photo, the above view of Central Vermont’s northward road freight at Vernon, Vermont, did not make my final cut for photos submitted to the NRHS Bulletin.

Special thanks to Bulletin Staff Editor Jeff Smith for bringing my article to print.

The NRHS Bulletin’s email is: bulletin@nrhs.com

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Central Vermont 444 at Palmer

Back in the mid-1980s, I’d often catch Central Vemont’s southward road freight arriving at Palmer, Massachusetts. This would operate overnight from St. Albans, and typically arrive in the morning.

On this occasion, 444 was lead by a colorful mix of locomotives including Grand Trunk Western GP38 5808 and a couple of GTW GP9s, a CV GP9, and a Canadian National M-420.

I must have been so enthralled by the array of motive power that I didn’t mind my exposure. My original slide is about 2/3s of a stop over exposed. Which means the photograph is too light.

Back in the day, I’d instantly reject an image of this quality as ‘unsuitable’ for projection. Although, I labeled the slide, I filed it away with my ‘3rds’, where it was protected from the light for more than 34 years.

I scanned it the other day using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner, making a multiple pass scan to extract the most amount of data possible in a 4000 dpi scan, then imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

The actual adjustment required to correct for over exposure required just a few seconds of my time. Using the histogram as a guide, I lowered the exposure, set the black and white limits and exported as a JPG for presentation here.

Below is the unadjusted scan, followed by my exposure adjusted scan.

The original over exposed photo unadjusted after scanning.
My exposure-adjusted scan.

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Central Vermont 562 on State Line Hill-June 1986.

In 1986, my pal TSH and I had been comparing the differences between Kodachrome 25, Kodachrome 64, and Fujichrome 50 slide film.

It was early during this trial period that I made this photo of Central Vermont’s southward freight 562 with Grand Trunk Western 5808 in the lead ascending State Line Hill in Monson, Massachusetts passing the old Zero Manufacturing plant on Bliss Street.

I was very much impressed by the colors in this image when it was returned to me from Kodak, and the appearance of this slide and other K25 images contributed to my decision to adopt this emulsion as my standard slide film.

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New England Central Numerical Transition

New England Central Railroad (NECR) began operations of the former Central Vermont route in February 1995. Initially, it ran the railroad with a small fleet of largely former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio GP38s numbered in the 9500-series.

In 1998, NECR was in the process of renumbering these locomotives into the 3800-series, which logically echoed their model type.

In October 1998, photographer Mike Gardner and I spent a morning photographing the southward 608 on its run from Palmer, Massachusetts to New London, Connecticut. The lead engine displayed its new 3800-series number, but the trailing engine still had its old number.

Many of the GP38s have carried these 3800-series numbers ever since that time.

Exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikon N90S with Nikon f2.8 80-200mm AF zoom lens. The freight is crossing the Yantic River at Yantic, Connecticut.

Enlarged view of the same color slide.

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Sunday’s Surprise.

I needed a topic for today’s Tracking the Light, so I reached in to a sorting file of un-scanned slides and found this photo: Surprise!

On October 13, 2004, photographer Mike Gardner and I chased New England Central Railroad’s 608 south from Palmer, through my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.

This is a chase I’ve done countless times over the last 40 years, but just because you’ve done something before, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find a new angle on it.

At Robbins Road in Monson, I made this dramatic trailing view of the train’s locomotives. Here we have a selection of NECR GP38s roaring away in ‘Run-8’—maximum throttle on the tooth of the grade.

The train was moving 10-12 mph, producing a rush of engine exhaust along with traction motors blowers blowing to keep the motors cool. (And prevent them from over heating) These blasts of hot air, combined with the wind from the train’s approach and passage, plus and sand from the sanders to maintain adhesion all helped stir up the ballast and fallen leaves. 

It was a good chase and I wish I was there now!

I scanned the photo using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and VueScan software. My initial scan produced a 4000 dpi TIF file, which I then imported to Lightroom in order to scale it for presentation here.

June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on New England Central.

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Central Vermont at Palmer—May 17, 1985.

This was a common scene in the mid-1980s; Central Vermont’s southward road freight with a large collection of GP9s crossing the Palmer diamond.

What I find remarkable looking at this image is how few trees were around the tracks back then as compared with today.

At the bottom is a view of the New England Central at the same location a few weeks ago.

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NECR on the Millers Falls High Bridge.

Here’s a view I exposed of New England Central’s northward 611 crossing the 1905-built Millers Falls High Bridge at Millers Falls, Massachusetts on January 24, 2020.

This former Central Vermont Railway bridge has long been a favorite of mine.

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Vintage New England Central!

New England Central from 24 years ago!

On February 5, 1996, I exposed a series of Kodachrome 25 color slides of New England Central 9529 switching at Palmer, Massachusetts.

The railroad later renumbered its engines from the 9500-series to the 3800-series, but in 2020 a few of its now geriatric GP38s still work the line in the 1995-era Conrail-applied New England Central start-up paint.

K25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an f4 Nikkor 200mm telephoto lens.

25 years in the same blue and yellow scheme. While not a world record, it is still pretty impressive.

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