Tag Archives: Chester

Chester, Vermont—Revisited.

I don’t recall the first time I visited the old Rutland Station at Chester. It was in the Steamtown-era and lost in the fog of my earliest memories.

I do recall watching Canadian Pacific steam locomotives run around the excursion train here in the days before I regularly made photos.

Yes, there was a time when I didn’t always carry a camera.

Those days ended on my tenth birthday when Pop gave me my own Leica IIIa.

That camera rests on the shelf waiting to be repaired. In recent years I’ve been playing with identical IIIa bodies of the same period (late 1930s).

Here are a few views of Chester exposed with various cameras on June 7, 2017.

The details are in the captions. Any favorites?

Lumix LX7 view in the morning at Chester.
Lumix LX7 view in the morning at Chester.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100. Afternoon view with VRS 263 in the distance.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor lens on Fomapan 100.
Vermont Rail System freight 264 heading north (west) toward Rutland approaches Chester. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Brian’s Cosmic Place: B&A Washington Hill, the fabled 1912 Line Relocation

One of my favorite places to experience railroading and expose photos is on the old Boston & Albany ‘West End,’ Washington Hill grade.

On this legendary grade, one of the most interesting places is the 1912 line relocation between mileposts 129 and 130, west of Chester, Massachusetts. This includes a very deep cutting, while the right of way of the original 1839-built line is nearby and features three large stone arches dating from the time of construction.

Bob Buck first showed me this cosmic piece of railroad back in 1982.

I visited this hallowed ground last week and exposed these views with my FujiFilm X-T1. To accentuate the autumn foliage and make for more pleasing scenes, I set the white balance to ‘shade’ which warms up the scene.

New York Central abandoned about a mile of the original Western Rail Road grade when it completed its line relocation in 1912. This one of three extant stone arch bridge on the abandoned section.
New York Central abandoned about a mile of the original Western Rail Road grade when it completed its line relocation in 1912. This one of three extant stone arch bridge on the abandoned section.
Like the ruins of an ancient empire, this historic stone arch looms above the West Branch Westfield River deep in the forest near Middlefield, Massachusetts.
Like the ruins of an ancient empire, this historic stone arch looms above the West Branch Westfield River deep in the forest near Middlefield, Massachusetts.
An eastward doublestack train, probably Q022, descends the 1912 line relocation near milepost 123.3. The stone arch bridge pictured above is just out of sight to the right.
An eastward doublestack train, probably Q022, descends the 1912 line relocation near milepost 123.3. The stone arch bridge pictured above is just out of sight to the right.

CSXT was kind enough to send an eastward stack train down grade mid-morning.

I’ll feature this territory in my Boston & Albany book, which I hope to complete writing in the coming months.

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Daily Post: Westward Freight in Wink of Sun

CSX Q427 Claws Upgrade at Chester, Massachusetts.

For me the old Boston & Albany West end is hallowed ground. This was the first true mountain mainline in the modern sense. The line was surveyed in the mid 1830s and by 1839 trains were working over Washington Summit.

Over the last 30 years I’ve made countless trips to photograph this line and it remains one of my favorites. Yet, I rarely come up here in the winter.

On Friday, February 7, 2014, my father and I went up to Huntington to catch Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited, train 449. Not far behind was CSX’s Q427.

This freight runs daily between Portland, Maine and Selkirk, New York via Ayer and Worcester, Massachusetts. This day it had a pair of General Electric Evolution-Series diesels of the type that have come to characterize modern freight operations on the Boston & Albany route.

Since the train wasn’t making great speed, we pursued it on Route 20, stopping to make photos at opportune locations. At CP 123 (where the line goes from single track to two-main track) Q427 met an eastward freight holding at the signal. We continued upgrade ahead of the train.

I remembered that there’s a gap in the hills at Chester which allows for a window of sun on the line that lasts late in the day. So we zipped ahead of the train.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens, I exposed a series of vertical images of CSX Q427 (Portland to Selkirk) as it passed through a window of afternoon sun.
Working with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens, I exposed a series of vertical images of CSX Q427 (Portland to Selkirk) as it passed through a window of afternoon sun.
The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.
The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.

At Chester, Pop set up his tripod to make a hi-resolution video of the train climbing. I positioned myself with my Canon EOS 7D with a telephoto lens to make use of the window of sun against a dark background.

As the train grew closer I also exposed more conventional views with my Lumix LX3. The heavy train took more than two minutes to pass.

Lumix LX3 photo showing the whole scene.
Lumix LX3 photo showing the whole scene.

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 Tomorrow: step back 30 years with a visit to West Springfield.

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