Tag Archives: #Conrail

Up Close with Conrail 1966

May 16, 1987 was brilliant sunny day and a great time to photograph Conrail in action.

I was working with a borrowed Canon A-1 with 50mm lens loaded with professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM) and I’d spent the morning photographing Conrail freight on the Southern Tier —what Conrail called the former Erie Route between Binghamton and Buffalo, New York.

At Hunt, New York, I caught up with a westward OIBU (Oak Island to Buffalo) and followed it west. Between Linden and Dixons on the east slope of Attica Hill this freight took the siding and stopped to wait for its eastward counterpart, Conrail’s BUOI.

While the train was stopped, I took the opportunity to make locomotive portraits.

General Electric B23-7 1966 caught my eye because its road number coincides with my birth year.

I scanned this slide using a Nikon LS-5000 scanner. After scanning I imported the TIF file into Lightroom and made a few small changes to exposure, color temperature, color balance and contrast. Below are both the unaltered file (scaled as a JPG) and the adjusted file.

The end of this month will mark 25 years since the end of Conrail as a Class-1 railroad, when its operations were divided between CSX and Norfolk Southern.

This is the un-adjusted file; although scaled for internet, threre were no changes to exposure, color or contrast in post processing.
With this version, I made a few very minor changes to exposure, color and contrast to improve the overall appearance of the image.

A Vision of 1930s Modern Railroading

Two weeks ago, I visited the preserved Power Directors Office (PDO) located within the Harrisburg, Pa., station.

This historic former Pennsylvania Railroad facility is a vestige of its grand late-1930s electrification to Harrisburg, that consisted of Mainlines and connecting routes

This office was used to control and balance the distribution of high-voltage alternating current electricity to the various lines. Today it presents a fascinating map of the western extent of PRR’s electrification.

To my eyes, it has the look and aroma of an enormous Lionel electric train set from the World War II era. The style of the control panels and wiring reminds of my dad’s train sets from the post war period.

Dan Cupper arranged the tour, and NRHS’s Jim Nowotarski provided an excellent and exceptionally detailed explaination of how the desk performed and the background behind its restoration. I’ll need to sit through this talk several more times before I can begin to absorb the detail of this amazing installation.

The desk was closed by Amtrak in 2013, and its remaining functions transfered to its Centralized Electrification and Traffic Control office in Wilmington, Delaware.

The once important role of the PDO reveals the long-term failures of short-sighted decisions made during the Conrail-era, when freight traffic was routed away from former PRR routes east of Harrisburg, and freight-only lines stripped of their electrification, and in some cases abandoned altogether.

What may have made operational sense 45 years ago, represents a poor use of resources and infrastructure in the long term. Consider that in most of the industrialized world, railroad electrification has been gradually expanded, and not abandoned.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z7-II.

See: //www.harrisburgnrhs.org/pdo

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Double Stacks rolling west off the old Reading

The Harrisburg area is a maze of trackage, which is alive with freight and passenger movements. Among the of the busiest lines is Norfolk Southern’s former Reading Company route (operated as its Harrisburg Line), which joins the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line route (operated as NS’s Pittsburgh Line) near Amtrak’s former PRR passenger station in Harrisburg, PA.

This route carries the lion’s share of east-west freight moving through Harrisburg, specifically traffic moving to the New York City and Philadelphia metro areas.

Prior to routing and infrastructure changes in the Conrail-era, the majority of freight coming east on the PRR route, continued east of Harrisburg on former PRR routes. Traditionally, the junction between PRR and Reading lines at this location was a relatively minor connection between the historic railroad systems.

It was a warm Tuesday in early April, when I made these photographs of a westward NS double stack container train from the Mulberry Street Bridge railroad-east of Amtrak’s former PRR Station. This freight is making the transition from the old Reading to the old PRR route.

Images exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens, files adjusted in Lightroom.

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Branch with a View-November 1, 1996.

On this day in 1996, I was driving from Wisconsin to Massachusetts in a U-Haul truck with most of my worldly belongings (including the majority of my photographs).

Would you believe me if I told you that I took a detour to follow the old Erie Railroad main line across New York’s Southern Tier, and when I heard on the scanner that an eastward coal train was through Hornell, I drove the U-Haul into a grave yard on the banks of the Canisteo River, climbed a tree and exposed this series of color slides?

Would you?

Nikon F3T with 28mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.

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Along the old Erie Railroad at Swain, New York.

Between 1986 and 1991, I documented vestiges of the former Erie Railroad using hundreds of rolls of Kodachrome, Ektachrome, and T-Max black & white film.

I made dozens upon dozen of trips along Conrail’s lines, seeking to make images of this fascinating railroad in its environment.

There could be long intervals between trains, and some days were more productive than others.

October 14, 1988 was memorable because it was a perfect day. I had a very early start. The autumn foliage was at its peak. It was clear from dawn to dusk. Conrail and Delaware & Hudson ran a lot of trains, and I had Kodachrome 25 in my Leica.

Among the photos I made that was this view of Conrail SD50 6774 leading OIBU west through Swain, New York at 8:07am.

I like this image because although 6774 is key to the composition, it isn’t the only subject of interest and it captures the essence of rural western New York in autumn.

Soon old 6753 will be featured on TTL. The lure of the quest is about finding treasures along the way. If I found the prize too soon there would be no joy in the path to it.

This is the raw and adjusted scan of my original Kodachrome 25 slide. Exposed at 8:07am on October 14, 1988 using a Leica M2 rangefinder with f2.0 50mm Summicron lens. My old Dodge Dart is parked behind me with the engine running. Soon, I’ll be in pursuit of this train en route to my next desination. Slide scanned with Nikon LS5000 slide scanner powered with VueScan 9.8.04 software.
This the same scan as above, but adjusted using Adobe Lightroom to improve its presentation. I’ve lightened the image, reduced contrast, warmed the color balance, lightened and warmed shadow areas, while slightly increasing overall saturation.

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Letchworth Gorge-9:25am April 7, 1989

Working with my old Leica M2 loaded with Kodachrome 25 slide film, I made this view of an eastward Delaware & Hudson freight led by New York, Susquehanna & Western SD45s crossing Conrail’s impressive Portage Bridge over New York’s Letchworth Gorge.

This was among my favorite mid-Spring morning locations. Winter run off made the Upper Genesee Falls especially impressive, while the sun illuminated the north side of the bridge.

This bridge was erected by the Erie Railroad in 1875, and was considered the first example of a tower supported viaduct, a type that in the late 19th century became a popular type of construction for long and tall bridges.

Norfolk Southern inherited this section of the former Erie from Conrail. The old bridge was in poor condition and had required a 5 mph slow order. NS finally replaced the aged viaduct in 2017 with a modern arched truss.

An eastward Delaware & Hudson freight carrying loads of rock salt eases across the Portage Bridge at 9:25am on April 7, 1989.

For me April 7, 1989 sticks in my mind as a great day to photograph along the old Erie Railroad. This was just one of many images I made that day.

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Main Line Crew Change 35 Years Ago.

On the afternoon of January 29, 1988, Conrail TV7 was changing crews at Buffalo’s Frontier Yard on the old New York Central Water Level Route.

Compositionally, this photo has always both intrigued and annoyed me. I wish I’d either got a little closer or framed in a way so that the top of the locomotive hadn’t been cutoff.

As it stands the image is awkward and imperfect, yet it serves as a window in time to another era.

Inbound and outbound crews were preserved for posterity.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 fitted with 50mm f2.0 Summicron. Scanned with a Nikon LS5000 scanner.

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Light Matters.

Photography is about light. The quality of light makes a difference.

Below are two photographs made at the same location on the same day and of two very similar trains but under very different lighting condtions.

These were exposed on the same roll of Kodachrome 25 using my Nikon N90S near milepost 130 on Conrail’s former Boston & Albany mainline (less than a mile from the old Middlefield Station).

The first shows a pair of SD80MAC leading symbol freight SEBO (Selkirk to Boston) in bright morning sun at 7:59am. The second shows Conrail symbol freight SESP (Selkirk to West Springfield yard) at 9:56am.

My notes from the day spelled out the difference in one word; “cloud.”

Kodachrome did not handle overcast situations well. Both photos are scaled RAW scans without any adjustment to color, exposure, contrast or sharpness.

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Classic Chrome: Conrail 1987

In recent months I’ve been undertaking a herculean effort. I’m beginning to organize my slide files.

Over the last 40+ years, I have made tens of thousands of slides, while embracing conflicting theories of photographic organization.

Now, I am attempting to consolidate and organize my slide files. In one tub of original boxes, I found a box (one of several) mis-labeled ‘Conrail, Rochester, April 1987, Ektachrome’.

This was a ‘free’ roll of film, given to me as part of photo package from Kodak to students at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Free. No cost to me. At a time when I could barely afford two rolls of Kodachrome a week!

And there was a problem. Giving Ektachrome to a Kodachrome shooter!

I took the film, and I made photos with it. Nothing urgent. Nothing serious. Nothing so important that I’d commit it to Kodachrome. 

A more serious problem manifested when I searched for the note sheet that goes with the roll of film. The box said ‘April 1987’, but in fact the photos were exposed on March 11, 1987. I should have known.

Eastward Conrail freight captured at Lincoln Park with a Leica 3A and 65mm lens on EN100 Ektachrome slide film at noon on March 11, 1987.

Take me back to 1987!

I wish I’d had more free Ektachrome!

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Classic Conrail Kodachrome

This was among the many slides that I scanned yesterday.

In my ongoing effort to scan, archive, and organize my slide collection, I’ve been scanning slides, and reorganizing the original chromes so that they are placed together by similar subject.

Conrail is just one of dozens of my subject categories . Ultimately, I hope to subdivide the Conrail slides in to smaller categories largely based on precursor railroad routes.

This Kodachrome 25 image of a westward Conrail unit coal train was exposed in September 1988 at School Road in Batavia, New York, near milepost 399 on the former New York Central ‘Water Level Route’ main line using my old Leica M2 with 50mm f2.0 Summicron lens.

It is one of hundreds of Conrail photos I exposed between 1985 and 1999 of Conrail trains working the old Water Level Route.

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April 2001—CSX at Guilderland, NY.

Way back in April 2001, photographer Mike Gardner and I paid a visit to the closed Old State Road bridge over the former West Shore route at Guilderland, New York.

This was only a couple of years after CSX assumed operation of Conrail’s former New York Central Waterlevel Route across New York State. At that time this was an exceptionally busy line with a non-stop parade of freights.

Eastward CSX freight at Guilderland, New

I made this coming and going pair of photos using my Rollei Model T. This featured a very sharp f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens.

My choice of film was Kodak Tri-X processed in Ifotec HC developer. I scanned the negatives yesterday using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then made minor adjustements to the TIF scans using Adobe Light room to improve constrast and exposure.

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Big DIesels at West Springfield.

On a session of the West Springfield Train Watchers, I made this view of four BIG Conrail diesels at the west end of the yard.

It was the evening of July 19, 1983.

I traveled there with Bob Buck in his green Ford van.

As dusk settled, I set up my Leica 3A on a tripod, carefully keeping the yard lights at the edge of the frame. I opened the shutter using the ‘T’ setting and illuminated the train with a Metz strobe to compensate for the inky shadows of the summer evening.

I was keen on making the most of the Conrail C30-7s and SD45-2s leading the evening westbound. These were rare locomotives and worthy of my attention at the time. On the recommendation of my friend and fellow photographer Doug Moore, I’d wrapped the head of the strobe in a white garbage bag to soften and diffuse the light.

Looking back this photo, what strikes me is the relative sophistication my composition. Yet, for years this image sat dormant because of its poor technical qualities. I over processed the film, leading to coarse grain and excessive contrast.

Conrail C30-7s and SD45-2s at West Springfield, Massachusetts on July 19, 1983.

I asked Kris why my early photos benefit from great composition despite their poor technical quality. She suggested that this was because I was making photo for joy of the subject without too much concern for technique.

Over the years my overall techique improved, but as my technical qualities were refined my compositions grew less innovative. Eventually my improved techniques resulted in superior images, but I still look back at my early efforts trying to see what I saw.

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Conrail at Milepost 119

Here’s a photo from my black & white archives that I’d completely dismissed. I’d exposed it at Huntington, Massachusetts in March 1985.

There were a few of problems with this image that irked me.

The first was cosmic. Moments before I release the shutter, a cloud coverd the front of the train. That sort of thing used to drive me nuts.

The second was strategic. I’d released the shutter a little earlier than I’d like, leaving the train just a bit distant. I didn’t have a motor drive in those days, and typically would wait for the decisive moment to take my photo.

The third was a chronic failing from my Leica 3 days. I tended to photograph slightly off level, leaving most of my photos annoyingly tilted.

All of these flaws are now easily overcome using Adobe Lightroom.

I altered the exposure and contrast to correct for the obscured sun, while bringing in sky detail partially lost to over exposure. I cropped the photo to minimize the foreground, and this pleasantly altered the composition to feature the code lines to the right of the locomotives and milepost 119 on the left. Lastly, I leveled the image, a task that take now about 2 seconds.

Looking at this photo now, I find that I’m very pleased with it. It has aged very well. The minor flaws don’t bother me, since these were easily corrected, while the overall subject fascinates me. It is the time machine I needed today.

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Here’s the original, unaltered image for comparison.

Palmer Yard—Spring 1985

Another choice image from my recently scanned roll of Ilford FP4 exposed in Spring 1985.

I made this view with a 50mm lens looking timetable west at the west end of Conrail’s old Boston & Albany yard in Palmer, Massachusetts. I had driven in behind Howlett’s Lumber to photograph a Sperry rail defect detection car that was stored near the B&A freight house.

Just about everything in this scene has changed. The freight house was demolished in Janaury 1989. The large building at right beyond burned down some years later. The code lines were removed after the B&A was re-signaled in 1986-1987.

I’ve posted two versions of this photo. The top is my unaltered and uncorrected scan. The bottom reflects a series of nominal adjustments using Adobe Lightroom.

Unadjusted sca&W negative. Back in the day, I suffered from a propensity to tilt my camera to the right, leaving many fine photos flawed by being off-level. I also had a tendency to over process my negatives, which led to ‘white skies’ and excessive highlight contrast.

In this view, I leveled the image by rotating it about 2 degrees clockwise. I then adjusted sky density and contrast and make overall changes to image contrast and density to improve tonality and detail..

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Boston & Albany Sunset

On this day five years ago (November 12, 2016), I made this sunset view at CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts with my first Panasonic Lumix LX7.

Tonight, I am scheduled to present My Conrail, a multimedia slide presentation of my Boston & Albany photography to the 25th Beecherfest in Milwaukee.

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My Conrail

Next Friday evening, (November 12, 2021) I’ll be presenting a mulitmedia program titled; ‘My Conrail,’ to the 25th Anniversary Beecherfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This is my tribute to the Boston & Albany with a selection of photography spanning nearly 30 years.

SEPA/PASE power in Palmer, Massachusetts in 1989. Kodachrome 25 exposed with a Leica M2 and 35mm Summicron.

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October 25, 1985—Palmer Diamond

This day has always been a special one for me!

On this day 36 years ago, I spent the afternoon making photos at Palmer, Massachusetts.

I exposed this image using my father’s Rollei model T loaded with Kodak VPX (Verichrome Pan) 120-size black & white film that I later processed in Kodak D76 developer.

At that time I was attending Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts where I was studying photography and music.

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Take a Note: NHSE at Chester—October 20, 1985.

For many years, I recorded my photographic adventures with detailed note pages that were organized by date and included: time, location and train information, exposure and camera information, and sometimes interesting or noteworthy details of operations.

On October 20, 1985 (36 years ago today) I was working with my father’s Rolleiflex Model T in tandem with my Leica 3A, when I pictured Conrail’s NHSE (Cedar Hill Yard, New Haven, Connecticut to Selkirk Yard, New York) ascending the old Boston & Albany grade at milepost 126.4 in Chester, Massachusetts.

At that time the New Haven trains still routinely carried cabooses.

Displayed here are the black & white photo exposed with the Rollei with 645-size insert (note notches for ‘Super Slide’ format). I was using Kodak Verichrome Pan 120-size film that I’d processed in D-76 developer.

These are among the photos that I plan to show at my talk to the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts on Thursday evening in Malden.

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Grain Train on the Slide!

When I was at the Rochester Institute of Technology, one of my professors discussed the ‘Ratio of Success’, which defined how many photos you typically took in order to get a really good one.

By one standard this averaged about one per roll of film. Or a ratio of 1 to 36.

For the last three days on Tracking the Light, I’ve been displaying photos from a single roll of Kodak Plus X exposed on Conrail’s former Pennsylvania Railroad lines back in the summer of 1989.

I wouldn’t want to bore everyone by displaying all 36 frames, but lets just say, on this day I was having a better than average ratio of success!

Exposed with a Leice on Kodak Plus-X in summer 1989.

This one portrays a Conrail unit grain train descending ‘The Slide’ east of the tunnels at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania.

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Conrail SD40-2s at MG Tower

Here’s another frame from a roll of 35mm Plus X exposed on a summer 1989 trip to the old Pennsylvania Railroad with my old pal TSH.

Until today, this picture has not seen the light of day.

35mm Plus-X exposed with a Leica M3 and 90mm Elmarite. Negative scanned using a Epson V750 flatbed scanner and digitally processed in Adobe Lightroom.

I processed the film 32 years ago in Kodak D76, sleeved the negatives, and made a select few prints, of which this image was not one of them.

It was a dull day, and I was working with a tight budget, where I saved my Kodachrome for the best shots. What seemed a bit pedestrian in 1989, really captures my attention now.

I like the photo today because it frames the desceding train in the steam-era PRR signal bridges, features the famous MG Tower (recently demolished by Norfolk Southern), and captures the drama of a heavy train bathed in brake shoe smoke. It is an image from another era, now gone.

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Mifflin, PA—Nov 2001

The old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division is a favorite stretch of railroad.

I first visited this location on the heavily traveled east-west trunk route back in 1988 with my old pal TSH.

In November 2001, Mike Gardner and I were on a week-long photograph blitz of Pennsylvania and paused a Mifflin for a few hours to make photos of the action.

A Norfolk Southern eastward freight led by a former Conrail DASH8-40C rolls by the old Pennsylvania Railroad station at Mifflin, PA.

I exposed this Fujichrome color slide using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens. The Zeiss lens was extremely sharp from corner to corner while offering exceptional color rendition.

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Conrail Stacks in the Canisteo—Running Against the CUrrent.

The 316 signals were situated immediately east of milepost 317 (as measured from Jersey City).

These twin semaphores were located near milepost 317 on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad in the Canisteo River Valley east of Hornell, New York. 

Although visible from the Canisteo River Road, to reach them required a short walk across a farmer’s field.

The difficulty of capturing this pair of signals with a train was the tight angle on a tangent during normal operations.

My solution to this visual problem was to photograph the signals with a train moving against the current of traffic.

The challenge was finding a train running ‘wrong main’ at the right time of day.

In January 1988, I had my opportunity. A Conrail double-stack had been given a Form-D to run against the current of traffic on the No. 1 track from Hornell to Gang Mills. I raced ahead in time to jog through the field and set up east of the signals.

Working with my Leica M2 and my dad’s 135mm Elmarit lens, I made a series of Kodachrome slides. This image was first the in the sequence and nicely shows the signals and stacks in the scenic valley.

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Milepost 129—August 1982

In August 1982, Bob Buck of Tucker’s Hobbies in Warren, Massachusetts brought Doug Moore, John Conn and me on a memorable Boston & Albany West End tour.

We started at Westfield and worked our way across the railroad, making it all the way to Amtrak’s Albany-Rensselaer station.

It was my first experience photographing Washington Hill—B&A’s big grade over the Berkshires.

We caught several Conrail freights, including one that we chased from Pittsfield east up toward Dalton.

Earlier in the trip, Bob drove us in his green Ford van along the right of way of the third track to Middlefield Station. When we reached milepost 129, we inspected one of the remaining 1830s-era stone arch bridges.

Here I made this view looking eastbound to show the GRS search light signal. Among the quirks of New York Central-era signaling was displaying a staggered ‘green over green’ for ‘clear’ on intermediate automatic block signals in graded territory. ABS Signals on the B&A Westend grades were continuously lit, while those on the East End tended to be approached lit.

You can see Bob at the wheel of his van.

I wasn’t good a picking my exposures and this frame of Kodachrome 64 was a full stop underexposed (too dark). For years this image was in my ‘3rds file’ (junk), but with modern scanning technology and Adobe Lightroom, I was able to make the image presentable again.

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Dreary Evening On the Erie

This Kodachrome slide has languished in the darkness for 32 years.

I’d followed a westward empty Conrail coal train through New York’s Canisteo Valley on the evening of April 7, 1989.

It had been an overcast day with laden clouds. Yet traffic had been heavy on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad lines in western New York.

At the time Conrail was routing coal empties west from Hornell via the old Erie main line that went through Alfred and Andover, then operated as the Meadville Line.

West of Hornell this route ascended a steep grade that brought heavy trains to a crawl.

In the fading light of that April evening, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide along Canacadea Creek. If I recall correctly, my shutter speed was about 1/30th of a second.

Why such a slow film?

That is what I had in my Leica M, and so I made do.

Here are two versions of the scanned image. The first is scaled but unmodified. The second is a heavily modified image to make the most of the extremes of Kodachrome’s capturing ability while adding drama to the scene.

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Conrail at Warren, Massachusetts.

Today’s photo is in honor of my late-friend, Robert A. Buck of Warren, Massachusetts, who would have turned 91 today (October 12, 2020).

In the 1940s, Bob Buck made priceless photos of New York Central’s Boston & Albany around Warren, and elsewhere across the railroad. For most of his life he ran Tucker’s Hardware, later Tucker’s Hobbies in Warren, which was a gathering point for those interested in railroads.

On December 6, 1992, I exposed this photo of an eastward Conrail freight, probably SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester RR) climbing through Warren behind six General Electric B23-7s.

I had Kodachrome 25 film loaded in my Nikon F3T and I used a 35mm PC (Perspective Control) lens, all neatly leveled out on a Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head.

The pronounced chugging of multiple FDL diesel engines powering these locomotives as they ascended the grade through Warren would have announced the approach of the freight several minutes before the headlight appeared west of the old Warren Station.

The making of this image would have coincided with one of my countless visits to Tucker’s Hobbies in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Gang Mills Sunset—Fixing a Chrome.

On November 24, 1998, photographer Mike Gardner and I were wrapping our photography for the day, having spent it following the old Erie Railroad mainline in New York state. A railroad then operated as part of Conrail’s Southern Tier District.

Just after sunset, we were visiting the old bridge (since removed) over the east end of the Gang Mills Yard (near Corning, New York). A bit of evening ‘drop under’ sun had tickled the clouds pink, when a headlight appeared to the west.

Working with my Nikon N90S with 80-200mm lens, I made a sequence of photos on Kodachrome 200 of the passing Conrail piggyback train. This film offered speed, but it was difficult to work with. Not only was K200 grainy, but it had a fairly narrow expose latitude as compared with either Fuji Sensia or Kodachrome 25. 

At the time I made the slide, I’d exposed for the sky, aiming to retain the texture and color, but as a result the tracks and train were a bit under exposed. Last night, I made a multiple pass scan from a slide in the sequence. Then in post processing, I lightened the foreground, while adjusting color and contrast for a more pleasing image, yet one that hopefully looks like it was exposed on Earth, and not on Mars.

Below are two comparisons. The first is the unadjusted scan (scaled for internet), the second is my adjusted scan.

Unadjusted scan of a Kodachrome 200 slide.
Kodachrome slide scanned using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Conrail at Twin Ledges—27 Years Ago.

On October 3, 1993—27 Years Ago Today—I made this Kodachrome slide of a Conrail eastward freight on the former Boston & Albany.

I’d set up with a Nikkormat FTN fitted with a Nikon AF28mm lens.

I wanted to exemplify the deep rock cuttings and so made use of the afternoon shadows.

The lit marker lamps on the lead locomotive was an unusual and unanticipated detail that make this photo more interesting.

Twin Ledges is a pair of rock cuts on a double S-bend in the Berkshires timetable west of the old Middlefield Station on the Boston & Albany mainline.

Kodachrome 25 slide scanned using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 powered by VueScan software. Tif file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom and scaled for internet.

My late friend Bob Buck of Warren, Massachusetts, had first shown me this iconic location in 1982, and I’ve made countless visits back to this spot over the years.

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West Springfield at Dusk.

In July 1983, ,Bob Buck and I were attending a weekly summer gathering of the West Springfield Train Watchers, a semi-formal group consisting of mostly retired railroaders who assembled with permission of the railroad at the west end of Conrail’s West Springfield, Massachusetts yard.

I say ‘semi-formal’ because member Norvel Parker printed cards for all the members. Somewhere I still have mine.

Toward the end of the evening, I made this photo with my Leica 3A of a westward freight making a pick-up.

Adjusted photo.

In later years, I photographed some of the members, which was probably far more valuable as a record, than making photos of the trains.

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New York Central Transformed—Rochester, New York 1986.

On the afternoon of September 12, 1986, I exposed this photograph of a westward Conrail double-stack container train on the former New York Central Waterlevel Route passing the Amtrak Station at Rochester, New York.

The old New York Central era tower was still standing, and the station platforms, complete with the old ‘Rochester’ signs dated from the New York Central era.

In the lead was a twenty-year old former New York Central GP40, and I was just short of my twentieth birthday.

Yet, this double stack train was unlike anything ever seen on the old New York Central. Among the big changes imposed under Conrail was a clearance improvement program that allowed for much taller trains.

Exposed on Kodak black & white film. Negative cropped for presentation here.

My book Conrail and its Predecessors is available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

See: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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Conrail in Worcester—1997.

Here’s another photo from my Classic Conrail Kodachrome Files.

Photographer Mike Gardner and I had spent December 2, 1997, photographing Conrail operations around Worcester, Massachusetts.

Early in the day, we dropped E6 slide film at E.B. Luce for processing and then occupied our time documenting the parade of Conrail trains on the former Boston & Albany line.

In this view at CP44 at the east end of Worcester Yard, I photographed some SD50s that had arrived with an eastward train and cut off to make a drop and were running ‘light engine’ past the signals.

It was clear, cool and crisp. Perfect weather for Kodachrome 25!

My book Conrail and its Predecessors is now available from Kalmbach Media. Click the link below.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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Conrail C32-8s August 13, 1988.

On the evening of August 13, 1988, I visited Conrail’s West Springfield Yard (Massachusetts) after a day on the old Boston & Albany ‘West End’.

At the time, General Electric six-motor diesels were standard power for road freights on the Boston Line.

Among the locomotives common to the Boston Line in the 1980s were the ten pre-prototype GE C32-8s that featured the ‘Classic’ curved roof cab and hump-back body style.

Significantly, these were among the first road-units with microprocessor controls.

I’ve covered these locomotives in several of my books over the years, and most recently in my new title Conrail and its Predecessors now available from Kalmbach Media.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

These photos of Conrail 6618 were exposed on Professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM) color slide film and scanned using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner operated with VueScan software.

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Conrail’s CP83 Palmer, Massachusetts—October 1998.

This was just an ordinary scene at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts in October 1998.

Amtrak’s Vermonter was holding on the interchange track as C30-7A rolled east on to the controlled siding, and a westbound with SD80MACs waited on the mainline.

I made this view on Fujichrome using a Nikon N90S with 28mm lens.

At the time I made this image, Conrail’s class 1 operation had less than a year remaining.

I recall Conrail’s 23 years of operation in my new book; Conrail and its Predecessors published by Kalmbach Media. 

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Conrail and its Predecessors.

The other day I received my author’s copies of my new Conrail book.

It looks nice.

Now, if I only had time to absorb it!

Order yours at:

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

In addition to my own Conrail photos, this features the work of a dozen talented photographers.

I exposed the cover photo at Becket, Massachusetts in October 1997, using a Nikon N90S with f2.8 80-200mm lens and Fujichrome Velvia 50 color slide film.

This was on an epic Conrail adventure with Mike Gardner, during which in one day we caught the Ringing Brothers Circus train, a Conrail Office Car Special with E8s, the track geometry train and six freights led by clean EMD SD80MACs.

Conrail? BRING IT BACK!

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My Canisteo Valley in Trains Magazine

The June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on Conrail in New York’s Canisteo River Valley.

This features some of my favorite Kodachrome slide photos from when the line was still operated as double-track under rule 251 with classic Union Switch & Signal block signals.

One of the outtakes was this view from 1996.

By 1996, Conrail had lifted one of the two main tracks through the Canisteo and removed all the classic signals. While this forever changed the character of the railroad, Conrail continued to make good use of this former Erie Railroad mainline. On November 1, 1996, this eastward unit coal train rolled along the Canisteo near West Cameron, New York.

My new book: Conrail and its Predecessors is now available!

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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Happy Birthday Conrail!

Conrail began operations on April 1, 1976.

On May 14, 1985, I photographed this Conrail GP10 with a former Pennsylvania Railroad caboose working as a local freight toward its interchanged with Pioneer Valley Railroad at Westfield, Massachusetts.

The location is just west of milepost 107 in Westfield. At the right is my father’s 1978 Ford Grenada, which was the car I drove a lot before getting my own set of wheels in 1986.

At the time of this photograph, Conrail rarely assigned GP10s to its New England Division locals, which makes this a relatively unusual photo in my collection.

My new book Conrail and its Predecessors published by Kalmbach Books will be available soon!

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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Top of the Boston & Albany—May 1985.

In the mid-1980s, my friends and I would convene at Washington Summit on Conrail’s former Boston & Albany mainline.

Located in the Berkshires, several miles timetable east of the old station at Hinsdale, the summit offered a good view in both directions and a pleasant, quiet place to wait for trains.

On this May 1985 afternoon, the chugging of an eastward freight could be heard for several miles before it came into view. I opted to frame the train with the Top of the B&A sign.

This sign was replaced in the 1990s; Conrail was divided by CSX and Norfolk Southern in 1999; the old Bullards Road over bridge (seen in the distance) was removed in 2003; and the trees have grown much taller. So there’s not much left of this scene today, although the tracks are still there.

Exposed on black & white film using a Leica 3A with Canon f1.8 50mm lens.

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