Tag Archives: Conrail

Frontier Yard, Buffalo, December 3, 1988.

It was 30 years ago today that I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide at the east-end of Buffalo’s Frontier Yard.

In this view, there are two westward freights on the former New York Central Water Level Route.

I was fond of Conrail’s six-motor General Electric diesels, and C36-7 6620 caught my eye.

Looking east on the former New York Central on December 3, 1988. Kodachrome 25 slide exposed at f4.5 1/250th of a second.

My notes from the day have gone missing, which is unusual and annoying, because I’ve generally made a habit of keeping detailed note from each trip over the years.

However, I recall that I was traveling with Doug Eisele and Pete Swanson and that we made a tour of Buffalo area freight operations. I exposed this view using my Leica M2 with a 90mm Elmarit.

The day began bright and clear, but by midday clouds had rolled in from Lake Erie.

 

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On this Day in 1996—Conrail SD80MACs Work the Boston & Albany

On the afternoon of October 25, 1996, my brother Sean and I had hiked to the established overlook west of milepost 123 near Middlefield, Massachusetts.

The roar of EMD 20-Cylinder 710 diesels announced the passage of a westward freight with two of the relatively new Conrail SD80MACs.

I exposed this view using my Nikon F3T.

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From the Closet: Ektachrome Rejects from March 1987.

When I was at the Rochester Institute of Technology, once or twice a year Kodak would gift photo students with a selection of new products to try.

On this occasion, I had been given a sample of two rolls of the latest Ektachrome.

A professor gave us a vague assignment to make color photographs, so I wandered up to Lincoln Park, a junction on Conrail’s Water Level Route west of downtown Rochester, New York, and exposed these photos.

There I found local freight WBRO-15 working with GP8 7528. The crew was friendly and quite used to me photographing of their train.

Back in 1987 my serious railroad photos were exposed using 120 black & white film or on Kodachrome 25. These Ektachromes were an anomaly. After the assignment was turned in, I relegated the remaining images to my ‘seconds box’ and forgot about them—for 31 years!

I found them back accident the other day, and so scanned them post haste.

You mean pairs of Conrail SD50s aren’t common any more on Water Level Route road freights?

I thought my Rochester friends would get a kick out of seeing them. How much has changed since March 11, 1987?

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Classic Chrome: On this Day in 1988 I had 2020 Vision.

Ok, make that a vision of Conrail 2020.

It was just after 8am on May 27, 1988, when I exposed this portrait (vertical) view of Conrail BAL013 stopped at CP123 east of Chester, Massachusetts.

The sun was perfect and I used this opportunity to make several photos of the train as it held for westward Conrail intermodal freight TV9, which passed CP123 at 8:13am

This is a Kodachrome 25 slide (using the professional PKM emulsion) exposed using a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron lens.

I scanned the original Kodachrome slide with a Nikon Coolscan5000 scanner using VueScan. Later I scaled the file using Lightroom. I did not alter color balance, contrast, sharpness or other inherent characteristics. The original image has an overall cyan (blue-green) bias that was characteristic of Kodachrome from that period.

I calculated my exposure using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter, and set the camera at f6.3 (half way between the marks for f5.6 and f8) at 1/125thof a second. This was equivalent to my standard exposure for ‘full sun’.

I learned when I moved west that ‘full sun’ is brighter in the Western states than in New England. A bright day in the Nevada desert is a full stop difference than in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Happy Birthday Conrail!

The Consolidated Rail Corporation began operations on April 1, 1976.

During the 1980s and 1990s, I made thousands of Kodachrome slides of Conrail operations. Conrail was divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX in Spring 1999.

In August 1988, I exposed this view from Tifft Street in Buffalo of a westward Conrail intermodal train working the Water Level Route.

Tim Doherty and I authored a book on Conrail in 2004.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 and 90mm Leitz Elmarit lens. I cross-lit the train in an effort to emphasize the Buffalo skyline and help distinguish the four track line.

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Classic Angle at the Diamond.

I knew it as the Boston & Albany and Central Vermont diamond in Palmer (diamond describes the shape of rails made by the angled level crossing of the two lines). I made my first photos at this location before I entered 6th grade.

Fast forward to January 2, 2018. I stepped out of the car at Palmer and with the crisp winter air I could hear a train approaching eastbound.

So often my ears have alerted me to a train. In this case the two-cycle roar of classic EMD 645 diesels.

I ambled toward the diamond and made these views. Over-the-shoulder light, with rich mid-morning sun, at a readily identifiable location; nearly perfect.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm lens, I exposed a sequence of images designed to mimic the angle I’d used here many years earlier.

There are more trees here now than in years gone by. Yet I’d made vertical views here before to emphasize the signal.
CSX GP40-2s lead B740 eastbound over the famous diamond.
CSX local freight B740 was carrying cars of pipe to be interchanged at Palmer Yard with the Mass-Central. That gave an a idea for the following day.

 

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Erie Railroad Semaphore—Canisteo River Valley at Cameron, New York.

Erie Railroad Semaphore—Canisteo River Valley at Cameron, New York.

I made this view during a snow squall at Cameron, New York in 1987.

This wasn’t yesterday. Exposed on black & white film using a Rolleiflex model T.

This shows the old Erie Railroad mainline at the Canisteo River Road grade crossing near milepost 314, a line then operated by Conrail.

That’s my old 1973 Plymouth Scamp parked by the side of the road.

The subject of the photo is the vintage Union Switch & Signal Style-S three-position upper quadrant semaphore.

I was on an exploratory trip of the Canisteo River Valley that contributed to many photographs of trains in this supremely scenic area.

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Conrail Classic Chrome—SD80MACs at the Twin Ledges.

This photo appeared in Pacific RailNews/RailNews not long after I exposed it on Kodachrome 25 in October 1996. [Click on Tracking the Light for the full vertical image.]

The Twin Ledges is a classic photo location a mile or so west of the old Boston & Albany Middlefield Station in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

Conrail’s SD80MACs were an unusual modern locomotive because they were powered by a 20-cylinder variation of EMD’s 710 diesel,  rated at 5,000 hp. They arrived only a few years before Conrail was bought and divided by CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Although their operation on the old B&A was short-lived, they were oft photographed (by me anyway).

Classic Kodachrome: a vertical telephoto view of Conrail SD80MACs leading symbol freight ML482 at the Twin Ledges in October 1996.

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Conrail SD50s Move Tonnage on the Water Level Route.

On April 9, 1988, I exposed this view on Conrail’s heavily used former New York Central System ‘Water Level Route’ west of Silver Creek, New York.

Clear skies and bright afternoon sun were ideal when exposing Kodachrome 25.

For this image of Conrail SD50s working westbound I used my Leica M2 fitted with an f2.8 90mm Elmarit.

Using a telephoto with a Leica rangefinder was always a bit tricky.

Although a window in the M2’s viewfinder provided a pretty good sense for the limits of the frame offered by the 90mm lens, the camera didn’t offer any sense of the effects of visual compression or limited depth of field that are inherent to this focal length in the 35mm format.

Yet, the combination of Leica glass and Kodachrome 25 allowed me to make some exceptionally sharp images.

I scanned this original Kodachrome slide at high resolution (4000 dpi) using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 operated with VueScan software. For presentation here, I used Lightroom to scale the scanned file (which was more than 110 MB) into a Jpg. I left the corners of the slide mount in the frame to show that it hasn’t been cropped.

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Great Shot Forever Ruined—I missed the Focus.

Hard lessons. Here we have a scene never to be repeated, and one that I’ve never dared to show before. In June (or early July 1984), I caught a westward Conrail freight passing the Palmer Union Station at sunset on the then double-track Boston & Albany..

This was toward the end of regular operation of cabooses on road freights. By that time many Conrail symbol freights on the B&A were already using telemetry devices in place of the once common caboose.

A caboose rolling into the sunset. Great illustration concept. Nice light, decent framing, etc.

Except the photo is soft. Working with my Leica 3A rangefinder I’d missed the focus.

Viewed at a small size on a pixelated back-lit digital screen this old photo is nearly passable. But it fails my basic test for sharpness. Face it, I missed the focus. Like spilled milk, once you've missed the focus there's nothing you can do about it.
Viewed at a small size on a pixelated back-lit digital screen this old photo is nearly passable. But it fails my basic test for sharpness. Face it, I missed the focus. Like spilled milk, once you’ve missed the focus there’s nothing you can do about it.

And so as a result of this visual flaw, the potentially iconic image didn’t make my cut of presentable images. I filed the negative, then I misplaced it. For more than 32 years it remained unseen. I present it now only as a warning.

Even as a 17 year-old, nothing annoyed me more in my own photography than missing the focus. Back then there was no autofocus, so when I missed, I couldn’t blame the technology.

My lesson: get the focus right. Once you’ve missed it you can’t fix it. (Although with digital sharpening you can cover your tracks a little).

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Palmer, Massachusetts Then and Now; 1984-2016.

Conrail SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester at Worcester, Massachusetts) makes a drop at Palmer, Massachusetts on Ma7 6, 1984.
Conrail SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester at Worcester, Massachusetts) makes a drop at Palmer, Massachusetts on May 6, 1984.

I exposed these two views from almost the same angle on the South Main Street Bridge in Palmer, Massachusetts.

In 1984, Conrail operated the old Boston & Albany, and the main line was then a directional double track route under rule 251 (which allows trains to proceed in the current of traffic on signal indication).

SEPW has stopped on the mainline, while the headend has negotiated a set of crossovers to access the yard and interchange. That’s the head end off in the distance.

I made this 1984 view on Plus-X using a Leica fitted with a f2.8 90mm Elmarit lens.

The comparison view was exposed on July 25, 2016 using  a Lumix LX7 set at approximately the same focal length. Although similar, I wasn’t trying to precisely imitate the earlier view and was working from memory rather than having a print with me on site.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7. I used the ‘A’ mode and dialed in -1/3 to compensate for the bright sunlight and the dark side of the train. This image was extracted from the in-camera Jpeg and compressed for internet viewing, but I also made a RAW file of the same image. Both are to be archived on multiple hard drives.
Exposed using my Lumix LX7. I used the ‘A’ mode and dialed in -1/3 to compensate for the bright sunlight and the dark side of the train. This image was extracted from the in-camera Jpeg and compressed for internet viewing, but I also made a RAW file of the same image. Both are to be archived on multiple hard drives.

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Great Combination—Bad Advice; Conrail May 1984.

In my early days photographing every so often I’d hit upon a great film-camera-lens combination.

You know, just the right set up to make memorable images.

On May 6, 1984, my dad lent me his Leica M3 with 50, 90 and 135mm lenses. For reasons I’ve long forgotten, I loaded this with Plus-X (ISO 125) rather than Ilford HP5 or Tri-X (my typical films choices back then).

More significantly, I decided to use an orange filter to alter the tonality of the film.

I went trackside along the Conrail’s former Boston & Albany and exposed a series of evocative images of trains rolling through the Quaboag Valley.

Conrail's SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester) roars east through the Quaboag Valley east of Palmer on May 6, 1984. The magic combination: filtered Spring light; Plus-X film exposed using a Leica M3 with 90mm Elmar fitted with an orange filter. Processed in Microdol-X.
Conrail’s SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester) roars east through the Quaboag Valley east of Palmer on May 6, 1984. The magic combination: filtered Spring light; Plus-X film exposed using a Leica M3 with 90mm Elmar fitted with an orange filter. Processed in Microdol-X.

These photos were much more effective than what I typically achieved with my Leica 3A and 50mm Summitar. I’d made a leap forward.

At the time, I was delighted with the results and on a Friday night brought a stack of 3x5in. prints down to Tucker’s Hobbies (owned an operated by my friend Bob Buck).

Friday evenings were our normal time to convene. And, one of Bob Buck’s patrons, a friend and a well-meaning (published) enthusiast photographer (who is long since deceased and so shall remain anonymous) offered me some free photo criticism..

“Oh don’t use an orange filter, it makes the Conrail paint too dark, and stop using that telephoto lens, it distorts your perspective. Otherwise these are great shots.”

I heeded this bad advice and returned to my older set up. Nearly two years passed before I made another serious foray into the realm of the telephoto for railroad photos.

Also, I largely returned to using unfiltered Tri-X/HP5. (Partially because I’d dropped my 50mm and it would no longer accept filters.)

I didn’t know any better and my magic combination was unraveled before I had time to fully explore it.

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Conrail-Looking Back; Anticipating Change.

I was on my way to New London, Connecticut in late 1996 when I first learned of the news that CSX was to make a bid for Conrail.

It was a big surprise to most observers. Ultimately CSX and Norfolk Southern divided Conrail.

Armed with the knowledge of Conrail’s pending split, I made many images to document the final months of Conrail operations.

Step back a decade: In the mid-1980s, I’d photographed  the end of traditional double track operations on Conrail’s Boston & Albany line.

Long rumored, the B&A’s conversion from directional double-track (251-territory) to a single-main track with Centralized Traffic Control-style dispatcher controlled signaling and cab signals began in late 1985. It was largely complete three years later.

A year or so before the work began, I was sitting in an engine cab and a Conrail crewman pointed out to me that the railroad had re-laid one main track with continuous welded rail while the other line remained jointed.

“See that jointed track, that’s the line they’re going rip up. Better get your pictures kid.”

Sound advice. And I took it to heart. By anticipating the coming changes, I made many prized photographs of the old order—before the work began.

I continued to photograph while the work was in progress, but that’s not my point.

Conrail's C30-7A and C32-8 diesels roll east with tonnage at milepost 84 in Monson, Massachusetts. In this view, I'm looking toward the Palmer diamond, and in the distance we can see Central Vermont cars for interchange. At this stage Conrail was still operating the B&A as a traditional directional-double track railroad, much the way it had been operated for decades. Yet, it was only a matter of weeks before the old westward main (seen here with jointed rail) would be removed from service. This was mid-1986. By anticipating the changes to the railroad, I could emphasize the elements soon to change; the westward jointed track and the code lines. However, other more subtle changes also resulted. Without the old signals, the code lines came down, and the bushes and trees grew in their place.
Conrail’s C30-7A and C32-8 diesels roll east with tonnage at milepost 84 in Monson, Massachusetts. In this view, I’m looking toward the Palmer diamond, and in the distance we can see Central Vermont cars for interchange. This was mid-1986. At this stage Conrail was still operating the B&A as a traditional directional-double track railroad, much the way it had been operated for decades. Yet, it was only a matter of weeks before the old westward main (seen here with jointed rail) would be removed from service. . By anticipating the changes to the railroad, I could emphasize the elements soon to change; the westward jointed track and the code lines. However, other more subtle changes also resulted. Without the old signals, the code lines came down, and the bushes and trees grew in their place.

Having observed New England railroading for the better part of four decades, I again have a sense that change is in the works for railways in the region.

Will today’s operators remain as they are for long? Will traffic soon find new paths and may some lines—now active—dry up? Will those antique locomotives, more than four decades on the roll soon be sent for scrap? Those are the questions we should think about. Take nothing for granted and keep a sharp eye for images.

While,  my crystal ball remains clouded, I’ve learned not to wait for the big announcement. I hate standing in lines to get my photos or realizing I missed an opportunity when the time was ripe. Act now and stay tuned.

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Conrail versus CSX; West Warren on the Boston & Albany Then and Now.

Ok, how about then and when? (click on the link to Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light to see the modern view).

These photos were exposed 28 years apart from essentially the same place in West Warren, Massachusetts.

One view was made of an eastward Conrail freight in March of 1984; the other of an CSX freight at almost the same spot on November 15, 2012.

In both situations I opted to leave the train in the distance and take in the scene.

Conrail eastward freight grinds upgrade on a dull March 1984 morning. Exposed on black & white film using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summicron lens.
Conrail eastward freight grinds upgrade on a dull March 1984 morning. Exposed on black & white film using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.
CSX Q264 (carrying auto racks for delivery in East Brookfield, Massachusetts). Exposed using a Lumix LX3 with Leica Vario-Summicron lens.
CSX Q264 (carrying auto racks for delivery in East Brookfield, Massachusetts). Exposed on the morning of November 15, 2012 using a Lumix LX3 with Leica Vario-Summicron lens.

Over the years I’ve worked this vantage point with a variety of lenses, but I’ve chosen to display these two images to show how the scene has changed over the years.

In the 1984 view notice the code lines (the ‘telegraph poles’) to the left of the train and the scruffy trees between the railroad and the road. Also in 1984, the line was 251-territory (directional double track).

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This is the Beginning Not the End.

So it read on one end of Conrail’s specially painted New England Division caboose.

Ironically, on this day that ‘end’ of the caboose that was facing inward toward the freight cars.

I made these photos at the end of the day at Tennyville in Palmer, Massachusetts.

The freight was Conrail’s PWSE (Providence & Worcester to Selkirk).

These were among my reticulated negatives in my lost photo file described in detail in yesterday’s post (see: Conrail-Visions from another era.) They were exposed in Spring 1984.

Conrail’s one of a kind New England Division Caboose spent a couple years on the Boston & Albany in the mid-1980s. Sometime after Division Supt E.C. Cross retired it was sent west to New York State where it became the Buffalo Division Caboose. I have more photos of it out there. Most of them sharper than these.
Conrail’s one of a kind New England Division Caboose spent a couple years on the Boston & Albany in the mid-1980s. Sometime after Division Supt E.C. Cross retired it was sent west to New York State where it became the Buffalo Division Caboose. I have more photos of it out there. Most of them sharper than these.
Interestingly, my unintentional and inept processing of the negatives resulted in producing better tonality in the sky. This was at the expense of sharpness and granular uniformity however.
Interestingly, my unintentional and inept processing of the negatives resulted in producing better tonality in the sky. This was at the expense of sharpness and granular uniformity however.
Palmer, Massachusetts in the Spring of 1984.
Looking west at Palmer, Massachusetts in the Spring of 1984.
If you look carefully, you can spot the headlight of PWSE's headend working Palmer yard to make a pick up.
If you look carefully, you can spot the headlight of PWSE’s headend working Palmer yard to make a pick up. That’s the old Route 32 bridge over the tracks  in the distance.

Interestingly, my unintentionally inept processing of the negatives resulted in producing better tonality in the sky. This was at the expense of sharpness and granular uniformity however.

For more than 30 years these negatives were stored unlabeled in a white envelope.

I scanned them last week; and using digital post-processing techniques I was able to adjust the contrast to partially compensate for the damage in processing.

©Brian Solomon 582668
I featured this caboose in my first book on American railroad cabooses authored with John Gruber and published by MBI.

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Conrail-Gauzy Visions from another era;—the Lost Photo File, Part 2.

 

Sometimes by getting it wrong, I got it right.

It was Spring 1984 when I made this black & white photo of Conrail’s SEBO-B climbing east through Warren, Massachusetts.

Until a couple of day’s ago, this negative was lost and unprinted, part of a group of Conrail negatives on the Boston & Albany.

When I first relocated these images after 32 years, I was puzzled.

What had happened and Why?

Then I remember the situation: I’d messed up the processing of the negatives at the time and I was disgusted with the results. And, so I’d put the negatives away in a general file, where they were mostly mixed in with similar outtakes from my High School yearbook collection (I was a sort of unofficial class photographer.)

In 1984, I’d typically use Kodak Microdol-X as my black & white developer, aiming to work with this solution at 68 degrees F.

To mix the solution from powdered form, I’d have to bring the temperature up to about 120 degrees F, then let it cool (often in glass bottles soaking in ice water).

I must have been in a hurry, and in this instance, I’d failed to allow the developer to cool properly. When I processed the negatives the solution was still over 80 degrees F. Worse, the rest of my chemistry was still at 68 degrees.

The result was that my photos were grossly over processed, but since the developer was highly active, it affected highlights and shadow areas differently. This provided much greater shadow detail to highlight detail than I’d normally expect.

Also, the shock to the emulsion when I dropped the hot film into relatively cool stop bath solution caused it to reticulate.

Reticulated emulsion results in grain clumping that lowers the sharpness, produces a ‘halo-effect’, and creates a speckled and uneven grain pattern that is most noticeable in even areas such as the sky.

Since the negatives received much greater development than usual, they are very dense, and back in my day printing photos in the family kitchen, were effectively unprintable.

This enlargement of the front of the engine shows the effects of reticulated grain structure. When processed as intended Kodak Tri-X can deliver a relatively fine and even grain structure. Here we have a mottled speckled structure caused by very hot developer and the shock of cool stop bath.
This enlargement of the front of the engine shows the effects of reticulated grain structure. When processed as intended Kodak Tri-X can deliver a relatively fine and even grain structure. Here we have a mottled speckled structure caused by shock from a  very hot developer followed by the cool stop bath.

With modern digital scanning and post processing techniques, I was able to overcome difficulties with the density and contrast.

In the Spring of 1984 (second week of May based on the freshly leafing trees) I made this early evening image of Conrail's SEBO-B working east through Warren, Massachusetts on the B&A route. (SEBO = Selkirk to Boston).
In the Spring of 1984 (second week of May based on the freshly leafing trees) I made this early evening image of Conrail’s SEBO-B working east through Warren, Massachusetts on the B&A route. (SEBO = Selkirk to Boston).

I find the end result pictorial. Perhaps, it’s not an accurate rendition of the scene, but pleasing to the eye none-the-less.

I’m just happy I didn’t throw these negatives away. After all, Conrail SD40-2s were common, and I had plenty of opportunities to photograph freights on the B&A.

Stay tuned for more!

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Tracking the Light Extra: Rochester, New York—Conrail Shadow.

Some photos age well.

The purpose of this image was intended as a test of Kodak's new T-Max 100 black & white film. Exposed with a Canon A-1 with 50mm lens.
The purpose of this image was intended as a test of Kodak’s new T-Max 100 black & white film. Exposed with a Canon A-1 with 50mm lens.

I made this view of Conrail GP40-2s rolling east at Rochester, New York’s  Amtrak station in November 1986—nearly 30 years ago.

At the time, Conrail was the order of the day, and the GP40-2s were common.

Although sharp and properly exposed, this view was marred by the shadow of the canopy and so at the time I disregarded it.

I’ve amended my opinion, however.

Now the whole scene has changed beyond recognition. Conrail is gone nearly 17 years and last year Amtrak demolished its old station in preparation for construction a new one.

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Conrail Coal Train in 1988.

It was a hazy sunny August morning when I exposed this trailing view of a Conrail coal train east of Bennington Curve on the famous former Pennsylvania Railroad grade between Altoona and Gallitzin.

Exposed on Kodak Verichrome Pan black & white negative film using a Rollei Model T (with Zeiss f3.5 75mm Tessar lens) with 645 (superslide) insert. Processed in Kodak D-76 diluted 1:1 with water. Negative scanned with an Epson V750, contrast adjusted electronically.
Exposed on Kodak Verichrome Pan black & white negative film using a Rollei Model T (with Zeiss f3.5 75mm Tessar lens) with 645 (superslide) insert. Processed in Kodak D-76 diluted 1:1 with water. Negative scanned with an Epson V750, contrast adjusted electronically.

Tracking the Light is on Autopilot while Brian is traveling.

Conrail SD40 at Bullards Road, Washington Summit.

Conrail eastward freight at Bullards Road, Hinsdale, Massachusetts on August 3, 1984. Take notice the former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2, Conrail 6659, second out. Some of those old EMD’s are still on the move too. This day it’s 20-cylinder 645-diesel was adding to atmosphere. (Fear not, I have plenty of photos of the SD45-2s on the B&A and elsewhere on Conrail).
Conrail eastward freight at Bullards Road, Hinsdale, Massachusetts on August 3, 1984. Take notice the former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2, Conrail 6659, second out. Some of those old EMD’s are still on the move. This day it’s 20-cylinder 645-diesel was adding to atmosphere. (Fear not, I have plenty of photos of the SD45-2s on the B&A and elsewhere on Conrail).

Looking back more than three decades; it was a warm August 1984 afternoon when my pal T.S.H. and I sat up on the grassy hill near the popular Bullards Road Bridge to photograph this Conrail eastward freight as it approached Boston & Albany’s summit of the Berkshire grade.

I made this image on 35mm Kodak Tri-X using my Leica 3A with a Canon 50mm lens.

Conrail was divided in Spring 1999, nearly 15 years after this photo was exposed.

In 2003, CSX removed the old Bullards Road bridge (and stone abutments).

I can’t say for certain what happened to the SD40, but a similar former Conrail engine still works for New England Central.

Personally, I’d trade my digital cameras for a fully functioning time machine.

Tracking the Light acknowledges

Conrail’s 40th Anniversary!

 

 

 

Conrail at 10 mph; Arkport, New York on the old Erie Railroad.

It was April 1989 when I exposed this view of Conrail’s BUOI (Frontier Yard Buffalo to Oak Island, New Jersey) bumping along the number 2 track at Arkport, New York.

At that time this portion of the old Erie Railroad line from Hornell to Buffalo as still directional double track (rule 251) with block signals largely in the from of antique Union Switch & Signal Style S semaphores.

A 35mm black & white photograph exposed using a Leica M3 rangefinder.
A 35mm black & white photograph exposed using a Leica M3 rangefinder with 90mm lens. That’s my old (then new) Bogen 3021 tripod that I’d lent to a fellow photographer ( seen at left).

Between Hornell and Hunt, New York, Erie’s old eastward main wasn’t maintained for speeds faster than about 10mph, and when possible Conrail routed traffic against the current of traffic on the westward (number 1 track.) Not on this day though.

I was working with two Leica M rangerfinders that day; I made a similar view on Kodachrome slide film with my M2 that appeared in RailNews for its ‘Farewell to Conrail’ issue back in 1999 (a little more than ten years after I exposed it).

While Conrail was only an extant player in American mainline freight operations for a little more than 23 years, it was my favorite of the big eastern railroads.

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Happy Birthday Conrail!

Today, April 1, 2016, is the 40th birthday American eastern giant, Conrail. Commencement of operations on the Consolidated Rail Corporation began on this day 40 years ago.

Conrail was created by Congress to assume operations of a variety of financially troubled eastern railroads including Penn Central, Erie Lackawanna, Reading Company, Central Railroad of New Jersey and Lehigh Valley.

When I was growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Conrail was the big show. By the time Conrail’s operations were divided by CSX and Norfolk Southern in 1999, I’d exposed tens of thousands of images of its locomotives, trains and people.

Conrail TV10B emerges from the mist enshrouded Quaboag River Valley near CP79 east of Palmer, Massachusetts. It was scenes like this one, exposed on April 30, 1997, that made Conrail a favorite railroad. Nikon N90S with 80-200mm Nikkor AF zoom, Ektachrome film.
Conrail TV10B emerges from the mist-enshrouded Quaboag River Valley near CP79 east of Palmer, Massachusetts. It was scenes like this one, exposed on April 30, 1997, that made Conrail a favorite railroad. Nikon N90S with 80-200mm Nikkor AF zoom, Ektachrome film.

I miss Conrail. It’s blue locomotives photographed well; it ran lots of freight over my favorite Boston & Albany; its employees were friendly to me, and it embodied most of favorite historic railroads. Turn back the clock, let it be Conrail-days all over again!

In 2004, Tim Doherty and I co-authored a book on Conrail, published by MBI. If you have this prized tome, it’s now a collectible item! By the way, if you know a publisher interested in a follow-up title, I have access to virtually limitless material and keen knowledge of the railroad. Just sayin’

Happy Birthday Big Blue!

 

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Upper Quadrant Semaphore on the old Erie Railroad.

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In the 1980s, I made hundreds of images of upper quadrant three-position semaphores along the old Erie Railroad in New York State, a line then part of the Conrail system.

A Union Switch & Signal upper quadrant semaphore blade, exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens.
A Union Switch & Signal upper quadrant semaphore blade, exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens.

I focused on this semaphore near Tioga Center, New York in August 1988. This is part of a sequence that portrayed the signal in its three position and this image is of the ‘approach aspect’.

Learn more about American semaphore practice in my book, Classic Railroad Signals published by Voyageur Press.

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Amtrak Montrealer Detours! 30 Years Ago Today—March 15, 1986.

It was a day of big excitement. Up north, Guilford was in a knot as result of a strike action. Bob Buck phoned me early in the morning to say that ‘The Boot’ (the colloquial name for Amtrak’s Montrealer) was detouring to Palmer on the Central Vermont, then west on the Boston & Albany (Conrail).

Using my dad’s Rollei model T loaded with Kodak Tri-X, I made the most of the unusual move.

This was nearly a decade before Amtrak’s Vermonter began to regularly make the jog in Palmer from the CV/New England Central route to the B&A mainline.

And, it was only four months before Conrail ended traditional directional double-track operations between Palmer and Springfield.

Amtrak 61 followed CV’s southward road freight to Palmer arriving at 11 am. Here I pictured it near the old Boston & Albany freight house in Palmer, Massachusetts. Note the all heritage consist (except of course for the F40).
Amtrak 61 followed CV’s southward road freight to Palmer arriving at 11 am with  Canadian National M-420 2557 in the lead.. Here I pictured it near the old Boston & Albany freight house in Palmer, Massachusetts. Note the all heritage consist (except of course for the F40).
An Amtrak CF7 had come out from Springfield to assist with the reverse move necessary to bring the Montrealer westward over the B&A.
An Amtrak CF7 had come out from Springfield to assist with the reverse move necessary to bring the Montrealer westward over the B&A.

I’d met some photographers at the Palmer diamond and encouraged them to take advantage of my favorite vantage point at the rock cutting at milepost 84, just over the Quaboag River from the Palmer Station.

As detouring Amtrak number 61 approached with a former Santa Fe CF7 leading the train to Springfield, we could hear an eastward Conrail freight chugging along with new GE C30-7As.

Moments after I exposed the classic view of this Montrealer working the old number 1 track, TV6 blasted east with intermodal piggybacks for Worcester and Springfield. I was using the Rollei with a 645 'Superslide' insert that allowed me 16 frames per roll.
Moments after I exposed the classic view of this Montrealer working the old number 1 track, TV6 blasted east with intermodal piggybacks for Worcester and Boston. I was using the Rollei with a 645 ‘Superslide’ insert that allowed me 16 frames per roll.
Conrail TV6 passes Amtrak's Montrealer on the double track west of the Palmer diamond. In July 1986, Conrail cut-in CP83 which ended double track operations between Palmer and the new CP92 in Springfield.
Conrail TV6 passes Amtrak’s Montrealer on the double track west of the Palmer diamond. Four months later, in July 1986, Conrail cut-in CP83 which ended double track operations between Palmer and the new CP92 in Springfield.
Sometimes when the action is unfolding its best to just keep exposing pictures. Here I was cranking the Rollie as quickly as I could.
Sometimes when the action is unfolding its best to just keep exposing pictures. Here I was cranking the Rollie as quickly as I could.

This is among my favorite sequences that show the old double track in action.

Some of these photos later appeared in Passenger Train Journal. Long before I was the Associate Editor of that magazine.

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Conrail Classic: Beacon Park Yard, November 1987.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.
Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.

This Kodachrome slide represents a memory of how things were:

Back when Conrail operated the old Boston & Albany.

Back when Boston’s Beacon Park was an active yard.

I passed this location on the Logan Express bus from Framingham the other day. It is much changed

The tracks at CP4 were being re-aligned.

A few years back CSX had come to an arrangement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and agreed to close the yard.

Now at Beacon Park the remaining yard tracks are weed grown and vacant.

Intermodal trains now only run as far east as Worcester where a new, expanded yard was constructed during 2011-2012 to take the place of Beacon Park.

What little carload freight CSX has in Boston is handled by a local freight.

I’d be willing to bet that today more freight moves through the interchange at Palmer than is generated in Boston.

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Boston & Albany West End-Conrail in the Berkshires.

Sunday, September 22, 1985.

This photo was product of one of dozens of trips I made to the old Boston & Albany west end in the mid-1980s.

The west end is the railroad west of Springfield over the Berkshires of Massachusetts toward Albany, New York.

Exposed on 120 black & white film using a Rollei Model T. Exposure calculated using a GE hand held light meter. Film processed in D76 1:1, and scanned with an Epson V750.
Exposed on 120 black & white film using a Rollei Model T. Exposure calculated using a GE hand held light meter. Film processed in D76 1:1, and scanned with an Epson V750.

On this morning I waswest of Chester, Massachusetts perched on the top of an rock cutting  that dated to the time of the line’s construction circa 1839-1840.

This Conrail eastward train was slowly making its way east. It was serenely quite in these hills and I’d hear the freight making its descent of Washington Hill miles before it finally appeared.

Imagine this setting one hundred and forty years earlier when it was the old Western Rail Road (precursor to the Boston & Albany). A time when one of  Winan’s peculiar vertical boiler 0-8-0s would have led a train of primitive four wheel freight cars over this same line.

Fewer trees then. And no cameras!

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This is an adjusted version of the same image. I've slight altered contrast and exposure to make it appear better on a computer screen.
This is an adjusted version of the same image. I’ve slight altered contrast and exposure to make it appear better on some computer screens. On my screen this looks closer the way I would have printed the negative back in 1985 by using a cold head (diffusion) enlarger.

Conrail in 1984 or Fixing the Dark Side—Thin Negatives Improved!

Back in March 1984, I wandered down to Palmer with my dad’s Rolleiflex Model T loaded with Tri-X.

It was a miserable day; typical early of early Spring wet, clammy and dark.

Yet, Conrail was running trains. A westward midday freight (remember those?) was blocked at the diamond for a Central Vermont train.

Using the Rollei’s square format, I composed some interesting images. Conrail’s Boston and Albany was still a directional double-track railroad back then. This was before the modern signals and single tracking that began in 1986.

I took the negatives home and processed the negatives in the sink, as I often did in those days. I was using Microdol-X for developer. I was cheap, and my developer was rather depleted by the time I souped this roll.

The result; unacceptably thin negatives that wouldn’t print well, even when subjected to a number 4 polycontrast filter.

Poor show! These negatives were thin and very hard to print. At the time it wasn't worth my time to mess about with them. Thankfully I saved them for more than 30 years. Despite under processing, most of the essential information necessary for an acceptible image was retained in the original negatives. This is the unmodified file.
Poor show! These negatives were thin and very hard to print. At the time it wasn’t worth my time to mess about with them. Thankfully I saved them for more than 30 years. Despite under processing, most of the essential information necessary for an acceptible image was retained in the original negatives. This is the unmodified file.

It was a just a dark day in Palmer. Conrail in 1984 was common for me, so I sleeved the negatives, filed them away in an envelope and that was that.

Until a little while ago, when through the improved tools available to me through Lightroom, I was able to finally get the results I desired from these old photos.

A few easy adjustments in Lightroom and I was able to extract most of the detail I saw back on that March 1984 day. Now I have some suitable dramatic images from a favorite period on the railroad.
A few easy adjustments in Lightroom and I was able to extract most of the detail I saw back on that March 1984 day. Now I have some suitable dramatic images from a favorite period on the railroad.

After nearly 32 years, they are looking pretty good now!

Conrail_Palmer_March1984_Brian Solomon_581495-2Conrail_Palmer_March1984_Brian Solomon_581496

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: West Warren—Conrail C30-7A from a different angle.

I just scanned this old negative a few minutes ago. (If you’re not viewing this on Tracking the Light, you’ll need to click the link to get the full effect of the image.)

Back in late 1996, friend Doug Moore (and Tracking the Light grammar and fact checker) had lent me a Baby Speed Graphic (sorry I don’t recall the specific model.).

This camera used a roll film back and featured both a leaf shutter and a focal plane shutter, which made it useful for exposing railroad photographs.

Kodak 120 Tri-X exposed using a Speed Graphic and processed in D-76 1:1 with water. December 5, 1996, West Warren, Massachusetts.
Kodak 120 Tri-X exposed using a Speed Graphic and processed in D-76 1:1 with water. December 5, 1996, West Warren, Massachusetts.

Among the images I made was this view of a westward Conrail freight from the bridge at West Warren. Tracking the Light viewers will likely recognize the location as I’ve often posted pictures from here.

Using Lightroom I was able to make some simple contrast and exposure adjustments that greatly improved the overall appearance of the photo.

Here's a slightly lighter variation of the above image. Just a minor adjustment that may look brighter on the computer screen. Owing to the large size of the negative and careful processing, there's lots of subtle tonality in the original.
Here’s a slightly lighter variation of the above image. Just a minor adjustment that may look brighter on the computer screen. Owing to the large size of the negative and careful processing, there’s lots of subtle tonality in the original.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Conrail 27 Years Ago this Very Day!

A few minutes ago I scanned this Kodachrome slide. When I went to caption the file, I thought,
“Jan 14th 1989. Wow, that’s exactly 27 years ago.”

So, there you go.

Kodachrome 25 exposed with a Leica M2 on January 14, 1989.
Kodachrome 25 exposed with a Leica M2 on January 14, 1989.

I’d been photographing Conrail symbol freight BUOI-4X (extra section of Buffalo to Oak Island Yard, New Jersey). This freight worked the old Erie Railroad route and picked up re-built New York City Subway cars from the Morrison-Knudsen plant in Hornell, New York.

I made this view at the old Erie Railroad East Hornell Yards that was mostly used for storage of old freight cars. (And yes, I do have some nice photographs of the old freight cars).

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New Haven at New Haven, Connecticut; Gauging the Passage of Time.

Stop for a moment and gauge the passage of time and your relative perception of it.

I made this photograph about 1980. I’d been fascinated by the New Haven Railroad, and what I saw here I viewed then as a relic of times long gone.

The old railroads such as the New Haven were those that my dad had photographed back in the days of sunny Kodachrome.

At the time, I made this view of old New Haven cars at New Haven, Connecticut, I was 13. Conrail was then only 4 years old (formed on April 1, 1976), yet for me even its predecessor, Penn-Central was already a foggy memory.

Looking back now, to me it doesn’t seem so long ago that Conrail vanished (Its operations ended in 1999). And yet, for point of comparison Conrail been gone almost four years longer (17 years) than I’d been alive at the time I made the photo.

What is interesting? What seems old?

These old New Haven ‘washboard’ multiple units were only about 26 years on the property (built new c1954). I thought they were ancient. Yet, now in 2016 how are old the few surviving Metropolitan sets? Well into their 40s!
These old New Haven ‘washboard’ multiple units were only about 26 years on the property (built new c1954). I thought they were ancient. Yet, now in 2016 how old are the few surviving Metropolitan sets? Well into their 40s!

In a high-school math class, I once remarked to my teacher, Mr. Ed Lucas, “Time and your perception of time are in inverse proportions to each other. The more time you experience, the faster it seems to go by.”

He replied, “That’s awfully profound for someone your age!”

Before Christmas, I related this story over dinner. However, I was stunned to learn a little more than a week later that Ed Lucas passed away on New Years eve.

It doesn’t seem so long since I sat in his class, and yet in another way it also seems like the dawn of time (or my perception of time)!

Tracking the Light Looks Back.

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Conrail Camel at East Brookfield; Fixing a Dark Slide.

(If you are not viewing Tracking the Light, please click on the post to see the variations from Dark to Light.)

Kodachrome was a great film but it had its failings. It’s spectral sensitivity tended to render blue too dark in relation to the other colors.

An unfortunate result of this sensitivity was that at times of high sun, when there is a greater amount of ambient blue light, Kodachrome was both less sensitive and produced an unacceptably constrasty result that over emphasize the already unflattering light of midday.

For this reason, I often put the camera away during midday, or switched to black & white.

This slide is an exception. On June 29, 1989, I photographed an eastward Conrail freight with C32-8(a model known colloquially as a ‘Camel’)  passing the old Boston & Albany station at East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

The unaltered scan from the original Kodachrome 25 color slides. Owing to the time of the day, the slide is contrasty and as a result of the sensitivity curve of the film, it appears underexposed.
The unaltered scan from the original Kodachrome 25 color slides. Owing to the time of the day, the slide is contrasty and as a result of the sensitivity curve of the film, it appears underexposed.

I have many better photographs of these unusual locomotives and superior views of the old station, both of which are now gone. Yet, I’m glad I made this slide.

For years, it remained in its yellow box as returned to me by Kodak. Although sharp, it wasn’t up to par with my slides from the time and so I’d deemed it unworthy of projection.

Today this is a pretty interesting image and through the comparative ease of digital processing, I can compensate for some of the failings of the film.

Using Lightroom, I’ve been able to adjust the contrast, exposure and color balance to make for a more acceptable image.

I’ve presented three variations: the above image is the unmodified scan (scaled for internet presentation); the other two have various levels of adjustment aimed at producing a more pleasing image.

In this variation, I made some quick adjustments to color temperature, overall exposure, while lightening the shadow.
In this variation, I made some quick adjustments to color temperature, overall exposure, while lightening the shadows.
This version required more intensive work in post processing. I've locally adjusted shadows and highlights, while further tweaked overall exposure and made localized changes to color balance.
This version required more intensive work in post processing. I’ve locally adjusted shadows and highlights, while further tweaked overall exposure and made localized changes to color balance.

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Jersey City 1983 and 2015, Dramatic Changes and Comparisons in Time and Place.

(for those viewing via Facebook or other sites, you’ll need to click the link to Tracking the Light for the full effect.)

Then and Now, I think.

Back in 1983, I was fascinated by the Pennsylvania Railroad’s waterfront operations in Jersey City, especially at Exchange Place.

On a family trip, we spent an hour or so exploring the decay around Jersey City so that I could make photos that I’d ultimately planned to use to build a diorama/model railroad.

23 years previously, my father had made photos at the old Exchange Place Terminal. We had difficulties locating anything definable at the site of the once massive station, but made a few photos around the Conrail former PRR yards.

Conrail_9212_and_7546_at_Exchange_Place_Jersey_City_NY_Feb1983©Richard_Solomon_664473
In February 1983, my father exposed this view of Conrail locomotives at Jersey City on Kodachrome 64 using his Leica. I made some similar views that are less impressive as stand alone photographs, by proved useful in trying to relocate this place last week.

Over the last year, I’ve taken a few trips through Jersey City on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and found the place totally transformed from my mental images of the place stemming from the early 1980s.

So, I decided to try to recreate some of our 1983 angles, and  last week armed with maps and photos in-hand I went exploring.

This USGS topo map shows the way Jersey City would have been c1950. I've placed a blue arrow to show my photo location. (Manhattan Island is located at the far right).
This USGS topo map shows the way Jersey City would have been c1950. I’ve placed a blue arrow to show my photo location. (Manhattan Island is located at the far right).

When a cityscape changes beyond recognition, it can be difficult to produce practical ‘now and then images.

These photos are part my work in progress.

I made some cheap copies of the 1983 photos and started exploring Jersey City. While I'd expected to find the 1983 site covered with modern development, I was surprise that the location of our locomotive photo remained undeveloped, albeit surrounded by modern buildings.
I made some cheap copies of the 1983 photos and started exploring Jersey City. While I’d expected to find the 1983 site covered with modern development, I was surprise that the nearest location of our locomotive photo remained undeveloped, albeit surrounded by modern buildings.
Is this the exact spot where we made our photos in 1983. I'm not sure, but one I climbed up the embankment, it seemed very familiar, although the setting has been transformed. Sorry, no vintage EMD NW2 switchers in December 2015! Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Is this the exact spot where we made our photos in 1983? I’m not sure, but when I climbed up the embankment it seemed very familiar, although the setting has been transformed. Sorry, no vintage EMD NW2 switchers in December 2015! Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Re-explores Old Locations!

On the Erie—Off Season Snow at Swain, New York.

Snow in May? When I awoke I was astounded. But sure enough, on May 7, 1989, there was about six inches of fresh snow on the ground at Scottsville, New York.

I’d immediately mobilize to make use of the unusual weather.

Heavy wet snow with freshly budding trees was a disaster for signal code lines. Branches had brought down lines along both Conrail’s former Water Level and Erie routes.

I learned of a couple of trains working east from Buffalo on the Erie line. First I chased DHT-4, a Delaware & Hudson double stack, then I doubled back west to pick up Conrail’s BUOI led by General Electric C30-7A 6598.

Conrail_BUOI_Swain_NY_May7_1989_PX©Brian_Solomon_663569
Conrail C30-7A 6598 (built by GE in 1984) leads BUOI (Frontier Yard, Buffalo to Oak Island, New Jersey) eastward on the former Erie Railroad at Swains, New York. If you look at old maps you’ll see evidence of a Pennsylvania Railroad line that ran roughly parallel to the Erie and connected with the old Pittsburgh, Shawmut & Northern not far from this location. This photo was exposed on May 7, 1989 at about 1:20pm.

The train had 103 cars and was moving along at little more than a walking pace.

I exposed this view near Swains, New York using my father’s Leica M3 with a 50mm Summicron. The snow made for some peculiar contrast that was well suited to Kodak Plus X.

My notes from the day read: “Snow! V.Bright” with some light meter readings in footcandles to aid in processing.

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Four Classic Kodachromes: Ghost Railroad and the Water Level Route—May 13, 1989.

About a week ago I was asked by regular Tracking the Light reader Ciarán Cooney if I had exposed  photos on May 13, 1989.

This request was prompted by my posting images from May 6th of that year. (See: Amtrak 63, Ivison Road, South Byron, New York, May 6, 1989.).

I consulted my notes from that year, and found that I’d photographed extensively on that day! (Hooray for my old notebook!)

At the time I was about a week away from completing my course work at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where I earned a BFA in Photographic Illustration, and I was making good use of the fine Spring weather in Western New York State.

That day I began my photography on the Water Level Route at East Rochester, and worked my way eastward toward Lyons, New York.

Conrail SD50 leads symbol freight PXSE (Pacific Express to Selkirk, New York) eastward on the number 1 track at CP342 near Newark, New York.
Conrail SD50 leads symbol freight PXSE (Pacific Express to Selkirk, New York) eastward on the number 1 track at CP342 near Newark, New York.

I was particularly fascinated by the abandoned truss bridge over the old New York Central west of Newark, New York. This had carried the Newark & Marion, which had served as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [See: AbandonedRails.com for more about this line. ]

Using my Leica M2 with a 35mm Summicron, I opted for a vertical format. Conrail's CP342 near Newark, New York on 13May1989.
Using my Leica M2 with a 35mm Summicron, I opted for a vertical format. Conrail’s CP342 near Newark, New York on 13 May1989.
Another eastward freight with an SD50 in the lead. I wouldn't complain today about seeing three freights with Conrail blue SD50s! Back then they were pretty common, but still nice to see.
Another eastward freight with an SD50 in the lead. I wouldn’t complain today about seeing three freights with Conrail blue SD50s! Back then they were pretty common, but still nice to see.

On an earlier trip, I’d photographed this bridge on a dull day using a 4×5 camera.

On May 13th, I worked with my Leica M2 exposing Kodachrome 25 color slides, and featured Conrail trains passing below the bridge.At that time SD50s were standard locomotives on many of the railroad’s carload trains.

Later, I explored other vantage points along the busy Conrail east-west mainline.

Amtrak F40PH 362 leads train 68 along the former New York Central mainline east of Newark, New York. (Incidentally, Newark, New York should not be confused with the larger and better known Newark, New Jersey, that is on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor).
Amtrak F40PH 362 leads train 68 along the former New York Central mainline east of Newark, New York. (Incidentally, Newark, New York should not be confused with the larger and better known Newark, New Jersey, that is on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor).

Thanks to Ciarán for encouraging this foray into my slide archive!

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Moment in Time: Conrail at Bergen, New York, May 6, 1989.

A westward van train raced along the Water Level Route, its horn sounding for the North Lake Street Crossing—the blaring Doppler effect announced its passage. For a moment it  captured everyone’s attention.

CLICK: I exposed this frame of 35mm black & white film at the decisive moment when the lead GP40-2 was visible on the crossing. A fallen bicycle on the sidewalk, turned heads, and the hint of motion blur of the train tells a story.

Exposed on Kodak Plus-X with a Leica M3 with 50mm Summicron lens; processed in D-76 1:1 (with water), scanned using an Epson Perfection V600 Photo flatbed.
Exposed on Kodak Plus-X with a Leica M3 with 50mm Summicron lens; processed in D-76 1:1 (with water), scanned using an Epson Perfection V600 Photo flatbed.

Twenty six years passed before this image saw the light of day (or that from a back-lit computer screen). I’d processed the film at the Rochester Institute of Technology and sleeved the unprinted negatives. Recently, I scanned this roll of Plus-X and found on it this photograph.

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Conrail TV5, Springfield, Massachusetts.

It’s hard for me to believe these photos are nearly 30 years old!

Bob Buck and I were at Springfield Union Station on December 30, 1985, watching trains, as we often did back then.

Conrail TV5 pulled up and stopped. I used this opportunity to make a few black & white photos using my father’s Rollei Model T and Metz hand-held electronic flash.

I’d worked out a technique of blending existing light with electronic flash that retained the essential lighting of the scene.

TV5 was a rarely photographed train that carried intermodal trailers from Boston to St. Louis. It was one of several piggyback trains that rolled over the B&A route in darkness.

Scan of my original negatives.
Scan of my original negatives.

At the time, these seemingly mysterious night-time piggy back trains fascinated me, and I was very pleased to have captured this one on film

I made two exposures. The first is pretty good. The second suffered from a knock to the camera or tripod. Today, I’d have the opportunity to check my exposure and focus on site, back then all I could do was hope for the best.

I processed the film by hand.

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Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania—March 1988.

I exposed this photograph of stored freight cars in the derelict remains of the former New York Central yards at Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron. Exposure calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.
Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron. Exposure calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.

The rolling gentle profile of the distant hills and the contrast between soft afternoon sun and inky shadows intrigued me. I find the hills oddly compelling, as in over the hills and far way.

This yard had been a busy place once but by the Conrail era was just the vestige of another era. There’s rusty tracks below the grass and bushes.

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Tomorrow—View from a Canoe!