Tag Archives: #Conway Scenic Railroad

Photo Freight Crossing the Swift River—Slide Scan

Among the hundreds of 35mm slides returned to me from the processing lab the other day was this Kodak Ektachrome E100 slide of Conway Scenic Railroad 573 and 4266 leading the 2020 Railfan’s Day photo freight that I helped organize.

September 5, 2020 was a perfect clear day with rich blue sky and warm late-summer sun. 

In addition to a great number of digital photographs, I also exposed color slides for slide shows and to keep for posterity.

With slides I get the best of both worlds; analog archival material and a scannable transparency that is easily digitized for internet presentation.

I scanned the slide using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 scanner, set to 4000 dpi and a ‘White Balance’ color profile.

Below I’ve attached the VueScan control window that shows my various manual settings; the RAW uninterpreted scan of the slide, and the adjusted scan after I altered shadow and highlight contrast and other parameters in Adobe Lightroom.

Hamrick Software’s VueScan work window.

E100 slide, ISO 100 exposed with a Canon EOS3 with 40mm pancake lens. This the un-adjusted scan file. Except for scaling, I made no changes to the slide image.

Adjusted scan; shadow areas were lightened, highlights were lowered, edges of the image were cropped. Plus fine adjustments to color temperature and color balance.

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Final 2020 Mountaineer

Saturday, November 14, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its final Mountaineer of the 2020 operating season. As scheduled, this ran from North Conway to Crawford, Notch, New Hampshire and return.

Historically CSRR ceased operations over Crawford Notch earlier in the season.

I used this rare late-season move over the former Maine Central Mountain Division to make some unusual photos. Bare leaf-less trees allow for views that are unobtainable during the summer and early autumn.

During the course of the operating season, I’d made several head-end trips and Hyrail inspections of the line to look for angles. Some of the finest locations I found are a long way from public highways. 

For this photo of eastward train 162, I climbed to an elevated point, and used my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

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Eight Photos! Special Mountaineer—November 9, 2020.

On November 9, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a special Mountaineer for the benefit of its employees and their guests. This used a foreshortened consist and departed earlier than normal, It proceeded west under clear sunny skies where it made a stop at Bartlett, NH to pause for passengers and to collect catered meals.

Upon arrival at Crawford Station, GP35 216 ran around, while we had the opportunity to make photos. After this short stop, the special then proceeded eastbound and made a second stop at the site of the Mount Willard Section House­-onetime home to the famous Evans Family.

Here I made a number of unusual photos while the train was tied down on the Willey Brook Bridge.

Bartlett, NH.
Westbound near mp83.
Running around at Crawford.

Crawford.

Willey Brook Bridge near the old site of the Mount Willard Section House (seen to the right of the train)
Panoramic composite at Willey Brook Bridge.
Willey Brook Bridge.

All photos were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

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Millie at Work!

During the relatively quiet days mid-week in November, Conway Scenic has assigned RDC 23 Millie to work Valley Train runs to Conway and Bartlett. This will continue Monday-Thursday until Thanksgiving.

This former is former New Haven RDC 23, that later worked for Penn Central, Amtrak, Metro-North, and Susquehanna

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera, I made these views on Tuesday November 10, 2020 while the car was in service at North Conway, New Hampshire.

As I’ve been digging through my older photos, I’ve searched for photos of Mille working for one of its former owners, but so far have only found photos of its sister cars.

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Frankenstein on Halloween!

Where better to photograph a train on Halloween than Frankenstein trestle?

This afternoon, Kris Sabbatino and I ventured to this iconic landmark to catch the eastward Conway Scenic Mountaineer.

Mount Washington seen to the right of the train was covered in fresh autumn snow.

The bridge is named for the nearby cliffs, which were named not for the characters of Mary Shelley’s fictional story, but rather for the family of German artists that painted landscapes of the Mount Washington Valley in the 19th Century.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens.

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Wanders With Millie

Old Millie is Conway Scenic’s Budd RDC. This car is a former New Haven Railroad RDC built back in 1952.

Earlier this week Millie had finished its 92-day inspection and needed to go for a test run before she enters service next week on the Valley run.

My parents were visiting from Massachusetts, so a group of us including Kris and Sharon Sabbatino and Conway Scenic’s Train Master and Road Foreman of Engines, Mike Lacey, went for wander with Millie down the Conway Branch.

We stopped on the way down and again on the way back.

If all goes to plan, Mille will be working the 1115 Conway and 1245 Bartlett trains Monday – Thursday up until Thanksgiving.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera.

Moat Brook Bridge.
Moat Brook Bridge.
photo by Kris Sabbatino.
Conway station.

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Fujinon 16-55mm X-Mount Lens

Last month my 18-135mm Fujinon zoom for my XT1 digital camera suffered a failure.

To replace this lens, I’ve bought a secondhand 16-55mm f2.8 Fujinon X-mount zoom.

Although it has a shorter range, this is a better lens overall,

It arrived last Friday (October 23, 2020).

I’ve been testing it over the last few days, and thus far I’m very pleased with the results.

I’ve found it to be very sharp throughout the range. It has excellent color and seems largely free from aberrations. It has manual aperture control and is easy to control.

Below is a selection of images that I’ve made with it of Conway Scenic’s Valley Train.

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First Snow!

The highlight of yesterday’s 470 Club Special Autumn Express to Fabyan, New Hampshire was the dusting of snow on late season foliage at Crawford Notch.

I arranged for a photo stop at the site of the Mount Willard Section House where we performed a photo ‘run by’ over the famous Willey Creek Bridge.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

RAW files were converted to DNG format with Iridient X-Transformer and then processed using Adobe Lightroom to adjust color temperature, saturation and contrast,

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Foliage at Mp79 and Iridient Comparison.

Yesterday, October 15, 2020, I made a late season foliage photo of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer descending from Crawfords at milepost 79 near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm prime telephoto, I set the ISO to 1000. I needed relatively high sensitivity because I was working in the shadows of the trees and mountain side and wanted a sufficiently fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the train, while using a smaller aperture to minimize headlight bleed.

Then I imported the Fuji RAW files directly into Adobe Lightroom for processing, while making a comparison set of files by importing them first into Iridient X-Transformer which converts the files to a DNG format and then imported these into Lightroom.

As previously described on Tracking the Light, the Iridient software does a superior job of interpreting the Fuji RAW files.

See comparisons below.

Fuji RAW file processed by Adobe Lightroom and adjusted for color balance and saturation in post processing.
Fuji RAW file processed by Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted for color balance and saturation in post processing.
Close up of the Fuji RAW processed by Adobe Lightroom.
Close up of the Fuji RAW processed by Iridient X-Transformer. Notice the superior clarity of hard edges and better definition at the edge of the headlights.

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Five Foliage Views from the Old Maine Central Mountain Division

Last week, I spent several days on the former Maine Central Mountain Division making photographs of the line in the autumn foliage as part of my job for the Conway Scenic Railroad.

This is an amazing section of railroad with lots of history and lore.

I’ve included just five of the several hundred digital photographs I made that I feel best capture the season and the character of the railroad.

East of the Arethusa Falls grade crossing looking toward Frankenstein Cliff. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Track maintenance at Bartlett, NH. FujiFIlm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Site of the Mount Willard section house looking toward the Willey Brook Bridge.. FujiFIlm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Telegraph pole west of MP80 looking. FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Storm Light at Bartlett—October 10, 2020.

I arrived at Bartlett, NH, several minutes ahead of Conway Scenic’s train 162, the eastward Mountaineer. The sky was chocolate.

Then as the train approached the crossing with Rt302 west of town, the clouds parted to bathe the scene with strong rays of afternoon autumn sunlight.

I made photos with both my Nikon Z6 and my FujiFilm XT1 (with 27mm pancake lens).

This image was exposed with the Fuji.

I converted the Fuji RAW using Iridient software to make a DNG file, which I then imported into Adobe Lightroom for final adjustment.

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Autumn Sky at Crawford

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday, October 8, 2020), I set up at the Gateway at Crawford Notch to photograph Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been focusing on this train to make publicity photos for advertising, social media, etc.

The sky above the White Mountains was a turmoil of clouds.

Shortly before the train departed Crawford Station eastbound, the sun peaked through a hole in the clouds and brightly illuminated the train against this textured sky.

I was lucky, and later in the day this effect was repeated at Bartlett.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto; White balance set to ‘daylight’. Camera JPG scaled for internet.
Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto; White balance set to ‘daylight’.

I’ll save that view for a later posting.

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Crawford Notch—Line-side and from the Cab.

The railroad takes on different characters when view from line-side versus that when view from from the locomotive cab.

The perspectives and impressions you get when standing on the ground are very different than the views from a locomotive cab in motion.

Part of this is the difference in elevation. Part is where you can safely stand in relation to the railroad and how lineside obstructions alter your view.

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve made various headend and walking trips on the old Maine Central Mountain Division.

Among the most interesting places is the area east of Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.

Below are two views exposed three days apart from the same location near milepost 83 looking west. One is from the ground of Conway Scenic Railroad’s train 162—the eastward Mountaineer, the other from the headend of the westward train. 

Exposed with a Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm lens.
Exposed with a Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm lens.

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Vintage EMD’s meet at the North Yard.

For the last few days, Boston & Maine F7A 4266 has been parked in Conway Scenic’s North Yard at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Last week I thought this might make for a classic juxtaposition with the returning Valley train from Bartlett led by former Maine Central GP7 573.

Both locomotives are painted in a classic EMD-designed livery, popular on B&M and Maine Central in the 1940s and 1950s. The gold and maroon nicely mimic the hues of fading New England foliage.

I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Hazy autumn afternoon light offers bright low contrast illumination that suits the subjects of the photos.

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Foliage at 4th Iron.

On Friday evening, September 25, 2020, I exposed this digital photograph on the former Maine Central Mountain Division at 4th Iron using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

There are four iron bridges between Bartlett and Sawyers along the Saco River. The easiest to photograph is 4th Iron, which not only can be seen from Highway 302—that runs parallel to the railroad—but even has its own parking area complete with a sign ‘4th Iron’.

I liked the spot because of the bright red trees on both side of the Sawyers River.

The train pictured is Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer that was returning from Fabyan to North Conway, New Hampshire.

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Frankenstein Foliage

September 24, 2020: I made my way to Frankenstein trestle on the former Maine Central Mountain Division to photograph Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer.

The autumn foliage has almost reached its peak brilliance near the bridge. The leaves are turning early this year, probably because of drought conditions.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1. Output is the camera JPG with Velvia color profile. Other than scaling for internet, I did not adjust for color, contrast, or exposure.

If all goes well, I’ll be back up on the mountain today. The conditions look to be warm, bright and dry in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

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Mountaineer at Fabyan

Last week, Conway Scenic Railroad extended its Mountaineer to Fabyan, New Hampshire. This will be the normal operation until October 18, 2020, when it will be cut back to Crawford station.

I made these views of the train at Fabyan on Friday September 18, 2020 using my Lumix LX7.

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A Tinge Of Autumn Color at Crawford Notch.

Yesterday, September 18, 2020, I traveled on the headend of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer to scope autumn view points for publicity photos.

The trees have hints of the autumn palette and I noted a variety of places near the top of the mountain where I hope to revisit over the coming weeks.

It looks like some of the best color will be near the famous Willey Brook Bridge and Mount Willard Section House in New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch. We’ll have to wait and see how the autumn colors manifest this season.

I made these views from GP35 216 using my Lumix LX7.

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Work Train Running east.

These days a morning eastward train is a relatively rare event on Conway Scenic’s former Maine Central Mountain Division route.

On Friday evening, our work train returning from work at Crawford Notch had tied up on the siding at Bartlett. So, on Saturday morning (September 12, 2020) a train crew went out to bring it back to North Conway.

I drove to Bartlett to make a few photos in the crisp morning light.

Canon EOS 7D w 100mm lens.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

These photos were made digitally using my both Lumix LX7 and Canon EOS 7D (with 100mm lens).

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September 6th: Mountaineer on the Fill—Two variations.

After Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer arrived at North Conway, New Hampshire on Sunday September 6, 2020, I picked a new spot in the golf course adjacent to the big fill (on approach to Conway Scenic’s yard) to catch the train as it was being stowed for the evening.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view in RAW and then processed the file in Adobe Lightroom.

I made two variations of the processed image.

The top has lower contrast; the bottom features higher contrast and increased saturation (see the screen shot of the Lightroom work window below)

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Sunday Special Photographer’s Mountaineer—September 6, 2020.

This past Sunday, September 6, 2020, I’d organized a special Mountaineer that operated on an extended schedule to allow for a few photo stops along the way.

I traveled on the head-end with engineer Gary McFarland to spot the train at key locations.

I carried two cameras; a Canon EOS3 with 40mm pancake lens loaded with Kodak E100 slide film and a Lumix LX7 digital camera. Below are few of the Lumix photos.

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Conway Scenic Conway Way Freight—11 images.

Last Saturday, September 5, 2020, the second of our Railfan photo freights operated from North Conway to Conway on the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch.

We stopped the freight at several locations during the journey, and made a pick up at Conway.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with my 18-135mm Fujinon Zoom lens. Unfortunately, upon arriving back at the North Conway yard, my lens suffered a failure with the linkage inside the lens that controls the range of view, leaving me to work with my Canon EOS 3 film camera for the remainder of the evening.

I’m presently assessing lens/camera replacement alternatives.

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1950s Photo Freight—10 Photos.

Yesterday, Saturday September 5, 2020, was clear, sunny and bright.

I’d helped organized Conway Scenic Railroad’s Railfan’s Day photo freights. Train crew inlcluded: Road Forman/Train Master Mike Lacey, Engineer Adam Bartley,and Conner and Cullen Maher. Various others assisted with operations, especially working the crossing gates on the Redstone Branch.

The event was a huge success.

I made these photos of the 10am Photo Freight using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

This train worked out to Mountain Junction and then east on the Redstone Branch to Pudding Pond.

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Setting up the Photo Freights.

Most of the year, Conway Scenic Railroad’s historic freight cars quietly reside in the railroad’s North Yard, although few cars, such as our ballast hoppers are assigned to maintenance service.

Today, Saturday September 5th, we plan to operate a pair of demonstration photo freights for our scheduled Railfan’s Day event.

In preparation, we needed to spot cars at key locations in order to make pick-ups, just like a traditional local freight. In conjunction with this work, we needed to position two flatcars used for our weekly work train, and I wanted to scope locations and remove brush.

Working with former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 and our GP35 216 we gathered cars and make our positioning moves.

Today’s photo freights should be led by 4266 plus former Maine Central GP7 573 which share the traditional EMD-inspired maroon and gold paint scheme.

These are among the photos I exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 (scaled for internet presentation). I also made a few color slides for posterity.

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Conway Scenic Railfan’s Weekend—September 5 & 6.

This week I’ve been preparing for Conway Scenic’s annual Railfan’s weekend—traditionally held on Labor Day weekend.

This year the conditions relating to the containment of Covid-19 have imposed a host of constraints that will make our Railfan’s Weekend a more subdued affair than in previous years. Sadly this is unavoidable. However rather than cancel the event, we decide to move forward with it for the benefit of our fans and loyal supporters.

We’ve placed 470 Club’s Boston & Maine F7A 4266 back in service and this will work photo freights on Saturday (boarding at 10am and 2pm at North Conway) and on Sunday it will lead a special Photographers Mountaineer (that will make photo stops on its journey to Crawford Notch).

The railroad hopes to have a variety of its equipment on display, including several pieces that have been sheltered by the roundhouse for most of 2020.

Below are just some of the photos that I’ve made this week, while helping to organize the Railfan’s event.

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Boston & Maine F7A 4266 Works the Mountaineer—four new photos.

Yesterday, Boston & Maine F7A 4266 led the Mountaineer westbound to Crawford Notch.

This may not seem like a big deal for long time observers of New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railroad, as it has occurred in previous years. However, it was the first time I’d ever witnessed this locomotive outside of the yard, and the first time I’d photographed it working a train. (This locomotive is owned by the 470 Club, which also owns sister B&M F7A 4268 that is undergoing an operational restoration.)

I thought it was pretty cool to finally see this antique on the move!

All going well, 4266 will work the train again today as well as the 930am Conway run.

Site of the Intervale, NH station.
Bartlett, NH.
Approaching the Gateway at Crawford Notch.
Approaching the Gateway at Crawford Notch.

This coming weekend, September 5th and 6th, Conway Scenic will host its annual Railfan’s Weekend. Owing to constraints imposed by the on-going Covid-19 epidemic, the event will necessarily be scaled back from previous years. However, 4266 is scheduled to work a pair of photo-freights on Saturday, and an Extra Photographers Special Mountaineer on Sunday.

The Photo freight has space for a few passengers, and tickets may be ordered online or from the CSRR ticket office (603-356-5251).

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1.

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White balance—Two Examples.

The other day was bright, but overcast, leading a color temperature quandary. Should I set the white balance to ‘auto’ or something else.

Working with my 10-year old Canon EOS 7D with 20 year old 100-400mm zoom, I made a series of photos of Conway Scenic’s 930am train at Conway, New Hampshire as it prepared for its return run to North Conway.

Significantly, I altered the white balance setting between these two images. For the first: the zoom was set at 170mm, and the white balance was at ‘auto white balance’; in the second image the zoom was set to 180mm, and the white balance was manually adjusted to ‘overcast’ which warms the scene.

Auto white balance.
Overcast white balance.

Both images are scaled for internet presentation from in-camera JPG without adjustments to color temperature, color balance, exposure, contrast or saturation.

Someone may ask which white balance setting is ‘true’, and unfortunately the answer is not clear cut. Each of us sees color slightly differently and our brains provide an automatic white balance. There is no one right answer, only an approximate compromise.

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GP35 at Conway.

Yesterday morning, August 20, 2020, offered near-perfect late summer light.

I traveled on the 0930 train from North Conway to Conway and made photographs of the locomotive, a former Norfolk & Western GP35 that is painted to resemble a classic Maine Central locomotive and lettered for Conway Scenic Railroad.

Although, I rarely post classic ‘three-quarter’ locomotive roster photos on Tracking the Light, I thought I’d do so here, along with other angles. All were exposed using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Conway Scenic Publicity Train

On August 12, 2019—one year ago—I’d organized a special publicity run over New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch to make photos and video of Conway Scenic’s then ‘Notch Train’—the train soon to be rebranded as the ‘Mountaineer’.

This departed Crawford eastbound just after sunrise.

I had preselected scenic locations along the former Maine Central Mountain Division where we stopped the train for static photos and organized roll-bys for video.

I was working with three still cameras that day, while Adam Bartley worked with the company video camera.

Our operating crew was Mike Lacey and Joe Costello.

These photos were made with my Lumix LX7. Several images from this run have since appeared in Conway Scenic advertising and in magazine articles.

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Monochrome on the Redstone Branch.

On July 3, 2020, Conway Scenic sent engine 216 out on the Redstone Branch to collect a Boston & Maine boxcar I’d been using for advertising.

I documented the move with digital photos, as previously presented, and also on film.

For these images, I worked with a Nikon F3 with f2.5 Nikkor 105mm lens and Fomapan Classic 100 black & white film. I first sampled Fomapan on a trip to the Czech Republic in 2016.

Operating 216 was Adam, a Conway Scenic engineer trainee.

I processed the film using customized split-development that begins with a very dilute solution of HC110 with PhotoFlo as a presoak followed by primary development with Ilford ID11. After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner then imported the scans into Lightroom for final adjustment and scaling for presentation.

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Working on the Railroad: 216 with a work train.

My Dad’s 1946 Lionel train set featured a Pennsylvania Railroad S2 Steam turbine and a collection of work cars including: a crane, work caboose, dump car, etc.

As I kid, I routinely operated work trains using this O-gauge equipment.

There’s a subtle charm to work trains. These are an integral part of the railroad, yet often go unnoticed and undocumented.

Last week Conway Scenic Railroad operated a work train to perform maintenance on the Conway Branch.

I made these photos of the train as it was prepared in our North Conway, New Hampshire yards. All were exposed using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Class Lamp Up Close—Maine Central 252

Yesterday I took a spin on the train to Conway. I made this view with my Lumix LX7 as I boarded the locomotive on the return trip.

Former Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic’s Valley Trains between North Conway and Conway, and to Bartlett for the last couple of weeks.

Historically classification lamps were used as part of the system of timetable and train order rules, where lights of different colors were part of a hierarchy that defined the superiority of trains.

Conway scenic still uses these rules, with extra trains flying white flags by day and displaying white lamps by night.

At the moment all of our trains are operated under timetable and train order rules as ‘extras’.

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Storm Light at North Conway

Yesterday evening a series of thunderstorms swept over the White Mountains making for a show of lightening and dramatic clouds.

Near the end of daylight, I made this photograph of the North Conway, New Hampshire yard. I was with Kris Sabbatino on the way to collect my car.

I was working with my Lumix LX7. This is a JPG file scaled without manipulation from the in-camera jpg. In other words I made no changes to exposure, contrast, color balance, focus or sharpness.

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Maine Central 252 on the Valley.

During the last week, Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley trains that run daily from North Conway railroad east to Conway and North Conway railroad west to Bartlett.

While 252 is more than capable of working these trains, it is typically been assigned to the run to Crawford Notch.

I took the opportunity to make photos of 252 working the 1910-1920s-era heavy steel cars that comprise our Valley train set.

These photos were made using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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