Tag Archives: East Northfield

EMD’s Racing the Sun at East Northfield.


After catching New England Central’s local freight at White River Junction (featured in Friday’s Tracking the Light), I figured we had time to zip down I-91 to Brattleboro, Vermont and catch road freight 611 on its run south to Palmer, Massachusetts.

Rolling down Cotton Mill Road, I spied 611 led by five vintage EMD diesels pulling across the causeway south of Brattleboro Yard.

Pat Yough, visiting from Pennsylvania, wanted to try for a photograph at the Junction in East Northfield, on the Vermont-Massachusetts state line, so after a cloudy day photograph near Vernon, we overtook the slow moving freight.

Shortly before the train arrived, the clouds parted for a few moments, and a brilliant ‘sucker hole’ illuminated the tracks.

Working with my 18-135mm zoom lens, I quickly adjusted my composition to make the most of this sunny opportunity. And made several nice sunlit telephoto shots.

By the time the train rolled below us, the clouds had dampened the morning light. Yet, the chase was on . . .

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When East is West: Two Trains at the Junction.

I’ve been making photos at the Junction at East Northfield since the 1980s.

The other day, on the third visit in two weeks to this iconic New England location (where New England Central’s line connects with Pan Am Railway’s Conn River route), I had a reckoning.

It occurred to me that railroad timetable ‘East Northfield’ is actually north and west of the town of Northfield, Massachusetts.

How is this possible?

Some Highway maps show railroad ‘East Northfield’ in West Northfield.

This timetable location has been called ‘East Northfield’ since the steam era,  and the present NECR sign reflects this historic geographic incongruity.

New England Central’s northward 611 (running from Palmer to Brattleboro) holds south of the junction at East Northfield for Amtrak 56, the northward Vermonter, led by P42 number 59. (Don’t get me started on train numbers versus engine numbers!)

Amtrak 56 accelerates away from the junction at East Northfield, clearly identified by the New England Central sign at left. Back in the old days, there was a railroad station on the right side of the tracks, and that was the ‘East Northfield Station’.

After Amtrak 56 completed its station stop at Brattleboro and cleared railroad location at West River, NECR’s dispatcher gave northward freight 611 permission to proceed. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm lens.

No doubt at some point in the future, the geography will be retro-actively re-written to accommodate this oversight on the part of historic railroad timetable writers. What will they make of my captions!

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East Northfield, Massachusetts: a Junction; a Tunnel Motor; A Searchlight and Three Quarter Light.

Years ago, the view from the road bridge at East Northfield, Massachusetts was more open than it is today.

The trees have grown up making it more challenging to expose photos of trains at the junction between former Boston & Maine and former Central Vermont lines here.

At one time, a century or more ago, B&M’s Conn River route crossed the CV here. B&M’s line continued across the Connecticut River and rejoined the CV at Brattleboro.

Later, the two routes were melded in a paired track arrangement. However, by the time I started photographing here in the 1980s, the B&M route north of East Northfield was no longer functioning as a through line.

On the morning of April 27, 2018, I made this view of New England Central freight 608 led by a former Southern Pacific SD40T-2 ‘tunnel motor’ diesel.

New England Central 611 approaches the junction at East Northfield, Massachusetts. The lead locomotives have just crossed the Vermont-Massachusetts state line. The old Boston & Maine line once continued to the right of the present NECR alignment (and to the left of the dirt road), running northward across the Connecticut River and beyond via Dole Junction, New Hampshire toward Brattleboro.

The light was spot on for a series of three quarter views featuring a vintage GRS searchlight signal that protects the junction.

Perfect morning light makes for a calendar view from the road bridge at the junction.

NECR 611 continues south toward Palmer, Massachusetts on the old Central Vermont Railway, the old Boston & Maine route diverges to the left toward Greenfield and Springfield, Massachusetts.

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Connecticut River Crossing—Contrast Adjustment.

Last week I exposed this view of New England Central 611 (Brattleboro to Palmer) crossing the Connecticut River at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

New England Central 611 crosses the Connecticut River at East Northfields, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Fuji Film XT1.

To compensate for the back lit high-contrast scene, I made a few necessary adjustments in post processing.

Working with the Camera RAW file, I applied a digital graduated filter across the sky and locally lowered highlight density, while altering the contrast curve and boosting saturation.

I then made global adjustment to contrast and saturation across the entire image, while brightening the shadow areas. The intent was to better hold detail in the sky.

To make this possible, it was necessary to expose for the sky, and allow the train and bridge to become comparatively dark. I did this knowing I’d make adjustments after the exposure.

For more detail on this photographic technique see: Irish Rail 085 with Ballast Train at Sunset—lessons in exposure and contrast adjustment. 

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Pan Am Railways and a Grave Yard at East Northfield, Massachusetts

Pan Am Railways and Grave Yard, East Northfield, Massachusetts

November 1st is celebrated as The Day of the Dead in Mexico, and as All Souls Day in some European traditions. For the Celts it is Samhain.

In honor of these holidays, I present a pair of recent views of Pan Am Railways symbol freight EDBF (East Deerfield to Bellows Falls, Vermont) passing a grave yard near the Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

Low sun accentuates autumn foliage and allows for a glint effect on the side of the locomotives while making for stark silhouettes of some of the grave markers.

Pan_am_EDBF_East_Northfield_MA_DSCF5577

Pan_am_EDBF_East_Northfield_MA_wide_DSCF5578

I exposed these views with my FujiFilm X-T1. In post processing I adjusted the camera RAW files in Lightroom to balance the contrast and warm up the color temperature.

In addition to the digital photos, I exposed a few color slides using my Canon Eos 3 with a 20mm lens..

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Happy Halloween From Tracking the Light: October Light, Orange Loco and Pumpkins

It's what they call a 'hail mary shot.' New England Central 611 rolls north at East Northfields, Massachusetts in a fading glimmer of October sun. Photo processed digitally to lower contrast, increase saturation, and improve color balance. X-T1 photo Exposed on October 29, 2015 at East Northfield, Massachusetts.
Photo processed digitally to lower contrast, increase saturation, and improve color balance. X-T1 photo Exposed on October 29, 2015 at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

It’s what they call a ‘Hail Mary shot.’ New England Central 611 rolls north at East Northfield, Massachusetts in a fleeting fading glimmer of October sun.

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