On this day 38 years ago, the Consolidated Rail Corporation assumed operation of various bankrupt railroads in the northeastern United States, including Penn-Central, Erie-Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Central Railroad of New Jersey, and the Lehigh & Hudson River.
Conrail was bought and divided by CSXT and Norfolk Southern in the mid-1990s, and ended its independent operations in Spring 1999.
During the 23 years that Conrail dominated northeastern freight railroading, I made tens of thousands of photographs of its operations and equipment. In 2004, the book that Tim Doherty and I authored on Conrail was published by MBI. I believe this is something of a collector’s item now.
In October 2005, I arranged through official channels at Genesee Valley Transportation to ride Delaware-Lackawanna’s trains PT98/PT97, and interview railroaders about their work as part of research for my book Working on the Railroad (published by Voyageur Press in 2006).
On the morning of October 13, 2005, I joined the crew in Scranton for their run to Slateford Junction near Portland, Pennsylvania. After a bit of switching we were on the road. The weather started out dark and damp, and didn’t improve any throughout the day.
The primary emphasis of my trip was the crew and many of my photographs from the day depict engineer Rich Janesko and conductor Shawn Palermo at work. These were featured in the book.
On the return run, I opted to ride in the second locomotive for a little while to make images of the train climbing west through the Delaware Water Gap on the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western mainline. It was on this section that my father had photographed Erie-Lackawanna’s Phoebe Snow more than 40 years earlier.
We departed Slateford Junction in early evening. I exposed this image from the fireman’s side of former Lehigh Valley Alco C-420 number 405. Leading is a former Erie-Lackawanna C-425 (running back on home rails thanks to GVT’s policy of Alco acquisition).
I used my Nikon F3T with an f2.8 24mm lens mounted firmly on a tripod in the cab and set the shutter speed at between ¼ and 1/8th of a second to allow the trees and ground to blur.
I was trying to emulate the effect that Richard Steinheimer achieved on his famous cab ride photos at night in a Milwaukee Road ‘Little Joe’ electric.
View from Delaware-Lackawanna’s westward PT97 at the Delaware Water Gap, west of Slateford Junction, Pennsylvania on October 13, 2005. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T and 24mm lens.