But wait, CSX doesn’t serve Gardner. True. However on this day in mid-November 2016, I photographed a pair of CSX GE Evolution-series diesels leading Pan Am Southern freight 287—an empty auto rack train from Ayer.
These days, passing locomotives don’t necessarily reflect either the owner or operator of the train they lead.
Dappled morning sun augmented the effects of a textured sky and late season foliage. I opted to make this image using my Leica 3A with 35mm Nikkor Lens loaded with Ilford Pan-F (ISO).
This film offers fine grain and broad tonality. I’m not yet expert at processing this emulsion. Previously I used Ilfosol with mixed results. This time I tried Kodak D76 mixed 1:1 (stock solution with water).
If my process was completely successful my negatives would scan perfectly without need of electronic post processing adjustments. This example provided a good starting point, but to make for the most pleasing image, still required local and global contrast control.
By the way, digital photographers may relax; I also exposed several frames with my FujiFilm X-T1–Just in case.
A few weeks ago, my friends and I met to explore recent changes to the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg Route (Pan Am Southern’s main line) including re-signaling and trackage upgrades.
Among the first places on our tour was Gardner, Massachusetts, where we found Norfolk Southern 66N, which is a loaded Ethanol train destined for the Port of Providence.
This was led by four Norfolk Southern DASH9-40CWs that were followed by an idler car and 80 cars of ethanol. The train was waiting on Pan Am rails for a Providence & Worcester crew to take it south from Gardner.
Among the recent changes was the installation of a crossover at the Gardner yard that makes it easier to make a progressive move from the old eastward B&M mainline track to the P&W, which facilitates operation of unit trains such as the 66N. This is a low-tech solution, as the switches are operated manually (of the ‘hand-throw’ type).
I made this series of images featuring the 66N with my FujiFilm X-T1.
Static and slow moving freights offer many opportunities for photography.
When we arrived the morning was clear and sunny, but over the next hour, clouds rolled in from the west and softened the light.
Thanks to Rich Reed, Paul Goewey and Felix Legere.
The old Boston, Barre & Gardner Railroad was a 19th century line that ran from Worcester, Massachusetts to Peterboro, New Hampshire.
Today, the bottom portion of the line serves Providence & Worcester’s through connection with Pan Am Railways at Gardner.
Last fall I explored this line between Holden and Gardner looking for locations.
On Thursday, February 11, 2016, Mike Gardner and I arrived at Gardner in time to find Pan Am’s ED-8 making a drop for the P&W. Earlier, another train, probably symbol 28N had dropped autoracks, so the yard was nearly full of cars.
Based on past experience, I quickly surmised that the P&W hadn’t arrived from Worcester yet. So after a quick lunch, we started working our way south against the train.
North of Princeton, Massachusetts there are several grade crossing with nicely curving track. The snow covered ground made for Christmas card scene.
Mike and I didn’t have to wait long before P&W’s symbol freight WOGR (Worcester to Gardner) came charging northward. We were impressed by the length of the train. One unit was at the head-end with a second locomotive at the back of the train.
Southbound the train was even more impressive, but it required about 3 hours of switching to put it all together.
I exposed these views of Pan Am Southern symbol freight 28N at Gardner, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg mainline.
Dark Clouds on the Horizon.
Heavy wintery clouds were rolling in from the west, yet a few shafts of sun remained. The contrast between the bright sun and billowing churning clouds allowed for dramatic lighting; ‘storm light’.
I was traveling with Bob Arnold and Paul Goewey. Our bonus on this day was catching one of Norfolk Southern’s recently acquired former Union Pacific SD90MACs (a large General Motors model, built to accommodate a 6,000 hp diesel, but in this case powered by GM’s more reliable 16-710 engine with a more conservative rating).
Pan Am’s 28N is a autorack train that drops cars at Gardner and Ayer, Massachusetts. At Gardner Providence & Worcester interchanges, and often P&W’s WOGR (Worcester-Gardner) arrived about the same time as an eastward Pan Am freight.
By the time the P&W arrived at Gardner, the dramatic light had faded, yet the sky was still full of texture.
It is always a delight to stumble upon something relatively unusual and have the foresight and knowledge to make the most of the opportunity.
The old Boston, Barre & Gardner was among the railroads gobbled up by the growing Boston & Maine during the golden years of American railroads. The line primarily extended from Worcester to Gardner and beyond to Peterboro, New Hampshire.
Historically, the route crossed B&M’s Fitchburg line on a set of diamonds in front of the Gardner station. Back in 1880, three passenger trains a day served the 27 miles between Worcester and Gardner.
By the 1950s, one lonely train covered the run, and this made its final journey on March 7, 1953. Check out Robert Willoughby Jones’ book Boston & Maine: Forest, River and Mountain for photos.
These days, the line between Worcester and Gardner is operated by Providence & Worcester, and I’ve featured it on several occasions on Tracking the Light, while a short vestige of the north end of the route extends from a connection with Pan Am Southern in Gardner to a shipper a short distance away.
Last week, Bob Arnold, Paul Goewey and I were photographing in Gardner when we noticed the flange ways were clear on this rarely used stub branch. ‘There’s got to be an engine up the line,’ I said, and we went to investigate.
We found our quarry, and waited for the locomotive to return.
As I explained to a friend later: this operation might happen every Monday, or only on odd number days following a full moon in months ending in the letter ‘R’, but in more than 30 years of photography in the area, none of us had ever seen it before.
Hooray for fortuity!
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Common on the Class 1 carriers, but still relatively rare on regional and short line roads; North American Safety Cab diesels.
On October 30, 2015, I exposed these images of Providence & Worcester’s symbol freight GRWO (Gardner to Worcester) working south at Union Street in Gardner on the old Boston, Barre & Gardner line.
Cross lighting favored the ‘widenose’ cab, which is brightly lit against a backdrop of late season autumn color. The dark shadow of the train makes for stark contrast and helps draw attention to the main subject.
Since the train was moving relatively slowly, I had ample time to compose several views of it, working both in the horizontal and vertical formats.
Would views from this angle have the same impact with the older styles of locomotive cabs?