Tag Archives: Genesee River

Conrail at the Portage Bridge Letchworth Park, New York.

On the morning of May 9, 1987 I exposed this view of Conrail’s BUOI (Buffalo to Oak Island) easing across the former Erie Railroad Portage Viaduct over the Genesee River at Letchworth Park.

I was working with my father’s Rollei Model T that he purchased in Düsseldorf, Germany 28 years earlier. My film of the day was Kodak T-Max 400 (TMY).

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Conrail, Kodak and the old Hojack.

Charlotte, New York, January 1989.

When I was studying at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Kodak would annually supply photo students with a gift package of examples of their latest products.

Although I was a confirmed Kodachrome customer, as a poor student, I always make use of the other films supplied. In January 1989, I had a role of ‘Ektachrome of the year’. This was the latest 100 speed slide film.

I loaded up the Leica M2, and drove my Dodge Dart around the Rochester area looking for suitable subjects with which to sample this new emulsion.

Exposed on Kodak Ektachrome with a Leica M2. Film processed by Kodak. The image was adjusted in post-processing to compensate for exposure, contrast, and color balance.
Exposed on Kodak Ektachrome with a Leica M2. Film processed by Kodak. The image was adjusted in post-processing to compensate for exposure, contrast, and color balance.

At Charlotte, where Conrail accessed a portion of the old Hojack route, I found this local working. Was this the local freight that served Kodak’s Rochester factories on the far side of the Genesee River? I can’t say for certain, but that really would be appropriate, wouldn’t it?

January 1989; Conrail had a full ten years left. At the end of May 1999, Conrail’s independent operations ended and CSX and NS took over.

 In 2004, Tim Doherty & I authored an illustrated book on Conrail for MBI.

Learn more about the evolution of the railroad network, see my book: North American Railroad Family Trees published by Voyageur Press.


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Erie’s Portage Bridge—another view

Erie RR Portage Bridge Letchworth Gorge April 7 2013 Brian Solomon 087487

Here’s an unpublished image from my archive. In the gloom of early morning on April 7, 1989, I made the hour and 15 minute drive from Scottsville to Portage, New York to make time exposures of the old Erie Railroad Portage Viaduct. I featured this pioneering tower-supported viaduct in an earlier post (see: Erie Railroad’s Portage Bridge May 12 2007). Blessed by a stunning setting and significant history, the old Portage Viaduct has been a favorite subject on many occasions over the years. For this image, I used my Leica M2 rangefinder with 50mm Summicron lens to make a long exposure (about 8 seconds) in the pre-dawn twilight. The predominantly blue light combined with Kodachome’s spectral sensitivity to produce a near monochromatic view. The roaring Genesee falls have taken on an otherworldly ethereal quality, while the dark sky lends a nightmarish cast. This image exists only on film; at the time of exposure, it seemed very different to my eye. Later in the morning, an eastward Delaware & Hudson freight eased over the bridge at restricted speed; I followed this for several hours, making numerous images of it, mostly in black & white.

I discuss the history of this bridge in my book North American Railroad Bridges.

For more post on the Erie Railroad route see: Erie October MorningCuriously Seeking Erie Semaphores and Erie Semaphores Revisited.

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