Last week, after a season of heavy snow in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, a mid-April heatwave hit the area.
Although it was 75 degrees F, I was standing in about 18 inches of crusty icy snow near the 3rd Iron Truss over the Saco River. I was here that I photographed Conway Scenic’s Work Extra climbing toward Sawyer River behind former Maine Central GP38 252.
The train was hauling felled trees collected along the line up to a location near Rt 302 where they will be recycled.
Bright Spring sun with leafless trees and snow on the ground certainly made for some unusual lighting conditions.
Four hours apart, I exposed pairs of photos of antique GP38s at two New England Railroad Stations using my Lumix LX7.
Just after 10:30am yesterday, I made a couple of images of the Snow Train departing Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway, New Hampshire Station. GP38 number 255 was positioned at the back of the train for the return run from Attitash.
Sometime around 2:30pm, I made photos of New England Central GP38 number 3845 at the station in White River Junction, Vermont. This is one of New England Central’s surviving original GP38s (with which the railroad started operations back winter 1995).
These mid-1960s era machine soldier on in regular service despite their age.
Almost every train on Conway Scenic Railroad stops at the North Conway Station.
It is extremely unusual train that passes the station without stopping
Yesterday, while serving in the capacity as ‘Manager on Duty,’ I cleared Work Extra 252 into North Conway from Conway, and granted it permission to drop its caboose at the North Yard before continuing West.
I made this selection of photos as vintage GP38 252 worked passed the 1874 station.
I’d been meaning to get some photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s former Maine Central GP38 255 working New Hampshire’s Conway Branch in red paint.
The railroad acquired this pure Maine Central GP38 from the Vermont Rail System last autumn, and in recent weeks it has been the regular locomotive for the Valley Train, which makes three Conway trips.
The plan is have this locomotive painted in a neo-Maine Central scheme, similar to its sister GP38, number 252, which also serves Conway Scenic, so time may be getting short to get good photos of it in the red scheme.
These photos were exposed with my Nikon Z6 digital camera, but I also made a exposures on Ektachrome slide film for posterity.
I wonder, will the posterity even care about a red GP38 on the Conway Branch?
Yesterday, May 11, 2022, it was bright sunny and warm in Conway, New Hampshire. The only train on the move was Conway Scenic’s ballast extra. So I conferred with the ballast train crew before they departed the yard (with engine 252 and a rider coach—for use as a shoving platform and to carry the crew between work sites), and then intercepted the train at Conway as they were putting the consist together.
In the afternoon, I tracked down the train again to make the most of the bright day.
All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera with 24-70 Z-series zoom.
When I photographed Maine Central GP38 255 (and its sister 256) in the Bangor, Maine yard back in 1986, it was just another GP38.
Soon, if all plans come to fruition, it will become a regular sight in North Conway, New Hampshire, where it can again work Maine Central rails.
There’s a certain satisfaction in bringing the old locomotive back to home rails where it can rejoin its sister 252 to entertain legions of visitors on their travels through the Mount Washington Valley.
Bangor Yard and Kodachrome may have both gone the way of the Dodo Bird, but the 255 is still with us. I wonder whatever happened to 256?
Yesterday I learned through social media that New England Central 3850 suffered a main generator fire while climbing State Line Hill (located in my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.)
Over the last 26 years, I’ve made countless photos of this antique EMD diesel-electric at work and at rest.
While I cannot predict the future, I know that often with older diesels, a main generator failure may represent the kiss of the scrapper.
When it came to New England Central in 1995, 3850 carried the number 9531, which is how I picture it in the December 1996 view below.
I made this photo at Palmer, Massachusetts using a mix of artificial lighting, including electronic strobe for fill flash, and my original Fujichrome slide is strongly tinted.
I scanned this slide using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software. Working from a high-resolution TIF file, I initially scaled the photo without corrections.
Then, working with slider controls in Adobe Lightroom, I implemented a variety of color corrections, plus contrast and exposure adjustements to overcome flaws with color balance and exposure. Below are both results for point of comparison.
Tracking the Light is a Daily Photoblog focused on railroads.
On August 26, 1986, Art Mitchell was giving photographer Brandon Delaney and me a tour of Maine railways.
We had perfect Kodachrome weather.
Among our stops was Maine Central’s Bangor Yard, where I made this view of GP38 255 working an eastward freight.
I was fascinated by the antique switch lamp in the foreground, which was still part of the railroad’s functioning equipment and not merely a decoration.
I had Kodachrome 64 loaded in my Leica 3A, and I exposed this color slide with a 65mm Leitz lens mounted using a Visoflex (a Rube Goldberg-inspired reflex view-finder attachment) on the screw-mount pre-war (WW2) 35mm camera.
This somewhat awkward camera arrangement was my standard means for exposing color slides at that time. I made careful notes of my exposure, which was f8 at 1/200th of a second. (My Leica 3A used some non-standard shutter speeds.)
Today, I find the GP38 interesting because its sister locomotive, number 252, is a fixture at the Conway Scenic Railroad (although at present it is out of traffic and awaiting repairs).
On February 5, 1996, I exposed a series of Kodachrome 25 color slides of New England Central 9529 switching at Palmer, Massachusetts.
The railroad later renumbered its engines from the 9500-series to the 3800-series, but in 2020 a few of its now geriatric GP38s still work the line in the 1995-era Conrail-applied New England Central start-up paint.
25 years in the same blue and yellow scheme. While not a world record, it is still pretty impressive.