This was one of several photos I exposed with my father’s Leica 3C in Palmer, Massachusetts on Labor Day weekend 1977. I started 6th grade a couple of days later.
Significantly, it was the first time I made a photo from this location at the Palmer Diamond, where Central Vermont crossed Conrail’s former Boston & Albany line. From near this spot, I’ve since made many hundreds of photos—more than I dare to count.
Compare this 1977 view with my recent images of a CSX eastward intermodal train. (I posted these the other day, but have also included them below.)
Looking back, I wonder why it took me so long to decide to make photos here. But realistically, prior to summer 1977 my railway photographic efforts were infrequent events.
For my birthday that year, my dad gave me my own Leica, a model 3A, which I carried everywhere for the next seven years and with which I made thousands of images from the Maine coast to southern California, and from Quebec to Mexico.
In the early 1980s, I made trips to Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard to catch the waning days of the old GP7s, GP9s, and GP18s.
More than 30 years later, some of those old goats are still on the move, hauling freight and now in heritage paint!
On the morning of July 9, 2015, photographer Mike Gardner and I stopped into East Deerfield and found the Pan Am Railways GP9s getting ready to work east with a ballast train. I made this view of the colorful old locomotives crossing the Connecticut River east of the yard.
And, just in case you’re wondering: no I did not drop the filter in the puddle.
Early Spring can be an interesting time to make photos in New England. Warmer days and melting snow can result in a muddy sloppy mess, especially around railroad yards. However, the days are longer and the trees are still without leaves, so it can be a good time to explore.
On March 8, 1987, my friends and I visited Boston & Maine’s Lawrence Yard in the northeast corner of Massachusetts. Honestly, this can be an ugly place even on the nicest days.
I found this Boston & Maine GP9 and made several images. At the time, a blue and white B&M GP9 seemed like a fairly prosaic piece of equipment. Yet, I decided to make the most what I had to work with.
Using my father’s Rollei Model T with super-slide (645 size) insert, I exposed this view by holding the camera sideways. The puddle in the yard allowed for a nice reflection. To compensate for the inaccurate tonal rendition of blue by my choice of black & white film, I used an yellow filter. This allowed for superior tonality in the sky and placed the B&M shade of blue more in line with its expected black & white tonality. Without the filter B&M blue tended to appear too light.
Now, nearly 28 years later, a few old B&M GP9s are still working for Pan Am Railways. I saw one the other day dressed in Maine Central green and gold as the ‘Maine Central heritage locomotive.’
Making the most of a clear bright autumn morning, I’d driven to New London, where I visited Central Vermont’s waterfront yard, located below the massive Thames River bridges for I-95. CV’s local was getting ready to head north.
While I was waiting for the CV to get moving, I made photographed Amtrak’s late running Night Owl and its southward Colonial train 95.
The CV local had three GP9s, standard locomotives for that run. In the lead was a personal favorite, engine 4442.
What was special about 4442? Nothing, that’s why I liked it. It had been working CV rails as long as I’d been making photographs, and it seemed like it was always around. I liked 4442 simply because it was familiar. It looked good, and sounded great.
I followed CV’s northward local toward Willimantic, Connecticut, making photos along the way. This was one my best efforts for the day. It’s something of an icon in my collection of CV photos. At the time it was a grab shot. I barely had to time to jump out of my Plymouth Scamp and release the shutter.
I made this image during my senior year of high school. I don’t remember the specific circumstances, but on that day I’d followed Central Vermont Railway’s southward freight from Palmer to Stafford. I made photos of it south of downtown Monson off Route 32, and at the Massachusetts-Connecticut State Line.
This view in downtown Stafford Springs has always intrigued me. The railroad runs tight to a row of buildings along the main street in town. Today, the brick building featured in the photograph hosts a trendy coffee shop where I sometimes meet my friend Roger Ingraham to wait for trains to pass and discuss photography.
In 2013, New England Central operates the railroad, but the scene hasn’t changed all that much. I still make photos here from time to time.
I exposed this image with my old Leica 3A and 50mm Summitar lens, and used a Weston Master 3 light meter to assist in exposure calculation. I processed the film myself in Microdol-X. Typically, I used a weak formula to save money. By doing so, I inadvertently avoided over developing my negatives (which was a flawed inclination of mine at the time).
I made a few minor contrast modifications in post processing and cleaned up a few small spots and scratches on this nearly 30 year-old 35mm negative.