In January 1984, I’d driven my parent’s 1978 gray Ford Grenada to Palmer, Massachusetts.
A set of Conrail light engines blitzed past me, and I chased after them.
In consist was a couple of brand-new EMD SD50s and a few new GE B36-7s.
This was pretty exciting stuff! I was 17 at the time.
I chased east on Routes 20 and 67. At Kings Bridge Road east of Palmer I turned toward Conrail’s Boston & Albany line, but the Conrail engines were too close for me to get a lineside photo. So, I stopped the car in the middle of the road, raised my 1930s-era Leica IIIA and shot through the windshield of the Ford.
My camera was loaded with Kodak Tri-X— film that I later processed in Kodak Microdol-X developer.
Between 1986 and 1991, I documented vestiges of the former Erie Railroad using hundreds of rolls of Kodachrome, Ektachrome, and T-Max black & white film.
I made dozens upon dozen of trips along Conrail’s lines, seeking to make images of this fascinating railroad in its environment.
There could be long intervals between trains, and some days were more productive than others.
October 14, 1988 was memorable because it was a perfect day. I had a very early start. The autumn foliage was at its peak. It was clear from dawn to dusk. Conrail and Delaware & Hudson ran a lot of trains, and I had Kodachrome 25 in my Leica.
Among the photos I made that was this view of Conrail SD50 6774 leading OIBU west through Swain, New York at 8:07am.
I like this image because although 6774 is key to the composition, it isn’t the only subject of interest and it captures the essence of rural western New York in autumn.
Soon old 6753 will be featured on TTL. The lure of the quest is about finding treasures along the way. If I found the prize too soon there would be no joy in the path to it.
Labor Day weekend 1978: my dad brought my brother and me out to roll by Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited at the route 148 overpass in Brookfield, Massachusetts.
Working with his ‘motorized’ (mechanical wind-up) Leica 3A, I made a rapid fire sequence of the train as it roared west behind E-units.
I processed the film in the kitchen sink and made a few prints, then for the next four decades the negatives rested quietly in the attic.
I used this Epson scan of one of the negatives from that day as one of the opening photos in my program titled ‘Tracking the Light’ that I presented live last night to the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts at the Pearl Street Station in Malden, Massachusetts.