I wasn’t prepared for what I saw last month when Kris Sabbatino and I re-visited Belfast, Maine.
In 1980, my father and I paid two visits to Belfast, one of which involved a train ride to Burnham Junction and back on the Belfast & Moosehead Lake freight. On those trips I made photos of B&ML’s yard and roundhouse on black & white film using my Leica IIIA.
In August 1997, I revisited Belfast, and found the B&ML yard intact, but ghostly quiet.
I’d read that the good citizens of Belfast despised the railroad yard and its environment and that they had evicted the railroad that the city had once owned.
I was shocked of how completely this quaint delightful compact railroad yard along the Belfast waterfront had been so totally erased from the scene. It has been replaced with a sandy parking lot.
I was unprepared because I had not brought with me the photos from my earlier visits. I found it very difficult to recall exactly where I had stood. The landmarks I knew existed only in my head.
The tracks, the structures, the trains and the character of the environment that I seen in my earlier visits were now gone.
Sadly, I’ll need to return again with my earlier photos in hand and attempt a more accurate series of ‘then and now’ images.
The views below are looking north. My attempts to recreate the roundhouse scenes looking west are not good enough to reproduce here.
Since 1983, I’ve been photographing EMD GP’s in the Guilford gray, white and orange.
A few weeks ago, when Kris Sabbatino and I went to chase Pan Am’s SAPPI locals on the old Maine Central Hinckley Branch, I was looking forward to catching Pan Am blue locomotives in Maine.
Yet, at this late date, finding a vintage Guilford engine on the move is a novelty. How many remain?
I made this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit at Shawmut, Maine. I converted the Fuji Raw file using Iridient software, which does a superior job of interpreting the Fuji data. I then imported into Lightroom for final processing.
Today, I am posting three variations of the same image file.
This is from Sunday’s chase of Pan Am Railway’s SAPPI-3 and pictures the freight crossing Martin Stream near Hinckley, Maine.
The bucolic setting was side lit–a condition that presents a contrast challenge. I made the image using my FujiFilm XT1 with 28mm pancake lens.
Recently, and on the advice of my old pal TSH, I purchased Iridient software, which offers a different interpretation of the FujiFilm RAW files.
Below are examples of the in-camera FujiFilm JPG (using Velvia color profile), a DNG file converted from the Fuji RAW by Adobe Lightroom, and a comparison DNG file converted from RAW using the Iridient software.
All were then scaled and exported using Lightroom. I made identical color and contrast corrections to the two DNG files. (My interpretation, not Fuji’s)
My intent is to compare the Iridient processing with Adobe’s. The Camera JPG is a third reference.
Since this is one of my first experiments with the Iridient software, I cannot claim to be a master of working with it.
Following up on yesterday’s Tracking the Light Post . . . Kris Sabbatino and I had found the tracks of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes two-foot gauge tourist railroad recreation and decided to investigate!
Using the powers of the internet we learned there was more to see than the small station at Sanders; so we drove toward the village of Phililps, Maine and down the appropriate side street. A sign advising hikers and railfans provided the needed clues.
Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes must be one of these Brigadoon Railways that comes to life at infrequent intervals but spends most of the time secluded deep in a forest.
We met no one. We saw nothing on the move. We took only pictures. And left without a trace.
In October 1999, I made this view of a meet between the Great Train Escapes tour train and a St Lawrence & Atlantic freight. Both trains were led by MLW-built M-420 diesels.
Since that photo 21 years ago, much has changed at Danville Junction,
The trees have grown; the track arrangement was simplified, the St Lawrence & Atlantic was amalgamated into the Genesee & Wyoming network, the MLW diesels have vanished from the scene, and the tour train doesn’t operate any more.
In June, Kris Sabbatino and I paid a brief visit to Danville Junction, my first since 1999. It was a surreal experience for me. So little of it seem familiar.
Last week, Kris Sabbatino and I drove east along the old Grand Trunk and paid a visit to Genesee & Wyoming’s small yard at Lewiston Junction, Maine.
Shortly after we arrived, a pair of EMD SW1500 switchers lettered for G&W’s Quebec Gatineau pulled into the engine facility and tied down.
Pretty neat to catch these antiques working in bright afternoon sun!
Later I looked up the details of these locomotives and was pleased to learn that they were both former Conrail, originally Penn Central locomotives. I’ll need to see if I have them in blue or black! Stay tuned.
Exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135 Fujinon zoom lens.
The other day I wrote of our adventure following the former Grand Trunk Railway line north through New Hampshire and Vermont to the Canadian border but not finding anything on the move.
Friday, June 5, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I made another go of finding the ‘SLR’ as Genesee & Wyoming’s St Lawrence & Atlantic is known.
(Just for point of reference in this instance ‘SLR’ represents the railroads official reporting marks. However, to avoid unnecessary confusion or gratuitous irony, I did not make these photos using a single lens reflex, but rather a mirror-less Lumix LX7 digital camera.)
Thanks to Andrew Dale—who supplied helpful schedule information and sighting details—we were able to intercept the SLR’s westward freight. Driving east from Gorham, Kris and I waited for the train at Locke’s Mills, Maine.
Finally we could hear its EMD-roar to the east.
We then followed the heavy freight on its westward prowl toward Canada. We were among several other photographers with similar approaches.
A full moon and solid tripod aided my photographic efforts.
On the evening of August 22, 1986, I exposed this pair of Kodachrome 25 slides on the Maine Central’s Rockland Branch at Wiscasset, Maine.
At the time traffic on the branch was almost nil.
I used a 21mm Leica Super Angulon lens which offered a distinct perspective of this rustic scene. My interest was drawn to the two rotting schooners in the westward view, while in the eastward view I was aiming to show the vestiges of the piers for the long defunct Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington 2-foot gauge.
The common-carrier Maine two-foot gauge railroads vanished from the scene many moons ago.
A couple of months back, Dwight Smith pointed me to photo hanging on the wall of the North Conway ticket office that shows himself on a Bridgton & Harrison train. “That was taken of me eighty years ago when I was 15.” Well that sort of puts things in perspective!
So on a recent photography adventure with Kris Sabbatino, we paused at Harrison, Maine, the most northerly point on the defunct Bridgton & Harrison. Using my smart phone, I summoned a vintage USGS topographical map from the University of New Hampshire collection and used this to locate where the railroad had been.
We checked a few locations, before I spotted this old causeway and bridge abutments.
Here’s another view from the amazing winter photography trip sponsored by Maine’s Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in conjunction with Portland’s Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum.
Sometimes conditions practically photograph themselves, all you have to do is point the camera!
Last weekend the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in conjunction with Portland’s Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum invited me to a magical event featuring three steam locomotives under steam.
Arctic conditions were tough on fingers and toes, but made for spectacular displays of steam and condensation.
Among the stars of the event was former Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington number 9, a legendary machine that had been saved from scrapping many years ago and then stored for decades in a Connecticut barn.
This was my first visit with old number 9.
I exposed these photos digitally but I also made use of an old Nikon F3 to exposed both black& white and color film so that future generations may be able to appreciate the cosmic even of January 18-19, 2020.