The benefits of familiarity; knowing your locations.
Take the Bellows Falls Tunnel on the Connecticut River line. Back in 1988, I’d photographed a southward Boston & Maine (Guilford) freight in the afternoon and noted that late in the day, when the south portal was in shadow, a shaft of light illuminates the train on the north side of the tunnel.
The location and effect were filed away for future reference.
A couple of week ago, on June 18, 2016, Pat Yough and I were following Amtrak’s Exhibition Train on its way south from Claremont, New Hampshire. At Bellows Falls, Vermont the train paused to refuel, and this resulted in the leading locomotive, Amtrak F40PH 406, pulling past the grade crossing near the station.
I noticed it had gone just far enough to bask in the window of sun near the north portal of the tunnel.
This opened up opportunity for photography.
Below are a examples angles exposed from the south portal, a location reached by a narrow street from the center of town. I like the relative abstraction of tracks and engine appearing to float in a sea of darkness.
Here’s an old print. I exposed this years ago. It shows an Amtrak train in the snow someplace. If I had to guess, I say it was made somewhere in New England in the mid-1980s/early 1990s based on the equipment.
Except I don’t need to guess. I know that it was exposed on the morning of January 16, 1984 and shows Amtrak’s late-running Washington D.C. to Montreal Montrealer passing South Deerfield, Massachusetts.
In the caption I was trying to do was convey the vital information. At the time, I’d hope to send this to a magazine. Catching the Montrealer in daylight was a real coup! (Or so I thought at the time.).
I find this photograph interesting for other reasons too. As regular viewers of Tracking the Light may be aware, I’ve made several recent views of Amtrak’s Vermonter at this same highway crossing (North Hillside Road) and so this makes for an interesting comparison view.
The primary reason I’ve posted this today is to provide an example of how a simple caption can solve many mysteries. Instead of a generic image of an Amtrak train kicking up snow, we instead know many of the crucial details; what, when where and why.
These details make the photo more relevant, and potentially more valuable as a record.