I made my first photographs at the old Lackawanna Hoboken Terminal with my father back in 1976. He made his first photos there about 20 years earlier.
Today, Hoboken Terminal survives as one of the last great waterfront railroad terminals. Perhaps, the last great American waterfront terminal.
There’s no longer a Lackawanna Limited for Buffalo, nor any of the Lackawanna EMD F3s or F-M Trainmasters that my dad saw, but New Jersey Transit’s Hoboken Terminal remains as one of the most atmospheric locations in the New York City area to make railway images.
While I’ve featured Hoboken Terminal previously on Tracking the Light, (see: Hoboken?!) I exposed all of these photos in one morning about ten days ago using my Lumix LX7.
My intent here was no to make one photo, but rather a group of images that capture the character of the place.
There’s something fascinating about a branch line. A single meandering track, often built for the single purpose of linking an important town or industry with the mainline. Branch lines are simple railroads; light appendages; feeder lines.
Once upon a time branch line passenger trains were part of the fabric of American transportation. A single engine and coach might traverse the line several times daily to meet through trains on the mainline. The conductor on the branch was a friendly chap who may have worked the line for years.
New Jersey Transit’s Princeton Branch is the shortest regular scheduled branch passenger train in the United States. A pair of electric EMU’s scuttle back and forth on the train to connect with the Northeast Corridor at Princeton Junction.
Until a few months ago, the branch served a handsome old station in Princeton. But the ever wise transportation visionaries decided this was too good to continue and forced a trimming of the line, moving its terminus further from downtown. It’s an old story, new again.
Someone said something about it being cheaper to run a bus? Better than an electric train?
Might the Princeton Dinky join the hundreds of other branch American services that once dotted the pages of the official guide? There’s always that nefarious illusion of ‘progress’ often offered as the explanation for ill-minded change.
The former Pennsylvania Railroad at Princeton Junction is on an exceptionally long level tangent and on fast track. A headlight appears as a twinkle. Minutes pass. The rails begin to sing and the catenary starts to resonate. Then a train blasts by at more than 100 mph!
It was here that my father captured the United Aircraft TurboTrain on trial at speed back in the 1960s.
Princeton Junction is also where you can switch to the ‘Dinky’, which traverses NJ Transit’s shortest branch (recently made even shorter) to Princeton.
Tomorrow, Tracking the Light takes a spin on the Dinky!