Tag Archives: New Mexico

Dusk at Raton, New Mexico.

These days the only regular trains to use the old Santa Fe Raton Pass crossing are Amtrak 3 and 4, the Southwest Chief. The days of helpers over the three percent are all but a memory.

This day two weeks ago: Arriving on No.4, we had more than ten minutes at Raton to stretch our legs and take in the mountain air.

I used the opportunity to make some twilight images of Silver Splendor, the Budd-built Vista-Dome that I was traveling on.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Zeiss 12mm Touit lens, I exposed several views in the blue glow of evening. Dusk is a great time to balance the light inside the passenger car with outside illumination.

f2.8 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.
f3.6 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.
f3.2 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.

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Semaphores on the Santa Fe—Five Photos.

Between Albuquerque and Raton Pass (on the New Mexico-Colorado state line) I counted three bastions of Union Switch & Signal style-T2 upper quadrant semaphores on our journey over the former Santa Fe in Vista-Dome Silver Splendor.

I watched the blades drop from the vertical as we passed—a scene I’d not witnessed for many years.

The view of a semaphore dropping from ‘clear’ to ‘stop and proceed’ as seen from Vista Dome Silver Splendor on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.
Lumix LX7 photo near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
East of Las Vegas, New Mexico. FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

In 2018, these signals represent the last large collections of active semaphores on any North American mainline.

The Style T2 was detailed in my book Classic Railroad Signals in a sidebar titled ‘Sante Fe Semaphores Survive in New Mexico’ by John Ryan and the late John Gruber.

Classic Railroad Signals was published by Voyageur Press in 2015. It is available at:

https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760346921/Classic-Railroad-Signals.html?direct=1

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Relics at Lamy, New Mexico—November 2018.

As we approached our station stop Lamy, New Mexico, I relocated from Silver Splendor’s dome, where I’d been enjoying the old Santa Fe mainline journey at the head-end of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, tothe car’s dutch doors to make photos of antique equipment stored line-side near the station.

The ability to photograph from opened dutch doors is a rare pleasure on modern trains.

In my youth, I’d spent hours soaking in the atmosphere in the vestibules of trains, making photos with my old Leica 3A.

Santa Fe Southern at Lamy, New Mexico.
Santa Fe Southern at Lamy, New Mexico.
Lamy station, New Mexico.

Amtrak station Lamy, New Mexico.

I exposed these modern photos using my FujiFilm XT1.

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Rail Runner at Albuquerque—November 2018

‘I shudda taken that left turn at Albuquerque’—Bugs Bunny.

I always associate Albuquerque with the Warners Brothers Cartoons.

So it seems appropriate that the New Mexico suburban train is called the Rail Runner and features a stylized cartoon bird on its side.

Not my finest effort, but it shows the cartoon bird on the side of the Rail Runner. Lumix LX7 photo.

‘Beep! Beep!

I exposed this view from the vestibule of dome car Silver Splendoron Amtrak’s Southwest Chief paused at the Albuquerque station

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New Mexico Revisited: Soaking in BNSF’s Transcon on the Move.

It had been more than 20 years since my last visit to New Mexico. This was my first by rail.

I was on my way east with Dave and Rhonda Swirk and Derek Palmieri of New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railroad, documenting  Budd Vista-Dome Silver Splendor on its journey from Los Angeles to its new home in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

As we glided east at the head-end of Amtrak number 4 theSouthwest Chief,we met or overtook dozens of freights, many of them intermodal trains, on BNSF’s former Santa Fe Transcon.

Wow, BNSF sure runs a lot of freight!

Dave Swirk enjoys breakfast near Gallup, New Mexico. Exposed using a FujiFIlm XT1.
View from Silver Splendor near the Arizona-New Mexico state line.
BNSF westward freight near the Gallup, NM station .FujiFilm XT1.
BNSF eastward freight as seen east of Gallup. Lumix LX7 photo.
BNSF’s former Santa Fe has several long sections of split alignments, where mainline tracks are not adjacent. A westward freight can be seen off in the distance to the north of Amtrak No. 4. Lumix LX7 photo.
BNSF westward intermodal freight. FujiFilm XT1 photo.
BNSF westward intermodal freight. FujiFilm XT1 photo.
Amtrak No.4 paused at Marmon, NM for traffic to clear. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

I exposed these photos digitally using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.

Part of the challenge of making photos of trains from the train is trying to compose while in motion of moving subjects. Not only does this make if difficult to level the camera, but it leads to motion blur and other potential defects.

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief east of Las Vegas, New Mexico, September 1998

 

 

General Electric Genesis Diesels and Style T Semaphores.

Railways can offer tremendous technological contrasts. Among my photographic themes is juxtaposition of the oldest technology along side the most modern. When I made this image, there was roughly 60 years between development of the signals and the locomotives.

Amtrak with Semaphore
Exposed with a Nikon F3T and Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens on Fujichrome slide film. I didn’t record my exposure, but the image was made at dusk, and I probably had the camera set to about 1/2 second at f2.8

I made this image during an exploration with Mel Patrick of the former Santa Fe mainline across northern New Mexico and eastern Colorado. At that time BNSF still maintained many of the old Union Switch & Signal Style T-2’s dating from the steam-era.

The Union Switch & Signal Style T-2 was featured in my book Railroad Signaling published by Voyageur Press. Here’s an except from my text: “US&S’s T-2 is a three-position upper quadrant type with a top of mast mechanism. Typical semaphore height measured 22 feet 6 inches from the ground to mechanism.”

Traffic on this line was relatively light, with only Amtrak’s Southwest Chief and a couple of BNSF freights daily. Then, as today, most of BNSF trans-con freight was routed via the Belen Cutoff (through Abo Canyon) to the south.

 

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