Tag Archives: New York Central

30 years ago today: Conrail Meet at Sunrise on the Water Level Route near Batavia, New York.

Looking at this Conrail photo makes me feel that March 23, 1989 wasn’t that long ago.

I’d left my apartment in Scottsville, New York before dawn and headed west on Rt33 in my white Toyota Corolla.

I knew I had a westbound climbing Batavia Hill—the nominal rise of the Water Level Route that ascended the Niagara Escarpment on the way toward Buffalo.

My Leica M2 was loaded with Kodachrome 200 ‘Fast Kodachrome’ (three stops faster than K25, which was my normal film in 1989).

I parked the car west of Batavia near CP406 (where New York Central’s 1950s track re-alignment to avoid downtown Batavia rejoined the historic railroad route). With time running short, I hike east beneath the code lines and set up my Leica with a 200mm Leitz Telyt telephoto on my Bogen 3021 tripod.

I could hear the slow moving westbound as the sun glimmered above the horizon. But then behind me fast moving eastward stack train blasted for Donahue Road. . .

The headlight of the westbound appeared and over the next few seconds I captured a running meet between the two Conrail trains. K200’s warm color balance and grain structure made for the perfect combination to distill the moment.

Rolling sunrise meet on Conrail’s Water Level Route west of Batavia, New York.

I’ve run this photo in various publications and it’s one of my favorite Water Level Route views.

I spent the rest of the day photographing along the former Erie Railroad, which was alive with trains. I remember it all as if it was yesterday.

Also see my earlier post: ‘The Curse of the Code Lines’ http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2014/11/24/the-curse-of-the-code-lines/

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Grand Central Terminal—From A Different Angle.

Working with a Leica and Visoflex reflex-viewing attachment mounted on a tripod, I exposed this Kodak Kodachrome 64 slide with a 200mm Leitz Telyt telephoto lens.

Looking toward the skylights of New York Central’s architectural masterpiece.

I calculated the exposure using an old GE handheld light meter, which I promptly dropped on the floor of the famous New York City terminal, destroying the device’s sensitive electro-mechanical photocell and needle.

That was back in 1986.

It turned out that my meter had been giving me hot readings. After I bought a new meter a couple of days later, I began obtaining more accurate daylight readings and better overall Kodachrome exposures.

However, because the meter had been encouraging me to ‘over-expose’ (allow more light to reach the film than I intended), I actually produced a better color slide here at Grand Central Terminal, because slight over-exposure was necessary to balance the lighting and bring out the grandeur of the architecture.

If I’d exposed as I intended, my photo would have appeared darker. So, what makes this photo effective was the result of accidental relative over-exposure. How about that?

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Glint on the Water Level Route.

Early November is a great time to photograph along the Hudson.

I made these views from the one-time Erie Railroad terminus at Piermont, New York.

Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited catches the glint of the evening sun near Dobbs Ferry, New York. Meanwhile, a Metro-North electric multiple unit is rolling toward Grand Central.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 28-135mm Fujinon lens fully extended. (Equivalent to a 200mm view on a traditional 35mm film camera)

Meet on the old New York Central Hudson Division.

Looking across the wide expanse of the Hudson River toward Dobbs Ferry.

Would a longer lens have produced more effective photos?

(I wish I’d brought my Canon 100-400mm. Maybe next time!).

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Boston & Albany Program May 6th.

Boston & Albany freight house at Palmer, Massachusetts, photographed using a Rolleiflex Model T on Verichrome Pan black & white film in October 1985. Copyright Brian Solomon.

This Saturday, May 6, 2017, I will present a variation of my Boston & Albany program to the New York Central System Historical Society convention, to be held at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel, in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

I am listed as the guest speaker and my illustrated talk will begin at about 7pm. This will feature material from the Robert A. Buck collection, and images from the lens of William Bullard (early 20th century photographer), as well as a selection of my own work on the B&A, which spans more than 40 years.

For information on the convention and registration forms see the New York Central System HS website:  www.NYCSHS.org 



Boston & Albany’s Worcester signal tower shortly before demolition. Copyright Brian Solomon.

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Snow in the Hudson Valley—January 2017.

Last week, I made another visit to the scenic Lower Hudson Valley.

At first I was delighted by about 6 inches of freshly fallen snow.

Then I began to discover a new challenge. One by one, I found that all my usual parking spots were essentially inaccessible because of the snow.

Despite this difficulty, I secured a spot near Breakneck Ridge, and made the difficult climb on foot to this vista. While not a bad hike on a dry day, this was tricky with snow on top of mud.

My reward was a clean Amtrak dual mode Genesis running south on the normal northward track to go around a HyRail truck.

Amtrak train 280 passing Bannermans Castle in January 2017.

The nice thing about a zoom lens is the ability to rapidly adjust the focal length.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.

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Garrison, New York—When a Station isn’t.

By classic definition a Railroad station is the designated place where the railroad conducts its business. It may, or may not involve a structure.

Too often the station-building is confused for the station itself.

This may seem pedantic, but it leads to both linguistic problems and logistical complications.

Take the old New York Central station building at Garrison, New York. It’s now been repurposed as the Philipstown Depot Theatre. It still looks like a railroad station, but it isn’t one any more.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera on December 27, 2016. File adjusted for contrast and exposure to improve sky detail and overall mood..

The ‘Tickets’ sign is misleading. I don’t think you’ll be able to purchase a round trip to Grand Central Terminal here!

Today’s Metro-North Garrison station is nearby; this is a modern facility with an ugly overhead footbridge and high-level platforms. The old building is fenced off from the tracks with no access to the line.

A Poughkeepsie-bound Metro-North train accelerates away from its station stop at Garrison, New York. The current ‘station’ is located south of the historic station building.

Check out my book: Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals published by Voyageur Press.

Read a review of the book by clicking here: https://westernsreboot.com/2015/10/09/train-stations-celebrated-in-new-book/

I made these views using my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Daily Post; New York Central in 1984

 Photographing a bit of History.

New York Central 50-foot boxcar at West Springfield, Massachusetts, July 1984. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.
New York Central 50-foot boxcar at West Springfield, Massachusetts, July 1984. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

My friend Bob Buck of Warren had advised me to photograph old freight cars, especially those from the ‘fallen flags’ (railroads that had merged or were otherwise lost).

I kept a keen eye out for the cars of Conrail’s predecessors, which were a special interest to me.

In July 1984, I was passing Conrail’s sprawling West Springfield Yards on my way to the Boston & Albany ‘West End,’ when I saw this old New York Central ‘Early Bird’ 50ft double door car.

By that time, New York Central had been gone 16 years, and I was only 17, so the time seemed like a lifetime to me. Following Bob’s advice, I dutifully exposed a three-quarter view of the car. One frame. That is all.

In retrospect, I wish that I’d taken a few more images of the car. Today, I’d focus on the car and make some detailed views. Looking back on this car today, what I find noteworthy was that it still had its catwalks, an accessory that had been out of favor for years by the time I’d exposed this image.

New York Central 50-foot boxcar at West Springfield, Massachusetts, July 1984. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

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RJ Corman on the old Beech Creek, September 1997


Coal Train in Central Pennsylvania.

On my external hard drive I have a file of photos called ‘Miscellaneous US Railroads’. I picked this photo at random. I thought it’s a neat image. Only after, I selected it, did I learn the the owner of the railroad, R.J. Corman himself, had very recently passed away. Odd how that works.

RJ Corman coal train along the Susquehanna.
An RJ Corman empty coal train works compass south from the Conrail interchange at Keating, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1997. This line follows the West Branch of the Susquehanna River through some exceptionally isolated rural areas of central Pennsylvania—scores at least ‘five banjoes’. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Kodachrome 25.

Back in September 1997, Mike Gardner and I were on one of our many “PA Trips”. (In case you didn’t know, ‘PA’ is the postcode for Pennsylvania). While we would usually head to the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line for a ‘traffic fix’, often we’d then take time to suss out less-traveled lines.

On this day we called into Clearfield (the base for RJ Corman operations on former Conrail branches known as the ‘Clearfield Cluster’) , where we had a chat with some railroaders. They told us that a crew was called to take set of engines up to the Conrail connection at Keating to collect an empty coal train.

So armed with this knowledge we made a day (or at least a morning) of following RJ Corman’s former New York Central Beech Creek line. This traverses some very remote territory and access to the tracks is limited.

I made this photo a few miles south of Keating of the returning train. It was one of the few times I caught an RJ Corman train on the move.


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