Tag Archives: NJ Transit

January 15th—GG1 4876 and the Anniversary of the Federal Express Wreck.

January 15th is the anniversary of the 1953 Washington Union Terminal crash, when Pennsylvania Railroad’s GG1 4876 leading the Federal Express lost its brakes and careened into the lobby of the terminal. This spectacular train wreck, on the eve of Eisenhower’s inauguration, made headlines in every major newspaper across the country.

On June 27, 1983, I exposed this view of GG1 4876 at Linden, New Jersey working from South Amboy, New Jersey to New York Penn Station with a New York & Long Branch passenger train.

Kodachrome 64 with Leica 3A and 50mm Summitar lens.

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On this Day; Locomotive 4876 and the Anniversary of the Washington Terminal Crash

January 15th is the anniversary of the 1953 Washington Union Terminal crash, when Pennsylvania Railroad’s Federal Express led by GG1 4876 lost its airbrakes and  careened into the lobby of the station.

This spectacular train wreck, on the eve of Eisenhower’s inauguration, made headlines in every major newspaper across the country.

Thirty four years ago, GG1 4876—then operated by NJ Transit remained in daily service and routinely worked New York & Long Branch trains between Penn Station and South Amboy, New Jersey .

My father and I intercepted this infamous electric on various occasions in its final years of service.

Here are few 4876 views from my lost negative file; They were exposed in June 1983 with my battle-worn Leica IIIA from my High School days. I processed the film in the kitchen sink using  Kodak Microdol-X.

GG1 electric 4876 in June 1983.

GG1 electric 4876 in June 1983.

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NJ Transit with Soft Glint—a Lesson in Light

Air pollution, fluffy clouds and very low sun can create some wonderful soft lighting.

Evening glint is a fleeting ephemeral condition.

The Northeast Corridor in central New Jersey is an ideal place to make use of soft glint.

Long tangent sections of track, a favorable north-east to southwest alignment and ample quantities of air-pollution plus very frequent service, allow for excellent opportunities as the light shifts and fades.

I made these photographs at Jersey Avenue in New Brunswick.

Exposed using anFujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens. Camera set at ISO 1000, 1/180 of a second at f7.1. Here I’ve set the white balance to ‘auto’, however typically I recommend that for glint photography a white balance setting for ‘daylight’ will yield redder more impressive photos.

ISO 1250, f5.6 1/250th using the Fujifilm ‘Velvia’ color profile, with white balance set to ‘auto’.

Getting the exposure right is crucial for successful glint photos.

I usually use manual settings. I’ve found that when exposing for glint light it is important pay careful attention to the highlight  and shadow areas.

I avoid clipping the highlights (as result of over exposure), but also make sure that I don’t stop down (reducing the amount of light reaching the sensor ) too much, which will make the shadows completely opaque.

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New Brunswick in the Razor Shaft of Glint.

Over the shoulder light is easy to work with but doesn’t always make for the most dramatic images. When possible, I like to find dramatic lighting and to see what I can make of it.

So here we have an unusual, captivating and difficult lighting situation.

Looking down the New Brunswick, New Jersey station, fellow photographer Pat Yough and I found this brief shaft of light made by the setting winter sun.

Luckily during the few minutes where sun penetrated New Jersey’s concrete canyons we had a flurry of trains to catch the glint.

NJ Transit train 7004 has an electric at the back of the consist. I like the way a bit of reflected light catches the front of the engine.

The old Pennsylvania Railroad station at New Brunswick, New Jersey seems out of place with the modern buildings that now surround it. This view focuses on the classic architecture.

NJ Transit 3856 is bound for New York City.

Boxy double deck coaches make for an interesting composition. The stainless-steel sides catch the glint nicely.

Amtrak train 186 races eastward through New Brunswick as NJ Transist 3937 departs the outbound platform.

I made these images with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter to hold sky detail. I made nominal adjustments to shadow and highlight contrast to improve the overall appearance of the images.

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NJ Transit North Jersey Coast in Monochrome.

Two weeks ago, using my old Leica 3A with 35mm Nikkor lens I exposed this photograph of a northward North Jersey Coast train at NJ Transit’s Aberdeen-Matawan station .

I positioned the camera as to crop sun with the canopy over the platform.

Sometimes the old tools allow for the best interpretation of a scene.
Sometimes the old tools allow for the best interpretation of a scene.

The film is 35mm Ilford HP5 that I processed in Kodak D76 (1-1 stock solution with water) for 10 minutes at 68F, but preceded primary development with a prolonged pre-soak with a drop of HC110 developer to improve shadow detail tonality.

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Sunny Afternoon on the Gladstone Branch.

I arrived at Bernardsville, New Jersey on bright December afternoon. I’d never explored this station on the ground before, although I’d traveled through it on various occasions by train.

In the early 1980s, my father and I made several trips to the old Lackawanna Gladstone Branch to photograph the ancient former Lackawanna electrics that still prowled the line.

On my recent visit, NJ Transit’s stainless steel multiple units (known as Jersey Arrows) were the order of the day.

Exposed in December 2016 using a FujiFilm XT-1 digital camera.

The use of a zoom lens allowed me to make a variety of photographs in rapid succession of the same train as it paused for its station stop.

I like the effect of the dark shadow in the foreground on this view.

As the engineer released the brakes, I exposed this telephoto close-up.

These cars are hardly new and now are on the wane, and so well worthy of photography. On recent trip on the North Jersey Coast Line, I passed a scrap yard full of the remains of these old cars.

Remember, equipment that once new will someday be retired.

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A Window Back in Time; Exchange Place.

This is another of my ‘Then and Now’ attempts from last week’s exploration of Jersey City.

As previously mentioned: my fascination with Pennsylvania Railroad’s Jersey City waterfront terminal at Exchange Place, inspired a family trip to look for vestiges in February 1983. This is my window back in time.

Exchange Place in Jersey City as I photographed it with my Leica in February 1983. I'm looking south toward the Colgate-Palmolive Building. About the only thing left of this scene today is the bank building at the left.
Exchange Place in Jersey City as I photographed it with my Leica in February 1983. I’m looking south toward the Colgate-Palmolive Building. About the only thing left of this scene today is the bank building at the left.

Both my dad and I made a few photos. At the time I was trying to get a sense for how things looked decades earlier. (Pop, had made views of PRR MP54s by day and by night at the old terminal, which by 1983 was long gone.)
Fast forward another 32-33 years, and I find that Jersey City has been completely transformed. Most traces of Conrail’s waterfront track have been replaced by modern development, while NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail now winds through the city.

Working from my 1983 view at Exchange Place, on my recent visit I spent an hour walking around in concentric circles trying to figure out where I’d made the old photo. How hard could this be?

Complicating matters, I’d only been there once, my father was driving, and my memories from this one visit are a bit hazy.

Yes, I remember the day, and I recall making the photos, but how the various locations related to one another remained a bit sketchy. This was especially difficult because today the setting has been so completely changed that many of the landmarks in my old image are gone.

Exchange Place in December 2015: Perhaps after the renovation work on the bank building (at left) has been completed, I’ll come back and make another view.
Exchange Place in December 2015: Perhaps after the renovation work on the bank building (at left) has been completed, I’ll come back and make another view.

I’d all but given up. I went for a spin on the Light Rail, and my way back north towards Hoboken, I recognized the setting for my 1983 image.

Now then, how could I have known that my 1983 Exchange Place view was indeed at today’s NJ Transit Exchange Place light rail station!

The location of the awnings makes the direct recreation complicated. Ideally I'd need to stand back a little further with a 50mm lens perspective to precisely the same view of the bank on the right (as shown in the 1983 view).
The location of the Light Rail awnings makes the direct recreation complicated. Ideally I’d need to stand back a little further using a 50mm lens perspective to precisely recreate  the same view of the bank on the right (as shown in the 1983 view).

Construction on the bank building made for a difficult comparison view, as does the Light Rail’s supporting infrastructure: awnings, ticket machines, catenary poles, etc, which precluded standing in the exact same spot.

Actually, the bank building on the left is just about the only common anchor between my two images. Almost all the other buildings in the 1983, including the Colgate-Palmolive building in the distance, have been replaced by newer structures.

Jersey City P1350781

And, while there are tracks in both views, these are on different alignments and serve entire different purposes.

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Cranford, New Jersey—first visit!

Last month I visited Cranford, New Jersey to meet Pat Yough on our way to dinner with black & white photo guru Gordon Roth.

I’d seen many photographs made at this former Central Railroad of New Jersey location.

Hey! Where are the camelbacks? The double-ended Baldwins? SD35s with time freights?

I didn’t even see a vendor selling T-shirts that read, ‘I visited Cranford, but all I saw was an NJ Transit Dual-Mode with bi-levels!’

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.
Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Newark Light Rail—June 2015

I was on my way from Gladstone to Cranford, New Jersey. During my change of modes at Newark Broad Street, I made this photo of an in-inbound NJ Transit light rail car.

It was hot, and the light was tinted by the prevailing smaze, a condition often prevalent in this part of New Jersey.

Question: would it be better to filter the light to counter the tint, or run with a ‘daylight’ setting that would show the brownish tinge the way it really is?

Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.

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Riding NJ Transit

Taking the train is part of the experience.

Ride a line once, and it’s an adventure! Ride the line every day and it can become drudgery.

In June, I made an adventure of riding NJ Transit.

My trip was thoroughly pleasant and without incident, except for my brief conversation with an unnecessarily surly NJT conductress at Secaucus, “The SIGN is over THERE!” (Gosh! Forgive me for neither knowing the routine nor how to interpret NJT’s train color coding on platform B).

Ok ok, after all there’s a reputation to be maintained here, I understand.

But, perhaps NJ Transit could take a few tips from the Belgian national railways when it comes to employee uniforms, customer service, and timetable planning. (All top marks for the SNCB based on my experiences).

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Hoboken.

Rutherford.
Rutherford.

Seat_check_at_Suffern_P1250889

Signals at Suffern.
Signals at Suffern.

New York City as viewed from Secaucus.
New York City as viewed from Secaucus.

Meet on the Gladstone Branch.
Meet on the Gladstone Branch.

Probably not the cheapest ticket I ever bought, but an interesting routing none-the-less.
Probably not the cheapest ticket I ever bought, but an interesting routing none-the-less.

Dual mode at Newark Pennsylvania Station.
Dual mode at Newark Pennsylvania Station.

Top level of a bi-level car.
Top level of a bi-level car.

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Gladstone Station—Three Photos.

In June, I revisited Gladstone Station. The quaint 1891-built Queen Anne style depot at the end of NJ Transit’s former Lackawanna Branch is a nicely kept station building. Unfortunately the old station structure is hemmed in by a host of modernity, all ugly and out of character with the style.

Gladstone_Station_close_DSCF1714Gladstone_Station_DSCF1695

Gladstone_Station_w_NJT_Silverliner_DSCF1701

I arrived and departed on the train pictured by the station. Photos exposed with a Fuji X-T1.

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In the Shadow of the Lackawanna at Summit.

Fifty Five years have passed since the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western merged with Erie Railroad to form Erie-Lackawanna. EL was a flawed short-lived creation that disappeared into Conrail in 1976.

Today, the old DL&W electrified main line at Summit, New Jersey is operated by NJ Transit.

DL&W was before my time. But in the early 1980s, I recall visiting Summit with my father on the ride out to Gladstone on former Lackawanna multiple units. Even then, those cars seemed to me to belong to an earlier epoch.

In June, I revisited Summit and made these photographs.

The old DL&W station at Summit has a classic look about it. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
The old DL&W station at Summit has a classic look about it. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

Stainless steel multiple-unit glide into the station at Summit. Today many trains through Summit go to Penn-Station, New York rather than Hoboken.
Stainless steel multiple-units glide into the station at Summit. Today many trains through Summit go to Penn-Station, New York rather than the old DL&W terminal at Hoboken.

Owing to the alignment of the track and depth of the cutting, high noon allows for light on the tracks. While there might nicer sun at other times of the day, it would be of little use here because of the shadows in the cut.

The old DL&W line is a cutting at Summit and the station straddles the line. Owing to the alignment of the track and the cutting, noon time is allows for light on the tracks. While there might nicer sun at other times of the day, it would be of little use because of the shadows.
The old DL&W line is a cutting at Summit and the station straddles the line.

Today those old MUs are just a memory here. No chance either of seeing a DL&W three-cylinder Mountain type on a coal train, or a Hudson leading the Lackawanna Limited on its way to Buffalo. Just shadows, modern electrics and the old station.

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Light Rail in a Ghost Shadow of Terminal Trackage.

  • Sometimes I wonder if I’m living in the wrong century.
  • Lumix LX7 photo at Harboside in Jersey, New Jersey.
    Lumix LX7 photo at Harboside in Jersey, New Jersey.

    On June 26, 2015, I exposed this digital image at Harborside of an NJ Transit light rail train destined for Hoboken.

    Although there’s virtually no evidence today, decades ago this was the site of intensive Pennsylvania Railroad waterfront terminal trackage.

    More than a century ago PRR’s vast arched shed was located at Exchange Place (a few blocks to the south) while the entire area was blanketed with tracks.

    See: http://furnesque.tumblr.com/post/34850191832/jersey-city-ferry-terminal-pennsylvania-railroad

    My father photographed PRR MP54 electrics at Exchange Place in the early 1960s, and I recall watching a Conrail NW2 work freight trackage here in the early 1980s.

    Today, the area is covered in towering office blocks.

    It is similar to modern waterfront development at Dublin’s North Wall but on a larger scale. In Dublin, as in Jersey City, light rail crosses the site of heavy rail trackage against the back-drop of geometric office-block architecture.

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Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.

Seven photos of a reincarnated railway.

NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has been on my photo list for more than a decade. It’s one of those things that is close enough to be just out of reach.

When an operation is under threat, time is made—found—to photograph it. You know, before its gone. But when something isn’t going anywhere, its often easy to ignore.

Such was my failings in photographing the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. Thanks to a detailed tour with Jack May on January 15, 2015, I’ve finally explored of this interesting operation.

Canon EOS 7D photo.
Canon EOS 7D photo.

This simplified map of the system is posted in all of the cars. Canon EOS 7D photo.
This simplified map of the system is posted in all of the cars. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Hoboken terminal, which the light rail serves via  stub-end spur.
Hoboken terminal, which the light rail serves via stub-end spur.

This compact modern passenger railway operates on a selection of former heavy-rail railroad rights of way, including through the old New York, West Shore & Buffalo tunnel at Weekhawken.

The day was ideal; sunny and bright with clear skies. We first rode north from Hoboken to Tonnelle Avenue, then worked our way back south through Jersey City to Bayonne visiting a variety of stations along the way.

All along the line are modern buildings. I was pleased to find that ridership was very good, even during midday. This follows the idiom of: 'Build and they will come.'
All along the line are modern buildings. I was pleased to find that ridership was very good, even during midday. This follows the maxim of: ‘Build and they will come.’

A view looking back toward Weekhawken. As a kid I was fascinated by the Palisades.
A view looking back toward Weekhawken. As a kid I was fascinated by the Palisades.

Much of the route passed through places that I recalled from adventures with my father in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Jersey waterfront was different place back then.

What had been rotting wharves, badly maintained freight trackage, and post-industrial squalor is now all up-scale housing, modern office towers, and otherwise new construction. It was familiar, yet different—like some weird vision of the future.

The 8th Street Station is located at the south end of the system in Bayonne. Canon EOS 7D photo.
The 8th Street Station is located at the south end of the system in Bayonne. Canon EOS 7D photo.

A portion of the line running toward 8th Street runs along the right of way of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey  four track mainline—once the route of the Queen of the Valley, Reading's Crusader, and Baltimore & Ohio's Royal Blue and Capitol Limited. I may have missed all of that, but my father has a few choice photos from those days. Canon EOS 7D photo.
A portion of the line running toward 8th Street usesgthe right of way of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey four track mainline—once the route of the Queen of the Valley, Reading’s Crusader, and Baltimore & Ohio’s Royal Blue and Capitol Limited. I may have missed all of that, but my father has a few choice photos from those days. Canon EOS 7D photo.

In addition to these digital photos made with my Canon EOS 7D, I also exposed many color slides on Provia 100F with my EOS 3 for review at later date.

The Katyn massacre memorial is located near Exchange Place across from lower Manhattan. Many years ago, Pennsylvania Railroad operated an extensive terminal near this very location with a cavernous balloon style shed patterned after London St. Pancras.
The Katyn massacre memorial is located near Exchange Place across from lower Manhattan and a short walk from the light rail line. Many years ago, Pennsylvania Railroad operated an extensive terminal near this location that featured a cavernous balloon style shed patterned after London St. Pancras. My father brought us to the site of the old terminal in the early 1980s-even then there wasn’t much to remind us of the glory days.

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Hoboken Terminal in Five Photos.

My new book Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals will feature New Jersey’s Hoboken Terminal. This will be published by Voyageur Press in a few months time. Below is an excerpt of my text along with a few photos I exposed with Jack May on January 15, 2015.

William H. Truesdale assumed control of the anthracite hauling Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in 1899. During the early twentieth century he transformed DL&W into a modern railroad with state of the art infrastructure. His skillful management and massive capital improvements were designed to lower the railroad’s costs and make it more competitive. During this Lackawanna renaissance Kenneth M. Murchison was hired to design the railroad’s finest passenger facilities. Murchison, was a respected New York architect who earned several important commissions for railroad stations in the early twentieth century. Murchison had studied in Paris and made prominent use of the Beaux-Arts style in his railway architecture. Among his significant early projects was Delaware, Lackawanna & Western’s new Hoboken Terminal on the west shore of the Hudson River across from New York City.

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Bush style sheds were first developed for Hoboken and survive to the present day.
Bush style sheds were first developed for Hoboken and survive to the present day.

Main waiting room at Hoboken.
Main waiting room at Hoboken.

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Newark Broad Street

Five photos of an Architectural Gem on the old Lackawanna.

On January 15, 2015, Jack May and I visited this grand old railroad station on our exploration of NJ Transit lines in the area.

The station building was designed by DL&W’s Frank J. Niles and completed in 1903.

Newark Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
Newark Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Newark Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
The Italianate style clock tower is a classic element of Newark’s Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Although the days when long distance trains paused here on their way to and from Buffalo have long since past, the triple track former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western mainline was alive with suburban traffic.

On going maintenance on track 1 improved our photographs of inbound trains, but confused passengers as to which platform to stand on.

An informative plaque at Broad Street makes for its own caption.
An informative plaque at Broad Street makes for its own caption.

An NJT ALP46 shoves at the back of an inbound train: next stop, Hoboken. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
An NJT ALP46 shoves at the back of an inbound train: next stop, Hoboken. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An outbound NJ Transit commuter train approaches Broad Street. On the left you can see the Empire State Building. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
An outbound NJ Transit commuter train approaches Broad Street. On the left you can see the Empire State Building. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

I’ve just completed text for a book on railroad stations to be published by Voyageur Press. This among the many stations that I may choose to illustrate.

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January 15th and Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 4876

January 15th, a day of significance: while best known as Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, it is less well known for the anniversary of the 1953 Washington Union Terminal crash, when Pennsylvania Railroad’s Federal Express lost its brakes and GG1 Electric 4876 careened into the lobby of the terminal. This spectacular train wreck, on the eve of Eisenhower’s inauguration, made headlines in every major newspaper across the country.

That was 60 years ago today! However, thirty years ago, GG1 4876—then operated by NJ Transit, was still in daily service. It routinely worked between Penn Station and South Amboy on New York & Long Branch trains.  I intercepted this infamous electric on various occasions in its final years of service. I’d hoped to make a photo on the anniversary of its infamy. And I went so far as to write NJ Transit to find out which trains it would be working, to which they kindly replied in detail. However a snowstorm on eve of 4876’s 30th anniversary precluded my travel, so my intended images from that day never happened. What I’ve posted here are few of my black & white images scanned from 1980s-era prints. They were exposed with my battle-worn Leica IIIA from my High School days. I processed the film in the kitchen sink using a weak mix of Kodak Microdol-X.

Pennsylvania Railroad GG1
GG1 4876 at Sunnyside Yard, Queens, New York in April 1979. Leica IIIA w 90mm f2.8 Elmar fitted with Leica Visoflex.

 

New Jersey DOT GG1 4876 at Rahway Junction in 1982. Leica IIIA w 50mm f2.0 Summitar.
New Jersey DOT GG1 4876 at Rahway Junction in 1982. Leica IIIA w 50mm f2.0 Summitar.

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