Tag Archives: #Norfolk Southern

Conrail Heritage Unit on the Move!

We were at the right place at the right time.

As Norfolk Southern’s unit coal train 632 rolled through Sunbury, Pa., on the former Pennsylvania Railroad Northern Central route, Kris and I chased along on the parallel Rt 147.

On the way north we’d spotted several open locations right off the road. By the time we reached the south side of Sunbury, we were already a couple of minutes ahead of the train, so we pulled off the road near mile post 260.

While I was surprised to catch a coal train on the move, and delighted to have stumbled into NS’s one-of-a-kind Conrail heritage unit No. 8098, I didn’t realise how infrequently Clearfield-originated coal trains are these days.

At milepost 260, I aimed to make some representative photos of the locomotive in nice light. At our next location about 17 miles further down the line, I hoped to make the most of the sweeping curve that Kris and I spotted on our drive northward earlier in the day.

We timed the exercise well and had time to make nice sequences at both locations. Special thanks to Dan Cupper for operational details on the coal train!

Sunny Morning at Creek Hill Road

A ten minute drive will take me to the Creek Hill Road crossing of Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch.

I’d been eyeing this location for a few months. Finally on a bright morning, I timed it right to catch the New Holland local freight with a pair of SD40E (former SD50) diesels in classic three-quarter sunlight.

I exposed a couple of Provia 100F color slides, which I am waiting to be returned from the lab. Then I used my Nikon Z7-II to make a series of images of the passing train.

These are part of my ongoing Conrail SD50 retrospective. These locomotives were built between 1983 and 1986, the first of which were delivered during my senior year at Monson Jr-Sr High School. I think it’s really neat that these familiar aged beasts regularly pass near my new home.

Nothing lasts forever, and I wonder how much longer I’ll have the opportunity to catch the old Conrail locomotives on the move!

Fine Morning at Jefferson Drive

This is the sequel to ‘Look Ma No Pans’—published on Tracking the Light the other day. (http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/look-ma-no-pans/)

It was a fine morning, making it one of rare few bright sunny days as of late.

I’d scoped the local railroad scene, and was in position at Jefferson Drive at Greenfield in Lancaster, Pa., to make a few photos of Norfolk Southern’s daily New Holland Branch freight.

I had an ulterior motive. My old Nikon F3 was loaded with Provia100F, and I’d been waiting for a fine day to finish off the roll that had been in the camera since Thanksgiving.

Film is expensive and I didn’t want to squander it. But with a clear sky and a train nearby, I felt this was a good opportunity to make a few nice color slides.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, while waiting for Norfolk Southern’s freight to come around the bend, much to my surprise on the nearby Harrisburg Line, a late-running Amtrak Keystone zipped by with a diesel in the lead.

The crew of the New Holland local takes it very slow approaching Jefferson Drive, which provides ample opportunity to work with multiple cameras. I made these photos digitally with my Nikon Z7-II, while also exposing slides with my antique F3.

As this being written the slide film is enroute to the lab! But, It will be at least another ten days before I can see my processed results from the F3. Fingers crossed that I got my exposures right!

Norfolk Southern SD40Es 6335 and 6312 lead the eastward New Holland Branch local at Jefferson Drive. Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.
I like the juxtaposition of antique General Motors products. Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

Since there was nice light and a train on the move, I zipped down the road for another set of photos . . .

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Foggy Morning at Willow Road.

A thick fog blanketed the landscape in Lancaster on St Stephens Day, or Boxing Day, or if you like, ‘the day after Christmas.’

Fog transmits sound with great clarity.

I’d stopped at the local Post Office, when I heard Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local whistling for a nearby crossing. I postponed my errand, and drove to the Willow Road grade crossing.

On a sunny morning, the westside of the crossing would be fiercely backlit, but the heavy fog allowed for a view with the distant farm with softer contrast. Compare these images from the view I posted a few days ago (http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/grab-shot-on-the-new-holland-secondary/ ).

The point of the comparison is to show how to use different lighting conditions to the greatest advantage, and make the best photo depending on prevaling conditions.

I made the December 26th photos from the side of the road using my Nikon Z7-II. I cropped the files to improve the composition, while making adjustments to highlight and shadow detail and color temperature.

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Grab Shot on the New Holland Secondary

I was running errands. On my way back to the apartment, I found that Greenfield Road under Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line was closed—likely as result of flooding from the recent rains—so I detoured around via Willow Road. On my way, I heard Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local sounding for a crossing.

I approached Willow Road (in greater Lancaster) with haste. With my Lumix LX7 in hand, I pulled over in time to see theNS local freight approaching. I didn’t have much time to set the camera. So, I zoomed in, framed up my photo and exposed a series of digital images.

The first two were the best.

When I got home I discovered that the camera was set to record in JPG rather than RAW. That’s not the end of the world, but not having a RAW file greatly limits the ability to make adjustments.

In this case, it doesn’t matter much, December morning sun produces excellent lighting conditions with very good contrast and color.

I’ve scaled the best of the sequence for presentation here, but the photo is otherwise unaltered, and appears basically as it looked right out of the camera.

I was home about 5 minutes after I made this photo.

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New Holland Local at New Holland

It was a bright day in mid-October. Not wanting to squander the sunshine, I set out toward New Holland, PA hoping to catch the daily Norfolk Southern local freight that works the branch.

I set up at the New Holland, Post Office at Diller Avenue, and after a short wait the local ambled along on its westward run toward Lancaster.

To make the most of the passing train, I made my initial images from a low angle for dramatic effect.

Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.
Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.
Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.

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Stack Train at Tyrone

It had been about 20 years since my last visit to the Main Line at Tyrone, Pennsylvania, where Norfolk Southern’s former Pennsylvania Railroad tracks make a sharp curve through the narrow valley along the Little Juniata River the south end of town.

Last month, Kris and I pulled up to theTyrone Amtrak station, and when I stepped out of the car I could hear the distant sounds of General Electric diesels chugging east.

We didn’t have long to wait and soon a headlight appeared.

Working with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom, I made this series of photos. Telephoto compression in the tight curve at the station makes it look like I was much closer to the tracks that I really was.

Auto focus made it much easier to keep the locomotives looking sharp.

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Wee Lumix Score at Greenfield Road

I was on my way back from the grocery. I’d spotted Norfolk Southern’s outbound New Holland Branch local paused on the running track near the junction with Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line east of the Conestoga River bridge in Harrisburg.

On the hope of finally scoring a photo of a train at the Greenfield Road grade crossing near our apartment, I drove there without delay.

Since we moved to Lancaster last Spring, I’ve been over this grade crossing dozens of times. Only once had I a seen the train here. Kris had made a video, but I hadn’t time to get the photo I want. Most mornings, I hear the New Holland branch train whistling for the crossing, and on several occasions I’ve waited on spec. On this day, all the pieces fell into place.

While the big gun (Nikon Z6) was equipped with an impressive telephoto zoom, what I needed was a wide angle. Luckily, I had my ‘Wee Lumix’ (Lumix LX7) in my pocket at the ready.

This convenient small camera has a great sensor and an extremely sharp lens. The challenge using it in bright sun is seeing the image in the rear screen. Despite this handicap, I made the most of the situation and exposed two images as the local freight crossed Greenfield Road on its way to New Holland.

I have my LX7 set up to simultaneously save exposed photos as RAW and JPG files. In this situation, the JPG’s were profiled using the camera’s color preset mode: ‘Standard’. (Other choices include: ‘Vivid,’ ‘Natural’ and ‘Portrait’). Below I’ve displayed both the in-camera Jpg and a scaled version of the RAW file for comparison. There’s no right and wrong, which is why I always save the files in both formats.

Scaled RAW file, no profile or adjustments.
In-camera JPG with ‘Standard’ color profile. FIle scaled without adjustment to color, exposure or contrast.
Scaled RAW file, adjusted for level, but not color, contrast or exposure.
In-camera JPG with ‘Standard’ color profile. FIle scaled without adjustment to color, exposure or contrast.

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Norfolk Southern SD40E 6340 on the New Holland Branch.

I was on my way to intercept Amtrak’s westward Pennsylvanian. As I cautiously approached the Jefferson Road grade crossing in Lancaster, I looked left and spotted the headlight of Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local freight in the distance.

That’s some good luck! I had enough time to park the car and pick my spot.

In the lead was Norfolk Southern SD40E 6340—another former Conrail SD50. In its original incarnation, this had been Conrail 6722.

It’s great to live in a neighborhood where you can see trains at random times, and find them by happen-stance.

Now to find that photo of 6722 in blue!

These photos were exposed using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Clear Morning at Jefferson Drive

Clear autumn mornings are one of my favorite times to make photographs.

The other day, everything came together: the weather was perfect, and Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local was right on time. This featured classic EMD diesels back to back, and I had just enough time to get into position at Jefferson Drive to catch the train in lush setting.

I made this sequence of photos as the train squealed through the curve on its way toward New Holland, Pennsylvania.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 46mm; f5.0 1/1000th sec, ISO 200.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; f5.0 1/800th sec, ISO 200.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 30mm; f5.0 1/800th sec, ISO 200.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 32mm; f5.0 1/800th sec, ISO 200.

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Leola and the Local

Over the last few months, I’ve paid several visits to the old station at Leola, Pennsylvania on the old PRR New Holland Branch. In 1914, there were two scheduled passenger trains in each direction on the branch that stopped at Leola.

Westward trains from Downingtown stopped at 950am and 358pm, while eastward trains from Lancaster stopped at 530 and 1110am. The line no longer goes east of New Holland, the passenger trains are long gone, and these days train movements are fewer and less predictable.

So while I’ve made few photos of freight on the branch, until last week, I hadn’t managed to catch a train at the old station .

I was delighted to find that Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local had stopped just short of the Maple Ave grade crossing by the station, and I parked and made these photos using my Nikon Z7-II.

Although this location is nice and open, high-voltage electric lines run parallel to the railroad which make for a compositional challenge.

Is it better to try to exclude or minimize the lines, or accept them as part of the environment and include them in the photographs?

Of the three photos, I like this low-angle view the best.

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NS Local at Horseshoe Road

Leaving the supermarket, I heard an engine sounding for Greenfield Road.

It was about the time I normally hear Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local heads toward its Pennsylvania namesake.

I drove via Hartman Station Road and spotted the train with an NS SD40E running long-hood first.

Turning onto Horseshoe Road, I continued in the direction of the local freight’s eastward path.

I arrived at the Horseshoe Road grade crossing with enough time to set up a shot looking across freshly mowed grass.

That’s old Conrail SD50 number 6729 (built in 1983), reincarnated as Norfolk Southern SD40E 6312!

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New Holland Vignettes

On Sunday Norfolk Southern runs local H29 over the old Pennsylvania New Holland Branch to it’s namesake.

Last Sunday, Kris and I wandered out along the line, looked at few crossings, and upon reaching New Holland, PA found a pair of GP38-2s with a few freight cars. The crew was just performing a brake test,

We drove a west and parked in the lot at the New Holland post office and waited.

This location offered a relatively unobstructed view the tracks.

After a few minutes the westward local came along and I made a series of photos with my Nikon Z6.

An Amish buggy passes the old Leola, PA station.
NS H29 Local freight in New Holland, PA. Nikon Z6 with f2.8 Nikkor 180mm telephoto.
NS H29 Local freight in New Holland, PA. Nikon Z6 with f2.8 Nikkor 180mm telephoto. A wink of sun makes the photo.
NS H29 at Diller Avenue in New Holland. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Hartman Station Road on the New Holland Secondary.

While runing a few errands, I found Norfolk Southern’s H29 local working its outbound run on the New Holland Secondary.

Leading the train was Norfolk Southern SD40E 6307 (originally an SD50) , which was making quite a show of climbing the short grade away from Greenfield in Lancaster, PA.

I zipped up to Hartman Station Road for a few quick photos using my Lumix LX7.

Step back a century and imagine this was one of PRR’s H10s 2-8-0 Consolidations. Now that would have been cool.

NS H29 working east at Hartman Station Road, Lancaster, PA. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Score on the New Holland Secondary

Last Sunday morning, Kris and I were heading to breakfast. Rather than jump on the four-lane, I decided to stick to the two-lane roads. As we drove toward the Greenfield Road grade crossing in Lancaster, PA, the crossing flashers lit.

I was surprise to see Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local approaching. We didn’t know this ran on Sunday morning.

After pulling in the clear, I grabbed my Nikon Z6 and fired off a photo of the approaching freight. Unfortunately, in my haste I’d set the auto focus-point incorrectly and my result wasn’t worth the price of the exposed pixels. (It was garbage).

From this mistake, I decided to delay breakfast and we turned around, and zipped up to the Willow Road crossing, just a couple of miles down the line. Here I had ample time to set up and frame some photos. I’d sorted out the auto focus. Kris filmed a video with her iPhone.

I was pleased with these images. We’ll need to head out on a Sunday morning again soon!

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

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Norfolk Southern’s Royalton Branch

This is a follow up to Thursday’s post. After photographing coal empties on the Port Road at Washington Boro, PA, I followed the train by traveling compass northwest on highway 441.

Norfolk Southern’s Royalton Branch is a former Pennsylvania Railroad line, once electrified, that allows an alternated routing through the Harrisburg area for freights using the Port Road.

Beyond Marietta railroad routes divide, with one line crossing the Susquehanna River via the Shocks Mills bridge to reach Enola Yard. The Royalton Branch runs toward Harrisburg on the east bank of the river.

I’m just learning this territory, so as of now, I’m not completely fluent as the modern names for the junctions and timetable directions of the tracks. However, I know that trains have a choice of routings, so last week I took a chance that the coal empties would run via the Royalton Branch. Previously, I’d scoped out a location near Middletown not far from the famous Three Mile Island.

Fortune favored me, and I arrived with ample time to set up and change lenses. Instead of my 70-200mm Z-series zoom, I was traveling with my 1980s-era Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed focal length manual focus telephoto, which attaches to my Z-series mirrorless cameras using an adaptor.

This is a traditional piece of glass and offers a classic quality, especially when used wide open (f2.8). However, its tricky to set the focus while trying to expose manually.

I made a series of photos with my Nikon Z6 and 180mm and a frame with my Lumix LX7.

NS coal empties at Royalton, PA. Exposed with a Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed telephoto.
NS coal empties at Royalton, PA. Exposed with a Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED fixed telephoto.
Lumix LX7 photo at milepost 11 in Royalton, PA.

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NS Coal Empties on the Port Road Branch

Over the course of recent weeks, Kris and I have explored locations on the Norfolk Southern’s Port Road Branch. This is a portion of former Pennsylvania Railroad that follows the Susquehanna River between the Harrisburg area and a connection with the Northeast Corridor at Perryville, Maryland.

PRR electrified the route in the 1930s, and it handled electrically powered freights until the Conrail era. The old electric catenary supports are evidence of this by-gone era. It has been more than 40 years since electric operations ended on this portion of the former Conrail system.

Daylight freight moves on the Port Road seem to be relatively rare, owing to an Amtrak daytime curfew on the Northeast Corridor route.

Last week, I left Lancaster very early and made my way to Columbia, PA where I picked up the Norfolk Southern Port Road line. In the morning glow, I found that home signal was lit ‘clear’ for a train movement toward Harrisburg. Expecting a train, I proceeded against it on the parallel highway to Washington Boro, PA, where I scoped a suitable location near a local park.

I waited for a few minutes, and soon heard the approaching freight.

I set up with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens and exposed this sequence of an NS empty coal train rolling up river.

Since the train wasn’t moving more than about 25 mph, I followed it along the adjacent highway. Stay tuned for more!

Former Pennsylvania Railroad electrified line at Columbia, PA. A high dew point made it difficult to keep the front element of my lens from misting over.
In many places the road, the railroad and the Susquehanna River run adjacent to one another. The classic catenary supports visually identify the line as the former Pennsylvania Railroad.
After just a short wait, this Norfolk Southern empty coal train came into view at Washington Boro, PA.
Soft morning light on the coal train made for a classic view.
This wideangle photo is at the same location in Washington Boro.
Trailing view at Washington Boro, PA.
View of the hoppers from Washington Boro Park rolling along from the opposite side of Highway 441.

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Norfolk Southern’s First Responder Training Event

Last week Norfolk Southern hosted an event at its Harrisburg, Pennsylvania yard geared toward training first responders on the details of railroad cars and locomotives, and focused on how to handle a variety of different tank cars carrying hazardous materials.

Representing Trains Magazine, I accompanied Dan Cupper and Rich Roberts on invitation from the railroad.

We were met by Connor Spielmaker and Mike Pucci from NS Corporate Communications, who gave attending journalists a safety briefing.

“Everything at NS starts with safety.”

Key to the event was NS’s special assembled Operation Awareness & Response safety train than makes annual tours of the NS network.

We spent several hours observing the first responders and their trainers, with opportunities to ask questions and make photographs. While I gathered material that may be used in future articles.

I made these images using my Nikon Z6. Some of the telephoto views were exposed using my 1980s-vintage Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED manual focus fixed telephoto lens.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED telephoto lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED telephoto lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED telephoto lens.
Nikon Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm ED telephoto lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens. Interior view of a tank car set up with a passage designed to demonstrate the construction of the car.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.

Special thanks to everyone at Norfolk Southern for making this event possible and to Dan Cupper for extending the invitation. His story on the Trains Newswire can be viewed through this link;

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Intermodal Crossing Old Arches

On our visit to Rockville Bridge last weekend, a few minutes after we caught a westward autorack train, we heard an eastward train approaching.

By this time, I’d swapped lenses and had my Z7-II set up with the 70-200mm zoom that I normally use with my Z6.

From our position near the boat launch on the west bank of the Susquehanna, I made this sequence of the second freight crossing Pennsyvlania Railroad’s iconic bridge—the third bridge at the this location.

Having lived in northern New Hampshire for several years, where freight trains are as rare as hens teeth, it was thrilling to see freights with almost no waiting time.

Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series-zoom set at 70mm; f4.5 1/800, ISO 100. RAW file adjusted in Lightroom.
Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series-zoom set at 70mm; f4.5 1/800, ISO 100. RAW file adjusted in Lightroom.
Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series-zoom set at 125mm; f4.5 1/500, ISO 100. RAW file adjusted in Lightroom.

The ONE boxes on this double stack train reminded me of a day in Dublin about five years ago when I’d walked up to Cabra to catch the outbound IWT Liner that was carrying several of these hot-pink containers. That seems like a world away and a long time ago.

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Good Luck! Bad Luck. . . Rockville Bridge

The famous Pennsylvania Railroad Rockville Bridge across the Susquehanna River is about an hour from our new home.

Saturday afternoon was clear and bright, so Kris and I made the short foray over to Harrisburg and north along the west bank of the river.

Thanks to our smart phones, navigating the turns off Interstate 81 and over to the bridge is now a relatively easy task. Back in the days of paper maps this had been a real challenge, because you have to make something like a double reverse figure eight up and over to get to the bridge.

Anyway, we arrived at the boat launch near the western piers of the great bridge, and within 30 seconds we heard a westbound Norfolk Southern freight coming. ‘Wow what perfect timing!’ I delighted at our good luck. A westbound in perfect light, and no waiting!

I reached for my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. Unfortunately, I discovered that the switch was already in the ‘on’ position, and found that I’d forgotten to turn the camera off after the previous evening’s photography. The batteries were flat. No electricity, no photos.

‘Oh no . . .but wait!’

As the train got closer, I reached for my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

It always helps to have a back up camera!

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NS Local and a Crescent Moon

Toward the end of dusk, Kris and I, went out to watch the Norfolk Southern local freight that serves the inustrial shippers near our new home.

As the local was getting ready to make a drop, I made this pair of photos of the train underwire on Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line near Greenfield, in Lancaster, PA. A crescent moon graced the western sky.

I was working with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens, hand-held with the ISO set at 20000.

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Revisiting the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridges at Safe Harbor

Kris and I paid another visit to the former Pennsylvania Railroad bridges along the Susquehanna River at Safe Harbor, PA.

We have stopped here a couple of times before, but on this visit I wanted to take a look at the upper level bridge which now hosts the Enola Low Grade Trail.

A connecting trail has been built here to reach the high level trestle.

My challenge will be returning here at an appropriate time to catch a Norfolk Southern freight. Owing to a curfew on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor with which the NS line connects, most of its freight moves through here during the hours of darkness.

The bridges are very impressive and offer a great view of the Susquehanna and the Safe Harbor Dam. See the link below the photos for information the Low Grade Trail

The high level trestle at Safe Harbor was last used by Conrail in 1988. It now hosts the Enola Low Grade Trail. The line on the lower level is the old PRR Port Deposit route used by Norfolk Southern.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z7-II.

My technique for getting a sunburst and retaining definition in the sky is using a very small aperture (in this case f22) and exposing manually for the sky.
It has been more than 40 years since Conrail discontinued electrified operations and yet the catenary masts remain as a legacy to Pennsylvania Railroad’s high voltage electric operations on these lines.
Afternoon view of the Safe Harbor dam powerhouse from the Enola Low Grade Trail.

To learn more about the trail, click on the link below.

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Freight Crossing Tunkhannock Creek

With Norfolk Southern SD70ACe 1021 leading a heavy freight [train symbol 11Z] in our review mirror, we drove south on Highway 11 toward Nicholson, Pennsylvania—location of the famous Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct.

As regular readers of Tracking the Light are aware, in recent months Kris and I have made several visits to this momental vestige of the late, great, Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad.

From our earlier visits I had my spot picked out on a side road a little ways from the village. I wanted to arrive with ample time to get into position set up in to time to catch the train crossing the bridge.

Dappled sunlight filled the valley as we heard the freight approaching.

I made a sequence of digital images using my Nikon Z7 with 24-70mm lens. Five locomotives were in the lead with a lone DPU (locomotive set up as a radio controlled remote ‘distributed power unit’) toward the rear of the freight. [NS 11Z runs from East Binghamton, NY to Roanoke, Virginia via Enola, PA.]

Afterwards we drove back under the viaduct and paused at the visitor’s parking area where there is literature and photos of the bridge on display. Our dog Boomer got to stretch his legs and mark his spot. He was delighted, it was his first visit to the big bridge!

I wrote about the DL&W bridge in my book Railway Masterpieces (Krause 2003) The viaduct was designed by DL&W’s bridge engineer Abraham B. Cohen and completed in 1915. The late historian-photographer William S. Young researched and wrote extensively about this bridge and Lackawanna’s early 20th century line relocations. He had interviewed Cohen’s descendants. I met with Young on a couple of occasions while researching bridge projects.

Check out this website for some history and vintage photos of the bridge: https://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2017/06/cpdl-viaduct-over-tunkannock-creek-at.html

Norfolk Southern symbol freight 11Z crosses the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, at Nicholson, PA.

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Ghost of Phoebe Snow—Fortuity at New Milford

Last Sunday, we exited Interstate 81 at New Milford, PA to get gas. This was the last leg in our big move, and our third drive from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania in the last month,

My plan was to follow old Route 11 toward Clark’s Summit. This avoids the traffic on I-81 and largely follows the old alignment of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. In fact in many places Route 11 is built on the old right-of-way.

We had Boomer-the-Dog with us and this was his first trip to Pennsylvania.

As I was fueling the car, I heard the unmistakable roar of modern EMD diesels. It was a southward freight on the Lackawanna!

I concluded pumping gas before the tank was filled, and we headed south after the train.

Several miles south of New Milford, Route 11 runs adjacent to the Lackawanna, now operated by Norfolk Southern. We pulled over to roll the train by at milepost 637.

Here, Kris made a video with her phone, Boomer got to witness his first BIG freight train, and I exposed this sequence of digital photos.

Milepost 637 as measured from Mattawamkeag, Maine, dating from the brief period in the 1980s, when Guilford Transportation controlled the Delaware & Hudson, which then own this section of DL&W line.
A wink of sun at just the right moment made for an even better image.
NS 1021 is an EMD SD70ACe.

Soon we were off after an even bigger prize . . . (stay tuned).

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Strawberry Ridge Coal Train at Tyrone

Twenty two years ago, photographer Mike Gardner and I made a project of photographing Norfolk Southern coal trains that served the Strawberry Ridge power plant in central Pennsylvania.

On this day, we followed a loaded train from Gallitzin toward Northumberland. It was misty and heavily overcast.

At Tyrone, the train diverged from the Main Line onto the former Pennsylvania Railroad Bald Eagle Branch, a line maintained in part by short line Nitany and Bald Eagle.

Mike and I set up on Washington Street in Tyrone, where the Bald Eagle branch came right up the middle of the street.

I made this photograph on Ilford HP using a Nikon N90S with Tokina 400mm lens. My goal was to accentuate the unusual trackage with a big train.

This would be a neat place to feature on a model railroad.

Bald Eagle Branch at Tyrone, PA, March 2001. Ilford HP5 with Nikon N90S and 400mm lens.

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Against the Light at Palmyra

On Sunday (February 5, 2023), Kris and I briefly visited the old Reading Company station at Palmyra, Pennsylvania.

We crossed the tracks on Railroad Avenue and spied the headlight of an eastward freight. By the time I got the car safely stopped, the grade crossing gates were down.

Although, I made a series of hastily composed digital images of the passing Norfolk Southern freight, none were to my satisfaction.

In the evening of Sunday, February 5, 2023, I made this hastily composed view of an eastward NS intermodal train crossing Railroad Avenue in Palmyra, Pennsylvania. Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

So I returned to the same crossing on Monday (February 6, 2023) with a vision of recreating what I saw the previous day.

Norfolk Southern provided an eastward intermodal train at almost exactly the same time as the day before. This time I was prepared. I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens and adjusted the NEF (RAW) files in Adobe Lightroom for presentation here.

On Monday February 6, 2023, I was ready with camera in hand to recreate the vision of an approaching eastward train that I’d seen the day before.
Monday February 6, 2023. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

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Norfolk Southern Pan at Marysville

Two weeks ago I made these panned views of Norfolk Southern SD70ACC 1813 at Marysville, Pennsylvania using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

Below are a sequence of frames and the arrangement of photos as they appear in Nikon’s NX Studio sorting/editing program.

I varied my shutter speed from 1/50th of a second to 1/125th of a second.

1/50th second; 150mm; f7.1

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Westward Freight at Rockville Bridge

Google Maps makes it much easier to navigate to the west shore of the Susquehanna River at Marysville, Pennsylvania to reach the famed Rockville Bridge.

I recall pouring over maps in the 1980s, trying to locate the correct sequence of turns to get to River Road. The challenge of this location is that the path is indirect and the main highways running parallel to the river and railroad do not facilitate straight forward exits.

On my most recent visit, I followed Google Maps instructions to my map ‘pin’ situated at the westend of Rockville Bridge. I approached the bridge just as a Norfolk Southern freight was easing across the 48 stone arches.

I returned to the vantage point on the north side of the bridge that Kris and I had visited nearly a year ago. This allowed me to make a long telephoto view of the train and capture the dramatic sky to the east.

Photo exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

Photo exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

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Fortuity at Greenfield—January 2023

I’ve been photographing trains around Greenfield, Massachusetts for more than 40 years.

Sometimes there have been long waits. Sometimes I got lucky.

Saturday, Kris and I were driving south on I-91. I asked, “would you like to stop by East Deerfield Yard”

She said “ok!”, so we jumped off the Interstate at Route 2, and took the roundabout (traffic circle) and headed east. At that moment I saw containers rolling east on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg line.

“That’s 22K, the NS intermodal train”.

We zipped over to East Deerfield Yard—located railroad timetable east of Greenfield—where I had just enough time to make these photos using my new Nikon Z7-II.

Nothing fancy, but these are lucky shots. I was delighted!

I always like it when luck prevails!

Norfolk Southern-Pan Am Southern symbol freight 22K at East Deerfield Yard.

With these ‘in the bag’, we drove to the Connecticut River bridge for more photos. Why waste a lucky day?

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RoadRailer on the old Reading

In August 2007 while working on my book Railroads of Pennsylvania, I made this late afternoon image of a Norfolk Southern RoadRailer intermodal train on former Reading Company tracks near the old railroad’s historic namesake.

A pair of NS DASH9-40CWs lead the train.

A few years after I made this Fujichrome color slide, Norfolk Southern discontinued most of its RoadRailer operations, including those in eastern Pennsylvania. It is one of only a few photos I have of NS operations near Reading, PA.

Exposed using a Canon EOS3 with 50mm lens.

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Rockville Bridge

I wrote about Pennsylvania Railroad’s Rockville Bridge in my book Railway Masterpieces published in 2002.

“The third bridge at Rockville was started in 1900, and opened to traffic in 1902. It is listed in the Guinness Book of Rail Facts and Figures, as ‘the world’s largest stone arch railway bridge over a river’. It consists of 48 stone arch spans.”

Last month Kris and I paid a visit to the Rockville Bridge. As we approached this magnificent viaduct a westward Norfolk Southern freight was crawling across, yet we had arrived too late to catch the head end of the train on the bridge.

We decided to wait a little while to see if another freight would come along.

Finally after about 45 minutes, I could hear a GE diesel chugging away on the far side of the Susquehanna. As the train started across the bridge, the evening sun emerged from the clouds, producing some very fine light to photograph the train.

I exposed these photos with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens firmly mounted on my mid-1990s vintage Bogen tripod.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 170mm, f5.0 1/500th of a second, ISO 200.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 76mm, f5.0 1/500th of a second, ISO 200.

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Norfolk Southern works West at Lewistown

Last month during our brief visit to Lewistown, PA, we caught two trains, one right after the other. Just a few minutes after the westward Pennsylvanian made its station stop, this Norfolk Southern intermodal freight worked west through the interlocking.

In the lead was 4092, one of Norfolk Southern’s AC44C6M rebuilds. These were converted from traditional DC traction Dash9-40CW locomotives into poly-phase AC traction diesels.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens and Lumix LX7.

NS 4092 west at Lewistown, PA. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom. Note the UPS truck on the road in the distance.
Panned photo with Lumix LX7, f8 at 1/80th of a second.
Trailing view with Lumix LX7

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Tunnel Inn View

In mid-November , this was the view looking west from our room at Gallitzin’s Tunnel Inn located adjacent to Norfolk Southern’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line near the tunnels under the Allegheny Divide.

I made this photo with my Nikon Z6 with f4.0 24-70mm zoom lens.

Kris & I spent two days and two nights at this excellent railroad themed bed & breakfast while exploring the old Main Line & environs.

I was impressed that some of my titles were on the shelf!

Neat place.

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Norfolk Southern at Hollidaysburg.

On our way east on Route 22 last November, Kris and I overtook a Norfolk Southern local freight with a GP40-2 slug set that was switching on a vestige of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Hollidaysburg, PA.

I made these digital photos working with my Nikon Z6 and 24-70 and 70-200mm zoom lenses.

The stone retaining wall along the road caught my attention.

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Noctunal Views from the Tunnel Inn.

Among the features of staying at the Tunnel Inn in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania is the porch at the back of the building that over looks the Main Line.

This is equipped with lights designed to illuminate the railroad to aid in the views of passing freights.

On our second evening at the Tunnel Inn back in mid-November (2021), I exposed this sequence of eastward Norfolk Southern freight 36A (Conway Yard to Edgemore, Delaware).

This was an enormous freight. In addition to head-end power, there were both mid-train and tail-end distributed power units (remote control diesels).

I made all these photos using my Nikon Z6.

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Coal Hoppers at Horseshoe Curve

In this November 2021 view at the World Famous Horse Shoe Curve west of Altoona, Pennsylvania, I pictured in classic fashion, a westward hopper train (empty coal train) climbing the Main Line toward Gallitzin.

Eighty-one years ago, we might have seen an equivalent scene with a pair of PRR L1s Mikados. Where Norfolk Southern has hundreds of GE Dash 9s, PRR had more than 500 2-8-2s.

I wonder what will be leading freights on the Curve in 2102?

Exposed digitally using a Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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