In my early days, picturing former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electrics was one of my main photographic interests.
I held Amtrak’s newer E60 electrics is disdain. These modern, boxy electrics appeared to be supplanting the GG1s. For me they lacked the historic connections, the elegant streamlined style, and the character of the GG1. They were bland and common.
I may not have been fond of the E60s. But I always photographed them. They were part of the scene, and important elements of modern operations.
Recently I rediscovered these E60 photos along with some other long-missing black & white negatives.
Friday nights trackside represents a tradition going back more than three decades. Back in the day, Bob Buck would hold court at his Tucker’s Hobbies in Warren, Massachusetts, then we’d head down to Palmer for dinner and afterwards convene at the old railroad station to watch trains pass in the night.
I’d make photographs.
A group of us have maintained the tradition and still meet in Palmer some Fridays. However, a few weeks back Rich Reed offered a suggestion, “Lets do something different. How about we meet in Worcester, and I’ll drive everyone to Mansfield where we can watch the Acela blast by at 150mph.”
We opted for one of the long days of June, and proceeded to plan.
As we all recalled later on, even this idea had originated with Bob Buck. Back in the 1980s, Bob would take a summer evening and drive a group of us to the old New Haven Shoreline route.
Sometimes Bob would bring us to Readville, other times Mansfield, or Attleboro. We’d variously meet with locals, including Dave Clinton and Bob Karambelas, who’d show us new locations and share railway information. On at least one occasion we visited Edaville and traveled on the narrow gauge.
At the end of this June 2015 evening we made a toast to the memory Bob Buck—the man who brought us all together and for years shared the railroad with us.
Back in 1991, my brother Sean and I explored the former Pennsylvania Railroad electrified mainline between Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia. I recalled from that visit that the long tangent at Marcus Hook offered some interesting views and the potential for evening glint.
Earlier this month (January 2015) we returned to this location. SEPTA maintains a ground level station that provides easy access.
I like the location for several reasons: it is open, which allows late sun to reach rail level; there’s a long tangent and signals, that provide advance warning for trains; Amtrak’s trains can travel at top speeds; and it is relatively easy to get around obstructions such as poles and wires than might interfere with photography.
We arrived in time for a flurry of activity just as the sun was setting. These images were exposed using my Canon EOS 7D, but I also made a few images on Fuji Provia 100F using my old Canon EOS 3.
On January 16, 2015, my brother and I risked the perils of Interstate-95 and drove to Wilmington, Delaware so that I could make a few photos of the former Pennsylvania Railroad station.
I’d been working on a book on railway station architecture, and I wanted to make a few views of this iconic building credited to Frank Furness. Somewhere I’d seen a photo from the parking garage across the street that made me curious.
Thanks to Sean’s navigation, we easily found the station and the parking garage. I drove to the top level and made my photos. As is often the situation on exploratory trips, I decided this might make a better image at another time of day. At some point, perhaps I’ll return on an August evening and try again.
While on the top of the garage, I photographed a northbound train. This was led by a General Electric P42 diesel-electric, which is not the Amtrak motive power I’d expect to see here in electrified territory!
It was a brief visit to Delaware. Getting back to I-95 proved more difficult than finding the station, but in the end we were on our way. The light was getting good and I had visions of a sunset glint location . . .
In January 1980, I made my first photographs of Amtrak AEM-7s. They were then brand new. I didn’t much care for them then because the represented the end for my favorite GG1s. Nothing lasts forever, and now Amtrak AEM-7s are rolling off their final miles.
I made this photo of Amtrak 945 at South Station last year on the day before the first official run of Amtrak ACS-64 number 600. The new ACS-64 are locomotives that will ultimately supplant the AEM-7s on the North East Corridor.
And what of my first AEM-7 photos? I processed my film using oxidized Microdol-X and the negatives were exceptionally thin. (under processed). Perhaps, if I can locate them, I can fix them in post-processing, but that’s a project for another day.