I was lucky last Wednesday as Amtrak P42 number 145 wearing ‘Phase III’ heritage paint was leading train #42, the eastward Pennsylvanian.
Although the so-called Amtrak Phase III was introduced in the mid-1970s, for me it represents the predominant scheme that adorned Amtrak locomotives during the 1980s. I made countless color slides of F40PH diesels, and AEM-7 and E60 electrics in this scheme.
Amtrak repainted a several of its P42 Genesis diesels in 2011 to mark the railroad’s 40th Anniversary. In addition, several of Amtrak’s dual-mode 700-series Genesis units have also been painted in this scheme.
I was delighted to catch Amtrak 145 working the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line at Gap, Pennsylvania, and made a series of digital images using my Nikon Z-series digital cameras.
It was a retro 1970s moment at Christiana, Pennsylvania, when I made these coming and going views of Amtrak Keystone train 648.
The Conrail caboose to the right of the train is former Erie Lackawanna that was painted in an usual variation of COnrail blue at Erie’s Meadville, Pennsyvlania shops in 1976.
The cab car is one of the former PRR/Penn Central self-propelled Metroliner cars developed by Budd in the 1960s and characterized Amtrak’s high-speed services in the 1970s and early 1980s. Later these cars were modified and routinely operated to Harrisburg on this route.
Photos were exposed using my Nikon Z7-II and adjusted for contrast, exposure and color temperature using Adobe Lightroom.
January 15, 2023: Kris and I spent the day driving to Strasburg, Pennsylvania. We arrived just in time to make photos of 2-10-0 No. 90 arriving with the last scheduled train of the day.
With the setting sun just above the horizon, we had some beautiful winter light to photograph this historic machine in action. Cold weather can offer the best conditions to photograph steam locomotive because of the superior light and dramatic effects of condenstation.
I made these images using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikkor zoom lens.
In March, Kris and I stopped by the Middletown & Hummelstown railroad yard in its namesake town.
My last visit here was in 2009.
I made a few photos of M&H’s rare diesel locomotives, which includes an Alco S-6 switcher, an Alco T-6 switcher (that was one of last diesels built by Alco before it exited the domestic locomotive market) and a GE 65-ton center cab.
While I exposed a handful of black & white photos on film, I also made these digital images with my Nikon Z6.
A week ago (March 17, 2022), Kris and I visited the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg, where we saw a variety of finely preserved locomotives and rolling stock.
Among the most interesting and unusual pieces on display was Reading Company 800, a perfect example of an overhead electric multiple unit car that once operated on suburban lines in the Philadelphia area.
Of the thousands of locomotives and railcars preserved across the United States, there are relatively few electric multiple units in their as-built condition, which is what makes this display so unusual.
I got a kick out of seeing this car again because it is a Reading Company car and thus relates to our model railroad enterprise in Kris’s basement (although we don’t delve into electrified territory on the wee pike.)
These days when I think of ‘The Millie,’ it is Conway Scenic’s RDC 23 that comes to mind.
The other Millie is much older. And that is East Broad Top’s Baldwin 2-8-2 No 12.
Last week Kris and I were given a tour of the East Broad Top facilities at Rock Hill Furnace, Orbisonia, Pennsylvania and I was reacquainted with Millie, a locomotive I hadn’t seen or photographed in nearly 25 years.
I made this view using my Nikon Z6 digital camera.
In August 1981, my family and I were on a loosely mapped vacation in Pennsylvania.
On the second day of our trip, we were driving from Hazelton to Strasburg to visit the famous Strasburg Rail Road.
Fast forward 41 years: yesterday, if you’d asked me if I’d ever photographed Conrail running freight on the old Reading Company, I’d have been hard pressed to come up with an answer.
And, yet here is a Conrail caboose crossing PA 501 near Prescott, PA exposed on the move from the rear window of our 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser!
I scanned the negative a little while ago. Unsure as to the location, I enlarged the photo. Thinking back, I recalled a train crossing over us enroute, but as a teenager wasn’t good with my Pennsylvania geography. Looking a the photo, I noticed the Route 501 sign, which gave me the needed clue.
A quick Google search placed this location near Prescott (where 501 ducks under the former Reading Company Crossline route). Looking a Google Earth, I’ve nearly confirmed the location.
Ironically, the next few frames on the roll show static cabooses at Strasburg’s The Red Caboose caboose-themed motel. Ironic, because in 1981, cabooses (of all colors) were still common on most America freight trains.
It was a warm November morning, when Kris and I visited Huntingdon, Pennsylvania on the old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division.
Years ago, my old pal TSH and I would visit his grandmother who lived in Huntingdon. Kris and I drove around the village and I located the row house where Gram H. once lived. Then we proceeded to the Amtrak station to wait for the eastward Pennsylvanian.
Norfolk Southern fielded a few freights ahead of Amtrak, including this short local frieght led by a lone SD70ACU. Back in the old days, a pair of GP38-2s would have been standard on the local.
Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with f2.8 70-200mm zoom lens.
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!
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.
Last month Kris and I booked two nights at the Tunnel Inn in Gallitzin, PA, located at milepost 248, immediately west of the tunnels below the Allegheny Divide at the summit of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.
I love Pennsylvania.
I’d made my first visit to Gallitzin on a family holiday back in the summer of 1981—40 years ago. There was no Tunnel Inn back then.
In the 1980s, my old pal TSH and I would make photos from the bridge over the line adjacent to the building that would later become the Tunnel Inn.
On arrival last month, Bob, the proprietor of the Tunnel Inn offered Kris and me a room overlooking the tracks named for the old Pennsylvania Railroad MO Tower. (The tower had controlled movements through the interlocking at Cresson, several miles to the west of Gallitzin.)
The Inn is nicely furnished and decorated inside, and there’s a nice tavern just a short walk down the road. Across the tracks is a preserved Pennsylvania Railroad N8 caboose.
Minutes after we checked in to the Tunnel Inn, the first of many Norfolk Southern trains rolled by.
I work in the classic railroad station in North Conway, NH built in 1874 , and as it turns out the old Reading Company station at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania was built the same year!
On Thursday November 10, 2021, while on our way to Wisconsin, Kris and I stopped in at Tamaqua Station for lunch. My friend and fellow photographer Pat Yough recommended this station restaurant to us.
Several years ago Pat & I had visited Tamaqua but the station restaurant was closed for an event. At that time, I made seasonal Christmas photos of the station lit up for the season, and later used one in my book Railroad Depots, Stations & Terminals. I’ve been eager to return.
I exposed these most recent Lumix LX7 photos during our visit last Thursday.
While enjoying lunch we heard the rumble of EMD diesels . . .
Recently, my girlfriend Kris Sabbatino and I decided to build a model railroad.
For a prototype we selected eastern Pennsylvania anthracite country.
I began scouring my archives looking for material.
Part of my inspiration for this model railroad began many years ago when I was looking through my father’s photographs of Reading Company’s Iron Horse Rambles that he exposed over a five-year period beginning in 1959. Many of these photos were made from the excursions or on chases through eastern Pennsylvania. Most were not captioned at the time of processing, which often makes location details elusive but also part of the dreamlike mystery of building the scale railroad.
In 2007, I assembled a book titled the Railroads of Pennsylvania, and made a detailed study of the region.
In 2014 and 2015, I was researching on books on steam locomotives and made several trips with Pat Yough to photograph the Reading & Northern.
The model railroad will blend together all of this inspiration and much more.
As part of a new on-going feature on Tracking the Light, I’ll be reporting on progress with this model railroad and the source material from which we draw.
On October 12, 1992, my father and I traveled on the Pittsburgh Light Rail, traversing both the 47 Shannon and Drake Shuttle routes where vintage PCC cars still roamed. Both lines are now defunct. Later in the day, my brother Sean and I revisited these lines by road to make a few more photos.
On that trip, I exposed this Kodachrome slide with my Nikon F3T fitted with a 35mm perspective control lens.
While I was aiming to fill the frame with the rarely photographed PCC car, in retrospect I wished that I’d allowed a little more space around the streetcar.
I’m happy to have made this photo, since it was my only photographic adventure with the Pittsburgh PCCs.