Saturday, October 28, 2023, Kris and I drove to Bellefonte, Pa., to see the first runs of the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society’s recent restored Budd-RDC.
Bellefonte was hosting its Talleyrand Fall Fest and the traffic around the town was a bit intense. Also tickets for the train ride were completely sold out, so rather than travel on the car we settled on rolling by the RDC at a grade crossing near the station.
The trackage is operated by North Shore Railroad’s Nittany & Bald Eagle and historically was part of the PRR system.
The group’s RDC is car 9167, originally New Haven Railroad number 40, which makes it a sister car to Conway Scenic’s number 23 Millie (originally New Haven number 23), which I’ve often featured on Tracking the Light.
My second visit was on January 2, 1988, when I stopped at a grade crossing just north of the station to catch a southward holiday extra that was running with F40PH 205 and borrowed MARC passenger cars.
Last night, I was able to place the location 1988 photo by carefully scrutinizing the older slides. The distinctive profiles of the buildings to the left of F40PH 205 also appear in the distance of the trailing view of the RDCs, which is how I know that the 1988 photo shows the train approaching Amtrak’s Meriden station stop.
If you look carefully at the 1988 photo, you can see the conductor standing in a vestibule door. The platforms were at the east side of the tracks for trains in both directions, as evident in the first view of the RDC at the station.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time studying railway imagery, observing and analyzing hundreds of thousands of individual photos.
Among the most striking are the works of Japanese photographers.
Some of their most successful photos cleverly use focus and depth of field to place the railway in its environment. In some situations this is accomplished with a single image; in others with a sequence of photos.
Last week, I emulatted the style embraced by my Japanese counterparts to produce this sequence of images at the Swift River Bridge on Conway Scenic Railroad’s Conway Branch.
Here I’m working with three primary subjects; the truss bridge, Budd rail diesel car Millie and a flowering tree. All were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
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In the 1950s, New Haven Railroad worked with the Budd Company to develop a semi-streamlined self-propelled passenger train adapted from the successful Budd Rail Diesel Car—RDC for service as the Roger Williams.
The ends of the train featured a distinctive nose-section.
I recall these end cars working Amtrak’s Springfield, Mass., to New Haven, Connecticut shuttles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
A couple of weeks ago on a business trip to Lincoln, New Hampshire, I saw that the Hobo Railroad has this portion of the old ‘Roger Williams’ RDC on display. I took a couple of minute to make a few photos. Someday I’d like to return for a more thorough documentation.
Fresh snow made for a monochromatic setting with the bold New Haven logo.