Tag Archives: #Reading

Hall Disc Signal at Port Clinton.

Reading Company was among the most prolific users of the Hall Disc signal, one of the earliest forms of an electrically actuated signal.

Curiously, Reading continued to install new Hall Discs years after perfection of the electric three-position semaphore.

A few of Reading’s Halls survived into the diesel era.

Reading & Northern, which operates significant sections of the old Reading Company, installed this recreated Hall Disc near its Port Clinton, Pennsylvania offices in homage to Reading’s classic signaling.

In December 2014, I made this sequence of photos using Pat Yough’s FujiFilm XT1, on a trip to photograph R&N’s 4-6-2 Pacific number 425 that was running Christmas trips to Schuylkill Haven and Minersville.

Now that I’ve endeavored to recreate the Reading Company in HO Scale, I’ve stumbled upon a quandary: How to make operating scale models of the antique Hall Disc signal? 

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Reading & Northern 425 near Auburn, PA.

On December 13, 2014, Pat Yough and I visited Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company main line near Auburn, Pennsylvania where the former Pennsylvania Railroad Schuylkill Branch crossed on a through truss bridge.

Working with my Canon EOS-7D fitted with a 100mm lens, I exposed a sequence of Reading & Northern’s 4-6-2 Pacific number 425 that was leading a Christmas excursion toward Schuylkill Haven.

This is among the scenes that inspired me to recreate the Reading Company in HO scale.

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Reading Retrospect

On October 22, 1987, I made this study of former Reading Company 50-foot boxcars stored on the Genesee & Wyoming at P&L Junction in Caledonia, New York.

When Reading was folded into Conrail, Delaware & Hudson took title to a variety of Reading Company equipment, yet these cars were still painted for their original owner.

For more than 30 years this Kodachrome slide languished in the dark, and only recently did I retrieve it. These cars are of special interest to me now because I’m building a scale interpretation of the Reading Company in HO, and, Kris Sabbatino and I recently purchased models of Reading Company cars similar to these.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with a 90mm f2.8 Elmarit.

Scanned using a Nikon SupersCoolScan5000 digital scanner operated using VueScan software. Scan adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Bright Sun at Westwood Junction.

In December 2015, the sun was bright along the old Mine Hill & Schuylkill Haven at Westwood Junction, near Minersville, Pennsylvania.

Little did I know when I made this view of a Reading & Northern excursion, that this minor component of the old Reading Company was one of the oldest railway lines in North America.

In my study of the Reading for our model railroad project, I’ve learned many fascinating things that are difficult to translate in HO.

Digital photo exposed with my FujiFilm XT1.

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Port Clinton and 425.

Reading & Northern’s 4-6-2 Pacific #425 was the draw.

In December 2014, this handsome steam locomotives was operating a series of holiday trips on the old Reading Company lines out of Port Clinton, Pennsylvania.

Pat Yough offered to drive and so I traveled down by train to meet him and make photographs.

At the time, I was keen on investigating the FujiFIlm X-series mirrorless cameras as my next avenue for digital photography, so Pat lent me his Fuji XT1 to try out.

In addition, on that day I was also working with my Lumix LX7 and Canon 7D cameras.

We arrived at Port Clinton in the morning in time to catch 425 making some switching moves in preparation for its run up to Schuylkill Haven.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by the Fujifilm camera that day and a month later I invested in one.

The territory served by the old Reading Company also impressed me, and I’ve chosen this area as the setting for the model railroad that my girlfriend Kris Sabbatino and I are building.

Recently, Kris, impressed by my results with the Fuji X-series has invested in a Fuji XT4.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1.
Exposed using a Lumix LX7. Notice the old Pennsylvania Railroad right of way above the locomotives.

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Reading Company Retrospective

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.

Reading Iron Horse Ramble, exposed in May 1964 on Agfachrome using a Leica M. Location unrecorded.Photo by Richard Jay Solomon ©1964.

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.

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