Tag Archives: #Reading COmpany

Twilight Glow at Reinholds

A week ago and a world away, wintery dusk settled over Reinholds Station, Pennsylvania.

The blue hour was golden.

Next to the old Reading station rested former New York, Susquehanna & Western GP18 1802.

This quaint setting is rare in 21st century railroading and befitting of a model railroad.

Photos were made with a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm mounted on a Bogen tripod to allow for long exposure. NEF RAW files adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

Lumix LX3—Reading Sunset

The tracks of the former Reading Company’s Lancaster & Columbia line through Lititz, Pa, were trimmed back a few blocks in recent months.

The rails were lifted where they crossed North Water Street, near the Appalachian Brewing Company.

I made these photos while experiementing with a vintage-2008 Lumix LX3. A decade ago, I’d made a lot of great photos with this compact camera model.

While I ultimately replaced my original LX3 with the more versatile LX7, I again have an LX3 in my repertoire of photographic equipment. This camera’s f2.8 Leica Vario-Summicron lens yields excellent results.

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Manheim, Pennsylvania

In the gloom of a cold winter night, we followed the old Reading Company tracks to the station at Manheim, Pa..

This preserved building is now maintained by the Manheim Historical Society. A few restored freight cars are displayed outside along with a Pennsylvania Railroad caboose, plus railroad artifacts such as historic baggage carts.

The tracks are operated by Norfolk Southern.

I exposed these photos with my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens mounted on a tripod. In post processing I adjusted the NEF RAW files to adjust color temperature, lighten shadows, control highlights and reduce contrast.

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Christmas Convergence at West Cressona

I like it when I can tie several themes together. This post is special because it ties together many loose threads in one neat knot.

Catching CNJ 0-6-0 passing through the former Reading yard at West Cressona a few weeks ago is a perfect example.

Back in 2015, on a trip to photograph 113 in Christmas train service with photographer Pat Yough, I met photographer Oren Helbok.

This seasonally-themed train was working the prototype rails that had inspired my HO-Scale Wee Reading Company.

Researching the Reading in November 2021 led Kris and me to Pennsylvania, and it was a significant factor in considering our move to the state earlier this year.

In March 2022 on visit to Pennsylvania to explore the Strasburg and Harrisburg areas, Kurt Bell introduced us to author/photographer and fellow Trains correspondent Dan Cupper.

In October, Dan Cupper and I had visited West Cressona to photograph a Reading & Northern local with a pair of EMD SW8 diesels

Earlier this month, both Dan and Oren encouraged Kris and me to photograph this season’s trips with 113.

During our photography of the 113 trips, Pat Yough had phoned to say that the elusive Reading & Northern SD38 2003 was in the yard at West Cressona. (See earlier posts on Tracking the Light, including: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/reading-northern-sd38-2004/and http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/the-solomons-gap/).

After catching 113 passing Becks, Kris and I made our way to the yard, which had been a feature of my model railroad, and caught 113 working its way through the historic trackage and passing 2003.

Back in 1986, I had photographed 2003 in an earlier incarnation as Grand Trunk Western 6253, which had arrived in my old haunt of Palmer, Massachusetts on a fiber-optic cable laying train. This stuck in my mind because it was the first time I’d ever seen a six-motor diesel on the Central Vermont.

My now-defunct Wee Reading Company HO railway. This was my interpretation of West Cressona Yard.
This angle was the inspiration for the model. I first stood here in 2014. This photo was made a couple of weeks ago.
Central Railroad of New Jersey 113 works past Reading & Northern 2003 at West Cressona, PA
Reading & Northern 2014 was at the back of the Santa excursion. In 2014, I made first visits to West Cressona and Minersville to photograph 113.
And there is the elusive 2003!
Central Vermont cable laying train at Palmer, Massachusetts in August 1986. I made my first photos of Palmer from this location in September 1977.

Merry Christmas from Tracking the Light!

Reading Railroad Heritage Museum

Perhaps the greatest concentration Reading Company artifacts is at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

Thanks to our friend Dan Cupper who arranged a special visit to this citadel of railroad preservation, Dan, Rich Roberts, Kris and I were treated to personal tour.

We were met by the museum’s Rich Brodecki and introduced to a variety of the museum’s volunteers, including archivist Richard Bates. We spent nearly two hours surrounded by vestiges of the late, great Reading.

Highlights of our tour included the museum’s model railroads, especially the HO-scale interpretation of the Reading, which reminded me of what I’d hoped my own Wee Reading Company could have become. This features a coal mine and several villages.

Outside, we viewed a variety of former Reading locomotives and cars. We were given a tour of Reading business car No. 15, which is a remarkable relic of the railroad’s past, and I had the opportunity to see the cabs of a Reading Alco C-630 and General Motors NW-2.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z-series mirrorless cameras. I’m looking forward to another visit in the future.

See: www.readingrailroad.org

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Reading’s Rocket

Among the world’s oldest surviving locomotives is Reading’s Rocket. This was recently relocated from Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

It was named to honor of Robert Stepenson’s original Rocket of 1829—the locomotive that is the ancestor of most subsequent reciprocating steam locomotive designs.

Reading’s Rocket was built in England in 1838 by Braithwaite & Company and shipped across the Atlantic to the Port of Philadelphia and then by canal to Reading, Pa. It was first steamed in May of that year, and began working in passenger service in July 1838.

The locomotive later greatly altered from its original appearance and then subsequently restored to more or less its as built condition.

Thanks to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania for facilitating my photographs of this rare and antique machine.

Photos exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

Typical of early locomotives, Rocket has inside connect rod connections and inside valve gear. This vital equipment—located between the wheels of the locomotive—is key to the engines operation, but goes largely unnoticed by most observers.

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Visit to the Middletown & Hummelstown with Wayne.

Several weeks back, our friend Wayne Duffett had business on Pennsylvania’s Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad, a short line that operates a short segment of the former Reading Company. Wayne posed with the railroad’s vintage GE 65 ton diesel number 2. Later, we drove to Middletown, where we had lunch in the classic Brownstone Cafe on Union Street.

After lunch the railroad fired up its antque former Western Maryland Alco S6 switcher to do a little work. Stay tuned for views of the grand old Alco at work . . .

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Local on the old Mine Hill & Schuylkill Haven

Here is another photo from the real-life setting for my one-time Wee Reading Company HO model railroad.

A few weeks back on my birthday, Dan Cupper and I made a productive exploration of old Reading Company lines operated by Reading & Northern.

This included following the PNPV local freight led by a pair of former Lehigh Valley SW8 switchers up the old Mine Hill & Schuylkill Haven Railroad—one of the oldest surviving railroad routes in the United States, now in operation for more than 190 years.

At Becks this train stopped to switch out the far end of West Cressona Yard.

I admit that this looks very different in real life than on my former model railroad, but it was still neat to be standing there admidst rusty autumn leaves and two 70 plus year-old diesels.

Below are two versions of the same image. The top is the Nikon NEF RAW file, scaled as a JPG for internet but otherwise unaltered.

The next down is the same file adjusted to improve appearance.

I’ve also included a screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom work window that shows how I used the slider controls to obtain my results.

There are my photo secrets revealed!

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Photos of a Postage Stamp Station!

In March 2023, the United States Postal Service issued a plate of five railroad station stamps. Among these is the former Reading Company station at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. This hasn’t served as a Reading passenger station since 1963, but is now a railroad themed restaurant.

In October, I paid two visits to the Tamaqua Station Restaurant; first with Kris, to meet up with Pat Yough, Scott Snell and Brian Plant, during our fall foliage photography of Reading & Northern’s 2102 under steam; second, about a week later with Dan Cupper.

During the course of these visits I made more than a dozen photos of the classic building—inside and out.

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2102 with October Foliage at Zehners

October is my favorite month for making railroad photos. Low sun and rich autumnal foliage can make for stunning settings. Yet, finding brilliant colored trees lineside isn’t always so easy.

Driving along on the highways in Anthracite country of eastern Pennsylvania in October you’ll see plenty of beautifully colored trees, but often, when you find your way to the tracks the leaves there are still green, or brown, or gone.

A few weeks back, Kris and I were following Reading & Northern’s 2102 as it led an Iron Horse Ramble toward Jim Thorpe.

Back in 2015, Pat Yough and I made a similar trip to photograph the railroad’s colorfully painted Pacific type, engine 425 on a foliage trip. Among my favorite photos from that day were those made at Zehners, near South Tamaqua, and so that’s where Kris and I stopped to catch 2102.

Kris and I arrived well ahead of the train. Folks had begun to gather. I was impressed by the trees. Bright sun illuminated the mid-morning sky and we made some satisfying images of the train as it passed.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Standing on the Inspiration for my old Model Railroad

On my birthday I went to visit the railroad that had inspired my HO-scale Wee Reading Company.

In May, Kris and I had traded the joy of the Wee Reading Company—a microcosm that I created of Pennsylvania anthracite country railroading—in order to move to and live in Pennsylvania.

Fellow photographer Dan Cupper joined me on a day-long exploration of Reading & Northern operations. We began the day at Port Clinton, and followed the PNPV (Port Clinton to Pottsville) freight to West Cressona on the old Mine Hill Railroad—one of the component lines of the Reading system.

I made photos at the old yard, along the street and houses that I’d conceptually recreated as the center-piece of my HO-scale fantasy—itself now a memory.

This seemed completely surreal, but resulted in some interesting photos.

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Four-eight-four and Autumn Foliage—Molino, Pa.

October 21, 2023, Kris and I were poised and ready at Molino to photograph Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company class T-1 4-8-4 No. 2102.

Although he photographed from a different angle back in October 1963, my father caught a Reading Iron Horse Ramble at Molino, which was part of the reason I wanted to photograph 2102 here.

On this day, we were among dozens of other photographers at this location. Everyone was respectful of each other and did a remarkably good job of trying to stay out of each other’s photographs.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikon Z-series zoom.
Light cloud and cross lit sun made for excellent conditions to photograph autumn foliage. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikon Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikon Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikon Z-series zoom.

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2102-Majesty of the Machine in Motion

Reading & Northern’s class T-1 2102 is an awe inspiring locomotive.

On October 1, 2023, Kris and I were poised to photograph this machine as it worked former the Central Railroad of New Jersey line near Nequehoning, PA.

Rich autumn sunlight and a hint of autumn foliage made for excellent conditions.

The locomotive crew made a show of steam and smoke as the engine passed us.

Nikon Z-6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom set to 200mm; f5.6 1/250 sec ISO 200.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 45mm; f4.5 1/640 sec ISO 200
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; f4.5 1/640 sec ISO 200

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Iron Horse on the roll!

Reading & Northern’s recreated Iron Horse Rambles are real throwback to the early 1960s.

Sunday, as we stayed well ahead of former Reading Company 4-8-4 No. 2102 as it worked toward Tamaqua and Jim Thorpe, Pat Yough led us to inspect several locations on the old Reading Co.’s Little Schuylkill Branch. These are places that I recognized from my father’s photos of Reading’s Iron Horse Rambles of 60+ years ago.

We settled on the popular location at Reynolds (near Atlas), not far from South Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.

Many photographers were set up for a classic 3/4 angle. Having followed that formula on previous trips, this time Kris and I opted for a broadside view where the BIG 4-8-4 would be lit by the morning sun.

I made this sequences with my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens and Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens

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Philadelphia & Reading Bridge—Harrisburg

Third time’s the charm.

In June 2009, I made my first visit to the former Philadelphia & Reading arched bridge over the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, Pa.

At that stage, I was still using film exclusively, and using my Canon EOS-3 loaded with Fujichrome, I made some photos of the bridge sans train.

Kris and I paid another visit to the bridge in March of 2022, Again, I made photos of the arches, but no luck catching anything on the move.

Toward the end of July, I made my third visit. This time fortune favored me. Not long after I parked on South Front Street, I heard a horn to the west and soon an eastward Norfolk Southern train came rolling across the arches.

I made these images using my Lumix LX7 and Nikon Z6 cameras.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Z6 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm.

I had the Z6 set up with my 1980s-era Nikkor f2.8 180mm prime telephoto. While a very sharp lens, this is operated manually, which makes focusing a little tricky.

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Kempton Contrasts

Saturday, I made this view of a former Reading Company caboose at Kempton, Pennsylvania on the Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern.

It was shortly before 3pm and the sun was still high in the July sky.

Using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm I exposed the photo in both JPG and RAW. Then in post processing using Adobe Lightroom, I adjusted the camera RAW (NEF format) so that I made full use of the camera’s dynamic range.

Notice how in the adjusted versions you can see detail inside the caboose.

My Nikon Z6 is prized for its dynamic range, in other words its ability to capture detail at the extreme end of the range from dark to light.

Nikon Z6 in-camera JPG with ‘vivid’ color profile.
Nikon Z6 in-camera NEF (RAW) file, unmodified except for necessary scaling and watermarking. No changes to gamma, color or sharpness.
Nikon Z6 in-camera NEF (RAW) file, following the first round of adjustments to shadows, hightlights, color and contrast.
Nikon Z6 in-camera NEF (RAW) file, following the second round of adjustments to shadows, hightlights, color and contrast, including localized exposure and contrast control on the window at upper left.
Adobe Lightroom work- window showing the positions of the exposure control sliders for the second round changes. Missing are the localized adjustments.

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Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern

In 2007, I’d made several trips to the Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern while I was working on my book Railroads of Pennsylvania.

I thought it was time to revisit this classic all-American tourist railroad This is a little more than an hour’s drive from our new home, so on our way to the Philadelphia suburbs last Sunday, Kris and I made a wee detour.

It also of special interst to me now. Although my old ‘Wee Reading Company’ is but a memory, I’m looking for ideas for my new railroad. I don’t have space yet, but someday it will be time to revisit the building of another HO-scale Reading interpretation.

The Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern will celebrate its 60th Anniversary later this year. The railroad operates a bit of the Reading’s Schuylkill & Lehigh Branch, a rural branchline cast away by the Reading more than a decade before the coming of Conrail.

I exposed these photos at Trexler with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkon Z-series zoom.

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Location Unknown—Reading Mystery Solved! (And re-photographed)

On February 27, 2021, I posted ‘Reading Company 2102 Location Unknown’, that featured a photograph my father made back in May 1963. Previously, I’d run this photo across the gutter as an opening spread in my book Locomotive (published by MBI in 2001).

At the time I was preparing the book, I quizzed my Dad about the location of the photo, and he was unable to recall the details, except that it was a Reading Iron Horse Ramble ‘somewhere in Pennsylvania’.

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/reading-company-2102-location-unknown/

In the two and half two years since I first posted “Reading Company 2102 Location Unknown” on Tracking the Light, I’ve received considerable response regarding the location of the photo.

In the meantime, I built an HO-model railroad based on the Reading (my ‘Wee Reading Company which included a model of 2102), got married to my fiancée Kris, and then during May and June this year we moved New Hampshire to Pennsylvania . ( And I had to sacrifice the Wee Reading Company in the process).

Several readers acted as detectives and narrowed the location of my father’s photo and provided me great detail . As it turns out location is less than an hour from our new home in Lancaster.

The other day, Kris and I drove to the crossing in the photo and I made a sequence of ‘Now’ photos to pair with my father’s original slide.

I didn’t have a copy of the photo with me and had to work from memory. (I’d hoped to use the image as posted on Tracking the Light, but the signal in the Brandywine Valley was poor and I could pull up TTL on my phone).

Interestingly, the first photo I made matches up nearly perfectly with my Dads. I sent him a phone photo with my iPhone once we signal, and he wrote back, ‘Yep! That’s the place’.

Special thanks to everyone that helped find location Pop’s ‘Unknown Location’, including Robert Mastrippolito, George Legler (who also supplied the vintage 1/4 mile map), John Hartman, Scott Snell and Chris Bost. Thanks guys!

Back in May 1963, Pop stood at the crossing south of Coatesville near Embreeville in Newlin Township, PA., where Youngs/Harveys Bridge Road, crossed the Reading Company tracks. The view is looking south toward Harveys Bridge, which was located between milepost 26 3/4 and milepost 27 on the former Reading Company’s Wilmington and Northern line, a line now part of the East Penn shortline system.

Photo exposed in July 2023 with a Nikon Z7-11, 24-70mm set to 70mm.

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2102 Fans, People and Portraits—20 photo special.

Last weekend’s Reading & Northern Iron Horse Ramble was more than just a trip. It was an event and a confluence of railway people, railway fans, railway photographers, train riders, and even members of the general public.

I sent my dad an SMS text with a of photo of 2102. He wrote back, ‘take photos of the fans.’

He has photos of Reading Company’s rambles with the railroad’s class T-1s surrounded by fans and photographers.

Below is a selection of my people photos from Saturday July 1, 2023.

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Station Inn at Reinholds

Last week my sister-in-law Isablle phoned to say that she found the perfect place to meet for dinner. ‘It’s like a pub, it’s near an antique place, it has a train parked out front, and its only about a half an hour away from where you live!’

And she was right!

So Kris and I arranged to meet my brother Sean and Isabelle, and our friend Pat Yough (long time TTL reader).

Pat and I took turns to walk up an photograph the engines of the East Penn Railroad that were parked across the street by the old Reading Company Station.

The restaurant/pub was old school with a classic tin ceiling, big windows and pool tables.

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7. The staff were friendly and we all had a good time!

https://www.facebook.com/StationAtReinholdsInn/

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Zooming in on 2102 or ‘Steam Compressed’

I routinely work with two or more cameras.

The other day, photographer Mike Gardner (and TTL reader) sent me a photo he made of me on a trip back in October 2004. “I think you had two Nikon F3s and a Contax G2 around your neck.” That sounds about right.

So, when photographing Reading & Northern’s 2102 with Dan Cupper on July 1st, I worked with my two Nikon Z-mirrorless cameras in tandem.

As previously described on TTL, I have my Z6 set up with a Nikkor Z-series 70-200mm zoom, and I made the following photos using this combination.

These are all relative long-telephoto views, and offer a contrast to the more traditional approach presented on my earlier TTL posts of R&N 4-8-4 2102 in action.

Molino, Pennsylvania.
River Road, Near Atlas Park in West Penn, PA.
Nesquehoning, PA.
Nesquehoning, PA.
Nesquehoning Junction, PA.
Nequehoning Junction, PA.
East Mahanoy Junction, PA.

Among the challenges of the July 1st chase with 2102 was haze and smoke stemming from Canadian wildfires—conditions that had affected eastern Pennsyvlania for days. This produces some unusual color temperature and made for some unusal lighting conditions.

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East Mahanoy Junction, PA.

Reading & Northern 2102 in Motion!

I’ve been sifting through hundreds of photos that I made of the July 1, 2023 Reading & Northern Iron Horse Ramble to Jim Thorpe, PA.

The railroad put on an amazing show of steam and I was very impressed by the performance of the locomotive and its crew.

Below are a couple sequences made on the outward leg of the trip. These were exposed using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

My goal was to capture Reading & Northern’s 4-8-4 steam locomotive at work. In these images, I’ve tried to picture the engine in the classic ‘rods down’ position that was favored by many traditional locomotive photographers.

More 2102 images soon!

Hamburg, PA.
Hamburg, PA. Lens set at 43mm.
Crossing River Road near Atlas Park, West Penn, PA. Lens set at 49mm.
Lens set at 49mm.
Crossing River Road near Atlas Park, West Penn, PA. Lens set at 24mm.

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Magnificent Locomotive-Reading & Northern T-1 prelude.

In the 1950s and 1960s, my father photographed and traveled on Reading Company’s famous ‘Iron Horse Rambles’ over its lines in the coal country of eastern Pennsylvania.

I grew up hearing stories of these trips and viewing his many black & white and color photographs that feature the railroad’s mighty class T-1 4-8-4 steam locomotives.

I’d visited several of these engines over the years; in Baltimore, Scranton, and last year at Port Clinton, PA. But until yesterday, July 1, 2023, I’d never witnessed one under steam.

When I began my Reading Company model railroad project in 2020, among the models Kris and I purchased was an HO scale interpretation of Reading Company 2102. And this engine was a regular feature on the Wee Reading Company’s coal trains, until I dismantled the railroad back in May in preparation for our move to Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, I traveled with Dan Cupper to Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station (not to be confused with Reading Company’s original Outer Station) to photograph 2102.

We spent the day photographing the engine at work. These Nikon Z7-II photos at R&N’s Outer Station are merely prelude to our chase to Jim Thorpe and back photographing Reading & Northern 2012 in action. It was an exhilarating day of photography! Stay tuned . . . .

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Two Visits to Middletown, PA

I made two visits to the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad about three weeks apart.

The first was on an overcast January afternoon, the second on an early February evening. On both visits, I made photos of the railroad’s antique locomotives using my Nikon Z7-II mirrorless digital camera.

The light was more uniform on the first vist, but had better color and mood on the second visit.

It has been about 15 years since I last photographed a M&H train on the move.

January 2023.
January 2023.
February 2023.
February 2023.

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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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HO Camels in Coal Country

The wee Reading Company has had some new arrivals!

Thanks to my long-time friend and expert model railroader, Rich Reed, my model railroad now has a variety of new equipment.

Rich painted a Reading class I-8 2-8-0 camelback for me. This is an interim paint job while we search for the appropriate Reading Company decals. He also supplied as wedding gifts; a Reading I-10sa 2-8-0 (with conventional cab arrangement); a tiny Reading Company camelback 0-4-0 similar to the class A-4b No. 1187 that used to live at the Strasburg Rail Road, a selection of Reading Co. freight cars and some buildings and other small structures.

I made these photos the other night using my Lumix LX7 to feature some of the additions to my interpretation of coal country.

In the ‘real world,’ Penn Central and Reading Company camelback 2-8-0s missed each other by more than 20 years.
Look through the trees! That’s a camelback 0-4-0 coming down grade.
West Cressona Yard has a few new additions thanks to Rich Reed!
This Penn Central RS-3 and caboose was a gift to me from Ken Buck that predated my wee Reading Company by almost a decade. The models had been his father’s. Look above the caboose and you’ll see the sign that Rich made for me that advertised Bob Buck’s Tucker’s Hobbies of Warren, Massachusetts.

My RDCs now have a wee station to serve at Minersville.
Schuylkillhaven now has a movie theatre!

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HO Reading Co. Sept 2022.

I’ve been working on my scale Reading Company.

Since the last time I featured my scale railway, I’ve refined and expanded the scenery.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 working with a f2.8 70-200mm and high ISO settings.

In post processing I lightened shadows and cooled the color balance to more closely emulate daylight.

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Reading 2102 Revisited

In the 1960s my father, Richard Jay Solomon, made numerous photos of Reading Company’s famous Iron Horse Rambles. This included countless photos of Reading T-1 2102.

As I’ve previously recalled on Tracking the Light and in the pages of Trains Magazine, these photos were, in part, my inspiration for the HO-scale Reading Company that I’ve been building in my Finacé’s basement.

Early in the planning for the railroad Kris and I bought an HO model of 2102, and in February last year (2021), I ran one of my father’s famous photos of this engine, a picture that I featued in my book Locomotive, 20 years earlier (see below).

A week ago Friday (March 18, 2022), Kris & I visited Reading & Northern’s Port Clinton, PA offices and obtained permission to visit the 2102 and make photos. This was a privilege and a real thrill. It was the first time I’d seen this engine up close.

Later this year R&N plans to have this magnificent machine operating in excursion service on their railroad.

My father’s image of 2102 on an Iron Horse Ramble in the 1960s.
My HO scale recreation of 2102 seen at speed on our interpretation of the Reading Company.
My recent digital photography of Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company 2102 at Port Clinton, PA.

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In the 1960s my father, Richard Jay Solomon, made numerous photos of Reading Company’s famous Iron Horse Rambles. This included countless photos of Reading T-1 2102.

Reading Company 800

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.)

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

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CSX Q300 on the Reading

Ten years ago today (February 28, 2012), I made this photo of CSX Q300 on the old Reading Company at West Trenton, New Jersey.

My old Lumix LX3 was a little tricky to use when making action photos of trains. If the camera was in full ‘auto’ mode and I pressed on the shutter release the camera would hesitate for a moment.

The trick was to use the manual setting and then ‘queue-up’ the camera by presssing the shutter release halfway in preparation for making a photo. In this way the camera shutter would release almost instantaneously when pressed the remainder of the way, thus allowing for a composition with full-frame view of a moving train, such as this one.

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Reading Vista from the Vista Cruiser.

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!

Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens-Kodak 5063 (Tri-X) processed in Microdol-X developer.

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.

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Merry Christmas from Tracking the Light!

It’s been several months since I last featured photos showing the progress to the HO Scale Reading Company Kris and I have been building in her basement.

I’ve been working on scenery, using lots of plaster and foam board. To demonstrate my progress I made these views using my Lumix LX7.

I still have a lot of work to do on the scenery, and it is by no means complete, but it sure beats the open timber frame appearance that the model railway exhibited in my earlier photos.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Tracking the Light!

Anthracite Country Construction in HO.

Working from period photos, including color slides that my father exposed in the 1950s-1960s, and my own images from recent years, I’ve planned an HO model railroad that is set in Pennsylvania’s anthracite country.

I’ve been scouring old topographical maps, perusing more old photos, reviewing books, and using Google Earth to adapt a prototype from the former Reading Company main line and Mine Hill Branches. I’m incorporating \elements of Pennsylvania Railroad’s Schuylkill Branch, the disused Schuylkill Canal, local highways and towns added in for color and historical context. I’m planning a coal mine (or two), a yard, engine house, and several bridges among other scale infrastructure, and if space and time permits maybe hints of the old Lehigh Valley and trolley lines that also once populated the area.

Barrys Gold Blend is fuel for my railroad building.
Using a level, ruler, square, clamps, wood, glue and screws, I’ve been shaping the foundations for a world yet unseen.

From these visions, my girlfriend Kris Sabbatino and I are building this model in her basement in New Hampshire. With a view to a four-dimensional model, I’m intent on a degree of realism and tuned to learn as much about the real railroad as I can in the process of modeling it. And yet, I am hoping the final execution will retain the mystique  that attracted us to this railroad in the first place. I’d like it to have a dream-like quality; real yet surreal, an alternate vision of yesteryear. After all the model is but a wee fantasy world.

I’m still erecting the bench-work that is the foundation for the railroad. It will be a while before I can lay track and wire it up, and then we can begin dressing the layout with scenery and tiny structures.

More to follow in the coming months, including more photos of the prototype!

Thanks to Kris who made some of the photos using her new FujiFilm XT4. Special thanks to Doug Scott who generously donated HO scale buildings and rolling stock that go the project rolling forward!

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Minersville Station

A minor station on the former Reading Company will be a significant focus of the model railroad I’m building with Kris Sabbatino.

On a visit with Pat Yough in December 2015, I exposed this unusual angle of the oddly angled Minersville Station using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

This is one of the few photos I found in my collection that shows the rarely pictured east face of the building, which sits at the junction of two lines.

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