Tag Archives: Reading Company

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania-A Dozen New photos.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is one of my favorite American railway museums both because of its great collection of Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading Company, Conrail and Amtrak equipment, and for its stunning interior presentation that makes railroad equipment compelling to look at.

I exposed these photos on a visit in mid-November 2017 with Pat Yough having spent the afternoon photographing the nearby Strasburg Railroad at work.

FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit lens. Here’s a trick for making more effective museum photos in a dimly lit environment such as the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s main hall: over expose by about 1/2 a stop (let more light in). This avoids blocking up the shadow areas.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Among the fascinating aspects of the museum’s static collection are the numerous vintage freight cars that span a century of service. Too often the common freight car—the backbone of American railroad freight transport—is overshadowed in preservation by more glamorous equipment.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

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Dusk at Elm Street, Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Dusk at Elm Street, Norristown, Pennsylvania.Dusk at Elm Street, Norristown, Pennsylvania.

I exposed this view using my Lumix LX7. The angle of view is equivalent to a 24mm lens on 35mm film camera.

The ISO was set to 200, White Balance at ‘Auto’, shutter speed 1/25th of a second, and f-stop at ‘A’ (aperture priority which resulted in a f2.2 setting).

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Seven Retro-views on Retropan: West Trenton, New Jersey.

On one level the name of the film sounds a bit silly; ‘Retropan.’ This is actually a relatively new emulsion that aims to fulfill a classic aesthetic.

It is a soft, slightly grainy black & white negative film that provides a sensibility that reminds me of photos taken in the 1960s and 1970s.

As far as I’m concern this is a limited application film, but it has it’s place. I’ve documented my experiments with Foma’s Retropan previously over the last year. See:

Retropan 320—My First Experiment.

Retropan on the Rails; Experiments with My second Roll of Foma’s 320 ISO Black & White film.

I made these most recent Retropan photos at along the SEPTA/CSX former Reading Company tracks at West Trenton, New Jersey using a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens.

But, yes I also made a few digital color photographs at the same location.

Working with multiple cameras and multiple types of media, allows me to take different visual approaches at the same time.

The old Reading Company station building at West Trenton has been adapted for other applications. In other words the station isn’t a station any more. Confusing matters is that it’s still at the station. Got it?
It’s been a very long time since this old stainless steel electric was the latest thing on steel wheels. These day it’s among SEPTA’s rolling antiques.
Wide-angle views with grainy black & white film screams late 1960s to me.
The ‘smart’ phone bursts the illusion in this view. Obviously not ‘back in the day’.

Well, except all the trains not at this station!

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Follow That BUDD!

Not to be confused with: “Follow THAT! Bud.”

Earlier this month, in the high-summer light, while traveling from Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station on its former Reading Company Budd Cars (Budd Company Rail Diesel Cars otherwise known as RDCs), I wondered about photo locations along Reading & Northern’s lines.

Back in the day (lets call it the early 1960s) my father, Richard Jay Solomon, photographed Reading Rambles along these same Reading Company routes (and also occasional put the company’s regularly scheduled passenger trains on film).

For years, I’d looked at these slides without fully grasping where they were taken.

One trip over the old Reading answered many questions. Around each bend, I recognized locations, thinking ‘Ah Ha! So that’s where Pop made THAT photo’ and so on. (I’m still waiting for Pop to finish labeling his slides; he’s got about as far as 1960 thus far. HINT: Don’t wait 57 years to label your photos).

In the Lehigh Gorge, Pat Yough and I chatted with our friend Scott Snell—an accomplished member of the railway photo fraternity. Scott offered us the opportunity to ride with him as he chased the Budd cars back toward Reading.

Having traveled up by rail, we jumped at the opportunity to make photos of our train in late afternoon summer sun. So we traveled with Scott by road from Jim Thorpe to Reading, by way of Tamaqua, Port Clinton and Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

Here are some of my results thanks to Scott and Pat’s knowledge of the line.

Not on the old Reading Company, but in fact on the former Central Railroad of Jersey line at Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania.
New Ringgold, Pennsylvania on the old Reading Company line between Port Clinton and Tamaqua. This was a definite, “Ah Ha” location. (And I don’t mean the Norwegian pop band.)
Pop bagged a Reading double-header crossing this field. That photo has appeared in books.
Not far from the former Reading Company station at Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

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Old Reading RDCs at Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station, Reading Pennsylvania.

Just checking to see if you are reading this correctly.

Last weekend, July 8 and9, 2017, Patrick Yough and I made trips to Reading, Pennsylvania to photograph and travel on Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company Budd RDCs.

I grew up with the old ‘Budd cars’ and it was neat to see these machines on the roll again.

Budd introduced it’s self-propelled ‘Rail Diesel Car’ in 1949, and sold them to many railroads across North America. These cars were most common in the Northeast, and the Reading Company was among the lines that made good use of them in passenger service.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens.

Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.
A new tower, and a really antique signal made for nice props for the RDCs at Reading Outer Station.
Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.

 

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Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

The former Reading Company station at Pottstown, Pennsylvania features some impressive code line poles in front of the building.

In these views of Norfolk Southern symbol freight 38G, I like the way the horizontal lines on the NS logo on the front of the locomotive mimics the lateral braces on the poles.

To minimize foreground distractions, I exposed the photos near ground level by using the adjustable rear display on my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Reading & Northern: Cressona, Pennsylvania—Retro Railroad Fantasy?

Is it a retro railroad fantasy to make images that resemble those of the late-Reading Era in 2015?

Reading & Northern GP39RN 2532 leads one of the company's Santa Trains at Becks near Cressona, Pennsylvania. This locomotive was originally classified as EMD GP30 and is painted to resemble Reading Company freight locomotives as they appeared in the 1970s. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Reading & Northern GP39RN 2532 leads one of the company’s Santa Trains at Becks near Cressona, Pennsylvania. This locomotive was originally classified as EMD GP30 and is painted to resemble Reading Company freight locomotives as they appeared in the 1970s. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

Traveling with Pat Yough, I made this selection of photographs at the former Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania in December 2015.

Back in the 19th Century, Philadelphia & Reading consolidated various railroads primarily for the movement of anthracite. In its heyday, this railroad was one of the busiest and most profitable in the United States.

Coal demand and transport has changed dramatically in the last 130 years.

Reading Company’s operations entered a long decline in the 20th century and were finally folded into Conrail in 1976. Reading & Northern emerged as a Conrail spinoff in the 1980s.

Reading & Northern's old Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania. Exposed in 'monochrome mode' with my LX-7. I'v adjusted the tonality with an in-camera red-filter setting.
Reading & Northern’s old Reading Company yards at Cressona, Pennsylvania. Exposed in ‘monochrome mode’ with my LX-7. I’ve adjusted the tonality with an in-camera red-filter setting.

Today, using a host of vintage railroad equipment R&N provides freight service and seasonal excursions in the spirit of the old Reading Company. Anthracite remains among the commodities moved by the railroad.

R&N paints its vintage locomotives and some freight cars to resemble those of the late-era Reading Company.

This is a similar view to the black & white image above, and aimed to include R&N's GP39RN. This could be a view of an R&N freight, or perhaps almost passable as a view of the Reading Company from the 1970s. Yet, its really a Santa Train excursion. CNJ 113 is at the back of the train. Lumix LX7 photo.
This is a similar view to the black & white image above, and aimed to include R&N’s GP39RN. This could be a view of an R&N freight, or perhaps almost passable (if we cropped the ‘derail’ sign, and ignore the graffiti-covered 1980s era freight cars)  as a view of the Reading Company from the 1970s. Yet, it’s really a modern R&N Santa Train excursion. Restored CNJ 0-6-0 113 is puffing away at the back of the train. Lumix LX7 photo.
Trailing view of R&N's no-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day's excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Trailing view of R&N’s neo-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day’s excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

The line between documentation and photo recreation is blurred.

Through select cropping, I can either reveal the nature of the passenger excursions, or at first glance make R&N’s excursions operation appear like a Reading Company freight from the mid-1970s, or even its own weekday freights.

When does documentation become a re-creation? In the case of R&N does such a distinction even matter?

R&N offers a window on the old order, which is a relief for a railroad photographer aiming to step back from the contemporary scene dominated by massive class I carriers with modern six-motor safety-cab diesels moving unit trains of coal, ethanol and intermodal containers, and modern passenger trains.

LX7 panned photo.
LX7 panned photo—relatively slow shutter speed and careful continuous panning motion allowed the main subject to remain sharp while the background slips into a sea of blur.

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Happy Christmas from Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light!

New Hope & Ivyland's former Reading Company station at New Hope, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
New Hope & Ivyland’s former Reading Company station at New Hope, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 digital camera, nominal shadow adjustment from a RAW file.
How about a happier, brighter, super-saturated version of the same photo; contrast, exposure, saturation, color balance and clarity boosted in Lightroom for maximum holiday cheer. LX7 photo.
How about a happier, brighter, super-saturated version of the same photo? Here the  contrast, exposure, saturation, color balance and clarity have been boosted in Lightroom for maximum holiday cheer. Hark the ho ho, and all that! LX7 photo.

Blue Pacific at Zehners, Pennsylvania—October 17, 2015.

Saturday morning, Pat Yough and I photographed Reading & Northern’s handsome Pacific, number 425, on a fall foliage excursion from Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

The weather was perfect; clear and cool.

I exposed this image on the old Reading Company at Zehners, Pennsylvania on the line from Port Clinton to Tamaqua.

Reading & Northern 425 on October 17, 2015. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Reading & Northern 425 on October 17, 2015. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

My intent was to show that the locomotive is a Pacific type (4-6-2). What better way to do this than with a nicely lit broad-side view?

All told, it was an excellent morning!

What I can’t convey in still images is the sound of the whistle echoing up the valleys, and the bark of the exhaust as the engine worked upgrade, complete with the occasional burst of beats that results from the drivers slipping on wet rail.

Kudos to the Reading & Northern’s operating department for a job well done.

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Reading & Northern at Tamaqua.

Tracking the Light presents three photos: a Classic station and a short freight.

Pat Yough and I arrived at the grade crossing in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania just as the gates came down. Lucky me! My goal was to photograph the old Reading Company station for a new book I’m putting together. This was a bonus.

I'd only just arrived in Tamaqua a few minutes before exposing this image. I'd never before been to this Pennsylvania town, so when the gates came down, it was a matter of jumping out and looking around as the train approached. Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.
I’d only just arrived in Tamaqua a few minutes before exposing this image. I’d never before been to this Pennsylvania town, so when the gates came down, it was a matter of jumping out and looking around as the train approached. Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.

Acting quickly, I positioned myself for a few images. Since, I’d never been to Tamaqua before, I didn’t have much time to find photographic angles. Luckily the train stopped, which gave us time to expose a few more photos.

Puddles make for great reflective tools! Reading & Northern local freight at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.
Puddles make for great reflective tools! Reading & Northern local freight at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.
I positioned Pat Yough's X-T1 on a tripod and waited for dusk—one of my favorite times to photograph old railway stations. Tamaqua's classic Italianate style structure was decorated for the season. Daylight white balance.
I positioned Pat Yough’s X-T1 on a tripod and waited for dusk—one of my favorite times to photograph old railway stations. Tamaqua’s classic Italianate style structure was decorated for the season. Daylight white balance.

After the short freight departed we waited for dusk to make night shots of the station, which was my original plan.

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SEPTA in Center City


Philadelphia Transit on the Roll, July 2013

On the sidewalk, SEPTA's initials are set in cement. Lumix LX3 photo.
On the sidewalk, SEPTA’s initials are set in cement. Lumix LX3 photo.

Philadelphia area transit is provided by SEPTA. The city’s eclectic collection of routes and modes has its origins in the 19th Century. In Philadelphia’s heyday, a myriad of railways laced the city and pulsed with passengers. One hundred years ago, 500 million fares were collected annually on Philly’s streetcars alone.

SEPTA subway.
Market-Frankfort subway at 30th Street, Philadelphia. July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Company vied for suburban fares, and both railroads electrified key routes in the early decades of the 20th century. This  foresight continues to benefit Philadelphia to the present.

Sadly, while Philadelphia once enjoyed one of the most extensive streetcar networks in the world, much of this was gradually dismantled during the second half of the 20th century. Yet, a few key streetcar routes survive. Here and there tracks tell of past glory.

I visited my brother Sean in Philadelphia in early July, giving me ample opportunity to experience SEPTA and its buses, streetcars, subways, and railroad operations.

Center City is what Philadelphians call ‘down town’. While SEPTA’s operations reach myriad points across the region, Center City is the focus of most public transport.

Here are a collection of views of Philadelphia and its public transport.

PRR Suburban Station.
The former Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA.
Pedestrian entrance to Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia. Lumix LX3 photo.

 

Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia
SEPTA train at Suburban Station, Philadelphia. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Market-East.
SEPTA Silverliner V pauses at Market-East Station in July 2013. Market-East is directly below the old Reading Terminal on Market Street. Lumix LX3 photo.
This mural in the old Reading Terminal depicts the station's former glory. Lumix LX3 photo.
This mural in the old Reading Terminal depicts the station’s former glory. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Silverliner V.
SEPTA Silverline V heads outbound near the 40th Street Bridge in July 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA 15 Trolley.
SEPTA’s Route 15 Trolley making turn at 26th Poplar Streets in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA is one of the last American cities to issue transfers.
SEPTA is one of the last American cities to issue transfers.
List of SEPTA bus routes at a stop near City Hall.
List of SEPTA bus routes at a stop near City Hall.
SEPTA
SEPTA Silverliner IV outbound. Canon EOS 7D photo.
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Norfolk Southern X999 on June 30, 2013

 

Air Products Heat Exchanger on the Move.

Norfolk Southern X999
Norfolk Southern X999 works southward on the former Reading Company at Yardley, Pennsylvania. Exposed with Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

On June 30, 2013, Pat Yough and I photographed Norfolk Southern X999, an extra-dimensional (oversized load) move carrying an Air Products industrial heat exchanger.

Heat Exchanger moved by rail.
Norfolk Southern X999 carrying a heat exchanger near Yardley, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Norfolk Southern X999, Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Norfolk Southern X999, Yardley, Pennsylvania.

 

We photographed this twice. Once on the former Reading Company line at Yardley, Pennsylvania. And again on the former Pennsylvania Railroad Trenton Cutoff near Morrisville.

This unusual train had locomotives at the front and back (to aid in changing direction) and an Air Products caboose.

Norfolk Southern X999 near Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Norfolk Southern X999 near Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Norfolk Southern X999 near Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Norfolk Southern X999 carries an industrial heat exchanger. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
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SEPTA One Year Ago: June 29, 2012

This day last year (June 29, 2012), Pat Yough, my brother Sean and I, spent the evening photographing the final runs of SEPTA’s 50 year old Silverliner IIs and IIIs. These were working the short run on the former Pennsylvania Railroad line to Cynwyd.

SEPTA
A pair of SEPTA’s vintage Silverliners navigate the Cynwyd Line near Bala Station, Philadelphia on June 29, 2012. Exposed with a Canon 7D.

More than 50 years earlier, my father Richard Jay Solomon had photographed, similar and then new PRR Silverliners on the same line. Back then tracks and electrification continued across the Schuylkill River to Manayunk and beyond to Norristown. Today, SEPTA serves these locations by the former Reading Company line that ran largely parallel to the old PRR line.

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Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Revisited

Reading Terminal clock
Reading Terminal clock on Market Street, Philadelphia. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens.

On Wednesday January 2, 2013, I revisited Philadelphia’s old Reading Terminal with my brother Sean and Michael Scherer. It was still a functioning passenger terminal when I first visited this iconic railroad facility in the late 1970s with my family. In 2007, I covered its history in my book Railroads of Pennsylvania. Here’s an excerpt of my text:

In the 1890s, Philadelphia & Reading invested its anthracite wealth in construction of one of Pennsylvania’s most ornately decorated company headquarters and passenger terminals. Facing Philadelphia’s Market Street, one of downtown’s main thoroughfares, Reading Terminal represented an ostentatious display of success, but one that now has benefited citizens and visitors to Philadelphia for more than a century.Like many large railway terminals of its time, Reading Terminal followed the architectural pattern established in Britain, perfected at London’s St. Pancras station. This pattern features two distinct structures for the head house and train shed. The Reading station architect, F. H. Kimball, designed the head house to rise nine stories above the street and its façade is made of pink and white granite, decorated with terra cotta trimmings. Behind the head house is the functional part of the station, an enormous balloon-style train shed—the last surviving North American example—designed and built by Philadelphia’s Wilson Brothers.  The terminal closed as a result of consolidation of Philadelphia’s suburban services on November 6, 1984. Its modern underground replacement­—SEPTA’s Market East Station—is nearby.

Reading_Terminal_IMG_0407
Philadelphia & Reading’s crown jewel was its immense, opulent railroad terminal and office building on Market Street in Philadelphia. Its corporate imperialism was spelled out in an Italian Renaissance revival style, with this corner office specially designed for the president of the company. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens.
Reading Terminal Market's logo reflects that of the old Reading Company, which like many coal hauling railroads symbolically used the diamond (inferring black diamonds)
Reading Terminal Market’s logo reflects that of the old Reading Company— like many coal hauling railroads symbolically used the diamond (inferring black diamonds). Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Reading_Terminal_Mural_P1410039
This large mural inside Reading Terminal conveys a sense of what the shed was like in the late 1930s. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Reading_Terminal_Shed_P1410035
It has been nearly three decades since the last train departed the shed at Reading Terminal. Today the classic balloon shed covers part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Lumix LX3 photo.

Designed by Philadelphia’s Wilson Brothers and built by Charles McCall, Reading Terminal’s vast balloon shed is the last surviving example of its type in the United States.

 

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View from Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery, January 2, 2013

Schuylkill River Bridge, Laurel Hill
Canon 7D with 28-135mm AF lens set at 135mm; ISO 200 f6.3 1/640 second. Image was adjusted slightly in Photoshop to increase saturation.

For several years I’ve been eyeing the view from Laurel Hill Cemetery as a place to make a railway photograph of the former Reading Company bridges over the Schuylkill. I was intrigued by combination elevation and the complexity of the scene. My brother Sean and I scoped this out last winter, but the light was dull and trees blocked the angle I wanted for a southward train. Recently the view was improved as a result of extensive tree removal around the river-side of the cemetery. Yesterday, Sean, Mike Scherer and I investigated photographic views from Laurel Hill. Our timing was right; I made this image of CSX’s symbol freight Q439 rolling across the bridge at 2:22 pm. I’m pleased with this effort, since catching a train here has been a challenge and the angle is a new one for me, yet I see room for improvement. Finding a train here an hour or two earlier in the day might offer better light on the side of the locomotives, while a slightly longer lens would tighten my composition.

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