Tag Archives: RS-3

The Alco of Eagle Bridge-June 10, 2016-Which of these eight photos is your favorite?

It was my second visit to Eagle Bridge, New York inside a week.

On this visit, We’d driven here on spec looking for Pan Am’s EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction). No luck with that this time, but on arrival I’d noted that there were loaded grain cars on the interchange for the Battenkill Railroad.

So what?

Well, the Battenkill is known to run on weekdays; this was a Friday, its interchange had been delivered, but as of 1:30pm the Battenkill hadn’t come down to collect it yet.

The Battenkill’s primary attraction is its continued operation of vintage Alco RS-3 diesels. While the RS-3 was among the most common types built in the 1950s, only a scant few survive in traffic today outside of museums. (Perhaps a reader can supply a list?).

Battenkill, while quaint in its operation, is not a museum, but rather a functioning freight-hauling short line railroad. see: Unexpected Surprise: Stumbling on to one of New York’s Rarest Railway Operations.

Photographer Paul Goewey, who was traveling with me, looked up the Battenkill’s radio information on his smart phone.

“We’ll go up the line and see if we can find the BK.”

So we drove ten yards and over the grade crossing near the old station and . . .

“There he is!”

That was easy, now wasn’t it?

Batten kill's old RS-3 chortles its way up the interchange tracks. On the right is the old Boston & Maine station at Eagle Bridge, New York. Exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Leica 3A with Nikkor 35mm lens. Film processed using a two bath HC110 developer mix in a Jobo processing machine.
Battenkill’s old RS-3 chortles its way up the interchange tracks. On the right is the old Boston & Maine station at Eagle Bridge, New York. Exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Leica 3A with Nikkor 35mm lens. Film processed using a two bath HC110 developer mix in a Jobo processing machine.
Digital image at Eagle Bridge exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.
Digital image at Eagle Bridge exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.
Battenkill collects part of its interchange.
Battenkill collects part of its interchange. The B&M station is directly at my back.
Alco diesels are famous for their exhaust.
Alco diesels are famous for their exhaust. Note the nicely tamped track.
Looks like someone came prepared for the day! I exposed this with my Leica 3A on HP5 (processed as described above.).
Looks like someone came prepared for the day! I exposed this with my Leica 3A on HP5 (processed as described above. By using a two bath developer I was able to optimize the film’s shadow and highlight detail).
Battenkill's former Delaware & Hudson RS-3 is still lettered for the Greenwich & Johnsonville, a shoreline that operated the route prior to Battenkill.
Battenkill’s former Delaware & Hudson RS-3 is still lettered for the Greenwich & Johnsonville, a shoreline that operated the route prior to Battenkill.
I thought I'd try a low angle.
I thought I’d try a low angle.
Now there's some Alco exhaust!
Now there’s some Alco exhaust!

Battenkill runs as required but Tracking the Light Runs Daily.

 

 

Unexpected Surprise: Stumbling on to one of New York’s Rarest Railway Operations

Follow up to Brian’s Blue Diesel Distraction.

It was one of those days where I was following my instincts.

As profiled yesterday, we’d started out after the New England Central; diverted to Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield yard, then focused on the westward freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction).

More than 30 years ago, I’d travel to East Deerfield in search of antique locomotives in regular service. My friends and I would delight in finding old EMD switchers, plus GP7s, GP9s, and the rare GP18s at work.

Better were run through freights with Delaware & Hudson Alco diesels. If we found an interesting consist on a westward freight, we’d follow it up toward the Hoosac Tunnel and beyond into Vermont. A good chase would bring us clear to the Hudson River Valley at Mechanicville.

The catch phrase ‘to the River!’ has come mean a day-long chase to the Hudson.

Pan Am Railway's EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction freight) disappears into the bowels of Hoosac Mountain. It was the last we saw of this train.
Pan Am Railway’s EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction freight) disappears into the bowels of Hoosac Mountain..

So when Paul Goewey and I started west after the EDRJ on Tuesday February 9, 2016, it was my hope to re-live and re-create one of those great 1980s chases. And, after all this train essentially had a 1970s era lash-up of engines and was well suited to the spirit of the exercise.

After photographing EDRJ at the East Portal of Hoosac Tunnel, we followed the narrow switchback road up the mountain to Route 2, and then drove west from North Adams. We’d heard on the radio that EDRJ was to work at Hoosick Junction and meet the eastward intermodal train symbol 22K.

‘We’ll drive directly to Eaglebridge (New York) and intercept the 22K there.’

Good plan.

When we crested a hill near Eaglebridge, I pointed out the little used tracks of the Battenkill Railroad. Paul said, ‘looks like something has been over the line recently’

And then I saw a wisp of blue smoke (not Merle Travis).

“It’s an Alco!”

Blue smoke at Eaglebridge on February 9, 2016. Fuji film X-T1 photo.
Blue smoke at Eaglebridge on February 9, 2016. Fuji film X-T1 photo.

Indeed it was. We’d stumbled on to the Battenkill local working with a pure former Delaware & Hudson RS-3.

I’d photographed the Battenkill on various occasions over the years, but always with elaborate planning and careful arrangements. Since neither of us had been to Eaglebridge in many years (at least four for me), to arrive in time to catch this elusive operation was a true find.

This antique Alco RS-3 is still lettered for Battenkill precursor Greenwich & Johnsonville. FujiFilm X-T1 digital photo.
This antique Alco RS-3 is still lettered for Battenkill precursor Greenwich & Johnsonville. FujiFilm X-T1 digital photo.
Alco RS-3 in the sun at Eaglebridge. How many RS-3s are serviceable in the United States? And of those how many work revenue freights? This once common locomotive is now among the most elusive.
Alco RS-3 in the sun at Eaglebridge. How many RS-3s are serviceable in the United States? And of those how many work revenue freights? This once common locomotive is now among the most elusive.

The caveat: if we’d stayed with EDRJ we’d missed the Battenkill.

Soon we were ambling up the Hoosic Valley making photographs of one of New York State’s more obscure railways.

Crossing the Hoosic River at Eaglebridge. By the way 'Hoosic', 'Hoosick' and 'Hoosac' are all correct derivatives of the same name.
Crossing the Hoosic River at Eaglebridge. By the way ‘Hoosic’, ‘Hoosick’ and ‘Hoosac’ are all correct derivatives of the same name. (And yes, I made a color slide here too!).

MORE TOMORROW!