Tag Archives: #Smiths Bridge

Did Someone Say FRA?

Last week I stepped on to Main Street in Monson, just as a single New England Central GP38 was working upgrade through town.

‘It’s a bit late for 608.’ I thought. (608 is the weekday turn freight from Willimantic to Palmer, often featured on Tracking the Light).

It wasn’t 608, as I quickly noticed. Rather, it was NECR 3850 leading a Federal Railroad Administration inspection train, including FRA’s ‘Gage Restraint Measurement Vehicle’.

I had other plans. But had my FujiFilm XT1 with me.

Plans were postponed, as I jumped in my vehicle and immediately headed south on Route 32 to intercept this unusual train.

I caught it twice; once at the Bob Buck inspired South Monson Rt 32 crossing, and then at Bob’s favorite, Smith’s Bridge at Stafford Hollow Road.

Route 32, South Monson.

In my youth this bridge offered an open view of the line; in Bob’s steam-era photo there were fields both sides of the track. Today, there’s only a narrow space between the trees. Lucky for me, the angle of the sun was perfect.

NECR 3850 leads the Federal Railroad Administration inspection train at Smiths Bridge, Stafford Hollow Road, Monson, Massachusetts. Telephoto view.
Wide angle view from Smiths Bridge, Monson.

Score one for being at the right place at the right time (and having my cameras).

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Smith’s Bridge, Monson, Massachusetts—May 31, 2017

Years ago I’d ride my ten-speed bicycle to the Stafford Hollow Road Bridge in Monson, Massachusetts. I’d wait for Central Vermont’s freight to New London.

If I was lucky, I’d catch CV working upgrade with GP9s/Alco RS-11 making a healthy roar as they approached Stateline Summit.

On the morning May 31, 2017, I was leaving the Monson Post Office (having just mailed a letter to Ireland) when I heard New England Central 608 (running south from Palmer to Willimantic) tackling the grade in town.

I was surprised to see a Providence & Worcester GP38-2 in the lead. I supposed since New England Central and P&W are now both in the Genesee & Wyoming family it makes sense that the locomotives of these two connecting lines would get a bit mixed up.

Regardless, I knew that this would make for an interesting photograph. Among the places I caught 608 was at my old Stafford Hollow Road location.

My late friend Bob Buck had photographed here since the 1940s and always called the location ‘Smith’s Bridge’. I know he would have been delighted to see these photos of a P&W GP38-2 leading the southward freight.

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