Tag Archives: #St Lawrence & Atlantic

Taking a Chance on Sunset at Bethel, Maine.

In the 1990s, I chased the glint with Kodachrome in my cameras.

Sometimes on the remote chance of getting a one in a 10,000 shot, I’d set up on some lightly used section of track in the golden hour on the off chance that I’d be rewarded.

My chances were better than the lottery

Sometimes I got lucky.

Last Saturday, September 26, 2020, I was driving around western Maine with Kris Sabbatino. We stopped near Bethel to get bottles of water at a convenience store. Ahead of me in line was a woman who spent $81 on a six pack of beer and lottery tickets.

Personally, I feel that lottery tickets are a waste of money. Although my grandfather had phenomenal luck with cards and lottery tickets and sometimes won.

Instead of spending money on the lottery, we took a slight detour to the old Grand Trunk tracks. This is now Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic. Operations are infrequent and largely nocturnal. The number of daylight trains through Bethel in a year can be counted on one hand. This year I’ve been aware of only three.

Despite these remote odds, I set up in the glint light and waited for a few minutes.

I was only rewarded with this sunset view of empty tracks. Yet my odds of success were far better than the lottery and I saved money on the tickets.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 90mm prime telephoto.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Danville Junction Then and Now—Three photos.

In October 1999, I made this view of a meet between the Great Train Escapes tour train and a St Lawrence & Atlantic freight. Both trains were led by MLW-built M-420 diesels.

Eastbound at Danville Junction in October 1999.

Since that photo 21 years ago, much has changed at Danville Junction,

The trees have grown; the track arrangement was simplified, the St Lawrence & Atlantic was amalgamated into the Genesee & Wyoming network, the MLW diesels have vanished from the scene, and the tour train doesn’t operate any more.

Looking east at Danville Junction in June 2020.
Former St Lawrence & Atlantic alignment at Danville Junction in June 2020.

In June, Kris Sabbatino and I paid a brief visit to Danville Junction, my first since 1999. It was a surreal experience for me. So little of it seem familiar.

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By the Light of the Moon—The St Lawrence & Atlantic Adventure—Part 2.

The other day I wrote of our adventure following the former Grand Trunk Railway line north through New Hampshire and Vermont to the Canadian border but not finding anything on the move.

Friday, June 5, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I made another go of finding the ‘SLR’ as Genesee & Wyoming’s St Lawrence & Atlantic is known.

(Just for point of reference in this instance ‘SLR’ represents the railroads official reporting marks. However, to avoid unnecessary confusion or gratuitous irony, I did not make these photos using a single lens reflex, but rather a mirror-less Lumix LX7 digital camera.)

Thanks to Andrew Dale—who supplied helpful schedule information and sighting details—we were able to intercept the SLR’s westward freight. Driving east from Gorham, Kris and I waited for the train at Locke’s Mills, Maine.

Finally we could hear its EMD-roar to the east.

We then followed the heavy freight on its westward prowl toward Canada. We were among several other photographers with similar approaches.

A full moon and solid tripod aided my photographic efforts.

Locke’s Mills, Maine.
Barker Road west of Bethel, Maine.
Full moon rising at Ferry Road.
Gilead, Maine.
Reflection Pond near Gorham, NH.
Gorham with full moon rising over the former Grand Trunk Railway station.

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The St Lawrence & Atlantic Adventure—Part 1.

Years ago I said to a fellow photographer, ‘When the scanner is silent, either the railroad isn’t running any trains, or your scanner isn’t working’.

Now that we are into the ‘long days,’ I hope to use the later sunset to make railroad photos that are not normally possible during the rest of the year.

Forty minutes to the north of North Conway, is Genesee & Wyoming’s St Lawrence & Atlantic. Normally this is an elusive nocturnal operation with road freights to and from Canada passing 3-4 nights a week.

While in the 1990s, I traveled on, and made a few photographs of trains on this former Grand Trunk Railway line at locations in Maine, New Hampshire and to lesser degree, Vermont, in recent times my coverage has only featured tracks, not trains.

On June 4, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I set out in the hopes of finding one of these elusive trains . . .

We joined the route near Gorham, New Hampshire and followed the tracks west, passing Berlin, Groveton and North Stratford. Then into Vermont, to Island Pond.

Radio silence.

Grade crossing west of North Stratford, NH, in rural north eastern Vermont.

We continued following the tracks all the way to Norton, on the border with Canada. We waited out the daylight at a lightly used rural grade crossing just a few miles from the Vermont-Quebec line.

As darkness fell, we retreated to Island Pond were we made photos of the station and the rising moon. No sign; not even a hint of the southward (eastward?) freight.

The former Grand Trunk Railway near Norton, Vermont looking compass south. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon lens.
Looking toward Canada!
As daylight fades . . ..

I learned the next day, that it didn’t operate, but that trains were scheduled to run on that day, Friday June 5th.

Old, GT station at Island Pond, Vermont.
Old, GT station at Island Pond, Vermont.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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Graves along the old Grand Trunk.

In April, Kris Sabbatino and I drove north into eastern Maine, and followed the old Grand Trunk Railway from Bethel toward Gorham, New Hampshire.

Grand Trunk was conceived as a broad gauge line to connect Portland, Maine with Chicago via Montreal. The route was absorbed into the Canadian National in the 1920s, and the Maine portion was spun off in the late 1980s. Today this line across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont is part of the Genesee & Wyoming family, and operated as the St. Lawrence & Atlantic.

I made these photos near a small line-side grave yard in the vicinity of  Gilead, Maine using a Nikon F3 loaded with Agfa APX400. I discussed the processing of the negatives in an earlier post.

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