Massachusetts Central serves Ware on a mix of former Boston & Albany and Boston & Maine lines.
For the last few years the railroad has stored two of its antique locomotives in the Ware yard, including its unusual former Southern Railway EMD NW5 number 2100.
I have many images of this locomotive in various paint schemes over the years; hauling freight, switching the yard, and working excursion trains.
I made these photos the other day with a Nikon F3 fitted with an old school (non-AI) Nikkor 24mm lens (a favorite tool of mine for making unusual and dramatic images).
My process was also unusual. Working with Ilford HP5 rated at ISO 320 (instead of 400), in the dark room I allowed the film to get a very small degree of base fog to thus raise the detail in the shadow areas, while under-processing the film in Kodak D-76 (stock solution mixed 1-1 with water) by nearly 40 percent. Instead of an 11 minute time as recommended, I cut my time to just over 7 minutes, but raised the temperature to 73 degrees F for increased activity. This also boosts the grain a little but that adds to the texture of the photos and clearly distinguishes them from digital images produced by modern cameras.
As you might guess, I’m not opposed to visual characteristics in a photo that hint at the process that created them.
Winter is an excellent time to photograph Mass-Central former Boston & Albany Ware River Branch.
The lack of foliage and a dearth of heavy underbrush opens up angles for photography obscured during the warmer months.
My challenge is to find new views on this railroad that I’ve often documented over the last 35 years.
On Monday, January 4, 2016, I made these views of the southward Mass-Central freight descending Ware Hill on its return run to Palmer.
Here I present two of the sequence of images. Compositionally, I feel the first image works better as it allows the eye to wander from the locomotive at right to the other subjects. The second image places too much emphasis on the left side.
Which do you prefer?
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On, October 15, 2014, I was giving a tour to some visitors from France, and we passed through Ware on our way from the Quabbin Reservoir to West Brookfield’s Salem Cross Inn.
Earlier in the week, I’d noticed that Mass-Central had parked its rare Electro-Motive Division model NW5 2100 in Ware yard near the Route 9/32 overpass. So, we made a quick diversion so that I could make a photograph of the locomotive.
I’ve written about this before, but it was about 1981, when I rode my bicycle from Monson to Ware, specifically to photograph this locomotive, which had then just recently been delivered to Mass-Central.
When I think about all the locomotives that have come and gone in that time, I can’t help but smile. Old 2100 has nine lives, and then some! And it’s not that I need another photograph of it, but I make them anyway.
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On June 26, 2013, a variety of errands that brought me to Ware, Massachusetts. I knew the Mass-Central’s daily freight ought to be in the area, but I wasn’t sure where it was. (Pardon pun).
I checked Ware yard; not there. So I drove north along the line. Since it is my understanding that the railroad is expected to acquire some nicely painted GP38s, I was curious to see what engines were working that day.
No sign of the train at Gilbertville, so I continued northward along Route 32 toward Creamery. My sixth sense was tingling. I knew the train was close.
At Creamery, Boston & Maine’s Central Massachusetts line once had a grade separated crossing with Boston & Albany’s Ware River Branch, and when B&M retrenched in the early 1930s, a connection was built between the two lines just to the north (east) of this crossing. Further retrenchment over the following decades resulted in almost complete abandonment of the Central Massachusetts line in the area.
Today, a portion of the Central Mass route at Creamery is now a rail trail. I paused at the trail, inspected a bit of an old cross-tie and then listened. . . wind rustled in the trees, then in the distance I heard a low air whistle. I turned my head. It was coming from the south. Had I overtaken the train, or had I missed it?
A second blast, confirmed my suspicions; I’d missed the train between Gilbertville and Creamery. I jumped in my car and headed briskly back toward Ware. I overtook the train a mile north of town.
At Ware, Mass-Central had some work at Kanzaki Specialty Papers—a customer served by a short surviving section of the former B&M line that connects with the B&A route south of Ware Yard.
I caught the train shoving down, then waited a few minutes for the locomotives to return. In this way I executed several photos of the rare NW5 (one of just 13 built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division) on rare track
I could tick off that errand for the day! Mass-Central NW5, check.