I remember when Worcester Union Station was a ruin.
It was restored to its former glory during the late 1990s, and today is the terminal for MBTA services to Boston over the the old Boston & Worcester (later Boston & Albany/New York Central route).
I wrote about this station in relation to the building it replaced in my book Depots, Stations & Terminals.
The old Worcester (Massachusetts) Union Station was a solid Romanesque structure designed by architects Ware & Van Brunt. It was demolished to make way for Samuel Huckel’s new Worcester Union completed in 1911.
On MBTA, the normal operating practice is have push-pull train-sets with the locomotive on outward end of the train. Thus the locomotives should face away from Boston. This has been the standard practice since the 1990s.
In my photo a locomotive is facing South Station, and that is unusual. While not necessarily unheard of, nor ‘rare’, this is not the usual practice.
I’m not an every day visitor to South Station, but this is the first time I recall seeing an MBTA road-locomotive facing the station since the early 1980s.
What isn’t evident from my photo is that there are actually locomotives on BOTH ends of the train. Which is also unusual. The bottom photo shows the same train set at Worcester, and focuses on the outward facing locomotive.
Quite a few Tracking the Light readers guessed my puzzle correctly. One reader asked why the locomotive is facing the station. I’ll be honest, I don’t know why. However, I can guess. Maybe you can too.
Autumn sunrise. No two are the same. The mix of clouds and particulates in the air make for endless mixtures of texture and color.
Last week I arrived in Worcester to take the 7am MBTA train to Boston.
I made these sunrise views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens handheld.
Working with the RAW files, I made some minor adjustments in Lightroom to balance highlights with shadows and tweak color balance.
The RAW file is not what your eye sees.
Where the in-camera Jpg uses a pre-profiled set of parameters in regards to color saturation, contrast etc. The digital RAW file represents the data as captured by the camera and is comparable to a film negative; it represents an intermediate step that requires adjustment and interpretation to produce a pleasing photograph.
I typically expose both a pre-set in-camera Jpg (often with one of Fuji’s digitally replicated film color profiles, such as Velvia) and a RAW file simultaneously.
On the weekend of May 5-7 2017, I attended and spoke at the New York Central System Historical Society Convention held in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
The theme of the convention was the Boston & Albany and it was dedicated to my friend, the late-Robert A. Buck of Warren, Massachusetts. Key to the convention events was a chartered MBTA train that operated from Worcester to Boston.
I gave the banquet talk focusing it around Bob Buck’s B&A experiences and photography as well as my own B&A work.
Special thanks to Society and convention organizers, especially Joe Burgess, Bill Keay, and Rich & Nancy Stoving.
I made these photographs using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.
It was dull mid-August day at Worcester, Massachusetts. I had my Leica 3A loaded with Ilford Pan F (ISO 50) and made a few exposures.
This hasn’t been my usual film choice. More typically, when working in black & white, I’d use Ilford HP5 or Fuji Acros 100.
I’ve found that difficult light can be a better measure of materials than clear bright morning. And flat summer light is about as difficult as it gets.
For this trial, I processed the film using a Jobo with Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer.
This was a crap shoot, as I’d only used this film/developer combination once before.
I opted for a 1:9 dilution, but scaled back my process time from the recommended amount to just 3 minutes 45 seconds. As is often the situation, I intentionally over-expose my black & white film and then under-process to obtain a greater range of tonality.
Once processed my negatives looked pretty good, but these still required a bit of contrast control using Lightroom. While my end results look ok, I’ll need to refine my chemical process for Ilford Pan F (ISO 50) if I expect this film to perform as well as Fuji Acros 100.
Also, I was hoping that the Pan F would approach the results I used to get with Kodak Panatomic X (ISO 32) back in the 1980s, but so far I’ve not achieved that goal.
Dennis LeBeau was giving me a tour of post-industrial Worcester.
We called into ‘The Space Studios’ located in old brick factory buildings immediately north of CSX’s former Boston & Albany mainline near Webster Street. The building complex once hosted an array of sidings, including a small coal trestle.
Inside the studio Dennis’s son Tommy LeBeau was recording The Green Sisters who were energetically performing traditional Bluegrass with a variety of stringed instruments.
Using my Lumix LX-7 to its best advantage, I made a few evocative images of the session.
So what’s this have to do with railroads? Not much really, but its all related. Sometimes when you look for one thing, you find something else.
Later in the afternoon Dennis and I reviewed a vintage collection of B&A photos depicting the Worcester area. In the last 115 years a great deal has changed.
Elevation is often the key to better railway photographs. That was certainly the case on the morning of July 6, 2015, when Paul Goewey and I inspected the view from the parking garage opposite Worcester Union Station.
We were lucky to catch new MBTA HSP46 2027 leading an outbound train from Boston. These locomotives are unique to MBTA, and in long-standing tradition have large road numbers painted on their roofs. (atop the cab in yellow numerals).
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I’ve spent a lot of time researching railroads in Worcester. It was the site of one of the earliest North American railway junctions and was perhaps the first significant railway gateway city.
Yet, for all its history, Worcester can be a difficult place to make satisfying railroad photographs, owning in part to a massive grade separation project a century ago that raised the tracks above the city streets and effectively partitioned the city.
So much of what’s good and bad about Worcester are direct effects of its railroads.
On the long days of summer. The sun swings far to the north and makes for nice afternoon light at Worcester Union Station. Near the Summer Solstice, I made a few photos of CSX symbol freight Q423 (Worcester-Selkirk, NY) with one of the remaining AC6000CWs wearing its as-built ‘Bright Future’ paint.
On the evening of June 26, 2013, I arrived at East Brookfield to find Dennis LeBeau observing CSX’s undercutting operations immediately east of CP64.
Over the last few years, CSX has been improving its former Boston & Albany route between Selkirk Yards (near Albany, New York) and its Worcester, Massachusetts terminal.
Conrail improved clearances on the line in the mid-1980s and began running international containers on double-stack trains in 1989 (I first photographed an eastward Conrail double-stack in Spring 1989). However, CSX’s desire to run larger domestic containers on double stack trains has required further clearance improvement.
Once complete, the Boston & Albany route will be clearance compatible with most of CSX’s former Conrail mainline, which should allow for more traffic to be sent to Worcester. The clearance improvements are coincident with the recent closure of Beacon Park Yard at Alston, Massachusetts in favor of expanded facilities in Worcester.
On Wednesday evening, CSX had every track in East Brookfield occupied, as it cleared equipment from the mainline to allow east and westbound freight to pass (Amtrak had cancelled train 448 (Boston section of Lake Shore Limited). Once traffic had passed, work crews resumed their re-ballasting of the recently undercut mainline.
I was one of a half-dozen civilians observing the activity. Late in the day, the sun emerged from a cloudbank to provide some soft lighting and I kept three cameras busy, documenting the changes.