The boyhood love of trains combined with the photographer’s spirit resulted in three days of pure enjoyment of both. Traveling with another photographer, we struck out from my home base just after 4 AM on August 11th, 2012. We made good time throughout the trip – by 7:30 AM we had reached the railroad museum in Gorham New Hampshire.
By 9 AM we’d rolled through Saint Johnsbury – with a quick stop to take a look at the rail yard.
It is safe to say that St. J has seen more railroad action in the past than it does now – the days of interchange between the Boston and Maine, Maine Central and Canadian Pacific are long gone.
About 20 minutes later, we arrived at a location I’d heard of – but never actually expected to see – a private collection of railroad artifacts just over the town line in East Barnett. The highlights of the collection for us were the 44 ton GE locomotives – two of them from the Aroostook Valley Railroad and the third a former Maine Central Engine that the AVR used for parts. Many other artifacts from various railroads were around as well. If anyone has contact information for this particular site, I’d love to hear about it.
Just about 11 AM we rolled into White River Junction Vermont. On the way in, we saw Amtrak’s Vermonter, Train 55, heading into town. With an 11:05 Departure time from WRJ – the departure was on the advertised, we grabbed a few shots as she rolled South.
Back at the White River Junction depot, I spied an old friend – Green Mountain 405 an Alco RS1 normally assigned to the White River Flyer excursion trains. Its been a few years, but seeing a locomotive that has survived three owners and is still on the rails of the railroad that purchased it – well – that is a treat I don’t get often. With engineer Scott Whitney at the throttle – the over 60 year old locomotive pulls out on time, and rolls up the rails with the crisp exhaust note of a well maintained machine.
We followed 405 up the rail to Thetford, where the crew changed ends and 405 pushed back to White River Junction with a cab car leading.
We abandoned the chase and opted to head for lunch then West over scenic Vermont Route 4 – all the way to Rutland. Upon arrival we found the power for the Ethan Allen Express tied down behind the Depot.
We made a couple of quick stops in Rutland then scooted over to the local yard office – with quite a variety of power present, including the two leased SD9043MACs that Vermont Rail System has been using on Trains 263 and 264.
Feeling the grass growing under our feet – we rolled West to Whitehall, NY, then South. In territory that neither I nor my companion had done much railfanning in – we got surprised by a southbound Amtrak Adirondack, train 68, just South of Whitehall.
Now that we were across the NY border, the goal of the trip beat even stronger in our ears. Our goal was to see and photograph the former Bangor and Aroostook BL2, number 52, currently running on the Saratoga and North Creek Railway. Although my companion had done a lot of scouting and viewing of photos along the line – I had not, so we relied on his judgement. What we didn’t know was that the weather was closing in and that a fallen tree had delayed the Northbound train from Saratoga Springs. We also didn’t know where the BL2 was, just that the railroad was running it. We arrived at a picturesque bridge just South of the town of Hadley. The Northbound Hudson Explorer, train 185, was due at the Hadley / Luzerne station at 7:53 PM. I’m not sure what time we arrived at that bridge but, 7:53 came and went. Unfortunately, so did the available light. Partially due to sunset, but mostly due to the drenching downpour that popped over the mountains with very little warning. My decision to wear shorts and crocs while traveling really failed me at that point. Drenched, we made for the car – and decided to hole up at the Hadley / Luzerne station to see if we had misread the schedule. We hadn’t. Running some 20+ minutes late – train 185 finally rolled by Hadley / Luzerne at 8:11 PM. What little light there was had vanished, but fortunately about two minutes before the train arrived, the rain finally disappeared.
What happened was magical. My companion hadn’t seen this particular BL2 for over 20 years. I had never laid eyes on a running BL2 – let alone one pulling a passenger train at a pretty good clip. What neither of us knew was that 52 still has the original horn – a single note horn that doesn’t produce a melodious tone, but blasts the air with a force that sounds like thunder – MOVE OVER BL2 coming through! Time slowed down – and then we saw it – and the entire trip was worth it.
Despite the really poor shot – I’m posting it anyway – my first shot of a moving BL2!
The rest of that chase – ending in North Creek New York at the depot – was like riding a magic carpet. We had done it – a running BL2. The shots are mostly horrible – high grain, underexposed – but I don’t care. Magic was in the air that night. We rolled into our hotel – late – tired – but with an odd sense of exhilaration. The next two days would be great – we’d found the BL2!
Day 2 – 8/12/12:
A little over 12 hours after finding the Northbound Train 185 at Hadley / Luzerne station, we were back at that bridge just South of the station. Unfortunately, I muffed the shot, but it was GREAT anyway. Having very little knowledge of the line South of this point, we were in scouting mode for the entire trip to Saratoga Springs. Many shots were great for Northbounds or in spots where the ideal light would have been in the afternoon. Train 186, the New York Explorer was just about on time arriving in Saratoga Springs, and we were there to greet it.
The crew began to run around the train and we took the opportunity to shoot the BL2 in bright sunlight – her shiny paint well washed and cared for.
Not quite sure of what to do until the 10 AM Departure of train 189, the Northbound New York Express, the question was answered partially by the Delaware and Hudson dispatchers, as they sent through a CP Powered Ethanol train while we were in Saratoga Springs!
About 5 minutes later, we had relocated to the bridge overlooking the yard. The light wasn’t all that great, but the D&H dispatcher had another surprise in store for us – a NS powered general freight heading Northbound.
Three trains in Saratoga Springs within 30 minutes. For two railfans from Maine, this certainly qualifies as a hot spot!
Train 189 rolled out of Saratoga Springs and we went with it. Our first chance to chase a running BL2 leading in daylight and we weren’t going to miss it!
Rolling North over an old D&H bridge by the King Station in the town of Greenfield:
Just outside the North Creek Depot:
We grabbed several shots around the depot and yard, including one of the matching BL2 and Railroad owned bus:
We had a few minutes for lunch in North Creek, a great town for tourists with little shops and a historical down town.
Train 188 rolled south just as we were headed back for the depot, we turned South and followed the 518, an E8 back towards Saratoga springs.
I finally got a good shot at that bridge just below the Hadley / Luzerne station:
And we grabbed another shot at the King Station in the Town of Greenfield:
We arrived at Saratoga springs and the crew ran around the train and placed the consist onto a siding. Just before 5 PM a very late running Amtrak train rolled into Saratoga Springs.
Less than an hour later train 190, the Hudson Explorer, rolled into Saratoga Springs. Although powered by a much more modern locomotive, we both agreed that 8524 doesn’t look like the B-39-8s we have in Maine! 190′s crew ran around the consist and waited at the Depot.
Now train 185, the last train of the day pulled out of Saratoga Springs at 7 PM. We chased North, but we had just one shot in mind – back at that bridge we got soaked at two days before. No rain this time, but, with the night rapidly closing in, we were pushing what the Cameras could do. Just before 8 PM, on the advertised, train 185 rolled onto the bridge. It was a great moment:
Having gone to North Creek the night before, we called it a day and headed for our hotel. Happy and excited for Day 3!
Day Three: 8/13/12
Morning arrived with a sudden burst of alarm clocks. Checking my e-mail I found out that the Montreal Maine and Atlantic’s new locomotives were being towed from White River Junction Vermont that day. The units were set to depart that morning – but we were still hours away from WRJ and had some unfinished business on the S&NC. I wanted one more shot at that bridge where I had missed the shot the day before. Train 186 was due at that bridge about 8:20 AM. We arrived in plenty of time. We Waited and Waited. Finally at 8:45 we realized that something had changed. Being this far from home and due back in the Bangor area sometime that evening, we headed in the general direction of home.
Taking that knowledge about White River Junction to heart, we made good time getting across the Vermont border and across Route 4 to WRJ. Based on the report from earlier that morning, we assumed the units would be long gone and we’d have to chase them up the Washington County Railroad. When we pulled into the depot at WRJ I was pleasantly surprised to find Vermont Railway 307 and Clarendon and Pittsford 306 just finishing putting their train together.
Having had the benefit of chasing the 405 up this stretch of track two days before, we made for a spot a few miles North of WRJ:
We continued following the Northbound train symbol WJNP. Making the trip at a blistering 10 MPH. Some of the greatest things about Vermont – Green Mountains and Red Locomotives! We searched out spots where all three dead locomotives could be seen at once.
The next spot up the line was the Depot in Ely. A great spot – surprisingly close to a main road. It was about an hour wait for the train at Ely, just after 2 PM WJNP rolled by.
With the clock ticking and still about a six hour drive from home, we began to look for what might be the last shot of the day, while still trying to find shots that were open enough to see the three dead locomotives in tow.
Finally at about 3:45 PM WJNP rolled past a scene that I couldn’t have designed any better. A farmer’s field – a red barn, Green Mountains and the entire train in sight:
What a way to end three days of railfanning in New York and Vermont!
I’d like to thank the Saratoga and North Creek and Vermont Rail System for putting on great shows for our Cameras.
I shot some Video at various points on the trip – you can view them at my YouTube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/sandpvrr
As some of you may be aware, I used to drive a Good Humor Ice Cream Truck. As a result, I retain an interest and on a recent trip to New York City, I was very interested noting the differences. The trucks in NYC drive from place to place, stopping on a route, but not driving streets recruiting customers from homes and businesses as we do up here in Maine. Also, their trucks are fully enclosed and air conditioned – something I also didn’t have during my driving days. Since an on board generator is required for the air conditioning system, many of the trucks also offer a soft serve style of ice cream, as opposed to the hard frozen style I used to offer.
Enjoy some pictures as I take you on a brief walking tour of NYC!
Last Saturday and Sunday the Montreal Maine and Atlantic played host to the NERCA – Northeast Rail Car Association – with over 30 privately owned speeders along for the ride, NERCA rolled North from Searsport to Millinocket on Saturday. Sunday I loaded up the car and headed North with my girlfriend Paula riding shotgun. We followed the group from Millinocket to Searsport and had a blast doing so. One of these days, my original Bangor and Aroostook car will get put back together and maybe I can make this run. One hopes.
If you’re looking to purchase a photograph – please contact me either with the link on the left or Contact Joey Kelley Photography
Here are a few shots, a link to more at the bottom, just below the slideshow.
I shot over 400 pictures – so if you don’t see one you are pretty sure I took, please ask – I probably have it
Thanks to NERCA and all the members on this trip!
|From NARCOA Millinocket to Searsport – 9-25-11|
|From NARCOA Millinocket to Searsport – 9-25-11|
|From NARCOA Millinocket to Searsport – 9-25-11|
On Saturday, June 4th, 2011, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME was the site of a night photo session, with lighting provided by Shawn Duren and Mike Peverett. A big Thank You goes out to the entire Seashore crew and on behalf of the lighting crew and myself I’d like to thank STM for offering the opportunity to light up some of these priceless antique trolleys. For more information on STM, Visit TrolleyMuseum.org Enjoy the photos below!
Thanks for checking out JoeyKelleyPhoto.com!
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