Winter along the Stony Brook

Railroads have played a considerable role in the history of this country, especially in the Northeast and New England regions of the US, where the railroads initially flourished with over 6,300 miles of rail laid by 1850. One of the early roads was the Stony Brook Railroad, a shortline in Massachusetts, originally built from North Chelmsford to Ayer, which began operations in 1848. This line, which eventually became part of an efficient route designed to bypass the congestion of the Boston area, was absorbed into the Boston & Maine system, and in June of 1983 the B&M was one of the properties incorporated into the new Guilford Rail System. In 2006, Guilford became Pan Am Railways, and the new paint scheme reflects a renaissance of sorts for a once-beleaguered rail system.

In a classic New England winter scene along the ‘Stony Brook Line’ in Westford, we find Pan Am Railways train EDPO (East Deerfield, MA – South Portland, ME), a daily road freight running between the two largest yards on the Pan Am system. Much to the delight of railfans, this road rosters many older, yet very dependable EMD locomotives; todays train features MEC 378, a high-hood GP40 built in April of 1966 for the Norfolk & Western Railway (and repainted into the beautiful dark blue scheme in late 2010), and two former Penn Central RR units; MEC 350, ex-CR 3266, nee PC 3266 built in 5/69, and MEC 352, ex-CR 3268, nee PC 3268, built in 5/69, both now sporting the new colors as well. History has been kind to this rail line, and it is good to see freight still rolling along the Stony Brook, 165 years removed from her humble origins in northeastern Massachusetts.

Image recorded on February 16, 2013 by Ted Krug.

PanAm Railways train EDPO Westford Massachussets Stony Brook Line

Click on the image to display it at a larger size. Use your browser’s Back button to return to this page.

A Handsome Makeover

Railroads are famous for extending the life of their most reliable locomotive models, with engine shops performing rebuilds and upgrades to get thousands of additional miles from their investments. The most popular candidates are the EMD units of the late 20th century, some of whom are still working hard 40 and 50 years after they exited the assembly line. The massive Norfolk Southern facility in Altoona, Pa, known as the Juniata Back Shops, can handle any type of loco repair or overhaul that is needed. Many other railroads send their power to NS for work, due to the capabilities and resources of this location. In 2010, NS began a rebuild program for EMD SD60 locomotives, with 27 units completed as of this date. This program is an extensive overhaul, to include a new NS designed wide cab, replacing the standard ‘narrow’ cab that was originally incorporated.

NS 6905 began life as a conventional SD60, built for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad as their #8040 in September of 1986. She went to work for Union Pacific as UP 5992 after the CNW merger, then soldiered on after being sold to rail lessor Helm Financial as HLCX 5992. NS purchased several units in 2009 from Helm, needing some dependable and fairly late-model locomotives to bolster their roster. The new wide cab is an attractive design, and nicely distinctive from the ‘generic’ lines of the hundreds of GE widecabs on the rails. In this scene, NS 6905 (now an SD60E) is seen slicing through the frigid New Jersey air, as she leads Atlanta, Ga to Secaucus, NJ intermodal train 212 eastbound on the Lehigh Line, climbing the small rise at MP 29. It’s nice to have a new face in town, and the NS forces have indeed given this old unit a handsome makeover!

Image recorded on February 17, 2013.

NS train 212 Lehigh Line Piscataway NJ

Click on the image to display it at a larger size. Use your browser’s Back button to return to this page.

Point and Shoot

We all want that perfectly lit, sunny shot with deep blue skies overhead, but sometimes one has to ‘throw caution to the wind’ and use their instincts for a non-perfect, but still interesting photo. The light in Piscataway, NJ, along the Conrail Shared Assets portion of the Lehigh Line is best for eastbounds in the morning, and many fantastic pictures have been captured here over the years. As such, this photographer tends to not bother with westbound trains with the sun behind them, choosing to conserve precious megapixels for better oppurtunities. However, on this day, a crazy idea danced around in my head…what if I turned & shot westbound NS train 11J as it headed towards me, ‘away’ from the sun in this location?? Nope, I thought, it will be a poor shot, and I’ll just push the delete button again and wonder why I did that. But…what if it works?

No way, it’s just a waste of time.

So, literally on impulse, I quickly spin the thumbwheel to adjust the exposure, turned, pointed & fired. ‘Click’ goes the shutter, and just like that it’s over; oh, my, what have I done? I know better than to do that, what was I thinking? This can’t be good, can it?

Here for your viewing pleasure is an up close & personal view of NS C40-8W 8389 leading the empty autoracks of train 11J, westbound on the Lehigh Line, MP29. Perfect? No, but quite interesting, and honestly much nicer than I had anticipated. Once in awhile you have to go with your gut, and just point and shoot.

Image recorded on October 18, 2012.

NS train 11J Lehigh Line Piscataway NJ

Click on the image to display it at a larger size. Use your browser’s Back button to return to this page.

A Long Day

I had it all planned very nicely; internet reports of a special High & Wide movement from Allentown, Pa to Manville, NJ, on the Norfolk Southern Lehigh Line main brought me to the tracks on a chilly Fall day, and I chose a spot where a nice wide-angle shot could be had. And then…the Rail Gods stepped in. Earlier in the day, westbound NS train 19G stalled on the approach to Pattenburg Tunnel in western NJ, and was delayed getting up and running again, which brought the crew to the end of their allowable hours (“outlawing”) in Bethlehem, Pa. At this point, eastbound intermodal train 22V was approaching Bethlehem, so they parked their train and jumped on 19G to continue their trip west. The crew from the High & Wide train was pulled and put on 22V to continue east, and the dispatcher remarked about the ‘special’ running the next day. Well, that’s great, I thought, and decided to head home; as fate would have it, I decided to check the message boards one last time, and saw that Allentown had found a crew, and the High & Wide was on the move! No problem, I’ll turn around & race back to my spot, and all will be well.

To make a long story short, I just plain ran out of light; the special did indeed get underway, but travels at restricted speed, and with the sun setting earlier in the day in November, the final image of this particular afternoon was the very late-running 22v, behind GE C40-9W’s 9751 and 9890, shown at sunset in Manville, NJ. Some days you’re lucky, some days you’re good, and sometimes a perfect plan turns into a very long day.

Image recorded on November 19, 2011.

NS train 22V Lehigh Line Manville NJ

Click on the image to display it at a larger size. Use your browser’s Back button to return to this page.