Walloomsac River

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Train passing over a bridge at night
Maine Central 371, a '66 highhood GP40, leads train RJ-2 south over Walloomsac River in North Hoosick, NY

Walloomsac River

Jul 10, 2016

Jim Shaughnessy's 1959 photograph of a train posed atop the tall steel bridge at North Hoosick, NY inspired me to try photographing trains. As much of my previous work had been carried out in the dark, I started working almost exclusivly at night. The branch between Hoosick Jct, and North Bennington Vermont had been out of service for years but started seeing traffic around the same time I started photographing railroads. Pefect. Only, the trains run there almost exclusivly during the day.

With the whole north country dark most of the day during the winter, surely, I'd have a chance to photograph a train working a little later than usual. One night, someone shared that the train was just about to depart. I raced north in the snow but could hear them calling the dispacter over the radio from the junction. Just a few miles short of my destination, I'd already missed the shot. I took a few photos in the snow as a consolation. Perhaps I could ask a dispatcher to call if the train was going to be out after dark, perhaps I could pay them to pose a train for me! Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps. I gave up on the location.

With thunderstorms in the forcast, I headed up to photograph the details along branchline that runs though some beautiful New York and Vermont farm land. While I didn't expect any trains, I swore I heard one as I explored the yard out front of the depot in North Bennington. A while later, a train rolled into town and started switching the yard pretty quickly...it seemed like they wanted to get home and I raced south to set up at the bridge.

I arrived in time for a line of strong thunderstorms to start dumping rain into the river. I parked under the route 22 bridge and made all the electrical connections to the lights in the shelter of the roadway above. As soon as the rain cleared, I hauled the lights into the river. Positioning the camera was frustrating: things had grown in a bit since Shaughnessy shot here. I was completely covered in dirt after knocking down two trees to create a view for the camera. I then got cleaned off after slipping into the river. Shortly after setting up the outdoor-studio, train RJ-2 rolled south and I took my shot  - each of the lights fired along with the camera. In 1959, Shaughnessy and a small crew had the train stop while they ran around, painting with the light from flashbulbs. While the too images were taken 57 years apart, the locomotives in my shot are only 10 years younger than the ones in the origional! Time nearly stands still on some of these branchlines.