On a hot summer evening last month, I stood beside the turntable at the East Broad Top Railroad and tried to imagine what it was like to work there.
It was hard work. It was dirty, heavy, often dangerous work. It was work done to feed a family and put kids through school. It was long hours six days a week. It was coming home at the end of the day blackened with grime and coal dust. Even for the workers who loved the railroad, there was nothing romantic about it. It was hard work. Read more
Everyone knows the train
does not run anymore. Until it does.
Railroad Museum of New England
The first passenger train to Torrington ran last night. Three more Wednesday evenings it will happen unless it rains. We have been there before on event trains, and it’s always the same look at the people’s faces. They want their picture taken in front of the train. Many see the RR track crossings every day, but everyone knows the train does not run anymore. Until it does. You see one of our volunteers at the crossing, and you should see the people in that brown house each time we go by waving and yelling to us. I see young and old people just stop and everyone takes out their cell phone to take a picture of the old train that’s in a place where everyone knows there are no trains anymore—not since the 1960’s.
Before leaving Polish Hill, George and I did some exploring above the church, looking down the streets and alleys for vantage points. Phelan Way, which runs behind the church and climbs like crazy at its eastern end, up to Herron Avenue, offered a good example of the neighborhood’s flavor.
George found the narrow passage between two buildings attractive, and he had me walk past it a number of times on the next street down, Brereton, so he could capture me in mid-stride in the gap. The large and indolent husky who lived there watched me over the gate with some interest but expended no energy in saying so. Read more
A while back, a friend said to me that in his opinion, black and white is the color of railroading. I didn’t disagree. When we look at well known railroad photographers, most all of them worked in black and white. Richard Steinheimer, Jim Shaughnessy, Philip Hastings, O.Winston Link, David Plowden and many others produced outstanding bodies of work in black and white. In fact, there was a time that I would have said that the color of photography is black and white. Most of the great photographers that I admire worked in black and white. Of course, part of the reason for the predominance of black and white is that color came fairly late in the history of the medium.
In April 2018, my friend George Hiotis and I made a fourteen-day, 2,300-mile journey from my home in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, to Chicago and back. We had a GREAT time.
Ostensibly, we made the trip for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art conference, but we spent most of a week before and all of a week afterwards on the road. I came back with 4,200 pictures—crazy, right?—and George brought home more than 5,000. We photographed at something like seventy-five locations, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia, from before dawn until long after dark on most days. We stumbled on some astonishing places and buildings in addition to the dozens that George had put on the initial itinerary, developed through scads of research in the months before the trip. We also met some memorable people, a few of whom I photographed. I had set out on this trip determined to overcome my self-consciousness about photographing strangers, and you will see some of the results here. Read more