Saturday, October 20, 2018 was the final day of the week-long Lerro Productions photo charter on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. The anatomy of an image: here are the accounts of Polson #2 steam locomotive fireman Martin E. Hansen, and photographer Matthew Malkiewicz.
Reflecting on a steam run as experienced inside the cab and from behind the lens
Martin E. Hansen
The night before the last day of the charter I was told that one of the firemen for the charter had to leave and go home early. Our trainmaster asked if I could fill in for him on the log train the next morning with Polson Lumber Company #2, a standard gauge 2-8-2 Mikado built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1912. Since I had just completed a week of hard work days in the shop with our restoration crew finishing the jacket, piping and other final installations on the Skookum locomotive, I was ready for a change and gladly accepted the assignment.
I can hear the chuff of a Canadian Pacific mixed train coming up behind me. There! A Canadian National roadswitcher burbles as it ambles along in the warm afternoon sun.
I am day-dreaming. I’m walking exactly where those steel-wheeled sights and sounds were once felt. I’m on the City of Kingston’s Urban K&P Trail, the umbrella name for the multi-use trail that traces the paths of Canada’s two major railways from mainline to lakefront.
When the railways
first mapped out their steel arteries, the ‘line of best fit’
could not possibly reach every community. Canadian Pacific’s
Montreal-Toronto mainline was many miles north of Kingston. The Grand
Trunk Railway (later Canadian National) barely entered city limits.
The Kingston & Pembroke (the trail’s namesake) connected Kingston to the CPR mainline in 1885, with GTR’s Kingston trackage having reached the waterfront in 1860. Industry grew along the water; grain elevators trans-shipping to lake freighters, coal and oil dealers supplying the city’s heating needs, even one of Canada’s major locomotive manufacturers. Trackage was extended as far south as it could be—mere feet from Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the Great Cataraqui River.
I am with two of my best friends. We are riding through central Pennsylvania after a successful visit to the Alco haven of Scranton. Following the Norfolk-Southern, ex Pennsy main is always interesting and by the time we reach Mt. Union we are in good shape for images of big black horses pulling freight.
The object here is to peek into a lost world, frozen since 1956, caused by the shutdown of the East Broad Top Railroad. Mt. Union was the site of the EBT’s major yard and was their interchange point with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Most of the yard, a few structures, plus a load of old narrow-gauge hopper cars still exist here. They are intact (mostly), but the ravages of all these years are slowly dissolving them. Read more
I have been thinking about the role of photography in historic preservation lately.
This summer, plans were announced to widen the intersection in a crossroads town here in the county where I live. The change will require the destruction of an old wooden store building, and it is the last vestige of the town as it once was. After the “improvements” are completed, there will be nothing left but a post office, and a four-lane highway lined with fast food restaurants and gas stations. Read more
The morning of July 16, I got up with the sunrise to the sounds of a local radio station’s morning show. The sun had not even risen above the horizon, but there were already some wispy clouds illuminated in a magenta color. I had no time to waste; I had an 8:00 a.m. rendezvous with my friend Ross Gochenaur at the Strasburg Railroad enginehouse. Ross has worked for the Strasburg Railroad for twenty years as an engineer, fireman, and shop worker. Today, however, I would get to observe and photograph the hostling of the engine pulling the railroad’s hourly train for the day.
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