10/14/2009

Vermonts Lamoille Valley


Today we step out of the Time Machine and find ourselves in the middle of a blustry and chilly Vermont afternoon in October of 1994. Its autumn and the states most scenic railroad, the Lamoille Valley, is generating some revenue by hauling leaf peepers east out of Morrisville, perhaps as far as Joes Pond in West Danville. RS-3 7801, (of D&H heritage) is doing the honors on the point. Originally built to complement the Maine Centrals Mountain Division as a route to expedite freight and passengers across Northern Vermont, as the Saint Johnsbury and Lamoille County, with the demise of the Mountain Division, the handwriting was on the wall for the Saint Jesus and Long Coming! A nickname acquired long ago from impatient passengers no doubt. With little to no on-line traffic, various operators attempted to run the railroad for the state, mostly under the guise of a tourist line, with lots of Vermont taxpayer money contributing toward necessary track improvements. But alas, Vermonts most scenic railraod existed in it's own time machine which seemed like a catch-22 of sorts. There was no industry along the route save for an occassional shipment from the talc mine in Johnson, but without the Lamoille Valley there would be much less hope of attracting industry to the area. Eventually, the time machine sputtered and ground to a halt. The rails were lifted to enable the right of way to become a snowmobile trail. Through the magic preservation of Kodachrome, we can celebrate the moment back in October of '94, when the future was still optimistic. I had noticed this location from the highway before, and today was living up to Vermonts unpredictable fall weather, dark and darker, as the foliage glowed! Being out ahead of the 7801 and its pair of coaches, I see a break in the clouds and stop to check it out. On a day this dark, any glimmer of good lighting is jumped on! It closes up, and I drive on to this favorite farmhouse location, walking down a farm road I get trackside and then notice I have Kodachrome 25 loaded in the Canon T90! Maybe I had been shooting (gasp!) roster shots earlier in Morrisville. Here comes the 7801, I'm contemplating how far back I have to shoot at 1/60th to freeze motion! LOL! Coming down the tangent before me, 7801 is suddenly lit up! I'm not...but "it" is! I look around from atop the stepladder......... it's a "sucker hole"! Here comes the "sun line" running ahead of 7801 lighting everything up, I happily change exposure on the T90 to 1/350th or so and grin as my favorite lighting, "drop under" materializes before me. The engineer gives me a couple toots noticing the sun out all of a sudden, and waiting for the moment, I motor drive through several frames! WOW! Scenes such as this, between Morrisville and Wolcott, VT., explain better than any words of mine, why the Lamoille Valley and its predecessors were so beloved by railfans in the Northeast.

With thanks to Jim Thomas here is another beautiful autumn view from along Vermonts Lamoille Valley! From October '85 no less! Those holsteins held their positions perfectly. Whenever I tried composing with cows within the scene, they abandoned all thoughts of grazing to crowd around me instead. Ha,ha! Please enjoy! Thanks to Jim Thomas!

All The Best In 2009;


Gary

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