The New Bartonsville Bridge

We visit Bartonsville, Vermont tonight. The covered bridge named after the town which Hurricane Irene washed away, has been replaced with a new version! Located on Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain trackage, which sees at best, one freight each way during daytime every twenty four hours, it is rare to see a night train pass by the covered bridge. This has changed, much to my delight, with the operation of the ethanol unit trains bound for Providence, R.I., an example of which we saw last week departing Rutland loaded behind VTR 308. The returning empties run across the Green Mountain in the middle of the night lately! Upon seeing posts in the fan sites about the empties returning north from Providence to the NECR yesterday, I inquired of friends if the train might again run at night out of Bellows Falls. I soon learned that Yes! That was the plan! This news changed everything. In short order I was heading south towards a snowstorm heading north, with the ethanol train somewhere between myself and the snowstorm! Every night out trackside is an adventure, and my expectations were running high for tonight! LOL! So......it starts snowing about forty five minutes from the covered bridge, and I break one of the railfan rules................”always make sure the train you want to shoot leaves its terminal before you do”.......in order to check out the angles at the new bridge first. I had been told the angles were better, all the more reason to see for myself before being cornered by a snowstorm over two hours from the compound for nothing. Scott, you were correct! Thank you! I walk the scene a couple of times and like the obvious spot to shoot from..............inside. Not a bad place to be in a heavy snowstorm shooting passing trains, inside a covered bridge! It’s after midnight, so vehicle traffic will not be a concern on a weeknight. Now...........about that ethanol train. I had been hearing the NECR setting the train out down in Bellows Falls, but had not heard the VRS job yet, so I drive toward Bellows Falls, hoping to “flush ‘em out”. This technique works too well tonight! I am nearly into Bellows Falls when an NECR engineer asks VRS engineer Billy Feindel his location, and Billy replies he is in Riverside, the conductor is walking the train! They are close by! Sliding the civic around in the road, I have covered the nine miles or so back to the bridge when the car scanner picks up the same NECR engineer wishing Billy a good night, to which he replies, “thanks, it should be an interesting trip over the mountain tonight!” Which brings a smile to my face! He dose’nt know yet, but Billy is going to drive through one of my night photo setups tonight as well! Setting up the lights in heavy snow goes well, even though I can hear the train blowing for crossings to the east! Always unnerving at night, but, it’s a ten mph railroad here so I have time. Plus I am actually lighting up a small narrow space looking out from the covered bridge, and I pay attention lest I overdue the lighting. Finally I position the camera and take test shots, tweaking a couple flashes, then wait.........admiring the view. I like shooting at night in a snowstorm, and it has been quite a while. After a few more minutes headlight glow is sighted to the south, and SD 90MAC 125 closes in. I fire off a couple awareness flashes for Billy and conductor then enjoy the drama. Billy finishes blowing for the crossing as he slowly enters it, the pilot of 125 crossing to my spot and in an instant the image is captured! The lighting is good, nothing is overexposed looking at the lcd monitor! And yes, I like the angle, hope you do also. The interstate is in bad shape all the way back until I reach Montpelier, but it is not really a problem after shooting this scene. I have all night! Shot in Bartonsville, Vermont on March 19, 2013 at 01:09 with the 5D and Zeiss ZF 28/2 lens. Special thanks to Scott Whitney! Please enjoy the photo!
All The Best In 2013;
Gary Knapp

A Night At Skenesborough

I got a chance to visit Jim Lafayette and his round robin group last week. After a couple of pizza's at a former railroad bosses restaurant we walked back over to the house for a work night. I thought I would surprise Jim with my new CP RS2 with sound...to my surprise he found the same on-line deal! So the local is now a double header tonight!

 The roundhouse and turntable behind the main Skene Valley Railroad shops.

 Jim and my engineer Brad Peterson.

 Overall view of Skenesborough yard and town.

 Rutland Milk Train #8.

The local heading to the cement plant, this is part of the expansion of the Skene Valley.

Running around the cars at Cement plant and picking up loads and switching in the empties, Thanks for a great night Jim!

Rob D

Rutland Red

Upon learning another Providence, RI bound ethanol train was being delivered to Vermont Rail System at their Whitehall, NY yard by CP, and then hearing the train would move overnight to Rutland, I decided to try my luck at catching it in darkness. My plan was to shoot the newly painted leased CITX SD 90MAC 125 leading. The attractive blue & white paint scheme would contrast well with the yellows of the Howe Center in Rutland. The drive down from the compound is one and a half hours on a good night, and I meet maybe only a half dozen cars the entire trip. Arriving on location it looks excellent, better than I had hoped! No cars parked on the adjacent tracks which would interfere with lighting the train. Walking the scene, water is everywhere after we received three quarters of an inch of rain on frozen ground! Flood warnings are issued for the area which discourages me from entertaining ideas about shooting photogenic Cuttingsville Bridge with the SD 90MACs crossing it. I can imagine what the little Swift River looks like tonight going under the bridge, and I don’t want to be near it thank you! Monitoring the D&H North End dispatcher “Sandy” on the scanner, she is trying to move a 609 train north and needs the running track in Whitehall to do it, the trouble is that track is where the VRS ethanol train is sitting! So I know exactly when the ethanol train departs out of Whitehall, along with a happy dispatcher! But, the lead unit is 308, not one of the pair of SD 90MACs! I’m trying to remember what the 308 wears for paint! LOL! It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the line. I conclude it must be one of the new “kitbashed” paint jobs which does’nt look all that bad, grey top, red long hood w/VRS lettering. Little do I know what really is headed my way for a paint scheme. SO I start to set up the lighting when they leave Whitehall, and I have finished tweaking the lights (for the most part.....) when I hear a train blowing for a crossing off to the west. Fifteen to twenty minutes later headlights are sighted, and slowly the head end of ten thousand tons of ethanol comes my way. The EMDs sound good closing in on me, they are hardly idling even though they are in yard limits, with all that ethanol in tow! The sight of 308s cab brings a silent curse, where is that newly painted blue & white CITX SD 90MAC that usually leads these trains eastbound? Looking out from above the camera, I’m watching as 308s pilot slowly rolls into position in front of the Howe Center. Firing off the lighting the 308 with its glamorous Vermont Railway red & white paint scheme reflects back brightly, in an instant the dark ambient lighting returns. Holy Cow! I was wrong! 308 is painted in the VTR scheme! This is the best. From atop the stepladder I give the conductor passing by a wave and a happy smile, then watch as probably three quarters of the active VRS locomotive fleet passes by on this job. Ha,ha,ha! The trailing ex-CN GP 40-2W 311 featuring its faded speedstripes and primered cab provides an accent to the 308! Ha,ha,ha! While the crew stops on the south side of town to split the train and motive power prior to tackling the grades going over and back down Mount Holly, I happily collect the lighting and head north, homeward bound. Shot in Rutland, VT at 04:20 on March 13, 2013. Special thanks to Kevin Burkholder and Richard Wingler in obtaining this photo.
All The Best In 2013;
Gary Knapp


Ya Gotta Start Somewhere...

Starting my layout is a big step for me, years of having nothing but a work bench to play on I'm finally building it. Reusing lumber from old layouts I started in the middle, the peninsula is what my aisle ways will be based off of this. I need my radius on the peninsula and need to deal with the post in the way. 1x4 for the peninsula and 1x3 around the walls, mostly for cost reason, and I see no reason to overbuild. The room is 10'6" wide and 24" deep. It'll be a prototypical freelance based on the St. Johnsbury Vermont area, which will include the CP, MEC, B&M and my own short line. I have still many decisions yo make, but it's a start!


Rob D

MM&A Oil

Tonight we visit Foster, Quebec on the ex-CP Sherbrooke Sub, now operated by the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad. This was originally a part of Canadian Pacific’s line from Montreal to St. John, New Brunswick which ran through Maine. The MM&A, which struggled to survive in its early years of existence, is enjoying an upsurge in run through business recently in the form of crude oil unit trains destined for the Irving refinery in St. John. Needing to acquire additional locomotives to handle the heavy oil trains, MM&A turned to CP to lease engines, mainly worn out SD 40-2’s. In several instances however, the photogenic ex-SOO LINE SD 60s have been leased! It is one of these instances that brings me here to Foster tonight, as well as the previous night, LOL! One of the ex-SOO SD 60s to have been rebuilt and painted in CP colors was the leader on an eastbound manifest train two nights back, and I was hoping to catch it passing through this excellent night photo location in Foster. Visiting Foster after a couple years I thought I knew what to expect from spending many nights shooting passing trains here, but after jumping out of the car and looking around, I found my mouth hanging open! Ha,ha,ha! All that fresh snow! As we all know, even the best laid plans can fail. In the best of road conditions, it’s a bit more than two hours drive up here from Hinesburg, VT, and the previous night found me short of setting up the lights by twenty minutes when train #1 passed by after eleven pm. Tonight I arrive even later, due to snow covered roads, and eleven pm finds me on the scene. I would have had misgivings if not for my friend Frank Jolin, who assured me I had plenty of time to set up via cell phone, as Frank had heard the time #1 was called earlier at Megantic, Quebec further east. You step out of the car here, and it is silent. Not just quiet, it’s silent. Once I finished tweaking the lights for the last time, I could hear #1, blowing an air horn for a crossing way off to the east, the time was 00:43. It would be fifty six minutes before it passed in front of me here at Foster! It was not until I heard that air horn blowing for the last pair of crossings east of me that I could happily conclude it was the unique toned air horn found on the SOO SD 60s I used to shoot often on the nearby D&H. It was then that gratifying feeling arose of knowing I had ‘em cold! Standing atop the step ladder in a snowstorm in the middle of a lightly used street, one hand holding the extra large brightly colored “Golfing” umbrella purchased in La Grange, Kentucky, the other hand steadying the camera mounted on a tripod, which rests on a platform laid across the two upper struts. What could possibly go wrong? ha,ha,ha! The humor of the moment strikes me followed by the wonder that the operation produces such pleasing night photos! It seems like a long wait after #1s engineer blew for the crossing at the east end of Foster, adding to the drama. Then out of the silence, I hear EMD and GE prime movers close by, headlights appear below the crossing, and I fire off the lighting as #1s engineer blows for the crossing. He notches out his locomotives, and I’m thinking............oh, this is gonna be good! Years ago I remembered trains restricted to ten mph here. Due to the track improvements needed to support the heavy unit crude oil trains train speed is easily thirty mph here as I noticed last night! With a last long blast of the air horn, CP 6042 emerges from the dark into the street lighting, is over the grade crossing and I’m trying to judge its speed as closes in on flash units positioned on the far side of the track which will light up the house.............what a sight and sound! As 6042s cab passes last flash unit I fire off the lighting, capturing the image. Success! I wore a smile on the trip back south tonight! Special thanks to Frank Jolin for his help in obtaining this image! Shot on March 3, 2013 at 01:39 in Foster, Quebec. Please enjoy!

Gary Knapp

Woodlawn Dairy

Here's the final finished model(s) that started with the pictures Jack Mulherin shared of his restored Woodlawn Divco. Aside from the distinctive truck design, the thing I remember most when I was a kid, was that the Woodlawn driver kept his change in a "clicker" and the Kutz Bakery delivery man, aside from driving a Divco as well, kept his in a big leather pouch. For a time, back then, I wanted to be a delivery man!


By today's model standards the Walthers (Magnuson) model is quite crude but, paint, custom decals (thanks Chuck Davis) and a few other tweeks make it presentable.

Wayne Sittner