Paul Hoffman's ATSF’s Albuquerque Division

The CCARM layout is a triple level design that approximates the ATSF’s Albuquerque Division running from Gallup, New Mexico to Ash Fork, Arizona sometime in the late 1960s. As one might imagine (especially if onechecks via Google Earth) this is an arid southwest landscape covering about 240 miles. Paul chose this area because he likes it and it readily coveys the image of a long train running through the countryside. The overallconcept is to have a layout that runs well and is pleasing to look at while including several scenes of high detailand having some operational variety to keep up interest. Gallup, NM has a large natural gas refinery and Ash Fork has a branch line from a mining operation; this layout is not point-to-point, however, but designed for continuous operation.

 Bert inside the "water tank" helix

The main line is approximately 60% complete, including a unique 9 turn double tracked helix that travels from the lower of the 3 decks to the upper staging yards. From the Form 19 The Official Newsletter of the Hudson-Berkshire Division of the NER-NMRA. Pics by Rob Dennis

50th For The Vermont Railway

If you had wandered down the m.o.w. access road into Whitehall Yard early in the morning of January 15th, you would have first spotted D&H 7303, still wearing her lightning stripe paint, directly in your line of sight coming down the road, then following the slight curve you would have spotted me, sitting in the parked Civic. D&H 7303 is a regular visitor to the yard, powering a local operating out of Whitehall during daytime into the night. Me on the other hand I don’t usually hang around yards. Once you saw me you would have likely followed my stare out the windshield to see what I was looking at,then you would have sighted my reason for being in there.VRS 311 wearing her new red & white paint and 50th anniversary markings! An ex-CN GP40-2W, 311 was the dog of the fleet until her unveiling recently as the only unit to wear the unique 50th anniversary Vermont Rail System paint scheme. Tonight was her first run on the VRS Whitehall job. For my part, having found 311 in here at night, I was trying to remember what good deed I had done in my recent past to rate such noble treatment! It isn’t every week I get to shoot not one, but two “one of a kind” locomotives during the week at night! Earlier the NS DL&W Heritage unit and now the VRS 311. Soon my attention turned to a more fruitful purpose, listening to the D&H North End on the car scanner. CP 253 had just left northbound and 609 was pulling in to deliver the gas train cars 311 and sisters were waiting on. 253 is told they will meet two southbounds at Howards, around one and a half hours each way from here. Suddenly it dawns on me, there is a window of time coming for CLP 264 to lift the gas train cars and get out of the yard crossing over the D&H main to access VRS rails, and I do not want to get caught here when they leave! Because, if I am aware of the window, you can be sure the VRS crew is working to take advantage of it also. So I hightail it out of Whitehall, and once over in Vermont enroute to Rutland I hear the D&H dispatcher sending 609 north to meet the two southbounds, and I think here comes 311! This is going to happen! They are going to show up before dawn. After quickly checking two spots I arrive at the Baptist Church in Center Rutland as the run over from Whitehall only involves perhaps 25 miles of track. A quick walk around evaluation of this favorite location from the past reveals additions to the scene, two spotlights mounted on the church which are on, one pointing to where I want to shoot from, (how did they know?) and I figure the flash units will overcome them. Two autos parked around the building, and fresh snow! And subtractions, a large overhanging tree trackside has been cut down! Hooray! This opens up the view of the church much more! SO I never hear CLP 264 leave Whitehall as I am going around away from the car scanner setting up the lighting. I no sooner get the lighting setup and do some test shots than I can hear ‘em! The steady drumbeat of EMD prime movers off to the west! I’m impressed! They made very good time over here! A private plow operator with a small dump truck mounted plow with rotating yellow beacon slowly drives by, each sweep of the beacon setting off the entire lighting outfit. Thankfully the batteries are fully charged! I stare at the driver as he drives under the railroad and out of sight. Glancing around “the hood” no bedroom lights are on so everyone slept through the light show! Whew! Balancing atop the stepladder on an incline everything looks good, and I go to move a flash back some but stop in my tracks. Headlight glow is seen down the tracks, holy cow! They are here! I quickly retreat to the stepladder, happy with what I can get at this point knowing the 311 will not be leading everywhere on the VRS system. Engineer Mike Ricketts and conductor Domenic Bourgeois come up Bowmans Hill towards me riding in the 311! What a sight! With a silent press of the shutter release the lighting reflects back a grand Vermont scene at night. With the tree chopped down, the church is seen much better, and 311 wow! Complete with gold painted trucks! Captured in fresh snow on its first trip over to Whitehall and back after being decorated for the VRS 50th anniversary! I’ve never enjoyed a week like this, where I am given the chance to shoot TWO one of a kind locomotives in the same week during the night! Shot on January 17, 2014 at 05:28 in Center Rutland, VT. Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed. Special thanks to Mike and Domenic for being there!
All The Best In 2014;
Gary Knapp

DL&W at XO Tower?

New England regional Pan Am Railways, which operates the old Boston & Maine, Maine Central, Portland Terminal and Springfield Terminal trackages, entered into an agreement with Norfolk Southern in March 2009, with each railroad owning 50% of “Pan Am Southern” comprising trackage between Mechanicville, NY and Ayer, Mass. With the unveiling of the NS Heritage Fleet in 2012, this partnership between NS & Pan Am has resulted in a surprising number of colorful Heritage engines visiting on trains running to and from Ayer and also on NS originating coal trains to the power plant in Bow, NH! You can imagine the attention these Heritage units generate as they are tracked coming and going! Throughout their visits, it has been cast in stone, so to speak, that whatever leads/trails eastward will also lead/trail going back west due to operations at the terminal in Ayer where a wye is used to access the yard. On Monday this week, both the Nickel Plate and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Heritage engines were on the property! The Nickel Plate leaving westbound in the lead overnight and the DL&W arriving at Ayer in trailing position on their respective trains. Feeling I could wait on the Nickel Plate unit I let him go as it is a two and a half hr. drive each way to a favorite location in Mechanicville...........XO Tower.
I wake up the next afternoon, (my morning.....) and check emails as is standard procedure. Here comes many emails from the GuilfordRailSightings group which covers Pan Am, the subject of them all was the power off of 206 at Ayer which included the DL&W unit! The notes take on many forms, some cryptic and puzzling in their meaning but I get the idea, the power which arrived overnight off of 206, which was sitting outside the yard all day, has departed westward.....................LIGHT ENGINE! (Light engine meaning with no cars in tow) Wide awake suddenly I’m re-reading some of the emails, making sure I didn’t miss something. This never happens, the engines running light back west? This means......Then I receive an email from night photographer William Gill which confirms it, the DL&W Heritage unit is leading westbound out of Ayer! Are you kidding me!? The plan is for the light engines to run to East Deerfield Yard where they will pick up some cars and continue on to Mechanicville. William guesses they should be going past XO Tower around 00:30. At 19:45 I’m downtown with the Civic gassed up, a Subway “Egg & Cheese” Sub on the seat next to me, leaving southbound!
Driving down in rain and fog, it all disappears upon arriving in Mechanicville around 22:30. A full moon is out, making it bright enough to walk around without really needing my headlamp at times. The set up goes smoothly having set up the lighting here several times and as soon as I am ready to do a test shot or two, here comes empty crude unit train CP 609 on the right hand main heading for Saratoga and a road crew to take it to Montreals St. Luc Yard! The crew on 609 “somehow” seems to know me lol! I get a couple toots and the engineer hollers something as he passes me, I can’t make it out amid the din of the passing pair of GEs’'. Great to see you guys! Surprisingly, the rushed photo comes out okay! Let’s hope this is a good omen I think to myself. lol! 23:30 comes and goes, then midnight...........I am waiting and listening...............for a westbound. The Mechanicville Police driving by notice one of my test flashes and shine a spotlight up towards me atop the stepladder from below XO Tower, then check the two main lines to make sure they have no obstacles and to the officers credit, depart without interviewing me, I’m grateful. I was gonna wave but then thought better of it and just stood atop the stepladder behind the tripod etc. A Police Interview would be an open invitation for the DL&W unit to suddenly appear! lol! The signal behind me protecting the shared main line as well as the yard throat has been red, red over yellow now for fifteen minutes promoting my conclusion the signal “must be” for 205 with the DL&W unit. Several minutes after midnight the gorgeous sound reaches my ears, that of an air horn across the Hudson River to my east! With a short and light train of empty auto racks, 205 takes less than ten minutes I would guess before activating the grade crossing signals below me! I fire off the lighting and at the angle the cab is at, the crew must at least see XO Tower briefly lit up in front of them before slowly negotiating the curve towards me. Seconds tick past then the pilot reaches my mark, I fire off the lighting, nothing happens! I don’t see the flash or the reflected light off the engine!! (Likely due to my using a 100mm telephoto, and viewing the proceedings from further away than the norm) It’s an unnerving second before the image appears on the camera lcd monitor! SUCCESS! I’m wearing a broad smile with 1074s cab passing alongside me as I wave to the crew. The engineer opens the window but we say nothing to each other in passing. I am speechless! What a beautiful paint scheme! And to think this night photo was made possible by a light engine move! As 205 came into town, a second westbound could be heard behind them, and an eastbound was arriving in Mechanicville also but...........there is nothing to hang around for at this point, and I have the lights all retrieved as the two trains pass through the location. Anything else moving on rails is anti-climactic after this! Shot on January 15, 2014 at 00:24 with the 5D and Zeiss ZF 100/2 lens set at f2. Special thanks to Kevin Burkholder and William Gill! Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed.
All the Best In 2014;
Gary Knapp


Thanks Frank!

Frank Jolin caught a few pics of me working on the Lacolle Sub, 643, empty oil train....and a 608 with 108 loaded oil cars...

Rob D