Pan Am Heritage Units At Night

Keeping on a roll with heritage locomotives, Pan Am Railways, which operates the ex-Boston and Maine and Maine Central trackage in New England, painted up a couple of their own Heritage engines in 2011 which are featured in tonights night photo. GP-9 ST 77 was painted up in the Boston & Maine maroon and gold scheme used in the fifties in Auguest 2011, and GP-9 MEC 52 was repainted using the Maine Centrals’ 1950’s era “Pine Tree Route” green and gold livery. After being painted, these two engines always seemed to be assigned in or around Portland or Waterville, Maine, far east of my roaming territory at night. This summer the 77 came west assigned to an AD-1 working between North Adams, Mass. and N. Bennington, VT., but it was reported overheating on the return trip to North Adams and subsequently returned to East Deerfield Yard where the maint. forces could keep an eye on her. The MEC 52 soon joined 77 and the two spent the rest of the intervening time rarely being allowed out on the road, being used mostly in hump service in E. Deerfield Yard. You can imagine how disheartening it is to read reports of these two photogenic engines being confined to working the hump in the depths of E. Deerfield Yard each day!
Earlier this month saw the pair “out in public” escaping the confines of the yard powering small ballast trains nearby on the Conn. River Line. I made comments to friends how the East Deerfield to Bellows Falls wayfreight seemed like a natural assignment for the two locomotives, it was a short run with usually a light train. The last two weeks the Heritage pair resumed working the hump together. After shooting the Savannah & Atlanta Heritage engine in Mechanicville, I was waiting for the next night photo opportunity to appear when I checked my email yesterday afternoon. A railfan outside of the yard down in East Deerfield reported that it looked like the 77 & 52 were assigned to a EDBF, East Deerfield – Bellows Falls!! A few minutes later it was confirmed in following emails! I was stunned! It was happening! The 77 & 52 were coming to Bellows Falls! After Dark!
All plans for the night were dropped. After I went downtown and gassed up the Civic and bought a Veggie-Delite, I made a thermos of tea, loaded up the car and was on the road as darkness was falling. While there are several excellent photo locations in Bellows Falls, I had visualizations of the two GP-9s passing another favorite location of mine, south of Bellows Falls at Westminster, VT. where a red feed store sits trackside. My only concern was the feed store might be too much red with the maroon and yellow 77 leading. Two hours and fifteen minutes later, courtesy of I89 & I91 I rolled into the parking lot for the convenience store which bordered the track across from the feed store. During the drive down the car scanner had revealed nothing of EDBFs location. By coincidence, a worker came out the back door to encounter me setting up the light stands and after explaining what I was up to, she answered my question if there had been any trains going by lately, to which she  confidently replied...............nope, nothing has gone by for hours. Turning away from her while breaking into a wide grin, I realized I had arrived ahead of EDBF! Not knowing where they were I turned my attention to methodically setting up the lighting, then out would come the stepladder. So far so good!
Setting up the lights I gratefully acknowledged the contribution made by the NECR brushcutter recently, as it took down small trees bordering the right of way, widening the view here on the right side in the process. The trade off (there is always a trade off) was the fact the trees were of course left laying on the ground and I needed to climb through, over and around them to place light stands. The narrow stumps, cut a foot or more off the ground, were certainly nothing I wanted to risk falling on. So I took my time and finally had the view I liked framed up, test shots taken and I was chatting with the building owner while happily waiting for EDBF. The feed store owner, wearing appropriate attire, a light coat, shorts and those knee high black rubber “muck” boots wondered what I was doin’ of course. Trains, I replied...........a special train is coming by. After we discussed the feed stores history (built in 1902 or earlier) he left me to my specialty. Perhaps fifteen minutes later, an air horn was heard from south of me and eventually I could hear the low growl of non-turbocharged 567s! GP-9s anyone!? Imagine one of the Central Vermonts 700 series 2-10-4s pounding past here! Coming back to tonight, I was thinking....have I even shot an “as-built” GP-9 at night? Tonight could be a first with the lights! Eventually headlight beams reflect off the foliage and an old boxcar parked alongside the feed store, and into the scene accompanied by that lovely sound of non-turbocharged 567s comes Pan Ams Heritage engines, two GP-9s! Leader 77 wearing the classic Boston & Maine maroon and gold! I never thought I would see the night...........lol! With a silent click the light from flash units reflect back and the image is captured. Success! I shot this scene with a 35/2 lens vertically while planning on cropping the bottom and top back home. As much as I wanted to shoot horizontal, the dense growth of poplar trees out of the scene to the right prohibited (to me) placing flash units further to the right throwing light from within the trees. No thanks! So see what you think with this vertical. Shot in Westminster, Vermont on October 27, 2014 at 21:26. Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed.
All The Best In 2014;
Gary Knapp

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