I was approached by NECR engineer/conductor Ed Ferguson earlier this year about the chances of meeting me during the summer sometime, in Gorham, NH, to take a night photo of Eds family with SLR train 393 coming by. I of course, said sure! Knowing of the increased appeal that having people in night photos of trains brings. We settled on last Friday evening to meet and the scene with the church for the composition. A classic New England scene, only available to be enjoyed with a train during the four nights a week the Saint Lawrence & Atlantic (SLR) operates presently. I had shot the scene a few times before with the late Don Provencher and friends posing, so I was comfortable with what I was getting into. I invited Dons sister Linda to stop by and say hello, (she could not make it) and............I invited Lin and Hugh Chapman from over in Gilead, Maine, with the understanding beforehand that it was to be a family portrait for Ed. Inviting Lin and Hugh turned out to be a stroke of good fortune!
The big unknown in the days leading up to Friday was what time? My previous week spent on the west end of the SLR in Island Pond at Lakeside Camping had seen 394 departing later than normal from town, once after 2300. They exchanged trains with 394s crew in Berlin, NH around 0200 to 0300. The Chapmans, who live trackside in Gilead reported hearing 393 going by recently between 2330ish and midnight thirty! I suggested to Ed and The Chapmans that we meet at 2200, thinking it better to be safe and hang around waiting, than late and get no photo at all. So I came rolling into downtown Gorham around 2130, happily noticing the temp readout at a bank of 69 degrees, pulled to a stop at the town green and began to set up the lighting for the church and house. I was soon joined by Ed, Sarah and four years young Ed Jr. (EJ) and we exchanged greetings. EJ was full of energy, seeing me again he knew the orange train was coming! LOL! Ed and Sarah corralled EJ while I finished setting up a flash unit, then we moved over across the tracks to where we would shoot the photo.
I was halfway through setting up the lighting for the train when the Chapmans arrived, and they brought news! Lins brother had been recruited to be the lookout for us and he had just called to say 393 was going through Gilead at that time! Earlier than expected! How out of character for the railroad. Ten pm was looking like a good time to meet. Lin and Hugh get another Gold Star for driving over with such timely train info! We figured Gilead to be around thirty minutes away by train so we were all happy at the prospect of 393 coming by before midnight. Fifteen min. later found everyone in their places! Gary atop the stepladder, Ed, Sarah and EJ down below me on the lawn and Lin and Hugh Chapman standing off to the side (happy to be watching and not posing?). Several minutes pass by as I tweaked the flash units and moved Ed, Sarah and EJ around, then we waited, shootin’ the breeze until 393s locomotives could be heard just before the engineer began whistling for the first grade crossing coming into town.
Once over the grade crossing, 393 heads up tangent track which brings them through our set up by the church, and I fire off an awareness flash of the lights for the crew. I get a couple toots acknowledging they saw it. A mass of headlights appear coming up to Glen Road crossing just below us, dissolving into the triangle shape of locomotive headlights and the shape of a cab emerging from the darkness. Spellbinding to watch at night, as the locomotives complete this beautiful New England landscape! Once over Glen Road crossing the leaders pilot plow comes into position and the lighting flashes out, reflecting back.........success! Then the engines are rolling past me at maybe twenty to thirty mph. A short consist follows then silence slowly returns. Only in examining the photo afterwards does Ed point out how both of the SLRs (rare) GP 40Xs were in the engine consist! 3806 leading with 3805 trailing! Shot in Gorham, NH on July 29, 2016 at 22:32. Special thanks to all involved! Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed.
All The Best In 2016;