Southern New England Trip, 5/15/00 - 5/21/00

By Jerry Jordak

During the middle of May 2000, I took another trip to New England to photograph Amtrak and commuter rail operations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Here is the story of that trip, including some photos that I took with my father's digital camera.

Day 1: Monday, May 15

Let's try to make the plane to start with

Bright and early on Monday morning, I flew out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to Bradley International Airport, north of Hartford, Conn. However, I almost didn't make the plane.... I now understand why you should make it to the airport an hour early. Every other time I get to the airport that early, I end up sitting around for 45 minutes waiting to board. However, I found out that Monday mornings in an airport are much busier than I've ever seen.

My friend Sara dropped me off at the airport at 6:45 for a 7:15 flight. I got into the terminal to find a mass of people. After waiting 10 minutes in the Continential e-ticket line, the guy who was taking the bags said there would not be enough time for me to check the bag, so I should take it to the gate. So I start for the gate, and have to wait in line five minutes to get through airport security. And of course, they want to check my pager and PalmPilot (which they kept thinking was a cell phone) to make sure it worked. So I get through that, and I'm off to my gate. D7. Halfway up the "C" concourse, then through what felt like an 18-mile tunnel under a taxiway.

I finally get to the gate in time to find out that the flight was overbooked, and they already released the seats and they had no seat for me. Fortunately, there was another guy there waiting for his partner who already had checked in. When it came time to close the plane door and it was apparent that his partner wasn't going to make it, they gave me his seat and put me on the plane. Not exactly the way I wanted to start out my trip....

Back to the Constitution State

The rest of my flight was uneventful. I went to the rental car place, and picked up my buggy, a 2000 Ford Taurus. Let me tell you--that car rode nice! So smooth, in fact, that I got onto I-91 and found I was doing 80 MPH and couldn't even feel it...

I looked at my Amtrak schedule for the Springfield Line and found that there was a northbound soon leaving Hartford. It would be on the Connecticut River Bridge at Enfield shortly, with perfect light on it, so I drove over there, parked the car, and walked down to the river bank. Unfortunately, there were a lot of puff clouds that morning, and they got me when the train arrived. So I'm 0-for-2 in catching a train on that bridge in good sunlight.... I did see, though, next to where I parked the car, an old trailer with Pennsylvania Railroad keystone emblems still on its doors (Photo).

At this point, I decided to start making my way up towards Fitchburg, Mass. My primary focus for the first two days of the trip was to be the commuter rail lines around Boston, which are operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), or better known to the locals as "the T." I decided to follow some back roads from Enfield over to I-84. Bad move--I forgot about the obnoxiously low speed limits on Connecticut roads. I was pleased to find, though, that they finally increased the speed limit on their rural interstates to 65 MPH. (I heard that the state was going to lose their federal highway funding if they didn't raise the speed limit. Seemed like a good enough reason to me....)

So long, Fitchburg

After going into Massachusetts and up through Worcester, I arrived at the last station on the line I would spend the day on--the Fitchburg Line. It was early afternoon, and I decided to scout out the line for photo locations, catching some trains during the afternoon, and preparing for the onslaught of outbound trains that would come during the afternoon rush hour. I didn't spend much time in Fitchburg itself, though--as I pulled into the train station parking lot, I saw some bum taking a leak underneath a highway bridge, and I decided right there to find some other place to look for photo locations, so out of Fitchburg I went....

East of Fitchburg was a small freight yard run by Guilford (the railroad that handles the freight traffic on this line). There was a local in the yard facing west with an SD26 and a high-hood GP35 on the point. They still have some wild power running around on that railroad.... I got a cloudy shot of an outbound T train at Leominster, and continued heading east.

Shirley you jest....

Next stop on the Fitchburg Line was at Shirley, Mass, where there was a nice open area in the middle of town along the tracks to shoot at, plus a small brick station next to a grade crossing. I waited there for an inbound train to arrive. While I was waiting, I walked across the street and picked up lunch--a Pepsi and a bag of Combos.

While the sky was mostly cloudy at this point, as train time approached, I could see a gap in the clouds coming towards the sun. Unfortunately, the train arrived, I took my picture, the train left, and then the sun came out. Oh well...

Ayer Tower

The next town to the east is Ayer. Ayer is an important place on the Guilford system, because there is a large yard there south of town. In the middle of town is a junction of two ex-Boston & Maine lines, along with a tower. I found the tower (by accident), and went over and took a couple photos of it. It looked like it was still in use, so I went upstairs, knocked on the door, and was invited in by the tower operator. He said there wasn't much freight activity going on at the moment. I talked with him for just a couple of minutes and then left. It was pretty neat finding a tower out east that is still manned....

A couple miles east of Ayer was another junction, called CPF-WL, where the Guilford main line towards Maine branched off from the Fitchburg Line, which continued south and east to Boston. West of the junction is a large automobile unloading facility that Guilford operates. I set up for a shot there of an outbound T train coming around a curve into the junction. Unfortunately, the same thing happened as at Shirley: break in the clouds appears, train shows up, sun comes out. About that point, I got to thinking that if the whole trip is going to be like this, I might as well go home right now. Fortunately, from that point on, the sky began to clear up so that by dinnertime, there were no clouds in the sky.

West Concord and Concord

Driving south from CPF-WL, I passed the former station building at Littleton. The station was in fairly good shape, and it had a beautifully restored crossing watchman's shanty in front of it. However, like the station in Palmer, Massachusetts, it was being used by an antique dealer, so it had all kinds of antiques (read: junk) all around it. Behind the station, though were three blue Boston & Maine boxcars and a Maine Central wide-vision caboose on blocks.

I arrived in West Concord, which has a nice station building in the middle of town. There was a photo of it on the T's website, so I wanted to make sure that I got at least one shot of a train passing this station. I parked my car and was walking around the downtown area, waiting for the train, and this little short guy came up to me and asked if I was with the paper or something. I told him no, that I'm just a train photographer. He asked me to take a picture of him! I wasn't real sure about this, but I did, and he gave me his address (which took about 10 minutes, due to his accent which I couldn't make out), and I told him I'd send it to him....

While on the street, I just missed catching a Guilford freight local heading outbound from Boston, but I did shoot two T trains at the station. Both were there at almost the same time. From there I headed east to Concord (home of Thoreau's Walden Pond) and shot another train passing the station there. The station is used now by a restaurant, and has a tower built into the roof of it. On the walls of the station facing the tracks is a mural of Walden Pond. (No, I didn't actually go see the Walden Pond....I was too busy shooting trains.)

Rush Hour

The rush hour was upon me, both on the railroad and on the streets. I decided to double back from Concord to South Acton, which was between West Concord and Littleton. I thought I'd take a shortcut via Route 2 instead of the back roads. Bad idea--the road was jammed, so I had to get back over onto my previous chase route and go via the back roads instead, but I didn't lose too much time. Seeing that traffic, though, makes me glad I don't live out there.

Arriving in South Acton, I parked my car and stood on a highway overpass above the tracks and waited for a train. Unfortunately, some clouds rolled in front of the sun and I got skunked--twice. By the way, if you want to see what kind of dumb looks you can get from drivers on the road, stand on an overpass with a camera sometime. The concept of taking pictures of trains must be foreign to 95% of the American public...

After leaving South Acton, I drove back to Ayer, and set up for a shot near the tower. (For you railfans, the light gets good in May on the north side of the tracks for an outbound T train by 6:00 PM.) I got a picutre of a train passing the tower, and then I went out west of Ayer to a grade crossing with a nice pair of block signals at Milepost 38 (from Boston). After cleaning up some junk car parts and tires from around the right-of-way, I shot another T train there, but as I was packing up the camera, I noticed that the signals were still staying lit, and I thought I was hearing another horn off to the west. Finally, an eastbound headlight appeared, so I grabbed the camera, walked back by the tracks, and bagged an eastbound Guilford freight train with three GP40s and a high-hood GP35, all in Guilford charcoal gray paint. From there, I went to visit my friends the Bakers who live north of Ayer.

Day 2: Tuesday, May 16

Taking the long way around

The Bakers were gracious enough to let me stay the night in their guest room, so the next morning I got up early, and after scraping the frost off my car windows (in mid-May!) I headed out to I-495. My focus this morning was to be the T line to Plymouth, which was about three-quarters the way around I-495. After surviving the maddening, high-speed drive on the Interstate, I took some secondary roads over to around Hanson, Mass, on the Plymouth Line, and began scouting for photo locations.

I only ended up with two shots on the line, because of time constraints. One was at Pleasant Street in Hanson, and the other was off an overpass on Grove Street west of Kingston. However, there were other places that had possibilities, such as the feed mill and the station at Hanson, the original passenger station at Hanson, and a lake just east of where I got my shot in Hanson. The only hard part about doing the lake shot is that it would have to be done early in the morning when the light was good, and I'd have to figure out a way to get back in there without trespassing. (People out east are really picky about that kind of thing, but usually have no problem if you ask permission first.)

After getting the shot west of Kingston, I drove into town, gassed up the car, and called my friend Ed St. George who lives in Dedham, and arranged to meet him at the Readville station on the Shore Line at 1:00 PM. As it was only 10:00 AM at this point, I still had some other things to do...

Gotta get the PCCs

From Kingston, I drove north on Route 3 to I-93, and got off right before the Neoponset River. I drove over to Ashmont to photograph the PCC trolleys on the Matapan Line. There was an article about this line in the May 2000 Railpace magazine, and I had my copy on the front seat as I checked out the line. I ended up getting all my shots over at Capen Street, which was located in a nice, quiet, upscale neighborhood. I didn't take any pictures over at Matapan terminal, which, while about a half-mile and across the river from where I was, isn't the best neighborhood to be running around in with an expensive camera around your neck, I found...

As an aside, while flipping through radio stations in the car between Kingston and this point, I must have heard three times the new song by Britney Spears. I am still trying to figure out how she sold how many million albums....

Canton Viaduct, Take Two

After this, I drove down to Canton, Massachusetts, which is on the ex-New Haven Shore Line, now part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Here is located the Canton Viaduct, a stone arch viaduct that was completed in 1835 and is still in use today. It was repaired during the electrification project over the past three years and looks quite nice today. I had a train circled on my schedule which would be running in the right light and on the right track around 12:20 PM that day, and I photographed it from the east side of the viaduct, standing on the side of the road the runs underneath the viaduct.

Ed's Vettes and Trains

Back I went up to Readville station to see my friend Ed St. George, a policeman, railfan, and all-around good guy. He runs the website Mainlines East and has quite a unique railfan vehicle--a 1999 gray ragtop Corvette. (Photo--that's my rental car behind it) Last time I was there, Ed was driving his 1994 blue Corvette coupe. I defintely like his new one better!

There were a few train movements through the station while we were there. A couple of T trains went up and down the connection to the Franklin Line, and I saw my first Amtrak AEM7 electric under the wires there--being towed dead by a pair of Amtrak switchers. Ed even got into act of some candid photos, such as one of me composing a shot of a T train (Photo) and one of me writing photo notes into my Palm organizer (Photo). (It's the geek railfan at work!)

Around 2:15, I was getting hungry, Ed was getting tired, and the mainline was dead, so Ed headed for home and a nap, and I headed south towards Mansfield. There, I got a shot of a T train passing a large factory. It wasn't the best angle, but I didn't want to walk across someone's yard in order to get closer to the tracks. From there I got back on I-95 and went south to Attleboro. I stopped at Wendy's and picked up a late lunch, and went to Attleboro.


Attleboro is a pretty neat town for photography, but it has a major traffic problem. I had been there before on my last trip. There are two stations in town, across the tracks from each other--one for eastbound passengers, one for westbound. The westbound station is now an insurance company office, and the eastbound station is used for something, I can't remember what. Both are very nice photo props. I shot a southbound T train at the stations, then drove over to the other side of town and up an access road that comes out next to the tracks by the old Attleboro tower, which is no longer manned, but still standing. Next to the tower, a branch line comes off the main and heads east towards Taunton. There were some CSX boxcars that I could see on the branch, but I don't know if it was a complete train or not parked over there--I never had a chance to go check it out.

I did get a shot of Amtrak eastbound #84 passing the tower, along with a westbound T train that had one of the T's F40PHs painted with Operation Lifesaver emblems. I went back to the stations and shot one more train there, and then headed south. I found a place south of town behind some factories that was pretty open, but then these three guys came walking through there who were eyeing up my camera, so I got out there. I ended up at a ballfield in South Attleboro (or maybe it's Hebronville, I couldn't tell), where the tracks went next to the ballfield. A couple of teams were warming up for a game on the field, and I got a shot of a T train next to the ballfield. It then stopped back behind the ballfield, so I drove back there and shot it again as it was starting to accelerate away.

On the road

At this point, the sun was starting to get low, so I made my way back to I-95 and headed south through the namesake city of one of my favorite TV shows, namely Providence. I wanted to get a shot of a train passing the Rhode Island state capital building, but time and light were working against me, so I kept going. I ended up staying the night in Groton, Conn., and like the last time, I stayed at the Super 8 on Route 12 and walked across the street to the IHOP for dinner.

Day 3: Wednesday, May 17

Onto the Shore Line

I began the next morning at Mystic, Conn., just as the clouds were burning off. My first stop was the causeway at Noank, which has been seen in photos in many railroad books, but of course, I had no photos from there. The shot is taken from the village marina, so I waited on the dock for the first train, which was westbound Acela Regional train 131, pulled by a pair of AEM7s. I stopped to take a photo of the former Noank railroad freight house, and continued over to West Mystic.

At West Mystic, I found a shot location on a little peninsula off of School House Road that I liked. The tracks ran along the water, with a house and a boat off to the right. At 8:21 AM, Amtrak train #95 appeared and I got the shot. From there I looked around at various photo locations in West Mystic and in Mystic itself. I found that you could spend a couple of days there getting all the possible photo angles. I ended up at Palmer Cove, west of Noank, where I shot a westbound and an eastbound within ten minutes of each other. While I was waiting for the trains, I was watching in the distance a helicopter flying around near the Groton airport.

Almost skunked by the President

Around this time, I heard Providence & Worcester freight train NR-2 getting ready to head west on the Shore Line towards Old Saybrook. Since the train runs with locomotives at both ends, I could still photograph it going away. I also saw on my Amtrak schedule that train 130, the morning eastbound Acela Regional train with the electric locomotives, was going to be coming into the picture pretty soon, so I decided to get back up to I-95 and head west for Niantic Bay, one of my favorite locations on the Shore Line. I drove up to I-95, got on the on-ramp, started to put the pedal down....

....and saw nothing but brakelights. Immediately I had a violent flashback to a previous trip--there were a pair of Connecticut State Police cars, lights flashing, doing 20 MPH about 100 yards in front of me, and traffic backing up behind them. I was starting to think this was some kind of state ritual. I realized that since I-95 is the only way over the Thames River to New London, I figured that Niantic Bay was out of the picture, and I'd settle for a shot of the #130 at Groton Tower, right?

Wrong. The police cars came to a stop about 1/4 mile from the exit ramp that would take me to the tower. By this point, I was steaming mad. I shut off the car, and as some people were getting out of their cars and walking around, I asked someone what was going on. Turns out President Clinton was in town for the Coast Guard commencement ceremony. (Remember the helicopter I saw at Palmer Cove? Yep...) Well, this was great--I really had no use for the guy to begin with, and now this.... Anyway, after about 20 minutes, we were allowed to go, so I drove down to the tower and got my photo. It was a tight shot, but better than nothing.

After stopping at a Burger King for lunch, I went back to the Noank causeway and shot Amtrak train #173. I figured I might as well get one more train there, just for safety's sake. From there, I got back on I-95 (sans state police cars now), and motored over to Niantic.

Niantic Bay

Even if you're not a railroad photographer, you have to love Niantic Bay. The railroad crosses the bay on a long causeway, with a rolling-lift drawbridge at the east end. A beach runs along the entire south side of the causeway, so on a hot sunny day, you can take a swim between trains. (If I ever go up there when it's hot enough to...)

I parked on the east side of the drawbridge, and at the other end of the causeway, I could see the P&W train switching at Niantic Lumber. He got his cars together and headed east, so I photographed him coming over the drawbridge. About 10 minutes later, Amtrak train #172 followed him east over the bridge, and I shot him too.

After grabbing a milkshake at the custard stand in Niantic, I started looking for a way to access the west end of the causeway, as I've seen pictures from down there, but I couldn't find how to get down there. I finally found a walkway under the tracks at the end of a dead-end street, so I went out onto the breakwall there and waited for my next westbound train. Even as cool as a day as it was, there were some women sunning themselves on the beach. To the east was a nice view of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. From the signs I've seen in people's yards around there, some folks around there wouldn't mind seeing that plant shut down.

At 2:37 PM, I shot Amtrak westbound train #163 coming across the causeway. The nice thing about Niantic Bay is that the drawbridge at the east end of the causeway only goes down when a train is imminent. From there, I got on I-95 and drove about 20 miles west to Branford to start covering the afternoon rush of the Shore Line East commuter trains. (For more on Shore Line East, see this article by Bob LaMay. Bob also helped me with info on some photo locations on the Shore Line for this trip.)

Shore Line East

Shore Line East trains have to be amongst the easier operations I know of to photograph. In the afternoons, they run from New Haven east to Old Saybrook or New London, making station stops along the way, and then they turn around and run straight back (deadhead) to New Haven. So to paraphrase the old adage, "what goes out, must come back." This way, you can line up shots of SLE trains on both tracks. The trains all face west, so they're only good to photograph in the afternoon.

I started at Branford behind a cable and rigging company, where the tracks run along water. Fortunately, Amtrak installed the overhead wires through here on cantilevered supports, leaving the south side of the tracks open for better photos. At 3:38 PM, SLE train 3630, with GP40H-2 6697, wearing ConnDOT's "New Haven" paint scheme, roared east with three cars. I got the shot, and the SLE rush hour was on.

Next, I drove east on Route 146 to Point Pleasant Road, and took that down to a land preserve in the Stony Creek area. On the way, I crossed the Branford Steam Railroad, a short line operated by Tilcon which hauls stone from a quarry. Their motive power is a red and green "critter". I parked the car and walked down a trail through some woods until I was standing next to a dry salt marsh. The tracks crossed the marsh on a causeway. Here I shot another SLE train. I then went up west of the marsh where the tracks went through a cut and under the road, where I shot Amtrak westbound train #175 as it entered the cut.

From there, I went east to Guilford and shot an eastbound SLE train passing what looked like an old brick water tower. I was standing about where the old Guilford station was before Amtrak tore it down. After that, I got an OK shot of an SLE train at the curve west of the station in Clinton, which is the next town east. While in Clinton, I saw from the road that it looked like the light was good on the tracks by the town cemetery, so I parked in the cemetery and shot two more SLE trains passing the gravestones. I wrapped up the day by shooting both afternoon Acela Regional trains at the Westbrook SLE station. Those trains with the AEM7 electrics sure move, as I found out when the westbound train showed up... From there, I drove up to Southington and stayed the night with Tom Bodett at a Motel 6 and had dinner at Denny's. Of course, I ended up with the motel room as close to the freeway as you could get....

Day 4: Thursday, May 18

Welcome clouds and rain

I found out the next morning that I had mostly exhausted my supply of sunlight for the trip, as the next morning dawned dark, cloudy, and wet. I drove over to Waterbury to see what was on the Waterbury Branch shuttle train, and found that it was one of Metro-North Railroad's "New York Central" FL9 locomotives. (The quotes are because NYC never owned any FL9s, but Metro-North painted a pair in NYC colors last year for a special celebration. While they aren't prototypical, they do look nice.) Seeing that the weather stunk, I decided to save my film, so I pulled out my dad's digital camera and took some pictures. (Photo) (Photo) I then drove down to the station at Naugatuck and before the train left and caught it backing in next to the station. (Photo)

From here, I killed some time by driving past the Chase Yard of the Railroad Museum of New England. I figured that maybe if they were doing some work on their equipment that day that I'd help out, since I'm a Museum member, but nobody was around. I did get a picture of their equipment parked in the yard. (Photo)

From there, I drove down to Ansonia to look at what is probably the premier photo location on the line--the bridge over the Naugatuck River. I made a stop in town to get gas and check my voice mail, and went back to the bridge to shoot the shuttle train on the bridge. (Photo) Trust me--this place looks a lot better in good light.....

Paying my respects to Cedar Hill

From here, I was getting bored, so I was thinking about finding a movie theater and catching a movie, beacause there was no end in sight to the clouds and rain. I found a theater in Milford, but there weren't any good movies starting for another hour. Now what to do?

I decided to drive over to New Haven and see what is left of the Cedar Hill Yards on the north side of the city. Much of it now is used for material storage by Amtrak. What really amazed me is how much the area has changed from the pictures I'd seen. For example, where Shore Line Junction tower was, it was a wide-open area. Today, Shore Line Junction is under the bridges of I-91...

After leaving New Haven, I drove back to Derby on the Waterbury Branch, as I figured I'd get a digital shot of the Waterbury shuttle passing the station, and I wanted to walk in and look at the shot at Derby Junction.

A sunlight reprieve!

I noticed as I pulled into the station parking lot at Derby that the sun was starting to peek out through the clouds. I walked back along the tracks to Derby Junction, where the ex-New Haven Maybrook Line joined the Waterbury Branch. Just beyond the junction, the Waterbury Branch crossed the Naugatuck River on a through-truss bridge. An old signal still stood along the Waterbury Branch before the junction.

About this point, I noticed that the sun was almost completely out. Checking my schedule, I saw that there was a southbound shuttle train due in about a half hour. I went back to the car and though about setting up for the "water works shot" between Ansonia and Seymour, then chasing the train back to Derby Junction if the sun stayed out. I drove up to the water works shot, but I realized that due to the arrangement of the exit ramps on the freeway along the line, Route 8, that it would difficult to get back on the road and down to Derby with enough time to walk back into the Derby Junction shot before the train arrived. So I drove back to Derby, parked the car again, and walked back into the shot location and waited, cleaning up some excess vegetation and trash in the foreground of the photo before the train arrived. And arrive it did, at 3:49 PM, with the same "New York Central" FL9 pushing on the rear. I hope that shot comes out--it sure looked nice, and the light was almost at full sun.

Back to Bridgeport

The last time I was in the area, I had taken some photos from the inside of Harbor Yard, the ballpark of the Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team. However, I was not happy with the photos because the light angle when I took them was bad. I was determined to get some better pictures this time. Remembering that the Bluefish had an early afternoon game that day, I drove down Route 8 to Bridgeport.

The last time I was in Bridgeport, the city was a dump and there was construction all over on I-95. I found out this time that neither has changed.... What changed this time, though, was that the parking lot next to the ballpark was gone, and in its place was an under-construction parking garage. I drove around the area for 15 minutes trying to find a place to leave my car, which was difficult, because there were housing projects across the street from the ballpark, and I didn't dare leave my car over there, as I wanted to get it back with the wheels still on it.

Finally, sensing that the game was over for the day, I pulled into the drop-off area in front of the stadium and asked the police officer parked there if I could leave my car there for a little bit. I explained that I was a railroad photographer and that I wanted to get some pictures of trains going behind the outfield fence. He showed no visible objection to my request, so I grabbed the camera, locked the car, and headed up to the upper deck gate. As I was going up the steps, I heard the policeman say to someone (probably from the ballpark), "He's with the railroad taking pictures." That's not what I said, but if he wants to believe that, fine with me....

I had to shoot through the bars of a rollup gate, but I was able to get two trains behind the fence. One was a Metro-North work train with two GP35s, a caboose, and about a half-dozen "urban decorated" ballast cars. The other was a standard set of Metro-North M2 "Cosmopolitan" electric MU cars. (If your browser has Java enabled, you can click this link to see what the view looks like from where I took my pictures from.)

Batten down the hatches

From there, I drove to the station in Milford and figured I'd shoot some of the evening rush hour there. That was not to be, though, as I noticed that sky clouding up again. Just for kicks, I tuned in the NOAA Weather Radio channel on my scanner. They were saying that a line of severe thunderstorms were coming into the area, and soon.

That was enough for me. I put the camera in the car, took to the Milford Connector over to the Merrit Parkway, which I took west to Route 8 back to Waterbury. (As an aside, I heard that the bridge on the Merrit Parkway over the Naugatuck River is going to be replaced. Quite a wise decision in my opinion--the current bridge has a steel-grate deck, and I could feel my car sliding back and forth as I drove over it....)

As I drove up Route 8 through Seymour and Beacon Falls, I could see the black clouds over the mountains to the west. I got to the Waterbury Super 8, got my room key, and pulled car around to my room. Just as I was opening the trunk to get my suitcase out, the deluge hit...

Once the rain settled down, I went next door to an Italian restaurant (sort of like an Olive Garden) for dinner. I ordered lasagna. The waitress brought me a huge bowl of salad. I got about 3/4 of the way through it and decided to save room for dinner. She brings out the main course and tells me "if you were having fun with the salad, wait until you see this." This piece of lasagna was huge! I ate most of it--I figured the last little piece was the difference between having a good night's sleep and rolling around all night wondering "why did I eat all that?"

Day 5: Friday, May 19

More rain

The next morning was much the same as the morning before: dark, cloudy, and raining. I slept in a while, and then went to a Hometown Buffet in Waterbury and spent an hour eating and reading some of my magazines. Next I stopped at the Waterbury Public Library and used one of their computers to check my e-mail. From there I decided to follow the Naugatuck Railroad up to Thomaston and see what was new.

I saw parked south of the Thomaston station were three old cars that the museum had preserved, including a wooden Boston & Maine coach, last used as a movie car, a former Boston & Maine wooden caboose, and a Central Vermont outside-braced wood boxcar. (Photo) Also near the station was a former Maine Central boxcar parked at an industry. (Photo)

I then drove up to Thomaston dam, which is earthen flood control dam built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s. (Photo) Most of the time there is little or no water behind the dam, as it is used only for flood control.


I still had some time to kill, so I drove west to Danbury to visit the Danbury Railway Museum. When I got there, Metro-North FP10 410 was laying over with the day's Danbury-South Norwalk shuttle train. (Photo)

I got a tour of their equipment in their railyard and I made judicious use of the digital camera during it. Among their items is class N8A Penn Central caboose which was built from a New Haven NE6 caboose (Photo) and an ex-Pennsylvania Railroad boxcar that someone put Penn Central worms on over the PRR keystone. (Photo)

They also have a Mack FCDII railbus, which was originally built for passenger service on the New Haven. They were later sold to various companies, including Remington Arms in Bridgeport, who modified theirs to carry guns and ammunition around inside their plant. After being sold to Sperry Rail Services, it was donated to the Danbury Museum. (Photo) The car had installed at Remington an aluminum floor, since aluminum doesn't generate sparks, which is important when hauling things like gun powder...

Also parked at the railyard was Long Island RR 617, a former FA2 locomotive converted into a cab/power car for commuter service. (Photo) In addition, the mate to the "New York Central" FL9 I had seen earlier was on display. (Photo) Apparently, this locomotive suffered a major failure and probably will never run again, so for now it's just sitting at the museum looking pretty.

Enter Wakman

My friend Terry Chicwak from Cleveland had business in the area the following week, so he drove up early to meet me for some railfanning. Unfortunately, the weather was not panning out for that, but he came up anyway. I drove back to Waterbury and met him, and we took my rental car back to the airport and dropped it off. I left it with 1006.4 miles more on it than when I picked it up. Not bad for five days....

We drove back to Danbury and took some night photos of the Metro-North trains which layover there on the weekends. (If the weather doesn't cooperate, make your own light....) We did a couple shots by the museum (the original station), and after asking for and receiving permission to drive back in by the Metro-North trains, we tried some more shots, both with flash and as time exposures. I even experimented with the digital camera to see how it would do with the available light. (Photo) (Photo) After that, we packed up and drove to Fishkill, New York, for the night.

Day 6: Saturday, May 20

Riding the Hudson Line

Since the weather was terrible that day, Terry and I decided to ride a Metro-North Hudson Line train to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. We boarded the train at Garrison, New York. It was a nice ride into New York City. I saw some photo locations to try, and some others that looked promising, but might get me killed if I tried going there...

Arriving at Grand Central, we first took a look at the New York City Transit Museum located in the Terminal, which had a display of O. Winston Link's photography. Link was a genius when it came to night pictures, and his work on the Norfolk & Western steam trains is legendary. After that we looked around the station, including the main waiting room (Photo), the ticket windows and departure boards (Photo), and the famous gold clock and information desk in the center of the main waiting room (Photo). We looked around also at some of the different tracks (Photo), where trains were lined up ready to depart (Photo).

After walking out onto 42nd Street and buying a couple hotdogs from a vendor, we went to board our outbound train, but of course, we had to walk to the front and get a picture of the head end first. (Photo) We rode back to New Hamburg, NY, so we could ride through the Breakneck Ridge tunnels and past Bannerman's Island, and then caught another train back to Garrison. (Photo) And of course, I still have the tickets to prove it. (Photo)

From there, we drove back to Waterbury and I showed Terry some of the photo locations along the Waterbury Branch. We did catch the shuttle pulling into the brick station at Seymour. (Photo) Returning to Waterbury, I took him past the Railroad Museum of New England's Chase Yard again, where this time we actually found people. RMNE officers Howard Pincus, Hal Reiser, and some of their members gave us an excellent tour of their equipment before it got dark. We then drove to Enfield and stayed the night at the Super 8 there, after having dinner at Friendly's just down the road.

Day 7: Sunday, May 21

More, you guessed it, rain

The clouds and rain theme continued into Sunday. We first went over to the Connecticut River Bridge shot on the Springfield Line so I could show Terry where it was. Amtrak train #412 appeared close to on time, but in terrible weather. (Photo) I'm now 0-for-3.... After that, we got to talking to a local railfan for a while. After he left, we drove down to Windsor Locks, where I showed Terry some photo locations, and shot southbound Amtrak train #145 running along the canal there. (Photo) We went and found lunch at Blimpie's, and looked around a hobby shop.

From there, we drove a little ways east and checked out a local trolley museum, and then returned to Windsor Locks. After a northbound Amtrak train went past the old Windsor Locks station, we were surprised by the arrival of a Connecticut Southern (CSO) southbound train. (Photo) CSO's motive power fleet consists of ex-Conrail B23-7s, still in Conrail paint. The exception was the middle unit on this train, an ex-Norfolk Southern high-hood B23-7, still wearing NS black and lettered for sister railroad Indiana Southern.

Lacking anything else to do, we chased it south, catching it again on the siding at Hayden. (Photo) We continued south to the Farmington Bridge at Windsor, where we first saw the northbound Amtrak Vermonter, (Photo) running in push mode, followed by the southbound CSO train. (Photo)

At this point, Terry dropped me off at the airport and I flew home. While it wasn't my best trip, I was pleased with the good weather that I did get. My primary focus was to fill in the gaps for the slide show I'm giving at Summerail this year, and as long as the slides come out, I think I will have accomplished that.


Thanks to: David Patch, Bob LaMay, Karl McKinney, and Bill Crawford for information on photo locations and other vital info; to Craig and Melissa Baker for use of their guest room Monday night; Ed St. George for the pictures of yours truly at Readville; Sara Monsour, for the ride to the airport on Monday and for letting me park my car in her garage during the trip; and most importantly, thanks be to God for the three days of good weather, and for keeping me safe and out of trouble during the entire trip.

Jerry W. Jordak --