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Old 11-19-2006, 06:24 AM   #1
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
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Default Good Ol' Guilford

After our last visit to the Guilford in late 2004 my cousin, brother and I agreed that we would need to get back up to western Massachusetts very soon. As it turns out it would be two years before that would become a reality.

While planning out the rest of the year, I discovered that there were absolutely no special excursions or events at any local RR on the weekend of Nov. 10-12. This just so happened to time perfectedly with my brother getting a free day off from work. There was no discussion needed to decide to go back up to pay "The Big G" another visit! Just like that, reservations were made, bags were packed, batteries were charged and it was Friday morning!

The goal for Friday (Nov. 10th) was to wake up early enough to beat the rush hour traffic on the Garden State Parkway or to sleep long enough to leave after it. Naturally, it was the latter that happened and we were out of the hosue at 9:30AM. Working out just as we planned, there was clear sailing the whole way, and we arrived in North Adams, MA at 1:30PM.

We drove past the North Adams "yard" and found the local tied down on the side tracks.
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 165164
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

We had already seen more trains than we were expecting (knowing how Guilford is)!

As we were snapping a few shots of the local, I swore I heard a horn and since we weren't in a rush (although we were starving), we hung around a few more minutes. The hunger finally got the most of us and we started walking toward the car when we heard the roar of diesels echoing off the buildings and the mountains. We had our westbound! We got our shots of what we soon learned to be SEED (Selkirk to East Deerfield) and got back to the car. Thinking it would take the train about 20 minutes at 15 mph to go through Hoosac Tunnel, we grabbed food at Mickey D's and took Rte. 2 over the mountain. We wound our way down to the east portal only to discover that the train was already out. We looped the car around and easily got ahead of the train meanwhile scratching our heads as why we didn't beat him. We later learned that welded rail had been placed through the tunnel and the track speed through was now 20-25mph. We also discovered while getting ahead of the train that track speed on the whole line was now 35-40mph as well.

We set up for our next shot at Charlemont with the light quickly fading.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165190
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

We got to Shelburne Falls and looked for a small patch of sun through a break in the trees which proved futile. We settled for the shadowy shot nonetheless and decided to go right to the "railfan bridge" at the East Deerfield Yard.

As we stood on the bridge with a few other railfans shooting the lone pair of CP diesels in the yard we heard a train approaching. Thinking it was SEED we were pleasantly suprised to see the local off the south section of Connecticut River Line being pulled by one of Guilford's ancient GP9's. What a sight and sound!
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165229
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

The sun eventually set before SEED came into the yard.

We hung around for about an hour more until deciding to check into the hotel only a few miles away in Greenfield. Having an eventful day so far we relaxed for a little while before getting up to grab some dinner. We were both contemplating whether or not to go back to the yard for some night shots but eventually convinced ourselves to go.

The only train moving was EDMO being setup for its nocturnal run east. While watching and waiting for EDMO to depart I grabbed a cool shot of the yard lights silhouetting the tower while lighting up the feed mill in the background.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165191
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

We watched EDMO shift around for a little while longer and finally decided to pack it in once again.

We woke up fairly early on Saturday (Nov. 11th) and turned on the scanner to listen to the yard chatter as we got ready. Around 7AM we heard an EDNA talking which we thought was a good sign. We grabbed some Dunkin Donuts and got to the yard. We still heard EDNA talking which meant we hadn't missed it leave the yard so there was still the possibility of a chase. I took advantage of the thick morning fog and got this moody shot of MEC 353 and the engines being serviced.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165345
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

Once again all was quiet on the scanner as well as in the yard. We sat and waited. AS the fog burned off more power shifted around the yard so I took a walk down the road that parallels the yard on the south side looking for an open shot of two parked locos.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165352
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

As I was walking back my brother called me to let me know that an MOPO was talking and getting permission into the yard. Although it wasn't the direction we wanted a train to be going, we'd take it!
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 165268
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165347
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

After MOPO had disappeared into the yard, the locomotive movements did not cease at all. Among all the action we heard four letters that would make the 3 hours of standing on the bridge worth it, E-D-R-J! East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction that is, a westbound which is what we were hoping for.

Some shots of the power movements:
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 165423
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 165789
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

It would be another hour before EDRJ would be put together and readied to head west. The train dramatically reversed out of sight as if doing a runby for us. Finally, the birds hanging out in the yard took off as EDRJ pulled forward again, this time with all 4,000ft of train.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165231
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

The result of all the power movements in the past 2 hours can be seen in the background as EDRJ snakes onto the main.
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 165469
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

Departure was confimed on the scanner and we decided to get to our first spot, but not before one last shot of MEC 353 rolling out from behind the tower.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165230
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

As we left we heard the EDNA talking, almost 6 hours later! We still dunno whatever happened with that train.

We searched for a spot in Greenfield but the light wasn't stellar so we headed further west to Shelburne Falls. We went to the east side of town and setup at the Conway Road crossing. In going along with the theme of the day, we waited and waited and waited. Nothing on the scanner no distant rumbling, nada. Finally, a horn proved that he was in fact on the move and getting closer. Soon the diesels could be heard echoing in the valley. At the same time this conversation was heard over the scanner:

Dispatcher: How you guys making out?
EDRJ: We're still moving.
EDRJ: We're down to about 5 mph between MP 397 and MP 398.
Dispatcher: Okay.

This explained the whole lot of waiting we were doing. The train rounded the corner within 5 minutes and we got our shots. Being on the opposite side of the tracks of the roads out of town we had to wait for the entire train to pass at 5mph. The last car finally cleared the crossing and we were on our way to the next spot until we heard this conversation:

EDRJ: EDRJ to dispather.
Dispatcher: EDRJ, go 'head.
EDRJ: Yeah, we're stalled about 1/2 mile from the summit in Shelburne Falls.
Dispatcher: Okay, EDRJ, I'll be with you right away.
EDRJ: Roger.

We turned around to find the train and saw thatthe end of the train was clear of the last/main crossing in town by about 5 car lengths. Having time, we scouted a spot and ended up sitting by Cosby's Barn off of Depot Rd. in Buckland. As we waited for EDRJ again (what a pain this train turned out to be!), we were rewarded with Saturday's SEED heading east with the rapidly setting sun reflecting off the sides of the rare SD39/SD26 combo.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165395
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

Finally, EDRJ got moving again after the engines sanded the rails and went back to get the train. By now the sun had gone behind the clouds and the mountain so I went for something different in the poor light.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165604
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

We tried beating the train to Charlemont using the back roads but didn't make it in time so we just took Rte. 2 back "home".

Two successful days so far, we were more than pleased with the way this trip was turning out. We got up a little later on Sunday (Nov. 12th) due to the overcast skies. As soon as the scanner was turned on we heard our favorite four letters, E-D-R-J, again! We quickly got our bags together and went to the yard to get a visual. Sure enough EDRJ was parked under the bridge almost ready to head west. This was our train to take towards home. We sat and listened to the crew going over plans for the conductor to be driven up to the engines west of the yard. We saw the taxi van drive past and that was our cue to get to our first spot. The one good thing about cloudy days is not worrying about the sun. We agreed to catch the train over the Deerfield River bridge in Greenfield about 2 miles outside of the yard.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 165470
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

Going much slower than the trains we had seen the two previous days, this was an easy chase for the rest of the day. We were able to catch the train at the following locations:

Ashfield Street crossing in Shelburne Falls
Bridge over part of the Deerfield River shot off of Rte. 2 in East Charlemont
Bridge St. crossing in Charlemont
Tower Rd. crossing between Zoar and Charlemont
Deerfield River bridge in Florida by the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel
Across a cemetery just west of North Adams again off of Rte. 2
Deerfield River bridge west of North Adams off of Rte. 2
Some crossing in North Pownal, VT
Rte. 95 crossing in Petersburg Junction, NY
Hoosick Falls freight station
Eagle Bridge station/signal bridge at the Batten Kill interchange
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 165788
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

Fisherman's Lane in Schaghticoke
Hudson River Bridge in Mechanicville

We called it a day due to the pouring rain and darkness, and we got to drive back to Jersey in those conditions (how lovely!). We did see one CSX train from a service plaza off of I-87, that was pretty cool.

So, after being wished luck by many people, I'd say we had a pretty great weekend. We definitely lucked out once again! Getting trains moving (well...most of the time) and sunny weather (two outt three ain't bad). More pics to come soon. Hope you enjoyed!
-Andrew Blaszczyk a.k.a. AB(2)
Proud fan of the Sabres, Islanders, Rockies, and Lions.

"My camera is an artistic medium, not a tool of terrorism." Coming soon!
My photos on RailPictures:

Last edited by Andrew Blaszczyk (2); 11-20-2006 at 12:36 AM.
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