Sunday, August 8, 2021

Boston & Maine Railroad 99-Car Freight at Waltham MA 5/30/1928

I recently treated myself to an Ebay item... an original glass negative of a freight in Waltham Massachusetts.  The caption reads "3009  B&M  May 30, 1928  99 CARS   Waltham Mass".  

I wondered why a photographer would make a special note of the "99 cars", and tried finding newspaper accounts via the Boston Public Library e-resources.  

On May 19th a special train for then president Calvin Coolidge was run on the B&M to Andover MA.  The president spoke at Phillips Academy for their 150th anniversary.  But that event was 11 days before the "99 car train" ran.

On June 5th the B&M had a celebration to open the new hump yards at Somerville, complete with a "parade of boxcars" to demonstrate the system to over 1,000 guests.  Were those 99 cars "props" en route for that event?  

Was 99 even a lot of fright cars on one train for that era?

AND did railroads close down for Memorial Day Weekend in the 1920s?  Was this train run to get freight moved before the holiday?  

Well, in 1928, Memorial Day was also called Decoration Day, and it was celebrated on May 30th, not the last Monday in May like today.  That means the train in the photo ran ON Memorial Day!  Perhaps the photographer just plain had a day off from work and went trackside?

Unless the train was mentioned in an employee magazine, we may never know just what caused the photographer to document that particular train.  

Now, what about the location of the photo?  It seems to me if the train is on the Fitchburg mainline, then  the old Central Massachusetts line is at right.  That means the train is somewhere west of Waverley in the Clematis Brook area and traveling "eastbound" toward Boston.  

There also appears to be an overhead road bridge in the background, with some semaphore signals just visible.  That could be the Linden Street bridge BUT it should be off to the right of the Fitchburg main, so that may possibly just be a signal bridge.

A period track chart would come in useful... 

The easiest info to find is the locomotive type:  2-10-2 "Santa Fe" Alco S1-a, built in 1920.

Am I delving too much into this photograph?  YOU BET!  But HEY, it keeps me off the mean streets!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Pan Am Rail Worker Dies After Getting Trapped Between Rail Cars

Thursday, March 18, 2021

"Slow Speed Incident" at MBTA Orange Line Near Wellington Station Medford MA

One of the MBTA's brand new Orange Line trainsets "...was crossing southbound tracks to accommodate maintenance work when it slipped the the rails at 11:04 a.m. There about 100 passengers on board and no injuries". 

The T plans to keep the line shut down for THREE WEEKS while repairs are completed.  Buses will be provided as substitute transportation.  

WNBC claims that "The MBTA is among the nation's worst transit agencies when it comes to derailments, according to federal records the NBC10 Boston Investigators reviewed...  Over the past five years, the MBTA reported trains came off the tracks 57 times, and 27 of those incidents involved passenger trains...
Only the transit system in New Orleans saw more derailments during that time, with a total of 77... A string of high-profile derailments in 2019 prompted creation of an independent panel to examine safety at the MBTA. In December of that year, the group concluded that the T had a "questionable" approach to safety including frequent lapses in maintenance and inspections."

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Boston & Maine Railroad's Minuteman Logo - A Small History

With the introduction of maroon/gold EMD E-units to the Boston & Maine diesel roster in 1945 came a nifty new logo, usually simply referred to as simply the "Minuteman".  But do people outside of New England understand that the logo was actually based on something real, not just an idea from the B&M advertising or art department?

The patriotic logo was apt for a railroad so connected to Boston, Lexington, and Concord Massachusetts. And here in Massachusetts, when someone says "The Minuteman Statue", you have to then ask "which one?". For there are TWO of them, one in Lexington and one in Concord.

The Lexington statue is of "a colonial farmer with musket by Boston sculptor Henry H. Kitson... stands at the southeast corner of the Lexington Battle Green, facing the route of the British advance... Originally a functioning drinking fountain and watering place for men, horses, cattle and dogs, it was unveiled on April 19, 1900, the 125th anniversary of the battle... was supposed to depict Captain John Parker, leader of the Lexington militia in 1775. Medford resident Arthur Mather, among others, served as a model for the sculptor... although called the 'Minuteman', it is meant to represent a member of the Lexington militia... The actual Minutemen were an elite subset of this group, young and fit and able to respond quickly".
The Concord statue was made by Daniel Chester French and was "unveiled for the Centennial celebration of the battle on April 19, 1875... is set near the spot where the first colonial militia men were killed in Concord... 7 foot tall bronze statue was cast from old Civil War cannons by the Ames Foundry of Chicopee Massachusetts. The pedestal base measures 7 ½ feet tall and 4 ½ feet on each side. Inscribed on the front facing is the first stanza of the poem 'The Concord Hymn' by Ralph Waldo Emerson". 

The B&M logo was based in the Concord statue.

With the takeover of the B&M by Patrick McGinnis in the 1950s came a switch of maroon/gold paint to (in general) one of blue/black/white.  

To mark the United State's bicentennial in 1976, the old Minuteman was applied to various equipment, such as boxcar 77039 and locomotives 200, 1750 & 1751.

In 2021, both statues are still with us, but the Boston & Maine in Lexington is now the Minuteman bike path, and in Concord is the MBTA Fitchburg commuter line.  No name passenger trains, no freight trains.  The B&M name itself is set to finally die with the purchase of Pan Am Railways by CSX.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

CSX to Acquire Pan Am Railways in New England

SOURCE: 12:19 pm ET December 1, 2020 (Globe Newswire)

CSX Corp. (NASDAQ: CSX) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire New England's Pan Am Railways, Inc. ("Pan Am"), whose rail carrier subsidiaries comprise North America's largest regional railroad.

Headquartered in North Billerica, Massachusetts, Pan Am owns and operates a highly integrated, nearly 1,200-mile rail network and has a partial interest in the more than 600-mile Pan Am Southern system. Pan Am's network across New England has access to multiple ports and large-scale commodity producers. The transaction will expand CSX's reach in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts while adding Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to its existing 23-state network.

The transaction will provide significant benefits to shippers and local communities as CSX integrates Pan Am into its best-in-class network. CSX made nearly $1.5 billion in infrastructure capital expenditures in its network in 2019, supporting economic growth and ensuring the safety and efficiency of the supply chain.

James M. Foote, president and chief executive officer of CSX, said: "In Pan Am, CSX gains a strong regional rail network in one of the most densely populated markets in the U.S., creating new efficiencies and market opportunities for customers as we continue to grow. We intend to bring CSX's customer-centric focus and industry-leading operating model to shippers and industries served by Pan Am. We look forward to integrating Pan Am into CSX, with substantial benefits to the rail-served industries of the Northeast, and to working in partnership with connecting railroads to provide exceptional supply chain solutions to New England and beyond."

David A. Fink, president of Pan Am Railways, said: "Pan Am is pleased to reach this agreement with CSX, a North American leader in rail-based freight transportation. This is great news for New England shippers and the national freight network overall."

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to regulatory review and approval by the Surface Transportation Board.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC is acting as financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is acting as legal advisor to CSX in connection with the transaction.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Rail Photography Can't Always Be Perfect... a Lesson For Flat-Landers & Super Picky Rail-Photo Websites

Rail Photography Can't Always Be Perfect... a Lesson For Flat-Landers & Super Picky Rail-Photo Websites
by Jonelle DeFelice

Some railfan photo sites are so picky, they will reject an image submission just because of a blade of grass in the "wrong" place. Or perhaps there's a tiny shadow on a locomotive's windshield.  Well, they seem to think all railfans live in a perfect world of straight rails, great lighting, lots of trains, and absolutely NOTHING to get in the way of a perfect photo.

This photo from Shirley MA during late September is to show what we in Massachusetts have to put up with: Odd sun angles & shadows, curvy tracks, lots of trees, power lines & poles, signs, auto traffic, you name it. And this is a relatively clean commuter track (for now). Get past Fitchburg and things change... they become even harder.  

"Perfect" photos are a lot harder to get in this neck of the woods than railfans in "the flat lands" can ever understand...

Oh, and the above photo is the best I could get as the train rounded the curve.  Point made?

Here is an uncropped shot from Westford Station (MA) on a sunny September day.  Despite the fact this ROW is just about IN the parking lot of a popular walking trail, most eastbound freights will look like this.  Try to grab an eastbound and you need to stand someplace "photogenic" but also SAFE.  Recent trackwork means lineside weeds are gone... for THIS season...

Another uncropped shot from the same location.  This image from a cloudy Autumn day would probably still get rejected because of the sky.  You may not know this, but skies are not always clear blue.  That pile of ties and rail?  Well, that isn't "perfect".  And those signals aren't lit... why not?

This is a westbound work train at  the same location 3/2020.  Better lighting... sorta of.  You can see it was a nice sunny day.  But there are parked cars, moving cars, dead weeds, and yes, odd lighting.  Nothing you can do about it either, unless you stand closer to the road crossing, then you have the gates to contend with and also you need to be safely away from the train itself.  

ZOOMS are your friend.  But I couldn't get nice, well lit shots of the consist.  Had I stood on the other side of the track, which is closer to the rails, I probably would have had shadows to contend with there as well and the angle would have been bad.  I also would have received nasty looks from the crew for being too close to the train.

Here is that crossing during August of 2018.  Yet again... POINT MADE.

Here is a rather rare shot of an MBTA welded rail train at Belmont MA.  No place to stand other than the station platforms.  From this side, you have good light but the angle is sharp.  Oh, and those ties, they may interest some but to make it onto some rail-photo sites you better just delete this one... 

Uncropped, unedited photo of the same train, same location, but to get the train into the shot, I needed to cross the track.  Now lighting stinks.

This Belmont photo is SUPER rare... Pan Am Railways detour freight EDNM 4/3/10.  Also uncropped, we have GREAT lighting on the locomotives BUT only for a split second... soon the shadows will ruin things and the train will be too close to me to get a nice broadside photo.  I couldn't stand further down the platform because the track has a tight curve.

In closing, here is a rather NICE photo... nice lighting, interesting subject... OH BUT WHAT are those things blocking the view at center-left??  Nature??

Welcome to freight railroading in Eastern Massachusetts...