Seeing Things, Saying Things

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Archive for the ‘Beauty of Railroads’ Category

S Curve

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What you see above is what railroads call an S curve because if viewed from above it makes a figure S.

But I see something else. I see a meandering path that creates motion for the eyes. Any basic photography instruction manual preaches the virtue of creating images with motion because it gives the photograph a dynamic quality.

Railroad tracks make visually interesting images because they naturally create a sense of motion.

Having an interest in trains, I was here to get a photograph of a train coming through that S curve. I knew that soon after I made this image that a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train would becoming along.

Yes, I photographed that train navigating the S curve. Yet sometimes the track alone is enough to create a good image.

I see this photograph and I am beckoned to wonder why lies around that curve in those woods in the distance.


Red Blinking Light

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On the railroad it is known as an EOT, which stands for end of train. It is a mechanical device that readers the air pressure at the end of the train and relays that information to the engineer in the locomotive.

EOTs have a blinking light so that a stopped train ahead is visible to a train that might be behind it.

This train is moving westbound through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, on tracks owned by Norfolk Southern.

The clouds to the west have begun breaking up enough to let through the last light of the day.

I was trying to time the blinking of the EOT to capture it as the train moved away from me. The starburst effect was simply a bonus.

Anyone Here Want to Board Train 393?

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I’ve just gotten off Amtrak train No. 393 in Mattoon, Illinois. Although I grew up here, I haven’t lived in this city since 1983.

I’m here to visit my Dad and aside from the fact that I like train travel, taking Amtrak is a convenient way to journey to my former hometown.

I set my luggage down and got out my camera to snap a few images of the train at the former Illinois Central Railroad station.

I didn’t have anything in particular in mind that I wanted to portray other than another day at another train station in another place.

Most of the images that I made were nothing special, but as I reviewed those impromptu photographs this one stood out.

What makes this photograph for me is the conductor. My eyes are drawn to him and in turn up the steps and aboard the train in a sort of beckoning to travel.

The conductor might be saying something to the man in the blue shirt in the foreground or he might be looking to see if anyone wants to board his train.

Most of the passengers shown here are disembarking and had boarded the train at its point of origin, Chicago Union Station.

I don’t remember if anyone boarded No. 393, which in the Amtrak timetable carries the name the Illini.

Momentarily, the conductor will speak into his radio, “highball No. 393,” and the train will proceed to its next stop in Effingham en route to its destination of Carbondale, Illinois.

I’ll have greeted my Dad and we’ll have gone out to dinner to begin catching up on what has been going on in our respective lives.

Rusty Reminder of the Past

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There is something comforting about seeing a relic of the long ago past even if it is just a rusty hulk of its former self. I have had a lifelong interest in history and finding such relics is a way to see and almost touch something that I never was able to experience in its prime.

Such is the case with old railroad bridges that still wear the markings of a past owner. As this is posted in December 2016, it has been 56 years since the Erie Railroad operated its last train.

In October 1960 it merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western to form the Erie Lackawanna. Even that road has been gone now for 40 years.

Much of the former Erie in Northeast Ohio has been abandoned. Some rails are still in place, but have been out of service for many years.

Motorists traveling on North Forge Street in Akron, Ohio, can see a daily reminder of the Erie. This bridge carried the Chicago route of the Erie over Forge Street in an area known as Akron Junction and sometimes called Old Forge. All of the mainline railroads serving Akron crossed over Forge Street in a two-block area with the Erie being the westernmost of them.

Today the former Erie bridge is silent. As best I can tell from looking at an overhead view on Bing Maps, there may be one set of tracks on the bridge. But otherwise the rails have been removed.

Tracks in the Snow

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CVSR tracks at Deep Lock-x

As this is posted it is still summer and daytime high temperatures are still reaching into the lower 90s with humid conditions.

Yet we know all too well how it won’t last much longer and late August will melt into fall which seems to fly into winter.

Shown are the tracks of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad near the Deep Lock Quarry in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Winter, of course, has its own beauty and a gracefulness not found in any other season. Yes, it can be quite harsh, yet also render days such as this one when there is time to enjoy what it has to offer.


Written by csanders429

August 28, 2016 at 7:08 am

Amid the Forest of Concrete and Steel

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Cleveland is known for its bridges over the Cuyahoga River and the Flats, an industrialized area along the river. Much of the time, Clevelanders and those passing through never see much more than the tops of those bridges.

Yet, if you find the right vantage point, you can enjoy the patterns and sheer massiveness of these steel and concrete structures.

Show amid this forest of metal is the lead locomotive of a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train crossing a trestle over the Flats. It is framed by the Inner Belt bridge, which carries Interstate 90.

But the cranes below are a sign of change about to come. The Inner Belt bridge will within a few years be replaced by two bridges, the first of which is under construction.

The existing Inner Belt bridge will be demolished.

We tend to think of bridges as functional and necessary structures. They are, of course, yet they can be intriguing things to study if you take the time to do it and have an eye and appreciation for detail.

Written by csanders429

July 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

It Just Caught My Eye

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I was waiting with a friend in Painesville, Ohio, to photograph a train on the CSX mainline that runs between Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y. An Alberta Clipper was moving through with high winds that at times blew the falling snow sideways.

Within a matter of minutes, snow covered the once bare ground. The train I was waiting for arrived and I got out to get what I hoped would be a killer snow shot.

But something caught my eye as I got out of Jeff’s truck. A section of rail lay nearby and the top of the rail was stubbornly resisting the efforts of the snow to cover it.

I’m sure there is a scientific explanation as to why snow stuck to the bottom portion of the rail, but not so much to the top.

But I was intrigued by the texture of the snow on the rail from top to bottom. It is the sort of spur of the moment image I like to make. Something catches my eye, click. A moment in time is recorded.

The snow no doubt melted from this section of rail within a few days. Will this pattern ever repeat itself? Maybe not exactly this way, but close. I might never see it though. But I’ll have this memory.

Written by csanders429

March 4, 2012 at 9:59 am