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Edition #269  May 1, 2016

Spring is Coming

Photographer: Bob Hughes

                                                                                 Photo by  Bob Hughes


Spring is Coming

One day in late April 1968, I decided to cut some classes and head out in search of action on the Maine Central Railroad between Waterville and Northern Maine Junction.  I knew this territory pretty well, having photographed trains at Fairfield, Clinton, Burnham Junction, Pittsfield, and Newport, so I got into my í58 VW bug, rolled down the windows, gassed up with $0.28 per gallon fuel, and headed off.

I was just past Etna, driving east on Route 2 toward Bangor, where the highway bridge crosses over the CTC single track main line.  I glanced up the tracks, and a bright headlight in the distance caught my eye.  Train!  Pulled over, grabbed the camera, and ran across the overpass to get in position for a shot of whatever belonged to that headlight.

According to the Rule Book, a train is defined as ďan engine, or engines coupled, with or without cars, displaying markersĒ.  So this was indeed a train, although not a very long one.

On this localís run, the morningís work probably consisted of spotting a handful of empty wood rack cars on the short sidings built for that purpose, to be loaded with pulpwood harvested from nearby forests by Maine woodsmen.  In a week or two, they would be retrieved, brought back to Waterville Yard, weighed, and shipped on to the thriving paper mills in Rumford, Jay, and Winslow.  But for today, our train is just a single oil tank car between the locomotive and buggy.

Thereís lots to see in this picture.  White flags identify this as Extra 314 West.  The kerosene markers are in the brackets on the buggy.  The telltale is still standing guard, a sentinel over the track, ready to warn any brakeman who might be atop a car of the underpass just ahead.

The sun angle is still low, and the grass on the embankment has not yet turned summer green, but the day is warm enough for the laundry to be hung in the breeze, along with the colorful rug out for the spring airing.

Two small children, playing under Momís watchful eye, are excited to be outside.  In just a moment, they will look up from their play and their wave to the engineer will be acknowledged by two short on the dieselís horn.

And the white birch trees are just starting to put out the seasonís leaves, providing a nice contrast with the pine trees that make the logo of the Maine Central, The Pine Tree Route.

Spring is coming.

Bob Hughes

Warren, Rhode Island

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