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Edition #151, June 1, 2011
A Glimpse into the Past
Photographer: Dave Hyman
Photo by Dave Hyman
A Glimpse into the Past
The internet is buzzing, there’s something special going on. The word is out and there’s no stopping it now. Suddenly the railfan community comes alive with the prospect of shooting something other than the standard trains of today. Bombarded with constant e-mails from rail groups all day Saturday I began to realize that there was no way I should miss the opportunity to go out and photograph this event. After all, how often does this happen?
Keeping a close eye on updates from the internet I estimated the arrival at Alliance to be somewhere around 5 p.m. With that in mind I packed my camera bags and headed out at 3 p.m. No need to check the weather forecasts, it was bright and sunny all day, with just a few wispy clouds rolling by. I arrived around 3:45 p.m. and joined the crowd that had already showed up. I spotted a couple old friends there and we started chatting about all things past and present as we hadn’t seen each other for quite some time.
After a couple heavy freights went through I decided that I was hungry so a quick stop at McD’s was in order. There was plenty of time before our special train was due. Ah, now I feel better! Now I can start concentrating on the job at hand.
With constant updates via cell phones and handhelds from railfans along the route it was pretty easy to keep tabs on the train’s whereabouts. My biggest problem was picking a spot to shoot it. Knowing Alliance like I do and shooting at this time of the day with the sun at a bad angle I chose to head up to Oyster Road on the eastern outskirts of Alliance. Most of the railfans stayed at the station.
Five o’clock came and went with no sign of the train and no scanner chatter either. Several trains passed me on this busy mainline while I waited. I knew that the special was somewhere close by, maybe 10 or 15 miles out, because the dispatcher was routing trains over to the other tracks. Then, without warning, the scanner crackled, “PRR 5711 you are clear into Alliance” ... Here we go! It’s time for me to buckle up and get ready for the ride. It was well known that this train was running at full track speed and had top priority over all others, and I had just a few seconds to nail it or blow it with no second chances.
A couple minutes later I heard the horns blowing on the west of Alliance. With a clear view down the grade I got my first glimpse of Levin’s Pennsy E8’s as they came under the signal blocks. A truly magnificent sight. I raised my camera to my eye and began shooting as they came up the hill towards me. I stood my ground and kept firing off shot after shot as the train raced towards me with throttles wide open. Then, a few short seconds later it was all over. The train was now just a memory and a part of history. I had just witnessed a glimpse into the past when trains like this one were the norm and nobody would raise an eyebrow. It’s time to go home and relive the memories.
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Revised: 08/11/13 13:27:12 -0400