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Edition #39, October 1, 2006

Ode To An Age Of Change

Photographer: Kit Courter

                           Photo © 2006 by Kit Courter

Ode To An Age Of Change

“Hey, have you heard? They’re getting ready to lay a third track in Cajon Pass.”

The comment was mostly offhand; a way to keep the conversation going, but the fact that I didn’t answer right away must have made an impression.

Eventually, I said, “I suppose that means the tunnels will soon be history. You know that shot I talked about doing a few years ago, the one with the ghost train in transit around the curve between the two tunnels? I never did go do that.”

“Oh, well, why don’t you go do it now? There is still time. It will be several months before anything changes, though I hear last week there was a drill rig on top of the west tunnel taking engineering cores. They had to air-lift the thing up there by helicopter.”

Fifteen years ago, I had pretty-much covered Cajon Pass on foot and by mountain bike, looking for unique photo angles and lighting situations.  Several possibilities for unusual photos had been there, most of which had since disappeared with the changes raging across the railroad industry.  For example, the chance to get the long-lens shot of backlit soot-black SP SD45T-2s dragging a tonnage train into the sun below Sullivan’s curve; that one had disappeared with the SP’s demise in the mid-1990s.  So had the one looking up alongside the signal bridge at Blue Cut through a fisheye lens. 

Cajon, for me, was a worn subject fading into obscurity.  But the night shot at the tunnels, the idea of that one still beckoned somehow.  And now the tunnels might soon be gone as well.  It was two weeks until the next full moon. The recent fires offered textures not available before.  Unlike the others, this one could not be allowed to just slip away.

Kit Courter

Torrance, California

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