Uncategorized06 Mar 2014 06:37 pm

00 My Pic 3

Not a pretty picture at all. In fact, a downright sad one.

You’re looking at what’s left of a GG1 as the shop workers at
Amtrak’s Wilmington Delaware shops take a welder’s torch
to it. In a few days, it’ll be all over but the crying.

Where do I even begin to tell you about my love for the GG1? It
is, by far, my favorite locomotive in the entire world.
And with good reason. When I first moved to Iselin NJ in the
summer of 1971, I couldn’t believe my luck. Here we were,
moving to a town that had the former Pennsylvania Railroad
mainline running right through it.

The first time I saw a GG1 go flying past me, my jaw literally
dropped. What was this big, amazing, powerful thing of industrial
might and of a certain beauty? I needed to see it again. And so I did,
literally hundreds of times from 1971 right through the day New
Jersey Transit dropped the pantographs on it’s last GG1 on October
29, 1983.

I sure had a good run for 12 years, though. There wasn’t a GG1
that I didn’t like.

I’d watch them motor through Iselin pulling big long road
freights that looked like they went on forever.

I’d dutch-door behind them on the North Jersey Coast Line through
places like Avenel and Woodbridge, dust filling my eyes, noise
filling my ears and my nose full of brake dust. Life was good for a
15 year old railfan, I tell ya!

I got cab rides on them from Sunnyside Yard in Queens right
through to Penn Station, Newark.

(sidenote – you haven’t lived until you’ve ridden a GG1 though
the East River tunnels while it slips and stuggles with the
weight of a Florida-bound passenger train. I can still hear the
noise in my head!)

I even got to drive a GG1 – the highlight had to be the one time
an engineer let me run one in the yard at South Amboy.

They say all things must pass, and the GG1 was no exception.
Perhaps too good to last, and maybe I was just meant to savor
them for the 12 years or so I was able to. It’s funny, it’s been 31 years
since I saw one running. I can still close my eyes and see and
hear and yes, feel a GG1 go past.

Another part of my childhood died the day they stopped running
the G. But the memories are as vivid today as ever, and they
can’t take that away from me.

Uncategorized05 Mar 2014 03:10 pm
00 My Picture 2

What time does the next train to Penn Station leave?

I promise my entire blog won’t be about “everything was better in
the good old days”. A lot of it will, because it was lol…

But, I will also try and show you some of the new stuff out there
that keeps me interested. It’s been a struggle to get out
railfanning as much as I used to back in the day, and for two
reasons.

One – married with children and I own my own business.

Two – Norfolk Southern widecab GE’s bore me to tears and that’s
what’s the motive power for 90% of the freights on my closest
rail line (the former Reading line from Allentown to Reading PA).
Two shots of those ugly things are one too many, IMHO.

But I digress. The main reason you’ll see a lot of my pictures
from the 1977-1992 era is because that’s when I spent the most
time trackside, and because there was just so, so, so much good
stuff still around to take pictures of.

One of the things that I wish I got more shots of were the former
PRR MP54 MU cars. I rode them plenty of times as a kid when
my Dad and I would ride from Metropark to Penn Station NYC
to go to great places like Polk’s Hobby Shop and AHC
(America’s Hobby Center).

The MP54′s were slow, bumpy, noisy and hot in warm weather.
You had open windows & these slowly rotating ceiling fans to
help “cool” you down.

Having said that, riding them was awesome!!!

I only got one picture of an MP54 set going through Metropark.
This was Summer 1977 and by then it was extremely rare
to see MP54′s on the New York Division. Of course, I was on the
wrong side of the light AND all I had was my lousy 126
Instamatic camera. Duh…

I did get to see a bunch of them running through 30th Street
station in Philly one day, but the roll of film got ruined on me.
Double Duh…

Happily, I was able to get shots of a bunch of them laying over
in Media and Paoli on the weekends. I only wish I got more of
them out running during the week. Looking back, I wonder why
I didn’t make a point of doing that. Triple Duh…

And then there’s the times I saw them in SEPTA’s storage yard
over in Wayne Junction. This picture here is taken in Summer 1980
and by then the yard south of Wayne Junction station was packed
full of dead MP54s and Reading MU cars. I was able to walk
through them and take a bunch of pictures.

They might not have been much to look at, and they were’t
comfortable to ride. But they were a part of my childhood and I’m
glad I got at least a few on film before they were gone!

Uncategorized05 Mar 2014 12:25 am

00 My Pic 1

 

One of my two favorite railroads by far was the late, great
Jersey Central (or Central Railroad of New Jersey if you want to
get all fancy).

I used to go crazy every time my Dad drove us on the Garden State
Parkway through Cranford. I’d have my nose pressed right against
the window to look down at the CNJ mainline & the freight yard
there.

My Dad surprised me by taking me to Cranford to watch
the trains go by. What a way to spend a sunny Saturday morning.
This was about 1973-1975.

I thought I died and went to heaven when we pulled up to South
Avenue and saw the freight yard packed with box cars and such!
Man, this was big-time railroading up close & personal!!!

Another time, my Dad chased a westbound freight and we caught up
to it at Fanwood station. There was some guy on the platform
taking pictures and I always wondered who that guy was. If only I
knew to grab a camera back then – I didn’t start taking pictures
of trains until 1977. (banging my head against the wall here!!!)

The best part of the CNJ was riding the Bayonne Shuttle though.
Half the crew would let you ride all day on one round-trip
ticket, and the other half of the crew would let you ride in the cab
with them.

People like Louie Deck and Tommy Korpf made a young railfan feel
like a million dollars. And railfans like the late great Bill Burke and
the man, the legend Bill Strassner would let you hang out in
Excee and Port towers for their entire trick (shift).

It all came to end on August 6th, 1978. That was the day part of
my world ended when they got rid of the Bayonne Shuttle. It felt
like the end of an era and I guess it really was.

All this brings us nicely to the photograph above. You’re looking
at a New Jersey Transit shop train headed east through Broad
Street, Elizabeth station. My buddy Jay Bendersky is taking a shot
over there on the left. This would have been 1979, if memory serves
me correct. (Geez, where does the time go…)

After the Bayonne Shuttle (and road freights like 681/682 and
JH-1/HJ-2 stopped running, the formerly busy and (somewhat) well
maintained four track mainline went downhill fast. And I mean fast…

Track speed fell from 50-60 mph to 10-15 mph, the signals were
all turned off, and tracks 4 and 1 were the only two left in
service.

The only thing that usually ran on track 4 was the drill out to
the paper factory at Linden Road grade crossing at Lorraine.

The only thing that usually ran on track 1 was the New Jersey
Transit shop train to Elizabethport Shops and back. You could
literally see this train coming for 15 minutes, that’s how slow it
was going. It would come from Raritan to Elizabethport, drop
cars, pick up new ones, and head back to Raritan.

Finally, NJ Transit opened up it’s Meadowlands Car Shops in
Kearny and that was that. Conrail pulled the rail on 3 of the 4
tracks and the one they left turned to rust.

And then rust with weeds.

And then rust with weeds and saplings.

And then rust and trees…

Nowadays, you can barely tell that this was a once-great main
line packed with commuter trains and freight trains galore.

It’s sad to see, and then end of an era indeed. Long live the
CNJ!

Uncategorized03 Mar 2014 03:41 pm

This sit has been a long time coming. I’ve been a railfan for as
long as I can remember. My Grandfather bought me my first Lionel
Train set back in 1969 or so and I was hooked. Got my first HO
train set (A Southern Pacific RS11 and a B&O “Docksider” around
1970, and took my first train pictures in 1977.

I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photographs and the stories
behind them as I build this blog. Watch this space and let me
know what you think!

Thanks,

Frank

 

Me, in front of a DB Class locomotive. I think this was in Stuttgart, one of my favorite cities in Germany.  Hard to believe this was taken back in April, 2003!

Me, in front of a DB Class 110 locomotive. I think this was in
Stuttgart, one of my favorite cities in Germany. 

Hard to believe this was taken back in April, 2003!