Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Photos by Justin Franz

Here are a few shots in and around Missoula, Montana taken today, November 3, 2008. Election Day in America.

More to come later!

Friday, September 26, 2008

MRL 20th Anniversary Excursion

In October 2007, Montana Rail Link celebrated their 20th Anniversary by operating a series of excursions across the system. Here are two images from that day, scanned from Color Kodachrome 64 Slides (and changed to black and white in photo shop, due to some odd coloration from the poor scan)


Train Master David Franz, Northern Pacific Depot, Missoula, Montana

Montana Rail Link 10th Sub, Arlee, Montana

Photos By Justin Franz
Special Thanks to David Franz and Montana Rail Link

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Plugging It

For anyone who enjoys great railroad photography the Fall 2008 issue of Railroad Explorer is a must buy. Besides featuring what looks to be an excellent in-depth look at CP Rail's (Now Montreal, Maine and Atlantic) Sherbrooke Sub, there is an excellent photo essay by Tim Franz on his time on the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad in the 1980s. With an introduction by his son, myself, the essay has six awesome images of this shortline. As one who helped in selecting the images I can tell you it's an excellent spread, much of it never before published.

The Fall 2008 issue of Railroad Explorer is on sale now and sells for only $9.95.
Check out http://www.railroadexplorer.com for more information

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lock 11

Photos By Justin Franz

During a lull in action of CSX's Mohawk Sub, I wondered over to Lock 11 along the Mohawk River to document this relic of the past still in use today. Here are the results.

For more information on the locks of the Mohawk River or how one works, check out this site....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Your Crumbling Past - Cony High School

School Bus Parking - Not Any More

Photos By Justin Franz

When you leave a place, even if it for only a year, things change. For me that change was the removal of Cony High School in Augusta, Maine, where I attended for four years. For the first three years we were in a 1960s era building that had been added on to the original school dating back to the early 1900s. In my Senior year we moved to a new building, leaving the run down and tired 60s era school behind. The original school has been preserved, yet the addition was taken down early in the Summer of 2008.
By the time I returned to Augusta in May I was quite surprised to see how much was gone and decided to record what was left before it was too late. So late one night recently I headed down to shoot what was left. Here are the results. Within days this section of the building would be gone.

While setting up on the sidewalk an Augusta cop pulled up. Within a few moments he was helping with lighting from his car. Talk about luck!

Preserved: The Old Flat Iron building will survive as a monument to Augusta's past.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Life In The West

Photos By Justin Franz

Missoula, Montana is more then a place. It's a way of life, where people are much more relaxed and actually slow down to enjoy life. That's something I've noticed since leaving Missoula, where I attend school at the University of Montana, just a few weeks ago. Even here in Maine, "The way life should be," people seem rushed and hurried. It's not like that in Missoula; In the west.

I was able to meet Missoula and the people and places that make it up through the lens of my camera for my Basic Photojournalism class and the images that follow are from that effort. It's hard to capture a way of life on film, but maybe with these few images you too will get an idea of what "Life In The West" is like.

PBR: Missoula's Favorite - University of Montana Lacrosse Game - April 2008Montana Rail Link "Dirt Train" - Bonner, Montana - May 2008University of Montana Steam Plant Operator Jack Burns - January 2008

University of Montana Lacrosse Game - April 2008University of Montana student - Clark Fork River - Spring 2008"Philadelphia Phil" - Northern Pacific Depot - Spring 2008Robert Basher - Quality Seamless Gutters - Spring 2008House builder - Depot St - Spring 2008

Montana Rail Link Chief of Safety and Security Pete Lawrenson

Thanks to everyone who didn't have a problem with a college student and a camera (and big time thanks to Lynda Frost of MRL)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Campaign '08 - Life In America

Photos and Story By Justin Franz

Congressmen Ron Paul at the University of Montana - April 2008

Without question, the politics of running for president have become part of day to day life in America in 2008. You can't turn on the TV with out seeing a campaign ad, you can't drive down the street without seeing a bumper sticker and now you can't see this blogspot free of presidential politics (Starting from now on, this site will feature some non-rail photography. But no worries, for the most part you'll still get a healthy dose of branchlines, Alcos, SD's and mountain grades.)
As a journalism student here at the University of Montana, I had the chance to cover the election (mainly for my basic photo-journalism class) as it rolled into Missoula, Montana, with visits from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul. Usually the Montana primary, held June 3 this year, doesn't matter but as the Democratic nomination rolls on, more focus has been put in these later states (I'm not quite sure why Paul visited, considering McCain has secured the Republican nomination.)
On Saturday, April 5 Barack Obama (D-Illinois) brought his campaign to Missoula with a rally at the University of Montana Adams Center. Later that evening he continued to Butte for the annual Montana Democratic Dinner that featured both Obama and Clinton as guests. The following morning Hillary Clinton held a rally at the Missoula Airport, but since I don't have a car and I already got up way too early the day before, I let Hillary get by without being the focus of my camera (I mean come on, 10Am on a Sunday is crazy!)

Barack Obama - Adams Center - April 2008

On April 21, Congressmen Ron Paul (R-Texas) brought the message of his long shot campaign to the University Ballroom here on campus. Even though McCain secured the nomination, Paul continues to run. After signing his new book, Paul gave a speech to an ecstatic crowd.

Ron Paul - University of Montana - April 2008

Everyone is a journalist in 2008
Note: In no way are these images an endorsement of Obama or Paul for President.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wishing Trains: A Multimedia Exhibition

For those in the Missoula area this weekend, it might be worth your while to check out 'Wishing Trains: A Multimedia Exhibition" by Catherine Moore about railroading in western Montana at the turn of the century. Along with Catherine's poetry and reading will be contemporary images of railroading here in western Montana by Aimee Lewis and myself. The event includes....

* Model railroads, courtesy the Missoula Model Railroad Club
* An original railroad sound composition by Joe Adkins
* McLeod Family films of Missoula, ca. 1930s
* Archival photographs of railroad promotions and Missoula train culture
* Historical railroad ephemera, courtesy Bill Taylor
* Poetry & nonfiction by Catherine Moore
* Local food & drink

Saturday, May 3, 7:30 PM
Stensrud Building
314 N. 1st St.
Missoula's North Side

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Time In Montana

Photo By Justin Franz

Finally after what seems like forever, winter has released its icy grip on western Montana. The weather is wonderful and the greens of Spring aren't far behind. While this is the first post since Febuary, I haven't stopped railfanning. Seven days in late March were spent criss-crossing Montana Rail Link in western Montana over my Spring Break and the results of that effort can be seen on Railpictures.net (Check the link at the bottom of the right column). And not to worry, it wasn't all burned into pixels, plenty of Kodachrome 64 was burned during the week.

Hellgate Canyon, April 2008

With school finishing up, finding time to railfan is tough but with the awsome weather it tough not to. That was the case on Saturday, April 12 after waking up around noon and heading out to Hellgate Canyon, on the eastside of the University of Montana campus this westbound BNSF coal train was lensed coming into town. The path at the bottom of the image is the former Milwaukee Road right of way. The grass ain't green and the mountains are still snow capped, but spring is coming to western Montana.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mullan Pass and Patience

Story and Photography By Justin Franz

In October 2005 when I made my first trip to Montana, railroading here was in a storm of change between past, present and future. While the main purpose of the trip was to visit family and look at the University of Montana, an underlying goal was to shoot Montana Rail Link’s SD45s on Mullan Pass. Unfortunately the invaders had already arrived in the form of SD70ACe’s and on our one day there, they were the motive power of choice for helpers. I soon accepted the fact that classic images of 45s in helper service would be a subject absent from my slide collection.

Fast forward to President’s Day Weekend, 2008. With friend and fellow UM freshman Cameron Chapman offering a seat to Helena with him and his father Ed to shoot MRL, I really couldn’t refuse. So with a few rolls of film and an empty memory card I headed east on Friday, February 15, under mostly cloudy skies. While the weather wasn’t great, trains were moving and hopes of a successful weekend were high. But upon arriving at Elliston, where helpers on westbound trains usually cut off, just after sunset, everything changed. Sitting on the mainline, having just pushed a westbound freight, was three SD45-2s and an SD40. All the sudden six rolls of film didn’t look like enough.

Below are a few digital images of my weekend on Mullan Pass, one spent waiting and hoping for the combination of sun and SD45s. When you’ve waited three years, what’s another three days?

While there were SD45s, the SD70ACes remained the perfered helpers over the weekend. Here set of Ace's roll down hill at East Austin, Montana.

Close, but no cigar: On Saturday afternoon the 45s finally took to the hill, but under mostly cloudy skies. Those "Classic Images" would have to come another day.

On Sunday morning it looked as if it would finally happen, so we thought. Standing at Tobin we found blue skies to the west on Mullan Pass, and SD45s leading a train to the east! Between them however was this soal crushing scene, a derailed tank car.

By early afternoon the tank car was rerailed and dispatchers in Missoula opened the line up to let eastbounds that had been sitting on the hill to enter Helena. A eastbound BNSF grain train is just east of town, at Tobin.

Strike Two: With the line cleared MRL sent that long awaited westbound to the hill; with an SD70ACe on the point. It was sunny, but it wasn't what we were hoping for.

A westbound grain train storms by the station sign at Blossburg. The next day dawned clear, but again the first two trains of the day on the hill would find the SD70ACe's on the job. It appeared that I would again fail in my quest for 45s on Mullan Pass, until......

Victory: After three years, and three days, I finally shot a set of MRL SD45s in helper service, under screaming blue skies on President's Day. An hour or so before sunset the four classic EMDs grind their way up hill in this digi grab shot, just before droping the Canon XTi to burn the classic image on Kodachrome.

Special Thanks to Ed and Cameron Chapman, Eric Vernado and Montana Rail Link.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unsettled Weather

Photos By Justin Franz

As a student in the journalism program here at the University of Montana, I find I get some nice perks. One of those is being able to scan slides. Here are two of the first batch I scanned. I’m still trying to figure the thing out and these were touched up in photo shop to meet the quality of the original slide, but none the less hopefully you enjoy.

With Glacier National Park in the background, an eastbound BNSF train heads across the plains near Grizzly, Montana in October, 2007.

While the day started out sunny, it didn't end that way for the crew of Montana Rail Link's Polson Local, seen here in blizzard conditions near Evero, Montana in October, 2007.