Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Railfanning in La Belle Province 2000 - 2002

Photography by Justin Franz

La Belle Province, the nickname of Quebec, was and is one hell of a place to railfan. With killer scenery, a unique culture and some of the most diverse rail action anywhere (What other place has commuter and intercity passenger trains, heavy haul ore roads, mainlines, shortlines, electrics, EMDs, Alcos, GEs..... you get the idea) Quebec is a great place to spend sometime. And back in the early part of this decade, specifically from 2000 to 2002, you couldn't afford not too with an exchange rate that favored the American dollar. Not to mention attractions like the Cartier Railway, then an all-Alco operation, and the Chaleur Bay Railway with their copper train running along the coast of the Gaspe Peninsula.

Six years later, although it's allot more expensive with a lousy exchange rate, a trip north of the border is still well worth it. So grab a map of Quebec and plan your own trip north as you look a few images from 'La Belle Province.'

Dawn at New Richmond: With a pair of New Brunswick East Coast RS18s, of CP Rail heritage,a Chaleur Bay Railway crew switch the paper mill at New Richmond, Quebec in September, 2000. The mill closed in 2005, one of the last regular shippers on the line.

Rocky coast, rocky future: The as-needed Gaspe copper train crosses the bridge at St. Therese-de-Gaspe along the coast of Quebec. Today the only train to polish these rails is VIA Rail's Chaleur.

Stainless Steel Sunset: Today the only train on the Gaspe line is VIA Rails Chaleur which has changed little since this September, 2000 view. With VIAs Ocean now made up with new European equipment, VIAs 16 and 17 are the last traditional passenger trains in the east.

Fall In Quebec: If there is anytime to go to Quebec, its October, when the Fall foliage is at its best. One of the best places to get foliage and rail action is Canadian National's Pellitier Sub. An eastbound stack train crosses the Boucanee Trestle near Estcourt, Quebec.

The Big Show: If there was one place to be in the early 2000s it would have been the Cartier. An ore road on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River the Cartier was an all Alco road until 2002. Here we see the southbound Log Train at Milepost 49, in the remote north woods of Quebec. June 2002.

Days Away: After two great trips in June and October 2001, I didn't think I'd make it back to the Cartier before the new GE AC4400s arrived the following year. I was wrong. With the new units just days away from arriving on the road, we made one more trek north. This image of a northbound ore train, seen at milepost 31, would be one of my last of the Cartier as an all Alco railroad. June 2002.

As time goes on I hope to scan more images from my trips to Gaspe and Cartier, in other words, To Be Countinued.......

Monday, January 14, 2008


With friends and family to spend time with, and exotic SD's on Guilford to track down, I forgot about this blog for a week or so (which ain't bad, give me a few months and this thing will really collect dust).
Tonight I updated a few things and added another photo story. The biggest change is the image behind the title of the blog (Which for the record is a Montreal, Maine and Atlantic plow extra in Quebec a few winters ago). I also added some links to some great photography blogs and sites that are well worth a look. Just below that list is another group of links to some helpful railfanning sites such as the National Weather Service and some Yahoo groups that are always great for digging up information before your next trip. So check em out.

'Human Interest'

Photo By Justin Franz

For the most part, my railroad photography is based around scenic action shots and there isn't a damn thing wrong with that. Who doesn't enjoy a nice clean set of power, coming around a nice big sweeping curve, passing a barn, with screaming fall foliage and blue skies to match. I think that's the shot most of us want when we head out in the morning. But as sweet as those shots can be (and they do rock) that doesn't tell the whole story of railroading. While locomotives, rolling stock and tracks is what bring us out, without people to run and maintain them we would have nothing to shoot. So to mix it up and tell the 'whole' story of railroading I try and grab 'Human Interest' shots whenever they pop up.

Here is one of my first attempts at such a shot, taken in July 2004. On our way to northern New Jersey to visit family and do some railfanning, my father and I stopped in Danbury, Connecticut on a hot summer afternoon with hopes of shooting Metro-North's fading fleet of FL9s. Unfortunately upon our arrival we found a MNRR 'P-boat' on the point (It was the first in many failed attempts to get the FL9s on their home turf for me. In the end I still haven't, but that's a story or rant for another day). Making the best of it, we walked on to the platform to shoot the train as it left and just prior to the departure talked with the engineer/conductor in the control cab. As he yelled to a late commuter to "get going," I put the camera to my eye and pressed the shutter. It was the first of many 'Human Interest' shots.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Batten Kill Time-Warp

Photos By Justin Franz

In the hobby of railroad photography, who hasn't said they were born 10-years too late and the classic images from people like Jim Shaughnessy only add to this idea.

When is someone going to create that time-warp anyway?

Well in Washington County, New York someone has, although it could be better described as a place time forgot. Home to the Batten Kill Railroad, this line made up of former Greenwich and Johnsonville (a subsidiary of the Delaware and Hudson) trackage could be the closest thing to time travel one has. With a pair of classic RS-3s, neat buildings, vintage equipment and great scenery it looks as if it is 1978, rather then 2008. Its an operation that I've wanted to shoot for sometime and with information that the BKRR would be running a flanger on Thursday, January 3, I knew I had to get there. Below are just two of the many images made on that crisp, clear day in the Batten Kill Time Warp.

Having just cleared the line, RS3 4116 pulls a cut of cars from the Guilford interchange at Eagle Bridge.

After a long day the crew of BKRR 4116 enjoy the ride home to Greenwich. Behind the Alco is BKRR Flanger 36006, of D&H heritage.

Special Thanks to the Employees of the Batten Kill Railroad, as well as photographers Mike Peverett and Tom Mik