Haven’t been able to add much to the site for the past couple of months due to other commitments, but I’ve been waiting for the weather to change to something more appropriate before I added these two photos. That time is upon us, so here they are:

Author's Collection

Author’s Collection

The original photo is not the best quality, especially as regards to sharpness; but a little tweaking in Photoshop helps a little.

I believe rail historians tend to (unconsciously) think of the past as being in “black and white”, since nearly all of the images from the steam era especially, are in that format. For this reason, color images from that era are incredibly valuable, since they make the past seem more “real” and immediate somehow. Doubly so for an obscure railroad line like the SNY. Even though the image itself is technically limited, it is still quite evocative. We can imagine a crisp fall day, with the leaves near their peak, just enough of a dry chill in the atmosphere to allow the steam from the engines to condense around them to show how alive they are. The war in Europe still seems quite far away, and finishing up the fall harvest and hunting season are more immediate concerns in this rural corner of Pennsylvania. For now, we can sit in the warm sun and watch #114 work to put together a Newberry-bound freight. In a minute or so the engine and cars will back down on the helper engine and the rest of the train in the distance, lace up the air hoses, test the brakes, and storm past us downriver.

This photo is a goldmine for the modeler. First, we can see the variety of roof heights, weathering patterns, and overall coloration of the pre-war boxcars behind the engine. The first car is a truss-rod boxcar, perhaps Great Northern; the second is clearly a PRR X29. The others are too small in the image to identify. Second, we can note the coloration of the roadbed and ballast, and the surrounding vegetation. Last is the locomotive, where we can see in great detail the condition of the paint and the weathering patterns on the smoke box and pilot.

Author's Collection

Author’s Collection

This photo is really unsharp, but still has a lot of atmosphere, and useful information for the modeler. The train seems to be literally hanging over the edge of the hill behind the engine, and we can get a hint of the grades the SNY had to contend with. We can see the condition of the SNY roadbed, and see the variety of colors of the weathered ties. The telegraph poles are only “sort-of” straight, and are weathered to an interesting grey color. Golden-rod is in flower, but is kept away from the roadbed along with the other weeds by the acidity of the ash and cinders, and probably spraying by herbicides that are banned today.

In either event, the engine must really be pounding away trying to get this tonnage over the hill, so let’s stand back a bit and watch him go by…



4 Thoughts on “Fall

  1. Allen Bubb on October 28, 2013 at 17:04 said:

    Photo #1 is a great photo. What is the location?

    • exnavydoc@hotmail.com on October 28, 2013 at 18:09 said:

      I believe Towanda, PA, looking north. The SNY yard at Towanda is just beyond the helper engine in the background.

  2. Ernest Colwell on November 26, 2013 at 16:51 said:

    Beautiful shots and inspiring commentary. Don’t know where you found color shots that early but they are significant reminders of the colored world I remember (and always photographed in B&W). The Newberry freight being assembled is in front of the dispatchers office at “Barclay Junction” I think? That building did a very effective job of avoiding a camera as I have only seen two partial shots of it. Were you the photographer?

    • exnavydoc@hotmail.com on November 29, 2013 at 09:49 said:

      Thanks for the comments. No, I am not the photographer. The SNY went away 20 years before I was born. The color shots I have were picked up on Ebay from a seller who seems to have a large trove of SNY material. I have no idea who the original photographer is, though I would be happy to provide attribution if that info ever comes to light. I’ll have to see if there are any decent shots, whole or partial, of the yard office in my collection.

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