Good Morning America Whistle Stop Tour 2008 – West Warren to Chester, MA 1


As most of you know, ABC’s Good Morning America had put together, along with Amtrak, a special Whistle Stop Tour 2008 as a part of this year’s presidential election season.  The train made its first “live” move (“live” is in quotes because they were taping segments for airing in today’s live broadcast on the Housatonic RR between Lenox and Stockbridge, MA) between Worcester and Lenox, MA yesterday.  I decided to make it a family affair, and took my wife & daughters along to chase & photograph the historic train.

We headed out of the house early, and set our sights on somewhere east of Palmer.  I knew that they’d be leaving Worcester around 10:30 and stopping in Palmer somewhere around 11:30am for a 30 minute whistle stop prior to continuing west.  Talking with Nick Palazini, who was in Worcester, it looked like the train would be leaving on time.  So we picked a spot in East Brookfield to meet up and decide on a plan for the day.

We got there about 10 minutes before Nick & Jon – enough time for the girls to get out & stretch their legs, despite the pouring rain.  Once Nick & Jon got there, we decided to head a bit further west and make our first stop at the waterfall in West Warren.

After we got there, parked & walked up the bridge, a couple other fans – JB & Paolo – stopped by to join us for the train’s arrival.  As usual, I got a couple shots of them assembling on the bridge.

A group of railfans waits in West Warren, MA
A group of railfans waits in West Warren, MA
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Then Nick noticed I was snapping pictures of them, and just smiled

A group of railfans waits in West Warren, MA
A group of railfans waits in West Warren, MA
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A few minutes later, we got word that the train was a few miles east of us, so we got ready for the arrival.  Not long after that, the train came into view to the east

Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America Whistle Stop Tour train, rounds the bend in West Warren, MA
Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America Whistle Stop Tour train, rounds the bend in West Warren, MA
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Then as it got closer, I switched to the 40D with the wide angle on it, getting the mill, waterfall & train in the same frame.

P954 passes by the waterfall & mills in West Warren, MA
P954 passes by the waterfall & mills in West Warren, MA
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I had actually botched that shot – there was a smokestack there I wanted to include, but I missed it.  Oh, well…

As the train passed below us, we switched sides of the bridge.  And while doing that, my scanner dropped, spilling the batteries all over the pavement.  A quick look around showed no cars coming, so I left it so I could get a going away shot of the observation car, Pennsylvannia 120, bringing up the markers over the West Warren detector

The observation car, Pennsylvania 120, rolls over the West Warren detector
The observation car, Pennsylvania 120, rolls over the West Warren detector
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Next stop was Palmer.  The train would be making a 30 minute whistle stop at the Steaming Tender restaurant, which is housed in the old Palmer station.  We got there just after the train arrived, and the folks from GMA got off and went into the restaurant to record a segment for the show.

Over the next 25 or so minutes, we shot the train from all angles, including getting a couple shots of Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts exiting the restaurant and boarding the train.  Instead of the usual blow-by-blow, here’s a stack of shots.

Now in Palmer, MA, the train makes a 30 minute whistle stop.
Now in Palmer, MA, the train makes a 30 minute whistle stop.
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More railfans at Palmer.
More railfans at Palmer.
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The crowd around the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
The crowd around the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
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A NECR GP38 rests as the GMA train makes a whistle stop in Palmer
A NECR GP38 rests as the GMA train makes a whistle stop in Palmer
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The crowds outside the Steaming Tender
The crowds outside the Steaming Tender
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Some of the custom decal work on the Amtrak equipment
Some of the custom decal work on the Amtrak equipment
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Folks milling around the ABC GMA train
Folks milling around the ABC GMA train
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Some ABC cameramen head to the rear observation car while in Palmer
Some ABC cameramen head to the rear observation car while in Palmer
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The train stopped at the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
The train stopped at the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
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Some of the Amtrak crew
Some of the Amtrak crew
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Some of the Amtrak crew
Some of the Amtrak crew
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View of the rear observation platform of Pennsy 120
View of the rear observation platform of Pennsy 120
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View of the rear observation platform of Pennsy 120
View of the rear observation platform of Pennsy 120
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Pennsy 120
Pennsy 120
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A reporter from Channel 5 heads to the rear of the train to tape a short segment
A reporter from Channel 5 heads to the rear of the train to tape a short segment
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A reporter from Channel 5 tapes a segment at the rear of the train
A reporter from Channel 5 tapes a segment at the rear of the train
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A Channel 5 reporter & cameraman tape a segement at the rear of the train
A Channel 5 reporter & cameraman tape a segement at the rear of the train
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A high & wide view of the Steaming Tender, with the ABC Good Morning America train stopped
A high & wide view of the Steaming Tender, with the ABC Good Morning America train stopped
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A high & wide view of the Steaming Tender, with the ABC Good Morning America train stopped
A high & wide view of the Steaming Tender, with the ABC Good Morning America train stopped
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Vivian Levin, whos husband Bennett owns the two private cars on the rear of the train, stands on the rear platform of Pennsy 120
Vivian Levin, whos husband Bennett owns the two private cars on the rear of the train, stands on the rear platform of Pennsy 120
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JB & Paolo get a couple shots of the Pennsy observation car
JB & Paolo get a couple shots of the Pennsy observation car
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ABC's Diane Sawyer leaves the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
ABC's Diane Sawyer leaves the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
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ABC's Robin Roberts leaves the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
ABC's Robin Roberts leaves the Steaming Tender in Palmer, MA
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ABC's Diane Sawyer waves to the crowd in Palmer, MA as she and Robin Roberts head for the train
ABC's Diane Sawyer waves to the crowd in Palmer, MA as she and Robin Roberts head for the train
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ABC's Diane Sawyer waves to the crowd in Palmer, MA as she and Robin Roberts head for the train
ABC's Diane Sawyer waves to the crowd in Palmer, MA as she and Robin Roberts head for the train
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From there, we started towards Springfield Station – their next stop.  But on the way, we decided that since it was lunchtime, we’d stop and grab a bite to eat (don’t forget, I had my wife & kids with me – hungry kids don’t make for a nice ride…).  So we skipped Springfield, and after grabbing some McD’s to go, we headed for Chester.  Actually, Chester was another on the run decision – I was aiming for Washington cut, but I didn’t think we’d make it in time.  So Chester it was.

We got there a good 15 minutes ahead of the train – ample time for this spot, but thinking about it, we would have been cutting it close at the cut.  So the girls got a chance to get out and walk around a bit while we waited.  At least up here, it was mostly sunny.

A little while later, I heard P954 call the signals at CP123 – 3 miles to the east.  That meant they were about 5 minutes out.  So we got into position – us photographers for the shot, and my wife & kids to sit back & watch.

About 4 minutes later, P954 came into view, so I got a series of tele shots as they came around the bend to the east of us

Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads towards Chester, MA
Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads towards Chester, MA
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Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads towards Chester, MA
Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads towards Chester, MA
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Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads towards Chester, MA
Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads towards Chester, MA
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Then with the wide angle, a pair of shots of them passing by the Chester Railroad Museum.

Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads through Chester, MA
Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads through Chester, MA
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Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads through Chester, MA
Amtrak train P954, the ABC Good Morning America special, heads through Chester, MA
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Then a shot of the modified NPCU

The modified NPCU rolls through Chester, MA
The modified NPCU rolls through Chester, MA
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And a going away shot of the train, with Jon watching it roll past

Jon watches the ABC special roll by
Jon watches the ABC special roll by
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Finally a pair of shots of the Pennsylvannia 120 going away.  The first one of the car rounding the bend

Pennsy 120 brings up the markers on Amtrak train P954, the Amtrak Good Morning America special
Pennsy 120 brings up the markers on Amtrak train P954, the Amtrak Good Morning America special
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And the second one with the MP126 sign in the frame, and the train pulling through the curve

Pennsy 120 brings up the markers on Amtrak train P954, the Amtrak Good Morning America special, passing the MP126 sign in Chester
Pennsy 120 brings up the markers on Amtrak train P954, the Amtrak Good Morning America special, passing the MP126 sign in Chester
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At that point, we decided to call it a day.  The girls were not feeling well (coming down with a cold), so that was it for this chase.  It would have been nice to go all the way to Lenox, but that just wasn’t in the cards for today.

On the way home, and after stopping at CVS in Westfield for some medicine for the girls, we took a quick swing through CSX’s West Springfield yard.  Not much going on – mainly just a yard job drilling the yard down by the office.  I got a few shots with CSO-1’s power sitting on Upper 18 before heading home.

CSO-1s power rests in West Springfield on Upper 18, as a CSX yard switcher works in the background
CSO-1s power rests in West Springfield on Upper 18, as a CSX yard switcher works in the background
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A CSX yard switcher drills West Springfield yard
A CSX yard switcher drills West Springfield yard
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The new sign at West Springfield, MA
The new sign at West Springfield, MA
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CSO-1s power rests in West Springfield on Upper 18, as a CSX yard switcher works in the background
CSO-1s power rests in West Springfield on Upper 18, as a CSX yard switcher works in the background
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CSO-1s power rests in West Springfield on Upper 18, as a CSX yard switcher works in the background
CSO-1s power rests in West Springfield on Upper 18, as a CSX yard switcher works in the background
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And that was it for the day.  Not too bad overall, despite the crappy weather at the first couple stops.

Thanks for looking!
Tom

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One thought on “Good Morning America Whistle Stop Tour 2008 – West Warren to Chester, MA

  • torrey

    Awesome page, I live in warren on the tracks. Didn’t get to see this go by, wish I knew of things like this when they go by. Always loved the trains going by, waving at them at as a kid and getting them to blow their horns off.