Well, here’s another batch of photos I never posted. Actually, it was for good reason – it involves a bit of personal injury (both to my body and ego), flying cameras, as well as the temporary loss of my glasses. But the important thing is this – despite risking life & limb (and cameras), I got the shots! For those of you who attended my presentation for the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts’ Summer Picnic in Palmer back in July, you already know the story behind these photos. For the rest of you who weren’t able to join us, read on – you’ll get the skinny…
On the afternoon of Friday May 27, 2011, I managed to take advantage of our “summer hours” policy here at work, and duck out a bit earlier than usual. As I was leaving, I checked the Yahoo groups for any train activity in the area, and on the NECR group, it was noted that NECR train 608 was hauling loaded ethanol down to the Providence & Worcester in New London. A bit of quick math told me I should be able to get to Smith Cove in the Quaker Hill section of Waterford ahead of the train’s arrival. So it was off to Waterford for me.
I got there, and there was no sign of 608 – so I parked the car east of UBS Lumber, grabbed my gear, and started walking north along the tracks, heading towards Smith Cove. I figured I had about 5 minutes before the train got to where I was, so it was a nice leisurely walk over the 150 or so yards to the cove.
About halfway through my stroll something caught my eye – something blue and white moving to the north. Yep, 608 was bearing down on Smith Cove! So I decide to sprint to the edge of the cove to get into position…
A few steps into my run – with the 40D over my neck and my 50D in my left hand – I felt my toe catch a piece of ballast, quickly followed by the uneasy feeling of starting to fall forward. Despite my brain telling my feet to move faster, I couldn’t catch up to my forward momentum and down I went – face first into the ballast. But instinctively I landed harder on my right side – I was carrying my 50D with the 70-200 f/2.8 in my left hand. I did land on it, but the bulk of my weight ended up on my right side, and luckily the 40D slung around my neck swung out of the way and only got a little scratch. But with the thud of my landing, my glasses went flying off of my head, and into oblivion.
After a quick status check of myself and my gear – no broken bones, no visible blood and – quite to my surprise – the cameras appeared to be fully functional – I got up and walked (more like limped) the rest of the way to the spot I had in mind. Just as I got there, 608 was coming right at me. I managed to get one shot off with the 50D/70-200mm combo
Then a shot with the 40D/18-50mm
Not exactly what I had planned on (was looking to stand a bit further to the left with the wider shot), but it wasn’t bad overall. Then with a wave from the engineer as they passed, I made my way back to where I fell to look for my glasses.
After about 20 minutes of looking around the brush, I gave up. I did have an extra pair of glasses in my camera bag – at least I wouldn’t be completely impaired. So I limped my way back to the car, got the glasses, and headed down to New London to see if I could get a couple shots there.
By the time I got there, 608 had already yarded the ethanol train, and the engineer was ready to head back to the north end of the yard to pick up his conductor. But he spotted me, and stopped to chat for a bit. I had to ask if they saw what happened to me up at Smith Cove. Unfortunately his answer was “no, why, what’d you do?” With the can of worms now open, I figured I had to tell him about my graceful journey down the tracks. After a chuckle, his first question was “did you break your cameras?” Nope, I replied that I only lost my glasses. With a few more comments, he headed back up the yard to pick up the conductor for the trip north.
I figured that I had time to head back up to Smith Cove and give the glasses search one more try.
The walk went a bit easier this time – first off, I was walking instead of running, but second, the walk helped loosen up the stiffness from the fall. But the good news was after about 10 minutes of poking around the brush I managed to find my glasses – a bit bent, but not scratched or broken. A quick bend back into shape, and the spare pair went back in the camera bag.
While my search was going on, 608 paused just to the south to pull an empty boxcar from UBS Lumber. With my glasses back on my head, I walked up to shoot a few shots of them pulling the boxcar.
As they were putting the train back together, I headed down to Smith Cove again – this time setting up on the river side of the tracks. A few minutes later, the train came into view, and then stopped next to me. After asking if I was OK, and if I needed help back to my car (and advising me not to fall on the side I was on – there was water there), they continued north with the one boxcar in tow.
And as they faded out of sight, I got a couple distant shots of them heading northbound
And that was it for the afternoon. I got my glasses back, I got some nice bruises on my arm, leg and hand, but more importantly, I got the shots. Oh, yeah, and as a result of this, I now have earned the nickname of “Digger”…
Thanks for looking!