Railfans around North Dover and environs were on their telephones hustling groups of friends trackside when they got wind of two unusual cars in the consist of train PM6 that would arrive town shortly...sometime within the half hour.
Mike Hamer received the call from his railfanning buddy, Theo van Vliet. Theo was down at the station and overheard the stationmaster say that train PM6, a hotshot freight from Portland to Mechanicville had in its consist a long cut of hopper cars which contained two rather distinct "specimens" in the block.
When Hamer heard the origin of the two unique hoppers, he quickly grabbed his camera and headed out the door to his car, a brand new black and white '58 Chevy.
"Theo", Hamer shouted over the phone. "How about you stay in town near the station and yard tracks and I'll hustle out to the New England River Bridge. What time did the train depart Rigby Yard?"
"No need to worry," Theo responded. "He left Rigby a while back and the stationmaster here tells us he should be a good 20 minutes out. You should just have enough time to make it."
Yes, Mike just managed to make it to the inbound side of the New England River. He could hear the train whistle blow above the combined rumble of EMD and Alco units as the canyon walls reverberated at Haney Cut. Knowing that a slow order restriction was in effect at the bridge, he was able to set up his tripod in time to capture the three units assigned to this lengthy train, two GP7's and an RS3. Mike spotted fellow railfan, Bill Meek, on the other side of the river. "Good," thought Mike, "I got a shot of the units and hopefully Bill got a shot of the hoppers."
Hustling to put his equipment away, Hamer knew that he could make it to Marshall Cut in time for a second photograph as a slow order restriction would be in effect through the cut as well. After parking in the lot at Conley Lumber and Coal, he quickly climbed a small ridge in time to shoot the train as it exited the inbound gateway to Marshall Cut. He found it unusual to see the third locomotive in forward position rather than reversed as is normal practise. In his days of railfanning Mike has learned to expect the unexpected!
Meanwhile, Theo decided to drive out to Boundary Road to snap a shot before heading back to the station. Theo had eaten quite a hefty lunch and decided to wait it out in his car. He was startled to see the train arrive the crossing so quickly that he didn't have time to park his car and set up his equipment.
He managed to open his car door and put one foot on the asphalt and lens a picture of one of the desired hopper cars as the train crawled into yard limits across Boundary Road.
After capturing the shot at Boundary Road, Theo turned his car around and headed back to the station where he knew the train would be kept busy conducting exchanges in North Dover. This would afford him ample time to shoot the hoppers and perhaps get a shot of the diesels before heading back home for lunch.
After parking his car, Theo walked behind the freight depot located across the team track from the station. He waited patiently for his shot while the drops and lifts were taking place. Shortly, Theo was rewarded with an image of both "targets" with the massive Phillips Furniture Factory acting as a backdrop.
He then walked back across the parking lot where he took his final set of images capturing the lead unit, GP7 #1568 with its sister #1566 and RS3 #1519.
Later that afternoon, Theo, Bill and Mike gathered to discuss the photographs they had taken. All were pretty excited to get their rolls of film developed to place their images in their railfan scrapbooks.
Editor's note: The Midland Road car travelled all the way from Tony Koester's Alleghany Midland Railroad and the Virginian and Ohio made it to North Dover from Allan McLellan's V&O Railroad.
Cheers, Mike Hamer
Check out my other weblog which details my train operating round robin group at www.fridaynightgroup.blogspot.com