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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Low light, lonely conductor

Date: 04/26/20 20:21
Low light, lonely conductor
Author: santafe199

To my friend Don: I finally found a “low light” shot to continue our friendly dueling of low-light images. But (snickering) my level of lowness here may be a bit unexpected. In fact it’s almost a NO light image. But as you’ll see where there’s a will (and a camera) there’s a way to shoot a slide almost anywhere, almost anytime! As the late Ann Landers use to say, read on:

In late 1984 I had passed all the rules testing required for promotion to Conductor. I had hoped to make my very first trip as a young new Santa Fe conductor on one of the many daily hotshots I’d ridden dozens of times as a brakeman since 1978. But my 1st trip as the “brains” of the crew didn’t come until the summer of 1985. And it was a rousing, underwhelming, THUD! The entire sad sob story is just a click away: ( https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?18,4294461,4294461#msg-4294461 ).

In November of ‘85 I would once again work the same local as a conductor for a few round trips. Coupled with my initial experience earlier that year I quickly came to the conclusion that I didn’t much care for being alone on a waycar up to 100 cars away from the “action” for up to 12 hours a day. I didn’t mind ‘being alone’ per se. But I didn’t like the long periods of tedium where nothing was happening. The slightly higher rate of pay over the brakeman’s job on locals didn’t compensate for my not being able to be in on the setting out & picking up ‘ground work’ I had really enjoyed the previous 7 years before my promotion.

One way to break that monotony was to dig out my trusty, Kodachrome 64-fueled Canon A-1 and take a few shots whenever the opportunity presented itself. Early during my RR career I had invented a way to take time exposures on a train even if I didn’t have a tripod available. It was fairly easy on the head end. But my subject HAD to be out in front of the engine. While sitting in the forward seat on the fireman’s side I would get a focus, then press the flatness of the front edge of the lens against the window of the front cab door. I would also snuggle the camera lens against the rubber window molding for good measure. I used the same method on the back door window while riding my lonely waycar a time or 2. Other than that red cantilever searchlight signal way back there, the scene below has no train or engine or any other specific subject to look at. But the darkness of the track, the overcast night sky color composed with the RR pole line and the all-night street lights of North Broadway Avenue in Wichita sets a pretty lonely tone in my book…

1. Looking north (TT east) out of AT&SF waycar 999213 at the rear end of local train LMI-27 1-12… Translated that’s Local-MIddle Division #27, 1st section of the 12th! I’m conductor on this train while my 2 brakemen are on the head end performing our station work at the North Wichita Yard Office. The lonely date & location is the wee hours of November 13, 1985 in Wichita, KS.

Thanks for keeping me company!
Lance Garrels

Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 04/28/20 08:55 by santafe199.

Date: 04/26/20 20:34
Re: Low light, lonely conductor
Author: DonWinslow

Nice and I see your upping the anti.OK, stand by. I ain't done yet.

Don Winslow
Glendora, CA

Date: 04/27/20 03:47
Re: Low light, lonely conductor
Author: atsfer

Now there is a scene I saw many a time at Wichita.  I bet it was lonely on the rear end and devoid of many photo opportunities but I'm glad you took this one, good shot. 

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