Chasing Steam

Written by John Krakowski

I never thought I would be one of those people who chase after trains just to watch them go by and or photograph them. It started out quite innocently. A friend of mine sent me an email several months before about the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Societies up and coming passenger steam train excursion from Buffalo to Corning and back. I thought wow, a passenger steam train in Buffalo. We have to be a part of this. As I explored the web I discovered that the cost per ticket was out of the family budget. So I placed it on the “Bucket” list. A few weeks had passed and the idea of photographing the train as it was pulling away from the station puffing away under load would be quite the sight. So I told Sam my idea and he was on board with the notion. Low and behold the  temporary station for departure was for ticket holders only. So much for that idea.

On the weekend of the excursion at Mike’s open house Gary Ludwig showed up with a paper map. Remember when maps were printed on paper folded like a flat pancake, never to be the same once unfolded? I just had to tease Gary about his relic style map, Which I am glad I did, for he knew the complete excursion route, some of the best vantage points and the approximate times at those points.  Great, I thought, Looks like early tomorrow I’m going railfanning. 

Sunday morning I selected my vantage point area and off I went. Destination Dale Road near Middlebury, NY, A location where the road follows the track for a very long stretch.  Soon I was at Capwell Rd. and Dale Rd. The 1st of many vantage points to photograph from. I knew that I did not have a great deal of time to secure a vantage points. I turned south on Dale Road, and carefully, but quickly, checked out the numerous vantage point along the road. Just when I about to turn around I came upon a small road crossing over the tracks in a nicely treed area, that no one else had discovered yet.  Without haste I was next to the tracks and ready. As I waited I could hear the whistle echoing in the hills as the engineer blew it at each crossing. As it approached I could hear the engine loud and clear, but could not see it behind the foliage around the curve. Not to miss any of it, I started the camera before I could see it.  In just seconds the engine appeared and roared towards me.  It was better than I imagined. I could feel it stomping the ground and puffing along like a true thoroughbred racing to the finish line. Just as the engine passed I got a fast shower of soot. Awesome! I thought. As the 19 passenger cars whizzed by I could see the adventurers looking out at Western New York's beautiful scenery.  

As I waked back to my car I wondered to myself as quickly the moment was over, was it really worth what I just did? YEAH! As I drove away I thought the next time would have to be a family adventure.