I can’t pass by a lonesome railroad track, with no oncoming trains, without getting close to the tracks, looking from a perspective view, and thinking about where the final destination might be, for trains using that rail line. But, I’m reminded by the nearby road crossing warning sign, that I need to keep my ears tuned to the hum of the track, to make sure I’m safe.
Henry, Virginia is really just a name and Zip Code, more than it is a small settlement, town or city. In fact, one of its few main remaining buildings is not much more than a great photo opportunity. The main draw for me are the train tracks that pass close by to that building, and the manner in which the vacant tracks pass into the distance, giving some nice perspective views. That was my mission the day I visited recently, to photograph the tracks with some interesting perspective views. As I was standing in the middle of the tracks with my camera in hand, I heard in the distance the soulful sound of an oncoming train, as it passed by distant road crossings I could not see. I was excited because this meant I’d be able to get a close up photo of the Norfolk Southern train engines as they passed by me, standing a safe distance of course. It was a very long coal train and since I was headed in the direction of the side of the tracks I was on, I decided to drive on with some nice photos. Before I left, however, I snapped an image of the town’s historic building. I have a lot of photos of that building which I’ve taken over the years. Henry, though very small, is one of my favorite locations in the Blue Ridge region.
As I’ve written before several times, I love anything associated with trains; especially when in an historical setting. When I found this old freight depot in a part of Eden, North Carolina I had not been to in years, I was excited to make some photos to help tell its story. Camera used was Fujifilm X100T.
The weather was cloudy and a bit foggy when we arrived in Bryson City, NC early in the AM to board the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for a five-hour round trip into the Nantahala National Forest. My wife Barb and I, her brother Jerry and wife Mary Ann, along with 300 other passengers, lined up by the waiting 12-car train idling nearby.
We were greeted by a very friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff which made our trip most enjoyable, learning about the history of the region along our way. Once seated, I immediately noticed the historic atmosphere of the passenger car in which we were seated. It’s too bad we can’t routinely travel in such a manner today.
Views out of the seat windows were spectacular, as was the included lunch meal we had pre-ordered. The next photo is my sister-in-law Mary Ann enjoying the views and the second is my wife Barb enjoying her BBQ lunch while we rolled along.
Having been a passenger on trains several times in my life I knew that if I went to the open area in between cars where they connected, I could lean out the window (safely obviously) to make some interesting photos of the train and the surrounding beauty of the region.
The day after we’d completed our train ride, we drove elsewhere in the region to explore, and on the way back to our motel, we happened upon the train on it’s twice-daily journey, but this time we were across a fast-flowing river we’d been so close to the day prior. We stopped the car, and I got out to capture the following images. The last photo of the caboose at the end of the train is a fitting end to this brief story. It was, in short, a wonderful time together!
It’s simple. I love old trains. While we were in the Smoky Mountain region of Western North Carolina recently, we rode the Great Smoky Mountain RR into the Nantahala National Forest. I’ll have a photo story about that later, but after we rode the train I found some old railroad cars from time’s past, and I was very happy to capture with my camera what I saw. The “open” passenger cars shown below carried many thousands of sight-seeing visitors for many years. These old cars are obviously now fully retired, but remain vibrant in color.
The images below show details of other train cars which, to me, were very interesting. I sought to compose each photo in the most interesting manner possible.
Danville Virginia has been a main stop on railroad networks since the American Civil War. Over the years, passengers and freight numbers rose and fell, but still the location remained vibrant. Today, trains still pass by (and stop) at the Danville Train Depot several times a day. The depot’s historic architecture calls out for people like me with cameras in hand to come visit. I especially enjoy the main waiting room, with it’s large wooden benches and atmosphere. When I enter I can imagine myself with ticket in hand waiting for a train. I hope you’ll enjoy some of the photos I made there recently. I felt black and white would best convey the feelings I had at the time.
I spent most of my professional life working around “dirt” in some fashion, having spent almost 30 years as an Army Engineer at home and abroad. Thus when our two girls were young they listened to me talk about what I was doing, and sometimes saw first hand what that was. One of them coined the term “pickin’up dirt thing” to refer to any sort of heavy construction equipment they saw. Recently, we hired a local construction guy to come demolish our in-ground swimming pool, and to then dump loads of fill dirt into the resulting hole. Yesterday, looking out the window at the Case front-loader sitting out back waiting to complete the job, I laughed to myself when I said, “There sits a pickin’ up dirt thing.” Then, I was inspired to make some close up, and somewhat unique black and white photos of it, just to be a bit creative. So here you go!
All along the busy Norfolk Southern Rail Line that winds through the hills and mountains of SW Virginia, there are remnants of days when trains stopped at many small towns, given that railroads were then the primary mode of transportation. Such was the case in Boones Mill, VA which in 2000 had a population of less than 300. Boones Mill is located along the main highway south of Roanoke. What its population was when trains stopped there is unknown to me. Trains don’t stop there today, but I did to record a small piece of history.
I love trains, especially those that thrived throughout the United States during the early-mid 20th Century. Rail lines went just about everywhere it seemed, connecting towns and cities large and small. Most train depots had a similar look. Long, single-storied brick and wooden structures that lay parallel to the train tracks. There was always a long wooden deck or concrete loading and unloading platform which felt the pulse of thousands of travelers for decades. Today, in locations such as Bassett Virginia, these iconic stations still exist, albeit in some decay, but are still being used for purposes other than train traffic, which has ceased. When I visited the Bassett train depot recently I was looking for something different to photograph, but with an objective to portray the aging and rustic nature of the facility. The town of Bassett now uses this building for a city market, where local goods are sold on weekends. It is also used for special community gatherings. While trains no longer pass by, people like me often do.