Once again, it has been awhile since I put out one of these, but I try to have some news to announce and while I have been very busy, there hasn't been a specific event to put out there. Now, with the new year, I have an article coming up in View Camera Magazine, so it seems a good time. Coming up in the January/February issue will be the first of a two, possibly three, part series on Speed Graphic cameras. In addition to being useful cameras for me, they have become something of a hobby in their own right. If you are not a reader of the magazine, I am planning to post the article on my web site after the magazine is only available as a back issue.
I am gearing up for my Grain Elevator workshop to be held April 7 - 9, 2005 at the town of Williams in California's Sacramento Valley. For more information see: PDF Grain Elevator Flier
Work has been continuing on "Portal to the Past," my book about the Nevada Northern Railway and the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. About 3/4 of the photography and « of the writing is complete and all of the research material is known if not already in hand. Oh course, something new could always turn up. Using WordPerfect, which has powerful formatting abilities, I have put together a dummy of what is complete in the book and have made several copies. Everyone who has seen it has been favorably impressed. I have the museum's complete support and they are going to try to raise some grant money on the book's behalf. Currently, I'm looking for a publisher.
Since my last e-mail, I've been to Ely three times, the first trip was an extension of my trip to Burning Man. While at Ely, I was able to get the second and third of the museum's 1912 boxcars back in service. The story of these cars is that they were a six car order from American Car and Foundry, the other three cars are also at the museum and we hope to eventually get them all in service. They were the only boxcars bought new by this mining road. They are typical of railroad cars of the time, double sheathed wooden cars with steel underframes and arch bar trucks. At some point, perhaps in the thirties, they were converted from type "K" to "AB" brakes. Apparently, the railroad planned to scrap the cars and removed the reusable, and still current, AB components, just torching off the pipes and bolts. Cutting and bending new pipes and installing some re-manufactured AB components that the museum had on hand, and the cars were back in service. I went over this in more detail last time, but now three cars are complete.
On my second trip, I did some photography in the air brake shop, carpentry shop and the offices, all for use in the book. Unfortunately, I got slowed down quite a bit when I stepped in a small depression in a gravel road and twisted my ankle. I heard and felt a snap as I went down and it hurt like hell. I went to the county hospital the next day and it turned out that the crack I heard was the sound of a bone cracking. I had managed to fracture my ankle.
On the third trip I had two students and we did a kind of informal version of the workshop that I had originally planned for November. It was cold in Ely, despite sunny skies, the temperature often did not get above freezing during the day and the snow that had fallen before I arrived stayed on the ground. On Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, I directed the museums photo freights. On Saturday we went up the Keystone line with an ore train, running beyond the museum trackage to the new line which belongs to the mine. This is the first time that passengers had ridden on the mine trackage since 1996 and we took advantage of a number of great locations for photo runbys.
#93 really put on a grand show, with great stack talk and tall plumes of steam in the crisp chill air, CRACK, CRACK, crack, crack, CRACK, CRACK, crack, crack, CRACK, CRACK, crack, crack, ...... Mark Bassett, museum director, and I were on the rear steps of the train's caboose, looking around the corner, watching and listening as 93 worked up-grade. There is nothing more grand than the sight of a steam locomotive really going at it and 93 was. I said to Mark,"This is what it's really all about." To which Mark replied "Amen to that."
Sunday afternoon the forecast was for cloudy skies, but the storm blew itself out overnight and by afternoon we had partial clouds. At Mark's suggestion, we decided to head for the sunshine, passing through the cloud shadows to do our photo runbys in sunshine. This time we went out the Hiline towards McGill along the lower slopes of the Duck Creek Range. As the grade is less than the run to Keystone, we added the box cars behind #93. In place of the caboose we had 1882 vintage wooden coach #5. The line generally runs north, so we backed out of town to have the sun on the front of the train. Mark and I selected photo locations from the coach's vestibule. When we had a good spot we stopped, everyone got off, the train backed further up the line then came forward towards the cameras. The light was beautiful as the low December sun shown in under the clouds. The last spot was on the way back at milepost H5. We had passed this spot on the way out as it was under a cloud, but now the sun was coming in under the clouds to the west. We did the runby four times as there would be no chance to get another location before the sun set behind the mountains across the Steptoe Valley to the west. Just before the last runby the light level fell off visibly, at 3:58 we were done and just past 4:00pm the sun was gone. We headed back to town. A perfect afternoon.
One of my favorite artifacts at the museum is what I call the Chambersburg Hammer. This is a steam hammer of about 1500 lbs. drop weight, it stands about thirteen feet tall and is still connected to the shop steam and air lines. The hammer is fully functional and now runs off the shop air. Opening a gate valve on the shop air line puts the hammer into operation and a long handle on its side raises and lowers the hammer head. We don't know when the hammer was built or if it came new to the railroad, but a large plate on its side gives the manufacturer as the Chambersburg Engineering Co. of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The company remained in business until it went into bankruptcy in Jan, 2002 when its assets were auctioned off. The forge and other equipment is also still all there, anyone want to do some heavy duty black smithing. Civil War buffs will recognize the town of Chambersburg as the point where Robert E. Lee concentrated the Army of Virginia for its move on Gettysburg.
In the darkroom, I've been concentrating on printing images for my book and am now up to date on that through images from the first part of last year. A number of those are shown with this newsletter. On my website, since the last newsletter, I have added Galleries on my Flash Gun and Flash Bulb Series and my Vintage Aircraft Series, a number of new images on the Nevada Northern Gallery, a special Nevada Northern in 1970 Gallery with slides from a trip I took while still in college, plus a new links page. So the website keeps growing, with a Landscape Gallery coming next. Check it out at www.ihpworkshops.com
Well enough for now.