A good deed done, a good deed received, and an ALCO-5

Here I am, sitting on the side of Route 9N in Corinth, waiting for a diesel-powered tourist train to arrive.

Yesterday was the opening journey of the brand new Saratoga, Corinth and Hudson Railroad, a four-mile tourist stretch that encompasses a portion of the old Saratoga and North Creek Railroad from years past. I’ve photographed the SNCRR a few times, even entered a photo of that passenger train in competition.

This is the train’s maiden run. It will travel from downtown Corinth to Greenfield and back, a journey of approximately four miles and 90 minutes. The opening day’s train is packed with passengers – and there’s even a special “ride with the engineer” ticket that allows one lucky person to enjoy the view from the SC&H’s restored ALCO locomotive #5.

Me? I just want to get a shot of the train as it passes the old Corinth train station, the one that adjoins a 2012 mural of the old SNCRR train.

Nikon Df at the ready. Vivitar 19mm f/3.5 ultrawide lens on the chassis.

But before the train arrives, and before I arrive at the shooting location, I must tell a story.

I’m at Speedway in Cohoes. Time to fill up Lightning’s Girl with some 93 octane super-hi-test fuel (and it only cost me $41.50 to top the nearly-empty tank, Thank You Brandon). Went into the Speedway convenience store, asked if they had any sunscreen for sale. Cashier said he would look as soon as he helped what appeared to be a very flustered customer.

From what I could gather, she was shaving problems pumping gasoline into her white Jeep Grand Cherokee. And one of her tires was low on air. “The gas pump’s not working,” she moaned. “I’ll never get there on time.”

Okay. I know Speedway gas pumps can be temperamental. They’re so slow, you would think they were state employees on a Monday. I offered to help her pump the gas.

“I’ll never get there in time, and my car tells me one of my tires is low on air, and I don’t know how to put air in the tire, and I’ll never get there in time…”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “Everything will be fine. Let’s get the gas pumped first.”

Apparently she didn’t realize that with Speedway pumps, once you pay for the gas, you must lift the gas pump’s resting lever up. She hadn’t done that. $30 later, she now had fuel in her white Jeep Grand Cherokee.

“Okay,” I said, “can you drive your car over to the air pumps? I’ll help you put air in your tire. I’ll meet you over at the air pump,” I said, pointing to the air pump in the parking lot.

She navigated her vehicle over to the air pump. “I don’t know how to do this,” she said. “I’ll never get there on time.”

“Nonsense. We’ll get this done. Look on the inside of your door frame and tell me what you should have for tire air pressure.”

She did. “It should be 36 pounds.”

I set the machine. She pointed to the tire that was low on air. I removed the valve cap and pumped her tire up. The air pump’s bell dinged. 36 pounds in the right rear tire.

“Check your pressures before I go,” I said to her. “Just in case you need air in another tire, or if this tire has a slow leak.”

“It says 29 pounds,” she groaned. “Oh, I’ll never get there in – oh wait, it now says 36 pounds. Oh, thank you, you’re such a good Samaritan.”

“Drive safely,” I said. “You’ll make your event on time.”

The Jeep Grand Cherokee drove away.

I went back into the Speedway store. A couple of cold beverages for the trip, because if I’m photographing a train in this heatwave, I need hydration.

“Hey, bud,” the cashier said to me. “I found the sunscreen. Do you want spray or lotion?”

One spray can and three beverages later, I was on my way to the Adirondacks.

Okay. Here I am. I brought two cameras with me – my Nikon Df and my film-packed Kodak Red. Kodak Red has one of my final rolls of AGFA Scala inside, so I won’t see that film developed for some time. That being said, however, I wanted to get some good shots in digital as the train went by.

The train is supposed to leave downtown Corinth at 12:00 noon. It has to pass by this old railroad station before it crosses over Route 9N. Then it stops near Kings Station (if you drive up Route 9N, it’s that area with the old Delaware and Hudson caboose on display). Then the train goes in reverse, backing up the four miles to the station.

Let’s make this happen.

It’s noon. The train has to leave at some point.

A driver pulls up near my spot. He’s wearing a baseball cap with what I initially thought was a Delaware and Hudson script “D&H” logo on the bill; it was actually, upon second glance, an “SC&H” redesign for the Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson Railroad. We talked for a couple of moments, then he crossed over to the far side of the track to get shots from a different vantage point.

Another driver pulls up. He’s going to shoot with digital and with film. Good on him. I’ve heard that people who specialize in digital and film photography are more balanced in their life. 🙂

Then another car pulls up. A driver gets out. He has no camera. But he does, instead have a bottle of Bai Bing cherry fruit juice. “I saw you as I was driving by,” he said to me. “I figured you might be thirsty. It’s hot out here.”

“Thank you, I appreciate it.”

“Are you a surveyor?”

Now why would he ask a question like – oh, yeah, I’m wearing a reflective safety vest. That’s just for my safety, I don’t want some driver to not see me before he runs into me. “Just taking photos. Thanks for the beverage.”

“Have a great day,” he said, and drove off.

Well, there’s a nice little act of kindness …

Oh, wait. Here comes the train.

Now what I want from this shot is the front of the train itself – preferably the locomotive number in crisp focus, followed by as many pieces of rolling stock afterward. If I do this correctly, it will look sweet.

Saratoga, Corinth and Hudson Railroad. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.5 lens. Photo (c) 2022 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Yep. Big-ass ALCO #5 locomotive, manufactured in Schenectady at a time when that city’s biggest industries were General Electric and ALCO locomotives. And I see that big-ass #5 on the side of the locomotive. Clear as day.

This definitely works for me. It’s a borderline submission for Competition Season, if not for 2022, maybe for 2023. Then again, I have absolutely no idea how the shots from Kodak Red turned out, but that will be for a later blog post.

After the train returned to the station, I drove over, took some other photos of the locomotive (with Kodak Red), bought a T-shirt, and headed home. At some point, I’ll definitely try this trip again, only this time I want to photograph from the conductor’s perspective. That would be incredible.

And if we can get the Saratoga, Corinth and Hudson Railroad up and running after five years of Saratoga & North Creek Railroad dormancy…

Then come November … you know what train I want to photograph then. Right? 😀