Return to the Hadley Bow Bridge

In 2015, I shot several photos at the Hadley Bow Bridge, a parabolic bridge that spans the Sacandaga River from Corinth to Hadley. This was around the time when the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad made its weekly trips through the Adirondacks, and in October 2015 I captured this colorful shot amongst the foliage. Yum.

The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Heck, I even blogged about the experience.

Now that was in 2015. Lots of changes in that time. I still have that Nikon Df, so there’s that. But the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad no longer exists. It folded in 2017. And the train now making this trip across the Sacandaga River is the Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson Railway, the tourist train that’s doing booming business since its formation in 2022. Heck, the SC&H even made USA Today’s list of top tourist trains in America.

On Saturday, the SC&H would make its first official visit to Hadley for the town’s “Maple in April” festival. This meant it would cross the Sacandaga River to reach Hadley. Perfect spot for a certain photographer, if you know where I’m going on this.

Last Sunday, the SC&H did a test run – just using the livery’s ALCO-2 train (3021 “Radio”), along with the observation car and its caboose.

And if they’re going to do a test run, then I’m going to do a test run.

Up to Hadley I go.

And it’s pouring rain out there. Probably have to stop at Home Depot and pick up 600 cubits of board stock and instructions on ark-building, then stop at the pet store for animals, two by two.

But I got this shot for my troubles.

Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson test run. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo (c) 2023 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Okay … this is a test. And there are plenty of factors to work with here.

I’m shooting in April. The foliage hasn’t really hit the trees yet.

It’s also raining. I shot this under the nearby gazebo so that my cameras would not get drenched.

So now I can plan my Saturday shot.

And Chuck now enters planning mode. And you know me when it comes to planning mode. It’s like Hannibal instructing BA, Murdock and Face how to get the van custom-modified for the big action scene at the end of the episode.

There’s four possible shooting spots for me to capture the train. The train has to leave Corinth at 8:30 a.m., which means it passes over the Sacandaga River at some point between 8:55 a.m. and 9:05 a.m. I can shoot at the gazebo (get the train entering the bridge, deal with lots of branches), I can shoot from the Bow Bridge (get a wide-angle shot, hope I can catch the entire train in its glory), I can shoot from the Corinth side of the Bow Bridge (not a bad option, it would show the train leaving toward Hadley), or I could climb over those rocks and stones and slippery spots along Dean Mountain Road and shoot from the shore (yeah, that was two foot surgeries ago, Chuck, do you really want to chance that?)

I also have to consider other factors. The morning sun would rise at my back if I shot on the Bow Bridge, but it would be in my eyes if I shot at Dean Mountain Road – which could work ONLY if the sun rose just enough to be blocked by the train as the train passes, creating corpuscular rays as the train’s cars pass through the sunbeams – but yeah, that’s like trying to hit a cueball so that it bounces off eight distinct rails and lands on a $100 bill in the center of the table. And last time I checked, my name was Chuck Miller, not Willie Mosconi.

There’s also weather factors. Am I going to deal with more miserable rain? Cold wind? Scorching sun? Once I get there, am I also going to find an unobstructed location or am I going to be stuck jockeying for position with a gaggle of foamers?

Saturday morning. April 29th. Off to the Adirondacks I go.

And with the weather changing between light rain and drizzle, my plans for a three-dimensional shot went out the door. Maybe next time when there’s some decent foliage and more sunshine.

I took one of my Nikon Df cameras and slapped on my super-ultra-wide Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens onto the body. With this lens, I should be able to get the railroad bridge, the Hadley Bow Bridge, and the raging rapids below – all in one shot without any need for stitching or photo manipulation.

8:55 a.m. Right on time. I hear the horn. Get in position.

And here it comes. ALCO 2, #3021 “Radio” hauling the passenger cars across the Sacandaga River.

Ready … aim … shutter.

Sacandaga Morning.  Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens.  Photo (c) 2023 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.
Sacandaga Morning. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) 2023 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Ooh boy. If you click on the photo and zoom in, you can actually see the words “Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson” right on the passenger cars. Delicious.

I may keep this one around for a dark-horse entry somewhere. We shall definitely see.

But yeah, this definitely works. And to celebrate this shot, I went over to the “Maple in April” festival and purchased some goodies – including a maple flavored cheesecake (perfect for Date Night), and some super-sour garlic-infused pickles. Oh, and a nice handmade table runner. And a book on the history of timber and milling in the Hadley area. Yeah, I’m a history nerd. What do you want out of me? 😀

All in all, I’d say it was a very successful morning.

And I’m definitely good with that.