Monday, January 20, 2014

Southern Nights

Aiken Railroad; Aiken, S.C.; December 13, 2013
We've spent some of the last few weeks exploring parts of a driving trip to Florida I took with my brother Bruce. This time we'll look at some night activity from along the way. In previous posts we've already looked at night photography in Jesup, Ga., done daytime and night photography on the street running in Augusta, Ga., and spent a day chasing the Pickens Railway in South Carolina.

CSX; Dixiana (Cayce), S.C.; December 13, 2013
As related in the Pickens post, once we were finished there on December 13, 2013, we headed over to the scrap steel mill at Cayce, S.C. After finishing there, we went out seeking a night photo opportunity. That chance came when we found a CSX train working an automobile sorting center south of town. The train was inaccessible, but we could see it working to our south. We set up just north of the sorting center, where we found a railroad signal that was distinctly Seaboard Air Line -- a predecessor of CSX. Many railroads of the mid-20th century had their own distinctive styles of signals that varied from one road to another; today many of these unique sentinels are being replaced by standardized signals as railroads install Positive Train Control along their lines. Thus, a chance to shoot a train past a signal of the past was a good opportunity. After a long wait, the train finally pulled far enough north that we were able to get CSX C40-8 No. 7586 passing the signal.
CSX Transportation; Dixiana (Cayce), S.C.; December 13, 2013

During the day we had stopped at the Greenville & Western in Belton, S.C., where we found they had borrowed a GP30 from sister road the Aiken Railroad. An employee in Belton said it was one of two GP30s owned by the Aiken, and the other was in the railroad's namesake town. We had left Cayce and were heading for Augusta, Ga., when we saw a sign on the interstate saying that Aiken was off the next exit. How hard could it be to find a GP30 in town? Google satellite images of the town showed an obvious spot where motive power might be kept, so we headed there and -- voila! -- there was the GP30, along with LTEX SW1500 No. 1543, a leased locomotive from Larry's Truck & Electric. We broke out the lights and duly captured both locomotives (below and top photo of this post).
Aiken Railroad; Aiken, S.C., December 13, 2013
The following two nights we've already discussed in previous posts (in the Georgia towns of Augusta and Jesup). Finally we made it to Florida on December 16! After a day of shooting in the Ocala area, we knew a train was coming down the former Seaboard Air Line and would pass the Amtrak station at DeLand. Just after sunset, we were able to get the southbound train with CSX AC4400CW No. 410 leading.
CSX Transportation; DeLand, Fla.; December 16, 2013
Our last full day in Florida was spent on the South Central Florida Express, the last sugar cane railroad in the United States, operated by U.S. Sugar in Clewiston, Fla. Our next (and last) post on this trip will be next week where we'll look at some Florida railroading, but in keeping with our night photo theme we'll finish with the last shot we got of SCFE on December 17. After a day of shooting we knew a switcher was coming back into Clewiston and it would get in just after sunset. We set up along a bridge over the canal (the adjacent road bridge was gated at the far end, giving us a convenient place to park and set up our flashes). Like clockwork, the local appeared just after the sun set but before darkness settled in, letting us get a twilight shot as the orange sky reflected off the canal. The strobes provided just the right amount of fill flash to make the train "pop." It was a unique shot to finish off our night photography for the trip.
South Central Florida Express; Clewiston, Fla.; December 17, 2013

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