View Full Version : A Day in Spencer, North Carolina
Yesterday, my wife and I drove out to the small town of Spencer, North Carolina, to attend 'Rail Days':
North Carolina Transportation Museum (http://www.ci.salisbury.nc.us/nctrans/)
As a rail fan, I was really looking forward to this! I took my Cosina Voigtlander Bessa R and three lenses - 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm (35 and 90 were A. Schact Travenars, the 50 is a pre-Serenar Canon). I brought along a few rolls of Fuji Superia XTRA 400 and Kodak BW 400-2.
Yesterday, the weatherman said it was going to rain all day - and indeed it came down in buckets all during the 2 + hour drive. But no sooner did we get there, and the rain stopped. It stayed overcast, but it didn't rain another drop - until we left. Then it rained buckets all the way home. No kidding!
The museum was fantastic. This was an old rail yard, complete with restored roundhouse, engine yard, and a huge turntable for turning around the engines.
I shot most of the following shots with my 35 and my 90 - didn't find much use for the 50.
Hope you like them!
What railyard would be complete without some hobos wandering around?
Some folk-singers singing old rail tunes - such as "Railroad Bill," which I enjoyed. They're inside the roundhouse - I was fortunate to be able to shoot at 400 ASA, f3.5 and 1/30 seconds. They were performing in front of a caboose, which turned out to be fortuitous. Wait for the next shot!
I happened to look up, and caught a young boy enjoying the view from the cupola of the caboose. Not the greatest framing, but a 'decisive moment' I think!
The museum just got this monster a few weeks ago, I'm told. They had a 'whistle-blowing' contest - this huge sucker won hands down!
This was the 'caboose train'. Nothing but cabooses! Everybody loves a caboose, so this was a natural!
Another angle on the caboose train.
In the USA, mainly blacks, Irish, and Chinese worked on the railroads. When Irish did this, they were called 'Gandy Dancers'. I am not sure what the blacks who worked moving the rails called this. These gentlemen were recreating a scene where they chanted and moved the rails in unison, a bit at a time. It was fascinating.
Close up of a Gandy Dancer. My great-grandfather worked on the Chicago & Alton railroad; he lost a limb and became a Fuller Brush salesman after that. I still have his Elgin railroad pocket watch.
Steam train. Ah!
The front of a coal-burning train. I love the smell it makes. My wife hates it!
Last one - and a useful message, if you worked on a railroad in those days!
Hope you liked these!
Bill, those photos are simply great!! Like my father, I have always loved trains. I wish I hadn't missed the era when they were actually used for transportation; a more romantic and elegant time to be sure.
Thanks again, those pictures made my day.:)
great stuff bill!
i felt like i was there.
while i did not inherit it, i too have a very old railroad pocket watch. i think it's an elgin also, i need to go upstairs and check.
i bought it maybe 20 years ago and an old jeweler told me it was about 80 years old then. he could tell by the jewelers marks inside the casing. it had to be checked every 18 months to ensure accuracy.
Hi Bill -- Nice shots, and clearly a fun day admiring RR stuff! Last week I was driving up the river canyon at the same time a train was passing through. I leap-frogged ahead several times to good vantage points and snapped a few shots. Here's one. It struck me odd that there were three engines at the front and two more in the middle...
Great photo essay Bill! I really enjoyed it. And Doug, that train photo of your's is very nice too!
Gandy dancers I am told, were so named for the brand of shovel they used, made by a manufacturing company called Gandy. I don't know if any rythmic movements gave rise to the term dancer, or if it was just something to call them. The chanting and/or singing has been and is used by people all over the world to sychronize movements. Once in a beach town in Korea in the mid-80's, I watched fisherman pull nets in the configuration they wanted and keeping time by chanting. It was fascinating. Still photos of course could not show that "dance."
Did any of those signers happen to sing the line from the song where the man relates being chased and running to the round house because he couldn't be cornered there? :p
Thanks for the photos. I enjoyed them.
Great essay Bill, I enjoyed them very much.
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