Talk about the world’s biggest paperweight…
I had heard about this GG1 locomotive through an online abandoned railroad page which began a small quest to find it. I learned that it was sitting in rural New York somewhere and started the search by tying some clues together and asking around. No exact location came of it, so I used some modern sleuthing: Google Earth. I had a general location, so I followed the tracks from above that radiated out eastward from Binghamton and eventually I saw the tops of two of these old electric locomotives along a mainline south of Cooperstown.
It was well into early February before there was a chance to run the 300 miles up into rural New York to photograph. I waited until the weather report was for sun and decided to drive up the day before to be able to use low angled morning light. It was a bitter cold and dark when I came out of the motel early in the morning; a quick check of the cell phone said minus 20! At least it was dead still and the wind wasn’t blowing...so, onward.
I began shooting about eight o’clock and photographed this locomotive and several other things around the site, which is a railroad museum being put together so slowly that it might as well be abandoned. I shot both single images and vertical groups left-to-right that were later made into panoramas which can be seen on my website. I had the place to myself, but after about two hours I couldn’t feel my legs below the knees any longer from walking around in the fourteen inches of snow, so it was time to quit and endure a painful thawing out with the truck heater on full blast.
There were 138 of these engines built by the Pennsylvania Railroad back in the thirties and forties, and many ran up into the late 1970’s finishing out their work lives with Amtrak or Conrail. Each one likely ran millions of miles through it’s service life, one of this engine’s sisters retired with 5.5 million miles.