Under the Lights at North East Museum

I had heard about the annual night at the museum event hosted every summer by the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

Every year the museum stays open all night for people to watch trains on the adjacent Cleveland-Buffalo lines of CSX and Norfolk Southern.

It seemed like an interesting event, but I never made it over there for it until this year.

The promotional materials on the museum’s website said there would be a slide show in the former New York Central passenger station and a night photo shoot starting at 10 p.m.

Photographers were asked to make a donation of $20 for the night photo shoot.

Not until Friday did I make plans to go, prompted by the news that Chesapeake & Ohio No. 8272 had reached the museum.

The B30-7 had been built by GE’s Erie locomotive assembly plant in Lawrence Park Township and had been recently repainted into the Chessie System livery by CSX shop forces in Huntington, West Virginia.

I called fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and he agreed to go with me to the museum.

Neither the museum’s website or Facebook page had many details about what the night photo shoot would entail.

I presumed that C&O 8272 would be on display under lights and it was. But the museum also transformed former New York Central U25B No. 2500 into Pittsburgh & Lake Erie No. 2800.

This was done by placing black tape or paper over the NYC markings and applying P&LE markings, including white stripes on the pilot.

I’m told that the P&LE had early versions of the U28B that used a U26B car body.

The night photo shoot was not as elaborate or wide ranging as I thought it might be. It consisted of rented portable lights that illuminated the side of the C&O 8272 and P&LE 2800.

Museum personnel moved the 2800 around a couple times, using a small switcher.

The lighting was bright enough to make hand-held images, albeit with a high ISO setting. However, I made most of my images with a tripod.

The side lighting wasn’t enough to fully illuminate the nose of No. 8272, so Peter and I took turns painting the shadows with light from two flashlights that did an amazing job of adding fill-in light.

I had thought that the lights would be moved periodically to illuminate other pieces in the museum’s collection, but that didn’t happen.

Someone brought in a P&LE truck and at one point it was positioned next to the P&LE 2800.

The slide show featured images of the P&LE and Chessie system, but I ended up seeing only a few images. The interior of the depot was quite warm, so I elected to stay outside and watch CSX trains pass by.

I had been hoping to get some time exposures of CSX operations, but the last train before we left was a westbound at 10 p.m. and that was during the night photo shoot of No. 8272.

We stuck around until 12:20 a.m., but no trains came by. We faced a two-hour drive back to my house and thus left with some unfinished business left behind.

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