It’s the Little Details That Can Make a Picture

At first glance, these two photographs appear to have little in common.

The top photograph depicts former Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 No. 33 at Sugarcreek on April 19, 2008, during one of its few outings under Ohio Central ownership.

In the bottom photograph is Oil Creek & Titusville Alco S2 No. 85 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, on April 20, 2006.

Both images feature good composition that invites you to linger over them for a moment or two.

But what these have in common are little things that maybe you noticed but might not have stopped to think about the role they play in creating a story.

In the photograph of No. 33 there is a figure standing next to the locomotive looking it over.

He appears to be a crew member and is wearing a broad brim hat. No. 33 is a smallish steam locomotive, but even if dwarfs a person standing next to it.

In the OC&T image, there is a portion of a pole line visible along the tracks. That combined with the large and old red brick industrial building in the background suggest another era.

The boarded up windows of the industrial building indicate that era is well past.

It used to be common to see pole lines along railroad right of ways, but in the past decade or so railroads have pretty much removed them as they rely on other technology to communicate.

Of course nothing says “another era” like a steam locomotive. And Alco has been out of the business of building diesel locomotives since 1969.

There is another link between these two images as well. Both locomotives were used in tourist train service and part of the rational for having tourist trains is to provide a glimpse of the past.

Railroading hasn’t gone away and figures to be around for a long time to come. But in many ways subtle and obvious it is always changing. Hence it’s nice to have reminders of the past, including those things we may have forgotten from it.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

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