Attending a party in borrowed clothes by way of an abandoned railroad

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Over at Emulsive HQ, they do these happenings called film parties, and this month it was time for the #fp4party which stars as you likely guess Ilford FP-4. I find January a great month to join in on a party as I find I need a little extra motivation to get out in the cold and grey Rhode Island winter to make photos. Saying to a group of folks on Twitter “sure, I’m in” seems to be just enough to get me out and get something done. And so I did.

FP-4 is an excellent film full stop. But rather than further my winter of discontent with a cold tripod I decided a more sensitive film would be better suited to my conditions and purpose. I skipped over my usual Tmax 400 and went to the fastest 120 film there is, Ilford Delta 3200. Using which does mean that my images will not be eligible for consideration in the viewer voting at the end of the week but as my dad used to say “we’re not here to win a beauty contest” so I’m good with that. For the tech fans: my film was Ilford Delta 3200 in 120 which I rated at its “data sheet speed” of 1000 and developed in Kodak T-Max developer diluted 1:4. The camera was a Fuji GSWIII 6x9.

As for my subject, I went to my list of desires to find a walking photo meditation along the rail line of the former Moshassuck Valley railroad in Pawtucket, quite close to home. I first encountered the MVRR without realizing it when I walked the river of that name. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the diminutive railway had a rather interesting and long history. Although at 2 miles it was one of the shortest in the country it retained its independence from its start in 1847 right up to 1981. It ran passenger service until the 1920s and fought and won a rate dispute with “The Company” the mighty New Haven Railroad. When I learned that an extension was planned (a crucial move in winning the rate dispute) that would have brought the railroad right by my house, I was hooked, and I knew I had to explore this bit of neighborhood history further.

This is just a first effort, but I am encouraged that there is more I can work with. In the spirit of the party and my virtual notebook I’m sharing here every picture from both rolls in the sequence I made them.

The MVRR was folded into the Providence and Worcester Railroad in 1981, and this branch is actually not wholly abandoned. It sees some occasional service. I note evidence here of recent tie replacement and brush clearing, perhaps indicating that the P&W’s new owners still see some value in the line.

For more info:

And here is a cool home movie of the railroad in use from 1970.