Saturday, August 11, 2007

No Trains Stop Here Now

Unusual clouds, the result of changing atmospheric conditions, sent me back to Wassaic on Thursday, By the time I drove into town the skies were better than expected, and I took some shots of the grain elevator with track and rail-crossing lights. I half-heartedly imagined how I might photoshop the light to on.

Wassaic is a tiny crossroad in an unlikely valley, hugged between two steep mountains, just off of busy route 22. If you didn't know it was there, only an improbable wrong turn could put you here. It is urbanized enough for sidewalks, but few people walk on them. In the tiny general store the owner can often be found playing chess with a customer. She makes change without leaving her seat at the chess board.

There are a number of surprises in Wassaic. None is more striking, however, than this building, vestige of another time. Then, active farms were scattered over these hills, most started by immigrants who arrived from various parts of Europe in the late 19th century. Then this little crossing was a center of activity, and the grain elevator was a keystone in the farm economy. Passenger train service just began from NYC to this area two years ago. The shiny new station is up the track a bit and situated on route 22 so Wassaic continues to snooze, but the sleep may be short lived. The restoration of this grain relic is but one of the signs of change. In the meantime some of the old farms hang on with large herds of cattle. Many of the hillsides are still covered in corn rows. Also among the hills abandoned barns decay awaiting the transformation still in the wings.

I was around back of the grain elevator when I heard the crossing bell ring followed by a loud blast from locomotive's horn. The train was bearing down and closer than expected when I crossed the track, and it raised my heart rate. I had only seconds to prop up my already open tripod and snap the shutter. I fired off two good shots, one with each light lit. In the other shot the train and the blurred break between the cars are both further down the track. In this one everything happened just right - and then the train was gone. No train stops here anymore.

REMINDER: Our photo show opening today was busy and successful. If you're in the area, we'd love you to stop in. For more information, visit the web site ( or send an email.