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"At The Throttle"
by Mark Bassett, Executive Director

A weekly series of columns originally published in the Saturday edition of the Ely Times 
Mark Bassett is the Executive Director of the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation, operator of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. He can be reached at the museum (775) 289-2085 ext. 7 or e-mail: director@nnry.com

 


Photographers and Winter Steam
15 November 2003

 

There are three winter opportunities to photograph the Nevada Northern Railway this winter. The scope of the three shoots are different, in other words we are offering something for everyone.

The first opportunity is scheduled for the mornings of December 6th and 7th with a night shoot on December 6th. The coordinators of this shoot are John West and Gordon Osmundson, an award-winning photographer.

The idea here is to take advantage of the fact that we are running the Polar Express Trains in the afternoon and have locomotive 93 steamed up. The museum is taking advantage of this opportunity of having steam in the winter. We will be running photo freights both mornings with a night photo shoot, too. Using our antique equipment we will hook up 93 to a collection of boxcars, ore cars and ballast cars with a caboose to create a freight train from the 1920's, 30's and 40's. Some of the equipment is fragile enough, where we will do run-bys only in the yard. Saturday evening there will be a night photo shoot also in the yard.

The combination of two photo freights and three passenger trains should provide a lot of opportunities for watching and photographing steam. And the cool weather will ensure dramatic steam effects. The freights will depart East Ely at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The plan is for one freight to operate to Keystone, the other up the High Line to Adverse, but specifics will depend on the weather to maximize the best photo opportunities. The Polar Expresses will depart at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Engine 93 will pull all trains. The night photo shoot will begin at 6 p.m. at the roundhouse. There is a twenty-five dollar charge for participants of this photo shoot who want ride in the caboose of the photo freight.

The next opportunity is the 5th Annual Nevada Northern Railway Photo Shoot or what I like to call the Winter Steam Spectacular. Joel Jensen, another award-wining photographer, is the coordinator of this event. And in Joel's own words…


"If you like steam, have we got it for you!" Clouds and clouds of it, once again, our railroad will strut its stuff in sub-zero degree weather (or close to it). Snow? We've had it on previous winter spectaculars, 6 inches of it during the 1999 version. Sub-zero? We hit -5°F in 2001, and you should have seen the frost on the sagebrush. Sun? How about cobalt blue skies during the shoot. Point being, we've offered up just about every type of meteorological conditions that wintertime Ely experiences, including shirtsleeve weather.

Why do we offer such a photo adventure during winter months? Because we want our participants to get the best shots possible. If you think that #93 looks good on an 85-degree day in August, wait 'till you see her on a zero-degree day in February. She looks pretty good in a snowstorm too, billowing white clouds of steam plus plumes of black & gray smoke that tower above the canyons and valleys.

This year's trip will feature, as always, a truly historical Nevada Northern ore train, pulled by #93. We're talking 100% NNRY authentic. No modern day cars or caboose. How many RR museums can match this level of authenticity? Very few.

We will operate all day Saturday and most of Sunday, stopping often to allow participants the opportunity to record photo run-bys. We'll begin early both days --approximately 7:30, and we will spend considerable time shooting our train in the historical East Ely rail yards, as well as out on the Hiline and Keystone Routes. On Saturday night, we will do an extensive night photo session. (A tripod is a must.) We will try something new, along with shots of #93 in front of and inside the engine house, and or depot and coal tower.

As always, we will provide you with plenty of food, including the Saturday night banquet steak dinner at the East Ely depot. The Saturday dinner, breakfast, lunch, and snacks are included in your train fare.

Bottom Line? World-class photography. NNRy Winter Steam Photo Spectacular participants have won numerous photo contests, recording timeless scenes of a historical railroad that is second to none. Many of the "Winter Spectacular" photos that I've seen rival the best that National Geographic has to offer.
You'll freeze your butt off (hopefully), but we'll keep the fires burning in the caboose. True, you may have to have your frostbitten fingers, toes, and nose amputated...but when you see your photos, you will be glad that you gave up a body part or two for images that will last a lifetime."
 

Joel may sound a little excited, but photographs from his shoot have won awards around the country.

Karl Franz is organizing the last photo shoot. This shoot is schedule for February 11th and 12th. The interesting aspect of this photo shoot is that it is a direct result of our participation in the Winter Olympics in 2002. Karl is from back east, way back east as in Washington D.C. back east. He heard all about the Olympic Steam Team and saw the photos in national publications. His curiosity is was peaked so he came out to last year's photo shoot. He liked what he saw and organized a joint photo shoot using both the Nevada Northern and the Heber Valley railroads.

All of Karl's participants (except one) are from back east. This will create additional exposure for the Museum with an audience that we normally don't tap into. This is all very good.

So why bother doing photo shoots? Well, the first reason is that they are awesome. If you saw 93 going up hill with the last excursion train of the season on November 1st, you know what I mean. November 1st was cold and snowy and 93 put on a fabulous show as we headed up the hill. There was steam and smoke with the exhaust nice and sharp as it reverberated off the canyon walls. It was a world-class show.

Secondly, outstanding photographs get published in a wide variety of magazines. This exposure for the museum means that more people become aware of what we have been hiding out here. Their curiosity is peaked and then they make a trip to the gem of the Silver State, us!

Finally, the photo shoots raise income during the off-season for the Museum and the community. And we all welcome an infusion of cash in February.

 

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