East Chicago, IN


CP 502 – East Chicago, IN, originally uploaded by capwell.


It’s no secret that I am completely obsessed with trains. It’s also no secret that about 80% of the traveling I do, in some way, has something to do with trains, or train-related nerdery. Oh, and also, I take a lot of pictures of trains, too. Now you know something new about me!

For the uninitiated, most “railroad photography” has to do with the locomotive, and little else. The power that pulls the train, to most people, is the raison d’être for their train shooting. As I’ve gotten older, and more into taking pictures of other things, I’d like to think that this has stopped being my sole purpose for grabbing my camera and heading trackside. Take the photo above, f’rinstance.

This was on the same trip in April that yielded the 4×5 shot of Gary, and in fact, this shot was not very far from there – just past the porno store, the casino, and that one abandoned building. Alex and I were trying to cram like ten locations’ worth of Chicagoland train spots into one early-spring, early-dusk, colder-than-expected April afternoon/evening. Needless to say, on such a marathon day of sight-seeing, i think we saw all of one train, which is karmic retribution for such short attention spans, a punishment anyone who shoots trains understands all too well.

But that’s not the point of this bit of writing, at all. My point is, that many of my favorite train pictures, especially lately, are not of the train, necessarily, but of everything that surrounds it. CP 502, the name of the spot in this picture, is where, at one point in time, four railroads came together and interchanged with each other. Today, it’s one less, but still, the amount of tracks, signals, bridges, switches, everything really, makes for a really striking image. The sun was also at such an angle that it made the scene that much more, you know, dramatic. Yeah.

Oh, and the best part? This was taken from a pedestrian bridge between two sides of an active steel mill, but yet is on completely public property – a rarity in this day of post-9/11 paranoia!