My First Time At Iron Horse

There is an old abandoned train repair facility in my hometown of Billerica, Massachusetts originally used by B&M railroads. It closed down some years ago, and now functions primarily as an MBTA graveyard for old buses and train parts. Last fall a friend of mine recommended I go check it out, as it was fairly easy to get into, and was very photogenic. The day before I went I had just received a rather large order from www.keh.com, comprised of several old FD mount lenses, an old Canon A-1, and my current favorite, the Eos-1 EF mount film body. This actually turned out to be an issue because along with my Rebel XT, I now had 3 cameras to shoot with this day. The Canon A-1 was loaded up with Reala 100 color film using my 28mm 2.8, which I later realized I wasn’t a huge fan of, the Eos-1 with Neopan 1600 and my Canon 50mm 1.8, and the Rebel XT was using my Sigma 17-70 zoom lens. Since this was my first time using film since my old Minolta XG-1 days, most of my film shots were also taken with the digital. Turns out this wasn’t really necessary, as I was very happy with how they came out.

Now I took these right before Thanksgiving of 2008, and at this time of year in New England it starts to get very cold. If I remember correctly it was in the 30s this day, and was quite windy. This wouldn’t have been so bad as we were inside most of the time, but in order to get there we had to park at an apartment complex about a mile away and walk along the train tracks that led into the place. It wasn’t so bad coming in, but we left as it was getting dark, at which point the temps had dropped to below freezing.

The first gallery is from the digital camera. All but the last of these were taken outside, where they keep all the decommissioned MBTA buses. According to my friend most of these were all pretty new to the facility, and this was apparent due to the relative lack of graffiti covering them. The last bus you see has been there for a while, and had some amazing artwork on its side.

Next up are my film shots. Most of these are from my Neopan roll, save for the last two which were taken with the Reala. I didn’t like most of my Reala shots from this day, and I’m attributing that to a combination of the 28mm focal length which I have never been a huge fan of, and I also felt that the colors from the film weren’t very complimentary to the location. If I could reshoot these, I would use a wider focal length, and some black and white film. I am very happy with my Neopan shots though, and love the grain and contrast that this film consistently provides. Even though it is 1600 speed film, I routinely use it in full sunlight because I love the look it gives me.

It was mostly empty inside the huge building, with a couple of small rooms along the side. One of these rooms contained the aptly-named “beer-fridge”, due to some graffiti on its door which has since been covered by another, less photogenic tag. This room was very nicely lit by a rather large skylight, and the paint was literally falling off the walls. This seems to have been an employee break room back in the day, but now that the floor is covered in moss and chunks of lead paint (and oddly enough a few used condoms), the last thing I would want to do in here is eat my lunch.

This was one of my first urbexing adventures, and while it was a great learning experience I feel like I only scratched the surface of the great photographic potential of this location. I plan on making a return trip to Iron Horse soon, now that the weather is finally getting nice again. I plan on shooting solely with my Eos-1 this time, although I may bring my 5D along just in case.

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