RailPictures.Net Photo: ATK 944 Amtrak ASEA AEM-7 at Newark, New Jersey by Mike Del Vecchio
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» Amtrak (more..)
» ASEA AEM-7 (more..)
» Portal Tower (more..)
» Newark, New Jersey, USA (more..)
» September 30, 1997
Locomotive No./Train ID Photographer
» ATK 944 (more..)
» Unknown
» Mike Del Vecchio (more..)
» Contact Photographer
Remarks & Notes 
The September sunsets in New Jersey can be spectacular. By the middle of the 1980s I got to be friends with many railroaders. An especially influential friend of that era was Steve Turkenkopf, an Amtrak operator. On this day he was working second trick Portal, which controlled the crossovers on either side of Portal Draw. It was also the last tower eastbound trains would pass before entering the North River Tunnels to reach PennStation, so part of the operator's job on eastbound trains was to count the number of cars to relay that information to A Tower, so the operator there knew where to place that train in the station. That's right, the famous Solari Board wouldn't start clicking its panels to display a track number to the hundreds of passengers gathered under the Solari Board until Portal gave A Tower the time and car count. Turkenkopf allowed me to pass train information between towers each time I visited him. To me, that was as much fun as any cab ride or throttle time, taking part in railroading's big picture and continuing a more-than-century-old tradition. Amtrak's towers on the Northeast Corridor were the last string of towers that operated so traditionally in America, and I got to spend time in most of them. On this day, while "posting" with Steve the sunset was irresistible so I stood outside the tower to take a few pictures in the golden light. The most unusual thing about Portal tower is that it was at ground level, built into the side of the fill on the east-side approach, so the operator was actually looking up at the passing trains. The only access to the tower required the operator to walk across Portal Draw. I always felt that any train could pick the mitre rail and destroy that tower, and one day in the 1990s a train did, not long after the tower closed for good. In this scene Amtrak AEM-7 944 is leading a basic Metroliner consists westbound toward Portal Draw. Next stop, Newark PennStation.
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