Railfanning Correspondence – January 2016



Nevada Northern Railway Winter Steam Photo Spectacular

Welcome to 2016, we hope you had a joyous holiday season and we hope this new year will be a great one for winteryou and all of your loved ones.   Did any of you take a trip to see Santa on one of the excursion railroads around the state?  If so, we hope you had a great time.

With the holidays now behind us, it is time to turn our attention to Nevada’s premier annual railfan experience, as it is quickly approaching.   We are referring to the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular, hosted by the Nevada Northern Railway, in Ely, Nevada.  This annual event occurs the second and third weekends of February each year, and it is a “must-see” for any railfan.  For 2016, the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular is scheduled for Feb. 12-14 and Feb. 19-21.

You may have watched a steam locomotive in operation during the summer months and found it a sight to behold.  If you take that same steam locomotive and fire it up in subfreezing weather, it becomes ten times more spectacular as steam belches everywhere and creates an almost mystical spectacle.  That is what the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular is all about, showcasing steam locomotive operations in the most spectacular way possible.

To say the Nevada Northern Railway showcases steam locomotive operations during the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular is actually a gross understatement.  During the event, the railway brings out nearly every piece of gear it owns and operates it so railfans can best observe, photograph, and shoot video.  Have you ever seen a steam-powered “wrecking crane” in operation? During the event, the railway will have its crane in operation, recovering “derailed” and “wrecked’ rolling stock in a scenario conceived to provide the best photographs and video possible.

J Gaffney Jan 2016 2The wrecking crane is just the opening act on Friday that draws you into the experience.  A night photo shoot follows, as the sun sets and darkness engulfs the railyard.  Locomotives, rolling stock and crew members in period dress will be posed to provide subjects for scintillating photos and video.  To heighten the beauty of the photos and video, scenes will be lit with studio lights, no need to use camera flashes.

On Saturday and Sunday, participants will board trains to ride to remote and scenic locations.  At each stop, they will dismount and form “photo lines” to photograph the trains at work against the rugged and beautiful vistas.  Freight trains, ore trains, passenger trains, snow-clearing trains, and wreck-recovery trains will all be presented in choreographed demonstrations designed to provide amazing photo and video opportunities.  To ensure the participants get the shots they want, the trains will do “run-bys” – making multiple passes at each shooting location.

Thanks to El Nino, this winter is off to great start.  We expect beautiful snowy conditions in Ely for this year’s Winter Steam Photo Spectacular.  We will be there, and we invite you to come along too.  Bring your camera, your snow boots, your best winter clothing, and expect to see an amazing show.  For more information on the event, go to:  www.nnry.com/pages/photoshoot.php

For those of you that can’t make it to Ely for the show, you can expect to see our best photos from the event in the March Nevadagram.

John Gaffney