MY INSTAMATIC MEMORIES OF THE ERIE LACKAWANNA
1968 - 1974
Back in the late 60s and early 70s, many of us "baby boom" railfans got started
with an Instamatic camera. Kodak's Instamatic film loading cartridges were popular for taking
the hassle out of loading and unloading film from a camera. But they also reduced the focal
quality of the resulting pictures, because the camera had to allow slack in the cartridge
device within it (I guess that the cartridges, being made of cheap molded plastic, would vary
in size). Sometimes your Instamatic shot was just as good as from an expensive
35 mm camera, but mostly it was a bit out of focus.
So, we saved up and eventually invested in SLR 35mm cameras. But in the interim, we kept on taking
pics of our beloved railroad subjects with those Instamatics. And now, we realize that the pix that
we got, however blurry, still have their value. Thus I've pulled out some of the old Instamtic
negatives and have put up some of them on this page. The composition isn't so great, the quality
is often even worse, but the subject material is a different world, a world now long gone.
I hope you enjoy the views of my teen-age stomping grounds along the EL in New Jersey, despite the
Here we have an eastbound commuter train stopping at Plauderville station along the Bergen
County Line, with the usual EL 900 series RS pulling Stillwell coaches. It's around 9 am on
a summer morning, and I'm out on my trusty bike.
It's a cold day in March, 1973, and we're in Maybrook, NY, where the last EL through freight bringing
interchange to the Penn Central bound for the former New Haven lines in New England is now a
through run with pooled power. This is the eastbound NE-74, with the EL crew leaving and a PC crew
getting on board. This operation wouldn't last long, as the Poughkeepsie bridge
fire would shut the Maybrook interchange for good later that year.
By 1972, most of the old Stillwells and the first generation diesels that pulled them were replaced
by aluminum coaches built by Pullman Standard and U34CH diesels from General Electric. Here I'm
at Kingsland on the Main Line, and a mid-day local is pulling away from the platforms, with the
GE putting out its loud, almost explosive exhaust. The crossovers lead to the Harrison Branch.
Because of the new equipment bought by the State of New Jersey to upgrade the suburban service out of
Hoboken, the old Erie Stillwells and DL&W "Wyatt Earps" were rounded up in Port Jervis yard,
awaiting the best bid from a metal scrap dealer.
A few years earlier (circa 1970), a rush-hour commuter train is seen at "the cantilever bridge"
just east of Rutherford station.