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This image is the result of the efforts of several people, and it was my sincere pleasure to have been able to work with them in its creation. The train is the BNSF "Slab Shuttle" that runs between Los Angeles Harbor and a specialty steel rolling mill at Fontana in the San Bernardino Valley. The train runs eastward every evening with loads of huge raw steel slabs fresh off the boat from Brazil or Korea, and returns the empty cars to the harbor in the early morning. The occasion was the final week of operation on the BNSF Harbor Subdivision, a 26-mile stretch of track that wondered from Vernon to the Harbor by a circuitous path through the western and southern regions of metropolitan Los Angeles. Several rail fans were looking for a final tribute to this historic line, which had served as the western tip of the Santa Fe Railroad empire for over a hundred years, and we came up with the idea of a night shoot at the location of the last archaic Mechanical Flagman road crossing signal - once a common device made rare through slow replacement by more modern safety equipment. Of the four people who made this event happen, the greatest credit goes to Bob Finan, who organized the event, got the permission of the railroad's security people, and even borrowed a replacement signal banner and loaned it to the railroad signal department after the existing one was stolen by some Cretan just before the shoot. Credit also goes to Joe Blackwell, a BNSF Engineer, for getting the crew of this train to cooperate with us and serving as communication link on the night of the shoot. The technical expertise for the lighting was brought in by Bill Roberts, who has perfected the technique of using huge Number 20 Flashbulbs in his many fantastic photos of Los Angeles railroad scenes at night. I myself scouted the location for camera angles, and ran a test to see what exposure was required to get the desired effect of the moving wig-wag signal banner. (Test Image).

On the night of the shoot, we all gathered at the crossing (49th Street in Vernon) just before sunset to get things ready. After everything was set up, we waited nearly five hours for the train to arrive. With Joe's help on the radio, the crew worked with us to position the lead locomotive right where we wanted it. Then we each opened the shutters on our cameras, and Bill ran around with the flash bulbs, popping off three of them to light the front, side, and background. Then the shutters were closed and the slab train continued on its way as we photographers stood there amazed by what we had just done.

A week later, the Alameda Corridor opened, which provided a new high-speed rail line between downtown Los Angeles and the Harbor. The BNSF Harbor Subdivision was closed as a through route. History had been written, and had moved on. This image stands in tribute to those who cooperated in its creation, and to the long history of things that are outmoded in the constant change that surrounds and enervates us.

Thank you, Bob, Joe, and Bill, for giving me the chance to be part of this event.