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End of two eras

A 1966 view of the Century in twilight was one of my final railroad photos
Two E8As and an E7B lead NYC 26, the 20th Century Limited, eastbound at VIckers, Ohio, on a summer evening in 1966, the train’s last full year.
William L. Gwyer
This picture was just about the last railroad photo I took. It was the culmination of my photographic exploration of contemporary railroading in the early 1960s. It shows New York Central No. 26, the 20th Century Limited, at Vickers, Ohio, a few miles east of Toledo.

It was summer 1966. I was working as an operator on the old Wheeling & Lake Erie district of the Norfolk & Western and had only months before returned from Vietnam. A friend suggested we try one more time to capture on film the last of railroading as we’d known it. After all, in 1966 change was in the air.

Nickel Plate and Wabash had disappeared by merger into the N&W in 1964, and the prospect of a Penn Central was increasingly likely. Passenger trains were coming off by the dozens, and it was apparent that sights like this would not last. In this picture, No. 26 shows the effects of time and neglect. Coaches had been added and the lightning stripes replaced by the Perlman-era “cigar band” scheme.

Still, No. 26 had a name and a legend to uphold, and as she rolled into the twilight I knew I had captured a suitable “finish” to my railroad picture-taking. In another year I went into NYC’s management training program, and soon after, in December ’67, the mighty
Century left the timetable.

First published in Summer 2009 Classic Trains magazine.

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