Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wow-That was Cool!

Today was a real treat. During the course of work I noticed a unit train being loaded at an elevator, and after I got done with work I swung by to shoot some pictures. After one or two shots an arm came out of the cab window of the old GP unit and waved me over. I walked over and the engineer asked me what I was up to. I told him just shooting some pictures and he invited me up into the engine.

This was pretty cool, but after chatting with him for a couple of minutes (interrupted by frequent calls to shove the 50+ car sting a few feet further forward to facilitate loading) he asked if I would like to head up to the loading office to shoot some photos. I jumped on that and asked it was really OK. He said sure, I'll call ahead on the radio and tell them to expect you. Wow!

I got a shot of the George in the loco before I left. He said a lot of guys don't like his job because it can be boring, but he really enjoys it. He is the retired manager of the operation.

He was a great guy and we had a really nice visit about railroads, grain prices, and a number of other issues.

I headed into the elevator facility and parked out of the way. When I got to the truck unloader they asked if I was Jim, and I said yes. The guy I talked to said "George said you would like to go up into the loading room-follow me." Next thing I knew I was up there, looking out over a 60 car string being loaded. Here are some shots

They can load a 110 car shuttle train in 10 1/2 hours. The elevator they were loading at has enough storage to load almost 20!!!! shuttle trains from what they can store, and they are getting more grain delivered all the time. This particular facility is on the DME and they hand it over to the BNSF at Florence, I think. This train was bound for the west coast but some trains have domestic destinations as well.

The entire process is computerized, and samples are taken from the corn being loaded into every individual car and tested for quality. There is a scale integrated into the loader and the computer knows how much each car weighs. Very technologically advanced!

All in all a really cool experience. I was impressed with what a system they have and at least 4 guys were busy all the time loading this train. Here is a shot of the loco I got after stopping back when they were done.

Thanks George and the rest of you!

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