Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Southern Rainy Days

Over the last couple of days work has taken me to Southern Minnesota once again, and the quirks of my schedule have dictated east/west travel. While the highway network of Minnesota is not neccesarily conducive to these journeys, it does offer the opportunity to parallel some of the lighter traffic rail lines in granger country. Trains are rare compared to the traffic I am used to on the Staples Sub but there are different colored locomotives and different scenery.

On Monday afternoon I left the Olivia area and headed east along the TCW main. Earlier in the day, I had heard a train blowing for a crossing in Bird Island and ran up to the crossing to shoot him as he throttled up one of the CAT-powered geeps that are common to this line. When he notches out the throttle, you would think that there is an Alco prime mover hiding inside the cowl given the quantity of smoke generated.

No more traffic was in evidence as I made the trek east. I did see one loco parked on a siding near Cologne but had no chance at a shot given the sun angle and the lack of access. Soon I broke away from the rail line to head slightly south.

My next opportuntiy for a shot presented itself in Belle Plaine where a UP loco was resting north of the crossing. Once again the sun angle left something to be desired but I shot him amid some trees just beginning to show signs of spring.

And that was all the action for Monday. After a meeting on Tuesday, I headed back and this time chose the rail line that parallels MN Hwy 19 as my target. It was a cloudy, then rainy day that was ill suited for photography most of the way. I met some maintenance of way equipment heading in about 3:30 near Gaylord, but no photos were attempted.

A matched set of Red River Valley and Western units were idling away at the ethanol plant in Winthrop in a steady rain. I stopped and attempted a shot but was not too impressed with the results.

Again, nothing more was moving as I continued west. I made it to Redwood Falls and had supper before heading back to Morton. While I was in the restaurant, the sun came out and I stopped to shoot a trestle in the Minnesota River bottom and dream about how nice it would look with a train creeping across it.

I decided to explore Morton a bit before heading back to the hotel and found a couple of items that were interesting. One, located next to a building identified as the Northern Prairie engine house, was the former home of a speeder car that has definitely seen better days.

There were also a couple of boxcars off their trucks being used for storage. One of them was proudly displaying the logo of a long-gone railroad in the evening sun.

All in all, an intersting trip but one that did not involve a lot of train action. It makes me thankful for the traffic that I can enjoy around home just about any time I want. I need to continue to enjoy the traffic that I am lucky enough to be near while at the same time checking out new places when the opportunity presents itself.

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