Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wacky Wadena Local

Saturday evening the wife and I decided to go for a ride and see if any trains were out and about. A visit to Dairy Queen was also part of the plan. Since this was more of an informal railfanning trip I left the scanner in the Escape and just took the camera in the car.

When we got to the Highway 71 crossing in Wadena, a quick glance to the west told me a westbound had just cleared the crossing. I pronounced that we were off to the races and would be chasing the train as the sun was just right for a westbound. As I waited impatiently at the light I hoped I would be able to catch him by the time I reached New York Mills.

Imagine my surprise when we got to the County Highway 75 crossing just west of Wadena and I saw the westbound headlight in my rear view mirror. The only way I could have got ahead of the train that quickly was if it were first, real short, and second, not moving very fast. The first fact was quickly obvious, but the second was changing fast.

It was a VERY short Wadena local, three locomotives (the first time I have seen that) and only two boxcars behind them. A quick grade crossing shot out the window and a plan had formed in my mind.

We were off to the Hwy 10 overpass between Perham and NYM, where I shot him as he approached.


Before I got out of the car I told Valerie to be in the driver's seat with the engine running ready to go when I jumped back in. She was, and as soon as I managed to climb back in, we were off. With my expert coaching she paced the 53 mph train very well, and I shot this:


As you can see, a fairly unusual second unit for this train. The four axle GE's are rarely seen on the local, as a matter of fact I have only seen that once before when a pair in warbonnet paint did the duty.

When we got to Perham, I rewarded the Mrs. with some kind of waffle bowl brownie concoction and praised her pacing ability. My camera skills, on the other hand, leave something to be desired. The trip back to Wadena was uneventful, and the only other train we saw was an eastbound Z train heading through Wadena just as we got back, that was crossing over from Main 2 to Main 1.

Nice weather, and an unusual train, combined with good company, made for a fun evening of train watching.

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