Friday, June 27, 2008

Southwest Minnesota Sightings

Greetings again from the rambling railfan of rural Minnesota. This past week I ventured into little explored (by me) portions of southwest Minnesota in my quest to earn a living, along with taking advantage of some railroad related observations that fate tossed my way.

My adventure began on Tuesday, when I travelled to New Ulm for a meeting. Upon the completion of my work there, my itinerary called for an overnight stay in the area. I selected Springfield as a great spot to overnight, given the proximity of a nice Microtel Inn to the DM&E main. On my way over I passed by the enormous Harvestland elevator complex just east of town, and found a DME GP40 type at rest on the end of a string of covered hoppers. Even through the engine was front-coupled, I pulled over and grabbed a photo since the light was so nice.

An investigation of Springfield on foot later that evening revealed no rail action, and my camera went unused for the balance of the day. I still have hopes of catching a DME train passing through this beautiful small city someday soon.

The following morning, after working in the area until about 11:00, I headed south with a destination near the Iowa border. My route took me through Windom, and I angled off on Highway 60 to get closer to my target. The next rail action I encountered was an engine at the enormous Heron Lake ethanol plant. Even though the sun was high, I pulled over for a photo:

Within moments I heard a horn from the southwest, which I took to mean a UP train would be approaching. I stayed where I was and shot him as he approached the crossing I was at. Again, the light was less than perfect, but I have very few if any Armour Yellow engines in my collection and was not about to pass up an opportunity to add three modern units to my tally.

I then proceeded on to my destination and completed what I had been summoned to do. After a productive afternoon's work I headed to Worthington for the night, but soon found that the recession has not yet sunk into that community as there was no room at the Inn for your humble correspondent. Plan "B" called for overnighting in Windom, which led to another run up Highway 60, paralleling the UP main the entire way. While there were no more mainline trains out and about, I did catch a couple of industrial units along the way. First was this former Conrail SW doing duty far from his former home. He is now assigned to Cargill's Miloma Farm Service Center.

Just up the line I came across the vast Minnesota Soybean Processors complex and discovered a Trackmobile at work spotting covered hoppers for loading.

And that wrapped up the photo ops for the first couple of days of my venture. The photos from the third and final day of the trip will have to wait for another post. Don't forget to keep looking 4 trains!


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