Sunday, June 22, 2008

West End Washout

June 14th was the birthday of the heir to the L4T fortune, and he decided that a family get together in Fargo, where he is now living, was the appropriate way to celebrate this event. So after a trip to Staples in the morning to check out some action at the center of the Staples Sub, Mrs. L4T and myself headed west for a party.

I had moved the scanner into the road car, and with the camera close at hand I had visions of capturing traffic in fresh locations under sunny skies. The trip from Wadena to DL revealed no train traffic, and even the scanner was quiet. Once we entered DL, though, I heard an easbound pass a detector outside Detroit Lakes. I made the best possible time through the construction and set up to catch him at a crossing near the Wal-Mart store in DL.


Turned out to be a pair of SD40-2's with a long string of diesel fuel cars headed east. I'm still not sure if these trains are loaded or empty when they are eastbound. With diesel fuel at $4 a gallon 60 cars loaded with 16,000 gallons each is approaching $4 million in value. It's not cheap to run a railroad these days.

The scanner was silent after this encounter, with only a couple of scratchy transmissions on the Dilworth frequency as we approached Moorhead. One empty coal train was entering the yard as we arrived, but I had no chance for a shot. It seemed unusual to me to traverse the line from Wadena to Moorhead and only get one shot on a Saturday morning.

We spent the day celebrating our son's birthday, and ended up at Applebee's in Fargo for an early supper. While in the restaurant a strong thunderstorm passed through, with high winds and heavy rain. I expected this might result in overcast conditions on the return trip, but by the time we left Fargo the skies were patchy blue in the west with sun more common than clouds.

Just as we arrived at Watts, I spotted a westbound train coming into the yard and set up to shoot him between Dilworth and Glyndon. You can see the thrunderstorm as it makes its way east in the sky on this shot.


With high hopes that this was just the start of a fleet of westbounds, we continued toward Wadena, with a detour at Hawley to follow the line through the scenic countryside east of there. While the scenery was great, traffic was non-existent. I had to shoot a couple of photos just to remember what might have been if BNSF had cooperated.


And one just for MN Chris, from a favorite location of his.


I waited for half an hour for a train to show itself, then continued toward home. Careful observation revealed that there were NO trains moving on the portion of the railroad I was travelling along. I was frustrated with traffic levels, but enjoyed the scenery none the less.

And of course, once we got home, the horns started to blow signalling that the floodgates were open and traffic was once again returning to normal on this busy stretch of railroad.

It still made for a great day, spending time with family while getting a couple of train photos and seeing some wonderful scenery.

Jim

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