Sunday, July 20, 2008

Catching Up

While I'm sure no one has missed my lack of recent posting, I have been a bit negligent in adding any current information to this blog. Mainly, I haven't had time to spend trackside to generate anything interesting to post.

However, over the period of a few days, my travels and the time I have been able to get out have resulted in a few photos to share. Only a few of these were shot on dedicated railfan outings. Just as many were captured while out and about for other reasons. Sometimes, I think, these are the most enjoyable shots for the photographer. Not because of quality or anything unique, but because they seem like a bonus. When you head out on a mission to railfan, the expectation is that you will come home with train pictures, but when you are just looking for trains during your daily routine, anything you get is a pleasant surprise.

OK, enough with the philosophy lecture. Let's get to the trains.

The evening of July 7 called for an outing in our new Escape. Since we had been favoring Staples side of Wadena, Mrs. L4T and myself decided to head west for some sightseeing. Just before we reached New York Mills I overtook a merchandise train and jumped to the south side of the tracks for this shot:


The spartan cab look is less common all the time on the Staples Sub. There is also a story behind this photo, as this was taken about 20 seconds after the clutch linkage on our brand new 2008 Escape with 400 miles on it self-destructed. We made it home that night with no clutch, and I will never be able to look at this picture without that memory popping into my mind.

Luckily, I was able to get the clutch hooked back up well enough to return the unit to the dealer in Baxter for repairs the following evening. Mrs. L4T followed me in the other Escape and we headed back to Wadena together. The bright spot in the return trip was the opportunity to catch an ACe in good light west of Staples.


The vehicle was repaired on Friday, and we ran over to Baxter to pick it up. On the way home I heard the dispatcher talking to a westbound as they entered Staples and I was able to get a shot at the infamous Oink Joint Road crossing just outside Wadena. It was a real color show, with four units up front, all in different paint.


This photo was taken within about a half hour of a strong thunderstorm passing through the area,the remnants of the storm are barely visible in the sky to the east.

My lone dedicated outing in this group was on the morning of Saturday the 12th. I ran over to Staples for about an hour and a half first thing in the morning and managed to catch a few trains. There were a bunch of loaded coal trains stacked up in the yard, with another coming into town just after I arrived. Here's the power on one of the parked trains.


A brand new SD70ACe leads another coal train into the yard.


A "Z" train passed through on Main 1-I caught him from in front of the depot.


Then came coal loads powered by SD70MAC's in a 1x1 configuration. I still don't understand how BNSF decides to assign power to trains-sometimes there are four units up front on coal loads, sometimes 1 front and 1 back, and just about any combination in between is possible as well.


And isn't it the duty of all rail photographers to record the infrastructure of the railroads as well? A shot taken on the Staples depot platform:


Work found me in southwest Minnesota Thursday and Friday with no trains anywhere near, but on my way home I encountered a Rail Grinder waiting to head west in Staples.


That's it for now. I have a few shots from Saturday evening's jaunt I will post soon. Until then, I will be looking 4 trains.

Jim

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