Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Couple of "Matched Sets"

Welcome back, and thanks for stopping. Clear blue skies this morning tempted me and I gave in, heading to Staples for a couple of hours of fanning.

The rear end of a stopped coal train about half way down the yard got my interest up immediately as I drove into town. I soon found out that he was waiting for an empty train coming off the Brainerd Sub. With one loco up front I figured the empty would have a DPU on the rear, and took a chance it would be facing east into the sun. Turns out I was wrong, but I shot him as he passed the power on the loads as they waited near the depot for a green signal and a warrant.

This was just the first of many GE's that would make themselves known this morning.

Since the yard was empty of power, with only a string of mixed cars sitting, I decided I would try and catch the loads as they left Staples. I still think there is a shot to be had at the bridge on the east side of town, but this isn't it.

Not that I'm going to quit trying.

Just as quickly as things had started for me this morning, they stopped. I could hear the dispatcher talking to the Empire Builder as he tried to make up time on the run to St. Cloud (must have missed him in Staples by only a few minutes!) but there was nothing else happening. Finally, I heard a train clear his warrant in Wadena and I set up at the depot to wait for him. Dispatch didn't give him another warrant as he said the "Rice guys" were out and he needed them to clear something first. When he passed the detector at 151.6 it announced this train had 282 axles, so I expected to see a Z train. Sure enough, it was.

Turns out the power on this train was three Dash 9's all in H2 paint. The leader has a little optional paint on the nose as well.

And then I sat and waited. And waited. And then I decided to head for home. It was just plain and simple very quiet.

Just as I reached Verndale, I heard another MAC clear a warrant in Wadena, and I hightailed it to the turkey farm crossing on the west edge of town. With a minute to spare, I was set up and ready to watch him head down the hill to the Wing River bridge, one of the heavy grades in Wadena County. I expect BNSF to set up a pusher station in Wadena any day, with the locos resting on the old GN line between assignments. (Jim said, with tongue firmly planted in cheek). You can get an idea of what Minnesota Mountain railroading is like in this shot.

With that task accomplished, I headed for Wadena again, and made it all the way to Oink Joint Road before a headlight spurred me to make a U-turn and rush back to the place I had just been. Here came the matched set of the day, four new GE's heading up the most haggard mix of grain hoppers this side of the wrecking yard.

Now I don't think I have made any secret of my preference for EMD power on the point of trains, but this was one of the prettiest sights I have seen all summer. The power, at least. The train would shame the cheapest railroad CEO in the land with its appearance.

Having bagged two eastbounds in a span of 10 minutes, I felt safe heading home. Once again, before I even made it to Oink Joint, here comes another headlight, right on the blocks of the GE. By this time I am wondering if my lawn will ever get mowed. I decided to try something I have been thinking about for quite a while-there was a center pivot right up against the tracks near the Wing River and I set up to shoot the train as it passed, hoping to get a rainbow in the shot as well. You can see by the result I still need to work on this concept as well.

All in all, a productive outing. For once, I didn't peer down the track looking for another train when I headed home, the grass needed cutting and I was the one who was going to do it. I was thankful for the chance to catch some trains and two of them had unusual matched sets of power. Remember, even a bad day of trainwatching beats a good day of almost anything else!

Jim, out.

1 comment:

Anarchivist said...

Hi! I grew up in Wadena, not far from the tracks. So I'm not a trainwatcher as such, but I really enjoy your photos. Thanks for posting them!