Monday, July 7, 2008

Say Hello to Jeff

Working backwards from my adventure of Sunday evening, I now present you my railroad related work from July 5th. Another beautiful central Minnesota morning lured me to Staples with the hope that the traffic slump of the 4th would be rectified.

I left home around 0645 and didn't get a shot until I arrived in Staples. A short GE powered merchandise train was entering the yard as I got to town, so I stopped and shot him passing under the signal bridge on the west end of the yard.

I wasn't too thrilled with the shot and I noticed this train was being led by an ES44AC, which seemed strange for a short merchandise. I noticed the trailing unit was a sister DC unit, which seemed even more unusual so I shot the two of them as they drifted into the yard to wait for a loaded coal train to enter the Brainerd Sub.

Since the coal train was laboring to get out of town, I decided I had plenty of time to run out to the east edge of town and shoot him. I got the lead unit on this 1x1 DPU as he approached the little bridge just east of Staples.

Looks like the makings of a GE Festival in Staples this AM. When I headed back into town to check what was in the yard, I had the chance to shoot the AC/DC train once more as he passed the depot, and here is the result.

I took advantage of a lull in the traffic to check out some trains that were sitting in the yard. A worm train behind GE power and a vehicle train and stack train, each behind SD40-2's waited for crews to continue east. I grabbed a couple of photos from various angles.

It's just hard for me to accept that the Dash 2's are getting so rare around here. It seems only yesterday that they were almost as common as the Dash 9's, and now I see more ACe's than I do 40's. Never thought I would see the day.

As I was running around town, I saw another vehicle pull into the Amtrak parking lot and just had the feeling it was another fan. I swung back through and sure enough he had a camera so I stopped. Turns out his name was Jeff, he was from the Rochester area, and had come up to Staples the night before on his way to a family gathering up north. He wanted to see the Staples Sub for himself and he got to see some action. I had heard KAW talking to a vehicle train inbound from Dilworth and they had some cars to set out in Staples. The train pulled up on Main Two, uncoupled about the front 25 cars, and ran east past the yard lead, then backed the entire cut into the yard. Had an interesting loco as the second unit in this double headed consist as well.

I couldn't quite place what was strange about it at first glance but I soon realized that even if it said SD40-2R on the frame, this was an SD45-2 body all the way. Something that is even scarcer than classic SD40-2's on the Staples.

While the power from the vehicle train was backing down Main Two again to couple up to what was left of their train, a "Zipper" came through town, having crossed over to Main One seconds earlier. I shot the two of them side-by-side, even though I was clouded out for a moment.

Jeff was hard at work recording the action as well. I told him when I heard the train on the radio it would probably have plenty of power, and thankfully the BNSF didn't choose to make an idiot of me this day.

I needed to leave about this time, and Jeff had duties to attend to as well. I wished him well and hope he enjoyed the time he spent on the Staples Sub on a pretty summer morning.

I anticipated this would be the end of my shots for the morning, but upon arriving at home the wife and I needed to run uptown to do some business. When we started for home my finely-honed railfan sense detected a train approaching from the west. Yes, I saw the headlight. We took a short detour so I could grab him as he passed through Wadena. Here was a formerly-rare ACe in charge of a DAPX train.

Plus, this coal train had in its consist the most photographed coal car in my collection, the infamous DAPX 550, with rotary couplers on each end.

I'm struggling with understanding what it means when I have started to memorize the car number on one of the thousands of coal cars that pass through Wadena on a regular basis. Oh well, one down, 4000 or so to go. What could be more fun?


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