Saturday, August 9, 2008

Staples on an August Saturday Morning

Having been surrounded by UP Yellow almost the entire week, I felt the need to get back to soothing Cascade Green, with a little peachy pumpkin orange thrown in, this morning. When I need to see some BNSF action the best bet for me is to head Staples way, and that's what I decided to do this morning after seeing that the sun was going to shine.

I didn't even make it out of Wadena before I was jerked to the side of the road by the sight of this creation resting in the Drywall Supply siding south of the main in Wadena.

I was a little concerned that they would be out grinding this morning, leading to a slowdown in traffic. I decided to continue on anyway, with the hope that there was something interesting in the yard or that I would get lucky with trains.

Turns out there were trains about, as you can see in this picture shot from the edge of Highway 10 between Verndale and Aldrich. I didn't have time to get in a better spot and couldn't pass up two green SD40-2's leading a train.

As you can see there was a bit of fog about and I was hoping to get a dramatic shot, but the sun cleared the fog quickly and I never had the chance. Maybe next time. I probably need to get going earlier.

An eastbound cleared a warrant when I passed through Aldrich, but with the fog about gone I decided to head to the first crossing in Staples to get that picture. The result included the depot, which continues to deteriorate.

That building has to rapidly be approaching the point of no return as far as restoration is concerned. There are still tarps on the roof and windows broken out on the top floor allowing pigeons free access to the interior.

With a pause in traffic, I ran over to the south side of the yard to grab a shot of the power on a parked grain train. Both units were dead, and this train never moved while I was in the area.

Next up in the eastward parade was a merchandise train lead by an unusual collection of motive power, including the ubiquitous C44 on the point and a classic -2 bringing up the rear, both bracketing a remote control SW1500. I see these occasionally on the Staples Sub, and assume they are moving somewhere for service or inspection. As best as I could determine, this engine was running as part of the power consist on this long train. And, as befits its purpose, they even did a little switching in Staples, stopping to tack 21 cars to the head end of the train they brought into Staples from a powerless train that was in the yard. Here is a shot of the light engines as they head down the yard lead for the pickup.

While the 1013 was digging the 21 cars for Northtown out of the Staples yard to tie onto the front of his already long train (it was about 450 axles when he came into Staples) what to my wondering eyes did appear but another merchandise train on Main 1, this time behind a 40-2 and Union Pacific GE. Having just returned from my Iowa trip, I was surprised to see this rare visitor to the Staples Sub.

After this train had passed, and the train led by 1013 was coupled up and doing a brake test, a kid came along on the south side of the yard looking to cross the tracks. Since there was a train in his normal crossing location, he decided to move to the east and cross in that spot. I got a picture of this action.

My last train of the morning came by just before 0900, when a coal empty off the Brainerd Sub drifted into town behind SD75M BNSF 8255. I grabbed a backlit shot of the cab that I kind of liked...

And then I realized that I had never seen an SD75M leading a DPU train before. Are these engines equipped to lead in DPU configuration? This was the only unit on the head end. I waited to see what was pushing, and it turned out to be an ES44AC. I believe this is the first time I have seen any DC motor as part of a 1x1 DPU consist. I'll have to watch for this in the future.

Given that I knew what was on the end of the train, a chase back to Wadena seemed in order. I barely made it through Verndale in time to catch him crossing the Wing River, as seen here.

Thus ends the story of Staples on an August Saturday morning. Thanks for sticking with me this far.

Jim, out.

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