Sunday, February 1, 2009

Changing Times on the Staples Sub

Given the variability in my workload, other obligations, and weather, I tend to railfan when I can, not always when I would like to. There are times when I will go for weeks with only a glance at the tracks to satisfy my curiosity.

This can cause me to not notice a change on the railroad until it darn near reaches out and slaps me. The most recent example I can think of is the disappearance of the once-common SD40-2 locomotive on trains travelling the Staples Sub. I made a post to the Outstate Minnesota Rail group observing that I hadn't seen many 40's recently and it came to light that they are either stored or being returned to the leasor, due to the economic downturn and the arrival of new power on the railroad.

Having been tied up for much of the fall with work issues, I had done very little fanning after we returned from our trip to Glacier in September. I decided to look back at the few photos I had shot to see when I had last photographed an SD40-2 on BNSF rails. Surprisingly (to me), it was while on vacation in Montana. The last 40 I shot on BNSF rails was BNSF 6994, which I caught as it passed through what Google maps calls "Badrock Canyon" just east of Columbia Falls, Montana. This is where the Flathead River, the railroad, and US Highway 2 all pass through a narrow valley.

At the time I had no inkling whatsoever that this would be my final mainline BNSF SD40-2 for, at best, quite a while. So the fact that Mrs. L4T and myself chased the train to Olney was purely coincidental, although now that the 40's are gone it seems only fitting that the last one I got to shoot deserved a chase.

We beat the train to Olney and I grabbed a going away shot, not for the historical value, but because the scenery was very un-Staples Sub like. I guess the fact it is going away is symbolic, isn't it?

Now I know that as that train curved out of sight on September 19, 2008, I had just released the shutter on the last BNSF SD40-2 I would see in mainline operation for what now looks to be a long time.

This all made me go back and take a look at some of my favorites SD40-2 shots. Here are a couple of them. The first one is a Z train approaching Lincoln in the fall of 2006:

Here's one passing through Wadena in a snow flurry:

I miss them and I hope we see the need to get them back on the high iron soon.


1 comment:

John said...

It is indeed sad seeing these marvelous SD40s leave the region. I too hope we will see them in full force again one day but how likely that is at this point is unknown at best. This re-affirms the idea of "shoot them while you can because they may night be here tomorrow". Unfortunately tomorrow has arrived.