Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Yesterday I received a phone call informing me that my normal Saturday morning activity was cancelled. After I heard this, I told Mrs. L4T that I just might head out Saturday morning to do a little railfanning.

I fully expected the day to dawn cloudy, but to my surprise the sun revealed a clear sky as it peeked over the horizon. Following an exchange of Valentine's Day cards, I announced my intention to head over to Staples for a little photography and train watching this AM.

After finally getting my act together I was out the door around 8 AM. Within a minute I heard something trip the detector at MP 174 on Main 2. Knowing this was likely an eastbound, and the sun being directly in his face on the run from Wadena to almost Aldrich, I decided to head to the Todd County Road 9 crossing (that's the location where this shot was taken) to try and get whatever this train was coming out of the little forest that surrounds the tracks to the west of there. Here's the result of that effort:

That was my last chance at this train, as he wasted no time passing through Staples and I wasn't able to beat him to the 6th St. crossing.

I did hear him clear up his warrant and get a new one, after which the dispatcher told him that he would be meeting two trains in Lincoln. So I knew there would be some "against the sun" action later, at the very least.

While I was waiting for another train, I scooted around to the south side of the yard and snuck in a couple of shots of a loaded coal train behind a pair of ACe's. My, but they are getting common on coal in this area. I'd love to see one in some form of green paint. The heritage loco program is one thing I appreciate the UP having done, and it would be neat if the BNSF was able to do something similar. Anyway, here is the shot:

Next up I heard an eastbound clear up a warrant at Wadena. A quick glance at the signals in Staples showed green on Main 1 and red on Main 2. It never dawned on me that this was probably a coal load for the Brainerd Sub until the train showed up. I must be really out of practice! Turns out it was likely a Laskin train, given the consist of all BN steel bottom dump hoppers. The leader on this train was an ES44AC. I shot the train as passed the Staples depot. I didn't notice any activity around the depot that would lead me to believe it was getting a new roof soon, either.

Next up was the parade of westbounds. The first one was a merchandise train behind a warbonnet C44. No pictures of that one as it was badly backlit. Second out was an empty coal train. This one got the bad news that he would be waiting in Staples for an hour or two due to "some problems out in Jamestown". I never did hear what those problems were. I shot him as he passed the depot, where he gave me a series of short toots on the horn as he rolled by. The dispatcher did say he would keep him waiting on the main so at least they didn't have to throw switches and derails.

This was a DAPX train and there were a couple of unique items about it. First, I spotted my second-ever double rotary coupler DAPX car. I have long watched for DAPX 550, well now I know that DAPX 549 is also double ended. And here is the proof:

Second, 550 was the highest number I had ever seen in that car series, until today. There were a handful on brand new DAPX cars in this train, including this one:

At least 6 cars have been added to the fleet, as the highest number was 556.

After this train was stopped on the main, I swung around to try a backlit shot from the west end of the yard. There was a DPU on the loads I had shot earlier visible, along with the power for a coal empty that was parked south of the loads. Here is what I came up with:

Probably my favorite shot of the bunch. One thing I like about this photo is the angle on the yard ladder. I like to see the curve in the rail highlighted by the sun.

Since I didn't know of any more traffic coming, I headed for Wadena. About halfway home I heard the dispatcher giving a crossing warning malfunction to BNSF 608, the warbonnet I had seen earlier. He then repeated it for another train, which I suspected was an eastbound. I stopped in Wadena and waited for about 10 minutes, and sure enough I heard him pass the detector at 174.1. I decided to shoot him from the east end of town, in a location I have never tried before. I like the results of this shot as well:

That was it for Valentine's day morning. My scoresheet showed 5 moving trains and 2 parked trains, not bad for a couple hour's time on a Saturday morning. Hope you enjoy these. Until next time, that's it from Jim.

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