Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buffalo Ridge

A long, long, time ago (sorry, Don McLean)...I saw a photo that has stuck in my mind ever since.

Where was I? Oh yes, Buffalo Ridge. Anyway, Mike Vandenberg posted a photo a year and half ago that captured my imagination and was one of those special photos that makes you want to go and see that place! This picture proved to be the inspiration that led me to take a right on Highway 23 leaving US 14 this afternoon, rather than follow 14 east in the hopes of catching something on the DME. Seeing a southbound (is that really westbound per timetable?) train on BNSF's Marshall Sub just as I approached 23 didn't hurt, either. Even though it was a disgustingly overcast, gray day, I just had to chase this train to the place where the windmills sprout. And I am glad I did, not so much for the photos (the light absolutely sucked), but for the chance to see some stunning scenery when compared to much of Minnesota.

This manifest train stopped for a meet with a northbound local at Ruthton, and the wait was short. I could see why all the windmills were here as my door was nearly snapped off when I opened it to get a shot of the local. After the manifest started rolling, I decided to head south to see what kind of scenery was waiting.

Turns out there is some wonderful rolling country between Ruthton and Holland, MN. I got a couple of shots that I managed to squeeze something out of. I was shooting at ISO 400 and don't have anything but Picasa to edit them with on this computer, but I wanted to share them to give you an idea of what you're missing if you don't check this area out.

The windmills are awesome, and provide a unique backdrop for the trains passing through the area. The hills are also neat:

There are also some wide open profiles just begging to be photographed when the sun comes out.

So, this post has multiple purposes: first, to thank Mike for raising my interest in the area, second, to encourage the rest of you to check it out when you get time, and last but not least, to let me share with all my 7 faithful readers my excitement in seeing a train pass through this unique geographic area of Minnesota. The photos I have posted in no way do justice to the scenery in the area.

I also found it interesting that the engines on this manifest were ES44AC's-some of BNSF's newest AC traction motor coal haulers, units that I very seldom see on anything other than unit coal trains on the Staples Sub.

I can't wait to get back to the area when the sun is out and I have a few free hours to wait trackside for a train. Hopefully I can come up with some shots that are somewhat comparable to the stunning work Mike V. has done in this area. Thanks again Mike, for pointing me in the right direction!

Jim, out.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Well said, Jim! Though I am certainly not the first to photograph down there, I do appreciate the plug and all the kind words. That area is a real gem in our state for chasing trains.

Mike Vandenberg