Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Birthday Celebration

A few weeks ago I had a feeling that I had been doing this blog thing for quite some time and checked back to see when I had made my first post. Turns out it was April 26, 2008, when I rolled this blog out and decided to share some railfan observations on an irregular basis.

About the time I started the blog, I also set up a sitemeter account to track the traffic I was getting. After a few months a sitemeter problem led me to switch over to Google Analytics, which is what I have been using since August 1, 2008. I thought I would share some of the stats with my few faithful readers.

How do people find this site? Well, just over 50% of the 3238 visits (since August 1) have been from referring sites-the most common of which is, which makes sense given how closely linked this site has been with the Outstate Minnesota Rail group. The next most common referrer is, followed by google and a couple of qstation sites. Also in the top ten are Trains magazine message board,, and (thanks Ian!). is just behind, in 12th place, so thanks for your link as well, John.

As of this morning there have been 8965 page views since the blog was established. I don't have detailed info from the sitemeter days, but since last August 1st, the most viewed pages have been: the home page first, obviously, followed in order by a post about DEEX coal cars, my Valentine's Day post from this year, a post on an SD70 confab in Staples, and my first coal car post, about BN and BNSF cars.

Has this been worth doing? For me, the answer is a definite yes. For one thing, Mrs. L4T likes to read about her part in the look4trains fact-finding outings. It also has helped me to share information with other people who have similar interests. Railfanning in a small Minnesota town can be a solitary pursuit, but the internet has helped people with similar interests to make contact with each other, share information, and develop friendships. Hopefully this blog has contributed in some small way to that goal.

So, after 72 posts, thousands of photos sorted through to try and find something interesting enough to post, and a lot of good memories, what does the future hold? More of the same. I plan to keep shooting train photos, sharing them occasionally, and trying to tell semi-entertaining stories about railfanning along the Staples Sub and sometimes other places. Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, and especially to those of you that take the time to comment, either on the blog, on a mailing list or message board, or by email. I would probably do this if no one ever responded, for my own enjoyment, but hearing from people who read this junk makes it a lot more fun. And that's what a hobby should be, in the end. Fun.

Jim, out.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

8 Dash 9's plus a GEVO

Passing through Staples Friday afternoon on my way from Breezy Point, I found the yard to have quite a few trains, but only spotted one unit facing east. This is the reverse of the normal situation, where it seems eastbounds (mostly coal trains for the Brainerd Sub) are held in the yard more often westbounds.

Not sure if these trains had power or not, I glanced south as I passed the west end of the yard and spotted a bunch of GE's on the waiting trains. I swung around and did my best given the sun angle.

As near as I can count, that is eight Dash 9's and a single GEVO, with 6 of the old models in the H2 scheme, one H1, and a warbonnet tucked in the back on the second train from the south. BNSF sure does like them some GE's!

I wonder if this had something to do with the accumulation of westbounds in Staples on Friday? I will probably never know, but it was quite a sight in Staples.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Study in Orange Hues

Monday and Tuesday found me along a very quiet Noyes Sub in extreme NW Minnesota. When I spend a day in the area I usually am lucky enough to catch at least one train, but not this time. Maybe it had something to do with the flooding that had the bridge in Grand Forks closed?

Anyway, on the return trip, I decided to take the route that would pass through Ulen, and sure enough, I caught a train in town being loaded. Not much to shoot except the power as it waited for the train to be made up, but I took advantage of that.

That was shot from the crossing south of town, and the derail was locked. I grabbed another shot from the same area, trying to work the distant elevator in, but it's tough with the trees along the line.

Take a good look at the color of this generic Dash 9, it comes into play later.

After reaching Highway 10 I heard the dispatcher talking to a coal load that was going to have to wait for a westbound to clear on Main 2 then scoot east himself so the work train could get some more time. They continue to drop ties along the Staples Sub, having made it all the way to Frazee at least now. I thought I might get a shot at a DPU on the coal train, and sure enough i did, just west of DL.

The orange paint on this ACe stood out against the blue sky.

I hoped to catch the westbound as well, and sure enough, I spied the headlight as I approached Wal-mart and pulled over for a shot. Although by road number this engine is only 3 digits older than the one I shot in Ulen, the paint certainly doesn't reflect that difference. This is one of the horribly faded "Trash 9's" that you catch occasionally. Mrs. L4T hates these engines! Going by the finish you would think this one is three decades older than the one in Ulen.

I knew there was a work train out and about, but I needed to get to Perham for a meeting that evening and had no time to search him out. I got shots of the power a few days ago, and will post them soon, either here or on my photostream.

I took a chance passing through Ulen on this late winter day, and it paid off. I would love to catch one of these unit trains as they traverse this branch line one day after being loaded.

Thanks for reading, and remember to keep looking for trains.