Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Few from the Road

I am lucky(?) enough to have a job that gives me the chance to travel the state. At the same time there are places I have to be at given times, so frequently I am along tracks with no time to stop and wait for a train, I just grab whatever targets of opportunity present themselves. This past week was a good example of that.

Monday morning I headed northwest with a destination of Warren, MN. I followed the Staples Sub from Wadena to DL, the CP Detroit Lakes Sub north to Erskine, picked up the BNSF Grand Forks Sub west to Crookston, and the Noyes Sub north to its crossing with the NPR at Warren. Yes, I am like that, and do plan my routes with railroads in mind.

Anyway, there was no traffic until I passed through Erskine and met what I believe was the Cass Lake local working the propane plant in Mentor. The sun was high, but I stopped and grabbed a couple of quick shots before moving on. This is probably the best one. (NOTE: I have changed the formatting of photos on the blog. Starting with the last couple of posts, clicking on the pictures should make them open in a new window, rather than the existing window like they used to.)


Looks like the swamp mats are still moving somewhere. I also noticed that the shuttle elevator at Erskine had a train stored on the loop. I found another stored train on the loop at Argyle the next day.

Now, I have had pretty good luck along the Noyes Sub in the past. Not a lot of trains, but one train a day each way has given me a chance at a shot almost every full day I spend up in the area. The flooding north of the border had really clamped down on the traffic this week, though. Seeing or hearing nothing for the first couple of days (with the exception of an eastbound NPR train in Warren that work prevented me going after), I figured the Noyes was as good as closed. But on Wednesday, I heard a horn while in Stephen and almost crippled myself rushing out the building, with just enough time to see a string of yellow rock cars of some sort head north. I never saw the power.

I was in Hallock that night, staying at the Caribou Inn and dining across the parking lot at the Caribou Grill, when what I think was the same train sailed through town southbound. All I saw from the window were the tops of two orange locos passing by. My view was obstructed by buildings and I wouldn't have seen the cars if they were along for the ride.

So flash forward to Thursday, on my trip home. I noticed that the unit trains stored on the loops at Argyle and Erskine were both gone. However, once again, traffic was light almost all the way to Perham. Finally I spotted the headlight of a westbound and pulled over to the nearest crossing to grab a shot of an ES44DC leading three Dash 9's on an intermodal.


Continuing east, I spotted another westbound just as I left New York Mills. I had a few minutes to spare so I made a u-turn and raced west, considering a shot from the Highway 10 overpass. I decided to try a shot at the Perham curve instead. This train was really flying, and I had hardly any time to get out and run through the ditch before grabbing this shot of him just entering the curve at Perham.


So, having travelled almost 600 miles (including daily trips along portions of the Noyes Sub as I worked in that area), and paralleling railroad tracks the entire way, I came home with a grand total of three shots. This was not my most productive railfanning week by any means. Strangely, on Saturday Mrs. L4T and myself were up and out early as we headed to Fargo to help the Son & heir move from Fargo to Grand Forks, and I met 5 eastbounds between Wadena and DL, along with passing a westbound. So there are still trains out and about. You just have to get lucky.

Tonight we will probably head out after supper and see if any traffic is moving. The skies have cleared and the temp is a very pleasant 60. Next week, I will be travelling the Staples Sub, the UP in southeast MN, and some DME and ICE trackage, so with any luck, I will get some shots to share from that part of the state. Thanks for looking!

Jim, out

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