Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorable Memorial Sunday

In what is becoming a tradition for me, this past Memorial Day weekend found the Canadian railfan bunch in the Wadena area for the third year in a row (for me-they have been coming down to this area for a lot longer than three years).

I was able to get out and spend some time with them Sunday afternoon, and the BNSF was thoughtful enough to even send a few trains our way. I'm sure the crews are surprised to see the influx of people and technology in the area when this group of career rails are in the area and hard at work recording the action on video, still image, audio and in written notes.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to catch up with these guys, and to meet the wife of one. Who wouldn't appreciate a new wife who was willing to make railfanning part of a honeymoon trip?

It makes me appreciate the fact that I can always count on Mrs. L4T to be ready for a jaunt along the Staples Sub, especially our traditional Sunday evening drives. This week our destination was Staples, where we once again sampled the delights offered at the Dairy Queen.

Even before we made it to Staples we found this mixed freight passing the station sign at Dower Lake. Turns out he was using Main 1 as switching lead as he dropped off a few cars in the Staples yard. I got this shot as he was backing his train into the yard. As this took a while, he was still finishing up his work when we were done eating.

Knowing that he would soon be heading west, I decided to leapfrog towards Wadena and set up somewhere where the track had curved more to the northwest so I could get him in more 3/4 light. I was thinking somewhere around Verndale, but I spotted another headlight just after passing through Aldrich and swung into the next crossing to shoot that train. He was moving slowly as I waited for the 7250 to arrive from Staples. However, I thought I had heard the dispatcher talking to the 6609 west and I was anxious to see if this was an ES44C4. I hadn't seen one in a month or so and wondered where they had gone.

Sure enough, it was one of the new A1A-A1A GE's. This was the first time I have seen one of these units paired with a different model of locomotive, this time the trailing unit was a regular old Dash 9.

The problem with this slow moving train was that it might block my nicely lit shot of the 7250. Sure enough, just as he crossed the road, I saw the headlight of a westbound round the corner at Aldrich. It didn't turn out to even be close-the meet was well down the line from where I was, and most of the westbound was by the crossing when the eastbound cleared. Here's the closest I was to a meet:

All in all, an interesting evening, and an entertaining day catching up with friends and sharing stories from along the line. It's always a treat for a railfan like myself to get the chance to hear stories told by actual working rail employees like the bunch from up north. Thanks to Craig, Mike, and Chris, for putting up with my questions and being willing to discuss the things I see along the line.

I got to spend a little more time with them the next morning, and look forward to seeing photos from their extensive railfan journeys. I especially want to see the shots Chris and Craig got from the Powder River Basin, as Mrs. L4T has agreed that it will be a stop on our vacation this fall. I'm looking forward to the trip.

Jim, out

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