Sunday, May 31, 2009

More MAC Madness

Current discussion on the OMR list has brought up a question about power assignment on coal trains in the north country-specifically, are the classic SD70MAC's becoming more prevelant as newer power from EMD and GE is reassinged? This is one of those classic railfan questions that tends to be discussed at length, which each person bringing what they think they have seen to the table.

I was of the opinion that the answer was no, the new power continues to gain share on these trains, but after hearing out those who had the opposite view and taking a look at my coal train photos from the past month, I have to admit that the MAC's are, at the least, not losing any ground. Today's observations tend to reinforce that conclusion.

A trip to Fargo gave me the chance to fan the west end of the Staples Sub. Traffic was very light, as in two trains seen all day, but luckily they were both in good light, and strangely enough, both in a position to be shot from a bridge. The first one was this empty coal train stopped at Watts to change crews. I tell you, my extra weight was put to good use on this shot as it helped me not blow away in what felt like hurricane force nor'westers on the bridge.

So what do we have here? A MAC all right, but this one is in the "swoosh" or "wedgie" paint scheme, just like the ACe that trails in this consist. There was no DPU on this train, and that is something else I have been noticing-more coal trains seem to be running with two units as the winter turns into summer.

Mrs. L4T and I next decided to stake out the wood bridge southwest of Hawley for a few minutes on the drive home. This looks to me like the spot where Mitch Wahlsten shot this photo at a time when the sun angle was a lot different that today. I had decided to wait until 7:00 PM, and about 8 minutes to 7, I heard a horn to the east! I jumped out of the Escape and walked out on the bridge. After a wait of not more that a minute or two another coal empty rolls around the corner, behind wouldn't you know it, two MAC's. My first shot from this location, and I like the way it turned out. Now you know where some of the dirt for the Stockwood Fill came from.

And that was that. Not another train, or peep on the scanner, all the way home. What started out as a bleak and overcast afternoon turned out to be a great summer day, with a temp over 80 and beautiful blue sky. Even the howling wind can't spoil a day like this. And the "cherry on the top", so to speak, was the chance to grab a couple of train shots in new or what to me are underutilized locations. Thanks for looking!


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