Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The "Old College Try" at University

With work keeping me in the Twin Cities area another night, I decided that rather than spend the evening in a futile search for the end of the internet in my motel room, I would again head down to the Northtown Yard area to see if anything interesting was about.

When I arrived I drove across the St. Anthony bridge and didn't see anything new and exciting. I parked and checked out the walking path in the area to loosen up my old bones for a few minutes after spending the day in meetings. After that, I decided to look for Station Sign University on the advice of a railfan guide found on TwinCitiesRailfan.com.

I'm glad I did, as I was greeted on arrival by another railfan, who turned out to be none other than railfan/photographer/blogger/font of railroad wisdom Milwaukee Road Matt and his family, out for a look at the traffic in the area. And luckily for me, there was a bit of traffic to be seen. A CP manifest led by an SD40-2 and a GE passed by us southbound just after I arrived. I could see that there was a loaded windmill blade train waiting for them to get by before he would be able to pull into Northtown yard. After the CP was clear, the windmill train picked his way into the yard. I shot him as he cleared the signal bridge at East University.

As the head end unit passed our location, the sun tried to lever its way out from behind a cloud, and I was able to fire off another frame and get father and son doing the same.

Nathan is a knowledgable, dedicated, and friendly railfan who was happy to share information with a stranger who was "poaching" on his territory. Thanks Nathan!

Like every other windmill blade train I have seen, this one was powered by a GE on each end. As the DPU passed I shot him passing under University Avenue and entering Northtown Yard. Here is the result in B&W:

Luckily Matt had his better half along, since as we chatted we never even noticed an approaching westbound CP train with 4 big GE's up front. Stephanie gave us enough notice so we were able to get some shots.

This train had some unusual power tucked in behind the GE lineup-a CAT powered GP from the RRVW was the fifth unit in this consist. The sharp-eyed Nathan had this spotted well before it was plainly visible, noticing the yellow door on the cab from quite a distance.

We never did figure out what this unit was doing in the consist. Hard to believe that the train was not well in hand with the four GE's, although with their recent troubles maybe CAT/EMD products are required to come to the rescue. Or maybe it's payback for HP hours.

That was all for this evening. It was great fun to spend some time trackside with a family that obviously gets much enjoyment from railfanning as a group. I always get a kick out of meeting people out enjoying this hobby, especially when it is someone who has shared with other fans like Matt. Thanks for the local insight and information, and especially for the good conversation and enjoyable time trackside. I hope to get the chance to meet up with you again soon.


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