Sunday, January 3, 2010


According to weather reports from the Wadena Airport, Wadena's low temp yesterday morning was -35 degrees Fahrenheit. What better way to celebrate than a railfanning trip?

Of course, a running vehicle is a prerequisite to "trip", and on this morning such a luxury was not to be taken for granted. As a matter of fact, for the first time ever, the Escape needed a jump. And after that effort, nothing would interfere with our mission to meet up with a bunch of railfans from the south somewhere near Lake Park.

Pointing our ride west, we paralleled the Staples Sub on Highway 10. Eastbound trains resulted in quick photography stops at the overpass between New York Mills and Perham, and between Perham and Frazee. The second stop resulted in this photo, along with some video I need to get processed someday.

And then we were off again, in a race with a third eastbound that was just leaving Dilworth. We arrived at the Lake Park S curve with minutes to spare, finding the Black Silverado already on location. After a brief visit, the eastbound train was spotted and people piled out of every door to populate the right-of-way. This shot of the train also includes two of the on location fans. This train also started the habit of greeting those who were out braving the cold with a blast of the horn.

Another shot, this time just the train. Dash 9's numbers 7 and 8 for me on the day.

The knowledge of an imminent westbound motivated Mrs. L4T and I to head directly to Hawley. As we entered town, a stopped cut of cars on the overpass made me wonder what was going on. After a brief investigation, I learned that there are in fact three tracks on that overpass. The siding serving the elevator in Hawley runs south across the highway. Who knew? Not me.

By the time that mission was finished, we had been overtaken by the railfanning combo of Jeremiah, Bryant, and Mike V. Setting up shop near the curve where the tracks enter Hawley, we spread out. Mike V. was deployed as an advance scout, and as the other three of us visited while we waited for the oncoming train, I was able to convince his partners not to leave him to freeze in the cold.

After what seemed like an eternity in the cold, but was likely only a few minutes, we spotted the headlights to the east. Railfans began taking test shots, adjusting cameras, and getting into shooting locations, when the advance scout let out with a cry of "IT"S THE YELLOW ONE!!!!" We had lucked into the one of a kind ES44DC carrying a unique yellow "wedgie" paint scheme.

This unique unit was leading a loaded grain train from Concordia, Kansas to Seattle. It was a very cool unit to spot. Great to have an advance warning from the scout too. Thanks Mike!

And then it was off to the first wood bridge west of Highway 32. What better place to spend a below zero afternoon in January than on a remote wood bridge? Especially when BNSF is kind enought to run a couple of trains for your viewing pleasure.

This eastbound manifest was led by an SD70ACe-kind of unusual power for a manifest train. It also had one of the increasingly common DPU's on manifest trains-in this case it was some variety of GEVO.

And then a westbound. Bryant staked out a location well to the east of the bridge for this one, just out of this frame. I saw a good deal of adventure in my young companions on this day. They all were willing to trudge through the deep snow for that unique shot, something your humble correspondent was less than anxious to attempt on this frigid day. Heck, Jer did it dressed like he was playing softball on a September evening. On one warm up break in the Silverado, the question was asked if railfans are a subset of idiots or if idiots are a subset of railfans. Since we all could identify non-railfan idiots it seems the first hypothesis must be true, at least for that group of railfans that is willing to venture out when the temps are WAY below zero.

And then, the dropping sun was bringing the day to an end. Mrs. L4T was kind enough to snap a group photo as we all stood on the wooden bridge.

I posted a few more of the "people" photos I took at this page.

Turned out to be a great day. It's always fun to share some time with others who are interested in trains and the relationships you build along the tracks are nothing but fun. Thanks for memories, guys, and let's do it again soon.


1 comment:

Mike said...

Great stuff, Jim! It truly was a great time, let's do it again soon.