Friday, February 12, 2010

Cloudy and Crude

After driving 500 miles in northwest Minnesota over three days, and hardly seeing anything train-wise under skies so blue you almost cried, I could almost predict that traffic would be heavier today with a thick overcast blanketing the land.

Departing for Detroit Lakes near 11 AM, I made it less than 10 miles west before I encountered my first headlight. Having spotted it a good ways ahead, I was able to take advantage of a nearby crossing to shoot my first train of the day. This ES44AC was the lead unit on COLX loads. The DPU on this one was another ES44AC.

As soon as the crossing was clear I was once again westbound. Topping the overpass west of New York Mills, I sighted the tail end of a train and began making mental calculations of how long it would take me to get ahead of him for a shot. Turns out, since the train was stopped, not too long. Even though the light was failing, I was lured out of the comfort of the Escape by an EMD leader. You know, it feels good just to type the words "EMD" and "leader" together.

I made it to DL with no further interruptions, and spent some time celebrating the retirement of a former co-worker. He ought to be a railfan, living in Detroit Lakes and being retired. What a life that would be, but I just can't sell him on the finer things.

After lunch and a visit, it was time to head for home. Again BNSF favored me with traffic, the next train appearing between Frazee and Perham. This one was again GE-led, but it was an interesting train nonetheless. Oil cans.

Not being sure what the intended cargo was, I shot one of the placards and looked up the cargo for the 1267 number when I arrived home. Crude oil. Must be an empty returning to western ND to pick up another load of crude for a refinery in the south. This is the first time I have identified such a train myself. Here is one of the cars:

I met one more before arriving home, a westbound mixed freight just east of New York Mills. No time for anything other than a shot through the windshield which I will not torture you with. All in all, a nice day of railfanning.

Now, if only I could get the weather and the trains to cooperate with each other...


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