Saturday, March 27, 2010

Homebound on Highway 10

Thursday, I was in the north metro all day and managed to complete my assigned duties by quitting time. Home was calling, and the most direct route took me right up Highway 10 all the way to Wadena.

The thought occured to me that there should be some Northstar trains out and about. I hadn't yet had the chance to catch them in action, just a couple of the cars as they came through Red Wing last year and a test train one afternoon last fall when I had the chance to stop at Northtown Yard.

Highway 10 was its usual clogged-up self as I passed through the Anoka and Elk River areas, but was clearing out pretty nicely by the time I reached Big Lake. I didn't know what the Big Lake station was like, but the signs along the highway made it easy to find. After waiting only about 5 minutes, a headlight appeared to the east, and soon materialized into one of the evening Northstar trains. My first photo shows him as he drifts to a stop near the platform.

The train had barely stopped when the doors opened and a rush of passengers spilled out of the cars. These trains certainly do sport a flashy paint scheme.

Having been gone for 4 days made me anxious to get home. Although I spotted a train or two over the next hundred miles or so, nothing offered the opportunity for a quick shot. I did have to detour past Camp Ripley due to the flood damage to the Highway 10 bridge at Little Falls, which offered the opportunity to see the "street trackage" across the river bridge at the Camp. Is that trackage still used?

An empty coal train was just clearing the crossing in Motley, which offered the chance at a photo on the Brainerd Sub. I passed the train about halfway between Motley and Staples, and crossed over to the south side of the tracks for these two shots. Obviously, clouds had moved in as I travelled northwest, and there was just a crack to the west letting the sun through for this shot.

I decided to shoot the DPU as well, since there was no choice but to wait for it to clear. Here is the result:

The sun was gone before this train made it through Staples. Coal traffic was healthy, though, as one loaded train was waiting for these empties to clear so it could head east on the Brainerd, and I met a second loaded DEEX train before making it to Wadena. And that's all for this episode of your railfan reality blog.


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