Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Hour at Iron Junction

While I've never had the opportunity to do a lot of railfanning of the DMIR, my occasional trips to the range area are always interesting. I lived in Virginia when I was just a youth, and can clearly remember high nose SD's and beautiful wide vision cabooses working the industrial area, sometimes delivering coal hoppers to the municipal power plant across the street from the Junior High and Roosevelt High School. Oh to have had a digicam in those days!

Iron Junction is also the site of the first real railfan trip I ever took, which lasted a total of about 2 hours due to other commitments that same day. But I was lucky as the Missabe put on a show, with one of the then fairly fresh tunnel motors teaming with a pair of SD-M's on Minntac loads bound for Two Harbors. I still have that photo somewhere.

So when work takes me to the range area these days, I always try to find a little time to visit the Iron Junction area again. Today was one of those times, as I finished up with my responsibilites in Hibbing about 3:30 and left the building to an actual sunny spring day. I was off.

My wait for a first train was short as I soon heard a horn to the north. A short three car train behind a pair of units came off the Two Harbors main (I can never remember what is what in that area, sorry) and crossed over to the west main at Iron Junction. Hey, a GT unit and a CN unit. No maroon here.

It was only about a 15 minute wait for the next train. This one was a loaded T-Bird, with an IC "death star" up front and the 403 trailing, still in maroon! So far I've seen four engines, in four different paint schemes.

If you take a close look at those two pictures, you can see that a northbound green signal lit up between the appearance of the two trains. I figured I would soon see more action, and sure enough, here came a T-Bird empty behind a pair of repainted tunnel motors. Backlit, but there was some dust being kicked up. I've barely been there a half hour and already have three trains bagged.

For some reason (actually, because I had work waiting in my hotel room), I decided to head out. Just as I crossed the tracks on Highway 7, another headlight showed up. Off I went, to shoot my first J-ball, the EJ&E 674, on the point of some morphodite train. A few gondolas, three covered hoppers, and a long string of old low-side ore cars. There weren't enough for a whole train, though. I wondered if they were being taken to a scrapyard somewhere, given that new cars are showing up.

And with that, I did head for the hotel, albeit with a short detour to Shelton Junction in the hopes a southbound CN Manifest would roll through. No such luck, so back to Chisholm it was. And now that I have done my preparation for tomorrow, I found enough time to sort-of edit a few photos and make this post. It was a great evening, with less than an hour between the first shot and last. Now you know my story of an hour at Iron Junction.


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