Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's Hard (but not Impossible) to Stop a Train

Toward the end of a long day, as I neared Austin, I encountered a northbound ICE manifest train picking its way along the 10 mph track between Blloming Prairied and Owatonna. Even though the clouds were thick, why not try a few photos? It's not like I had any pressing engagements this evening.

So after a u-turn and a run back up US 218 to Bixby, I fired off a couple of shots. These are the best I could do with the editing software on my work computer.

As I waited for the slow-moving train to approach a grade crossing, someone in an orange railroad vest drove up in a pickup. He asked me if I had reported a tree down on the tracks. I told him I hadn't, but there was another pickup a little ways further north parked near the tracks. The railroader thanked me and took off north.
After getting my shot I followed.

Amazingly, I found an open spot in the foliage just as the sun peeked through a crack in the cloud cover. It seemed as is fate would allow a nicely lit photo of this train after all. But just as his headlights appeared, the train speed went from 10 mph to zero mph. Now what?

Peering down the right-of-way, I thought maybe I could see something on the tracks. The rail in the pickup went racing down a gravel road, and since the train was stopped, I drove a little ways down the highway and pulled over. Sure enough, a good sized tree had blown down across the tracks. After asking the engineer and conductor if they minded me taking some pictures, and them telling me to go ahead, I shot a few. Here one of the crew members is snapping a photo of his own:

The crew was waiting patiently for help to arrive. Since darkness was rapidly approaching, I decided to move on, and thanked them for their cooperative attitudes. It was fun to talk with railroaders encountering something a bit out of the ordinary.

And that's my story of how it's hard, but not impossible, to stop a train.


1 comment:

Johnnny Reb said...

right place, right time