Monday, July 12, 2010

Break a Leg...

and you just might see some interesting action around the railroad. Today, in Fosston:

After my meeting, I stopped by the loading location and talked to a couple of elevator employees. Seems railcar loading is back in style in Fosston after a hiatus of about 20 years, when trucks were all the rage. While we were talking, I noticed an oddity on a couple of 15 year old covered hoppers-check the car numbers on these two cars:

During the discussion, I asked how many cars they can load. The younger of the employees told me they would have no trouble loading the 14 empties in one 8 hour shift. Then he added that they "were doing it the hard way, with an auger. The leg is broke on the elevator.". The "leg" in this case is the vertical conveyer for grain, and the leg in question served the elevator on the left in this photo:

I learned that the left elevator had been built some years back, with the mission of enabling the elevator to load 26 car trains. This resulted in a savings to the farmers, as the rate on the 26 car cuts was better than the single car rate. However, the grain car shortage and Duluth's preference for trucks spelled the end for trains, at least temporarily. As you can see, they are back now.

While I was shooting the elevator, I heard the horn of a GE and a glance at the crossing caught the gates dropping. Within seconds the westbound manifest was blasting across the street behind a warbonnet and a pumpkin.

I've shot a number of elevator switch engines around Minnesota, but there is no such thing in Fosston-car movement duties are performed by the same kind of power that helps get the crop in the ground.

Here's a shot of the spout that would normally be loading cars, if the broken leg hadn't interfered. Seems one man's loss is another man's gain-and today, it was me that gained, getting a chance to see some interesting action along the ROW and a fruitful discussion with some "insiders".

I can certainly see an elevator such as this having a home on my model pike someday. Lots to like here, from interesting action, to a size very appropriate to a model railroad, the chance to run a variety of older grain cars, and use some of the fine tractor models available. I took a bunch of photos to reference for the day when I get to try my hand at building this facility.

All for today,


1 comment:

dorcheat said...

I sure do like the picture of the classic IH McCormick Farmall "M" hard at work. They are everywhere in northern Minnesota.

It is hard to believe that these old tractors are 55 to 65 years young and still running very well. Long live the Farmalls.