Sunday, August 22, 2010

London Staples Fog

Over the past couple of years, I've had the opportunity to get together with Ian Holmes for Staples-based railfan outings. Ian already mentioned on the OMR mailing list that the morning dawned a bit foggy. I'll second that.

But I've encountered the fog a number of times while chasing trains in the area, and I was quite confident that the skies would be clearing shortly, with the chance that we might get some great shots of a BNSF eastbound breaking out of a fog bank into sparkling sun. I told Ian as much, predicting that we would see blue skies "any time now". All morning long I predicted that, and guess what? All morning long I was shooting photos like this one.


That train was galloping through the gloom between New York Mills and Bluffton sometime around mid-morning. Even if the skies weren't cooperating, the railroad was, as we encountered a number of eastbound trains that would have been nicely lit had the skies only cleared.

Here's another example of what we were dealing with. This time, we see a coal train approaching the Bluffton curve behind mixed power. I lik the way the tree shows up in this shot.


Actually, we did manage to break out of the fog for a while. With a plan of heading west until we found a train worth chasing, clearer skies finally revealed themselves just west of Perham, where we caught this manifest train behind a motley group of power.


Ian and I agreed that the train above wasn't really worth a chase, and the dispatcher had issued a couple of more warrants, so we knew there were more eastbounds about. Next up was a coal train, this one behind an ACe. We met him at Frazee, and I was mere seconds too late to get to the sunny side of the train.

Anyway, the power on this train led us to conclude that this, indeed, was the eastbound we would chase. The sky was doing funny things as we paced the train toward Wadena. Cloud and fog banks were coming and going, one minute it was in sun, the next you could hardly see it. Strange. We rolled the dice and set up on the Highway 10 overpass, crossing our fingers for some light, and I managed to get this as the train approached. It seemed like the train passed in and out of the sun at least three times as it approached us.


Of course, the trusty Escape was making much better time than the loaded coal train, which happened to be bound for the Columbia station on the Mississippi and so was staying on the Staples Sub. With most of the fog burned off, it seemed like a good time to shoot the power on a number of trains in the Staples yard as we passed through town. Here's the result of that effort.


Lots of coal power in the yard on this Saturday morning.

A fabulous plan of shooting a fleet of eastbounds in the Philbrook and Quicken Road area promptly fell apart as the dispatcher decided to turn Main 2 into a parking lot and run some westbounds. The good part of this was that it gave me a chance to drop Ian in Staples and allow him to get back out there for the delayed trains, while I needed to head for home due to prior family commitments. Ian got the shot I've been anticipating for quite a while. Looks like just as good a spot as I had been hoping for.

It was a great railfanning outing. It's always fun to spend time with Ian. He knows his fog, what with being from Great Britian and all. His comparison of what we saw Saturday with what they see on the island nation drove home what "London Fog" must actually be like. Thanks for the company, Ian. It was great fun as usual and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

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