Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Long-Lost Staples Saturday Morning

In the past, fairly frequent reports of Saturday morning sojurns to Staples have been a "staple". However, this year it seems there have been other priorities which have limited Saturday morning activities. Last night it sounded like the weather might be agreeable for such a trip so before drifting off to sleep Mrs. L4T was informed that I just may crawl out of bed early and head east.

Sure enough, the morning dawned clear and bright, and the relentless humidity had eased. What better way to celebrate the improving weather than to go out and document the action along a section of railroad? And so the previous evenings warning was made good. Sort of like Gilligan, I set out on a three hour tour.

I was out the door before 7:00, and crossing the tracks on Jefferson Street a headlight to the west gave indication of a train headed into the sun. The power was an exciting sight and seemed worthy of a bunch of photos in a number of locations-there is even some video to be shared later. Here's what got me so fired up early in the morning:

5 engines (and four of them EMD's) in 5 different paint schemes. Not something you see everyday along this stretch of track. Heck, let's leapfrog up to Staples and shoot him as he approaches the depot, too:

That's not exactly the shot I had in mind driving over, but then I didn't know the yard would be a parking lot this morning either. Notice that CN unit poking his nose out? That's one of the SD70-2's I spotted yesterday, on my way over to Perham. Must have had a quick turnaround somewhere!

While I was waiting at the depot, a guy showed up to clean up the grounds and inside. He was part of the depot committee for Staples, and after visiting with him for a few minutes I learned that the Staples depot is in good shape financially and should be seeing continuing improvements in the future. With the new roof, they can concentrate on other needs knowing the structure is protected. Sounded like good news.

Here's an interesting tidbit-there is a jigsaw puzzle on a baggage cart in the waiting area, and every day he disassembles part of the completed puzzle-maybe a hundred pieces or so. He told me that every morning when he stops back, it's been completed again. While I was wondering if ghosts were responsible, he mentioned that waiting passengers seem to enjoy having something to pass the time. All this interesting converstation caused me to miss an eastbound stack train, but since it was behind a pair of H2 GE's I wasn't too upset. Better things were coming.

The next train was a coal empty off the Brainerd Sub. Ho-hum, another peach MAC. Nothing to see here. But wait, turns out it was the same train I shot on my way home Thursday, when a loaded coal train posed in the Staples yard against a dramatic sky. Here's todays shot:

And then, the treat of the day. ATCS tipped me off to a westbound, which I was trying to figure out how to handle given the fact he would be coming out of the sun. I decided to try and catch the train coming up from the south by shooting him from near where the Brainerd Sub switch is. I figured a "down the throat" shot might have at least some nose light. So that's what I did. Imagine my surprise when I zoomed out as far as I could and saw this approaching:

And it wasn't just one of the Green Giants, but a pair:

(Note: I forgot to tell you that the coal empty had a Grinstien pusher, which made for BNSF paint scheme #6 for the day, so the appearance of the 60M's pushed my paint scheme count to 7, in just over an hour.)

Anyway, the appearance of the 60M's definitely called for a chase. Racking my brain for a way to get a decently-lit shot, I somehow settled on trying a few pans. I shot this set in about 4 locations between Staples and the Highway 10 overpass, and I think this is the one that turned out the best:

After a call to Mrs. L4T to let her know I was going to wait at Perham for a couple of eastbounds, it was back to work. Just after filling with gas, a grain train with a foreign unit second out closed in on me. I got him just east of the overpass:

...and then once more, this time as the GE's on the front worked to lift the train out of the Leaf River Plain:

This train had a long string of brand new covered hoppers in the middle of it and I had to grab a few photos for historical reference. Here's one:

I was about ready to call it a day, but the detector at MP 174.1 announced the arrival of another eastbound. Who can resist the attraction of one more train? Not me. This time, the canadian visitor was from the other road, and was also familiar, being part of the CN power set I had shot yesterday on the coal empty.

And that was it for my Saturday morning outing. I was more than pleased, with the 7 paint schemes, 5 trains, and nice weather as entertainment. Time between first shot and last shot-3 hours 7 minutes. For those of you who convinced yourselves to read the whole thing, thanks! If only every trip trackside could be like this.


1 comment:

Conservative with a capital C said...
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