Thursday, August 26, 2010

The River

Monday evening offered the opportunity to overnight in Red Wing, which is always conducive to railfanning. The CP's River Sub and the St. Croix Sub of the BNSF parallel each other along opposite sides of the mighty Mississippi. With such an opportunity, who can stay in the hotel room and pick away at the computer? Work can wait, now it's time to railfan.

So I headed south on the Minnesota side, intending to get a shot of a CP train and then hopefully do the same across the river with a BNSF train. The wait wasn't long before the sound of a locomotive horn drifted up the valley from the southeast-this train was headed in the proper direction. I've shot from this crossing before, and since it is so close to town I decided it was a good place to catch a train again. The train turned out to be what the Paynesville Sub crew refer to as a "one unit wonder", and that one unit was an old CP SD40-2 with the remnants of a multi-mark.

It likely was an empty ethanol train, but after thinking about it, I suppose those tanks could be empty crude oil cars too. I didn't get a car number and never thought to look at a placard.

Having successfully completed the first half of the project, next up was Wisconsin. I've driven through the area once before, and wasn't aware of a lot of good shooting locations. In fact, Bay City was the best bet that was in range, so I decided to wait there for whatever Mr. Buffet would send my way.

The first action was announced by a detector at MP 391 (I think). After looking at the milepost on the crossing, this had to be an eastbound. Even though it was backlit, I tried a shot, without success. I shortly got another chance as a second eastbound came through, and this one was a little better. The most interesting part, though, was the engine number-BNSF 1060, the very same unit I shot sitting by the prison in St. Cloud that morning. I had engaged in a couple of hundred mile chase without even knowing it. The second unit in the morning consist had been removed, presumably at Northtown.

After waiting a bit longer, with one eye on the sun and the other on the tracks, I was about to give up hope when I heard a horn from the east. That's what I was waiting for. I tried to figure out how best to compose what I hoped would be a nicely lit shot, as the area was turning pretty golden in the setting sun. I feel like it turned out pretty nicely.

That final shot marked the successful completion of my evening's mission, and so it was back to the hotel. There was still some work waiting for me, but I sat down at the computer with a smile on my face, knowing that my evening along the river had been a success. All in all, a good day at work and a good day along the tracks before and after work.


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