Thursday, September 2, 2010

To Noyes... way of Hawley, Ulen, Fertile, Crookston, and Warren. Should be a great railfanning opportunity, given the cooperation of the National Weather Service, the BNSF, MNN, and NPR.

None of them were very cooperative. Still, it wasn't a total washout.

My periodic trip to extreme NW Minnesota took a bit of a different turn on Tuesday, in that I had to stop in Hawley on the way up. This eliminated fanning that part of CP's DL sub between Detroit Lakes and Erskine, but to make up for it I got to parallel BNSF's branch that runs from Manitoba Junction up to Ulen. Trains are not very frequent, as the only customer I am aware of is the elevator in Ulen where they load shuttle trains.

But today was a lucky day, as a train was in town. Just like the last time I caught a train in Ulen, the power was parked just north of the derail on the south side of town. And just like the last time, there's not a whole lot to work with from the photography side of things, but here's an effort:

I can say that, even though the lead unit is in the shade, at least the sun was out. That's a distinct advantage over much of the time I spent on this trip, whether working or chasing a train after work.

For example, the sound of a train blowing for a crossing had me leaving my motel room at the fabulous Caribou Inn in Hallock like a fireman leaving the station at the report of a 3 alarm blaze. I figured there was a need for speed. In reality, I had no problem beating this train to the Two Rivers bridge just north of Hawley as he must have been running the jointed rail at restricted speed. An example of the kind of lighting I was enjoying.

It was tempting to throw in the towel due to the cloud cover, but a sliver of blue to the northwest was enough to keep me chasing this train. I decided to cut west on a gravel road in the hopes of getting a panoramic image of the train on the flatlands, but the road condition scared me enough that I gave up in the first location. What passes for gravel in Kittson County is not fit to build an all weather road. Instead, I found a paved county road and shot the train again as he passed.

Smoke from the GE said the slow order might have ended, and sure enough the train sped up. I chased with all my might and managed to get on the sunny side with a minute to spare. Too bad that minute only contained 55 seconds of sunlight. With a heavy heart I watched the approaching train run into the shadow of a huge cloud bank that had moved in. I managed one shot just before he reached that shadow.

I figured we had to be getting close to the border, and the train began slowing. I pressed ahead with the mission of seeing what a "Noyes" looks like. A right turn at the border and a short upgrade offered a view of-not much. For some reason, a lonely CN EMD was resting at some kind of a structure that does things I have no concept of.

And then, just as evidence that I have, in fact, been to Noyes, a tele shot of the depot that should have been wide angle shot.

And so, my bucket list is one item shorter, now that I've seen Noyes. I've spent the majority of my adult life living within blocks of the Canadian border, and enjoyed those places greatly, but I can safely say that while Noyes is a nice place to visit, based on my first impression I wouldn't want to live there.


1 comment:

Trish said...

Jim, a fellow railroad enthusiast from up in Kittson County (where I grew up) told me about your post, and of course, I HAVE to I was born in Emerson right across the border from Noyes. I grew up in St. Vincent just a few miles away. My father worked for years at the Noyes depot for GN then BN(SF). Noyes used to be a much different little town as you might imagine. Check out my posts about the town, and about the depot in particular at Also, take a look at my posts on railroading in general up my way, including about how much my family has been involved in it - you might get a kick out of it...