Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Who Says BNSF has no Heritage Units?

What a 2011 it's been for me so far, at least from the railfan perspective. On New Year's Day, I kicked off the year with the Amtrak "monster train", a weather-induced combination of #7 and #8.

After taking a break Sunday to watch the Vikings season come to a welcome end, it was back to the grindstone of work yesterday morning. In the afternoon, though, Mrs. L4T and I had to make the drive to Brainerd to see the Doc. The roads hadn't improved much since Saturday, with a substantial coat of ice on much of Highway 10 slowing traffic and lengthening our commute. Light snow did nothing to help the situation. It was, all in all, a winter day. However, my railfan senses were still at high alert as we approached Staples. We soon spotted the tail end of a loaded coal train, with an SD70MAC pushing in DPU mode. Nothing so unusual there. Then, just as I passed the Dower Lake station sign, I let out a cry that quite startled my companion: "It's the vomit bonnet!" (with apologies to Russ). The look on Mrs. L4T's face made it clear she suspected I had finally gone 'round the bend. The chattering anti-lock brakes on the Escape left no doubt that photography would be attempted from the edge of an icy, partially snow covered Highway 10, and here are the results:

BNSF 9647 sports a one-of-a-kind paint job, supposedly designed to pay homage to the classic "warbonnet" lines of Santa Fe units while at the same time conveying the message that the BNSF is (or once was) a new, cutting edge transportation gargantuan. In my opinion, the warbonnet deserves to be done up in red and silver, and this attempt to morph the exec paint with the classic lines just didn't work.

Oddly enough, it was one year earlier, to the day, when Mike Vandenberg announced the arrival of another of BNSF's locomotives sporting an experimental paint job as a group of railfans huddled against the cold in Hawley. The cry of "IT'S THE YELLOW ONE" will live in the ears and minds of those who were there to witness it for decades to come. Spotting another of the units that fall outside the norm for my favorite railroad couldn't help but remind me of that special day.

We were on a tight schedule, due to having to make it to the Doctor's appointment, and so this was all I had time to shoot. I know it's not the most attractive MAC on the system but it is unique, and I've never seen it in person before.

For the second time this year, my railfanning has produced a sight I've never seen before, and in the case of the Amtrak train, something I'll very likely never see again. The year can likely only go downhill from here.

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