Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homebound under the Clouds

It's funny how times change. Not so many years ago, there were extensive discussions on the OMR list about who had been lucky enough to catch a BNSF loco in the new "swoosh" paint scheme. Those who had captured their first loco decorated this way were envied by the many of us still waiting for a first real-life sighting of such a unit. Oh, how we lamented the seemingly endless string of DC-powered coal trains behind warbonnet SD75's, green giant SD60M's, and the fleet of Oakway lease "power by the hour" SD60's in their attractive blue paint scheme.

Fast forward a few years, and it seems the worm has turned. Nowdays probably a majority of the trains, or at least close to a majority, have at least one of the H3 units in the consist. We railfans have lamented the demise of many models of locomotive, including the SD40-2 series and just about every other EMD 6 axle unit with the exception of the MAC's and ACe's.

But for some reason these old friends seem to be making a comeback. The 40's started to reappear, now designated SD39-2 and derated on paper to 2999 HP. They have become fairly common on work trains and other low-priority service, with new numbers in the 1600 and 1900 series (among others, I'm sure). Their old numbers are being swallowed up by the hordes of new GE's that continue to appear on the railroad. The 40's were followed by the SD75's, some in H2 paint and many others still in good-looking warbonnet paint schemes. The SD60M's, renumbered to make room for new coal power in the form of SD70ACe's, have been showing up for some time now. And finally, rumor has it that some of the blue SD60's are once again out and about, hauling freight trains across the countryside and earning their keep.

Today I returned home from a trip to Hallock, and of course followed the Noyes sub from Hallock to Crookston. Somewhere near Argyle, a headlight showed itself far to the south. It was soon obvious a train was on the way, and I pulled over at a crossing for a shot under the clouds. This train was led by an ES44AC, and had an unusual mate in its consist. First, the leader:


And here's the trailing unit-the first Oakway I have seen underway in I don't even remember how long. Obviously, this called for a going away shot to record the moment for posterity.


Well that was interesting. And so I continued on, anxious to get home. The BNSF's Grand Forks Sub and the CP's DL Sub were thoughtful enough not to disturb my travels. In fact, the next train I saw was stopped on the west side of Perham, but far beyond photo range. With no time to cut through town for a shot under overcast skies, on I went.

Then, this appeared, also stopped, this time on Main 1 east of Perham, near what I call the "Big Woods". 4 matched units, a Z train, what the heck, I'll grab a shot even though it's cloudy. And so I present:


That was it for today. Oh, I almost forgot a grain train on the loop at Argyle, but in no position for photography. I have a couple of shots from the previous day, when they were loading as I passed by, that I'll pick through to see if one is worth posting. Other than that, you now have my entire report on train action between Hallock and Wadena, the afternoon of June 2, 2011. That is all.

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