Sunday, July 3, 2011

Against the Grain

This afternoon Mrs. L4T agreed to accompany me on a railfanning outing. Having done extensive analysis of traffic patterns via facebook posts, mailing list info, and reading chicken entrails, the conclusion was arrived at that the Paynesville Sub deserved our attention, and so it came to be that we set out for locations to the south at about 1500 hours.

Of course, first we had to go north for gas. After fueling up, I headed west on Highway 10 with the intent to intercept the DL Sub and follow it south. Luckily someone at the BNSF heard about my plan and took corrective action. We were less than a mile out of town when an eastbound behind 5(!) EMD spartan cabs made its appearance. All prior plans were scrapped, a u-turn was executed, and calculations regarding speed, sun angle, and time began to be made. So began our afternoon of fanning the east Staples Sub.

My first somewhat presentable shot of the train that coaxed me into staying on home rails was near Cushing. After blowing the Quiken Road shot, I was on a mission to at least get all 5 locos in one frame and that's about all you can say for this. Very neat consist, though.

SWA put him in the hole at Darling to let a stack train by, and then after he got rolling again told the crew they could stop and get a snack at Royalton if they wanted as Northtown had no where to put them. I finally heard them clear up at St. Cloud after taking more than 3 hours to cover the 90 some miles between Wadena and St. Cloud.

The exciting news was that during the chatter between trains and dispatcher, mention was made of a westbound! They have been scarce as hen's teeth due to the flooding in Minot but word was they should start showing up today. Sure enough, they did. After hearing one call a signal approaching Gregory, I decided to take a stand on the overpass just north of Little Falls. After a short wait, here he comes!

As there was a meet at Darling, it was no problem to get ahead of him. I was rolling along nicely when out of the corner of my eye I spyed what looked like a couple of railfans, so stopped to see what was going on. Sure enough, it was a famous railfan-here's Andy Cummings just after shooting the BNSF 7564.

I got the train next just south of Randall, at a curve I've pondered shooting many times before. I think there are some possibilities here.

Finally, here's a location I have shot once before, and it illustrates one of the things I really enjoy about the East Staples Sub-it's more than prairie.

And then another u-turn brought us south again, to chase the 7292. This shot is on a fill near Cushing. The tree on the right edge of the frame is my second favorite tree along the Staples Sub, after the giant just east of Verndale. It was also fun see a C4 in the consist.

Finally, the shot so many of us hoped for 8 days ago-a train headed west through the Verndale sag.

So on a day when things seemed to start out so wrong, they ended up being pretty right. It's good to see westbounds running "against the grain" as it were. Hopefully this is a sign that the people of Minot can begin the long and difficult process of getting their lives back to some semblance of normal. We need to pray for them.

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