BNSF has a heck of a fleet of General Electric C44-9W locomotives, many of them in some stage of visual deterioration. Burnt sides, faded paint, rust, if you can name it, you can find a Dash 9 that is suffering from it. Even given these cosmetic issues, this model locomotive still is a backbone of the railroad's motive power fleet. In fact it is unusual to see a manifest or intermodal train without at least one representative from the Dash 9 family in the consist.
Tonight, I suspect, was a good example of why. They move the freight. With ATCS showing a pair of westbounds, I snapped a towel at Mrs. L4T to get her moving and we headed uptown to hunt trains. This was one time when I didn't spot a headlight as I crossed the tracks, in fact, the gates were going down as we approached. Sure enough a Z train flashed across my field of view with a pair of Dash 9's spliced by an SD75. And they were hauling. As C. W. McCall once put it in the song "Convoy", they were moving "like a rocket sled on rails". It seemed like a challenge so I vowed to Mrs. L4T that I was going to catch them if it took all the way to Dilworth. For a moment I thought it might.
We finally caught the end of the train between Bluffton and New York Mills, and the head end west of Mills. I wanted to shoot him at the big woods near Perham, and barely made it in time. There was absolutely no wait for this shot:
And then he was gone.
Time for train number 2. I figured it was a coal empty as it came off the Brainerd. We played around near the overpass for a few minutes waiting then took up a photography position after the headlight came into view. Sure enough, the classic Superior coal empty with a pair of MAC's leading and an ACe pushing.
With no other westbounds showing near the area we made a stop at McDonalds for a smoothie then headed home, where I now sit composing this meager offering. Here's to the Dash 9!