Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Just Never Know

2012 has started out a lot like 2011 ended, from a railfanning perspective. Unlike Chris, I'm not going out and picking off four trains in a single day. In fact, four trains the entire year so far might be closer to the truth.

But that hasn't prevented taking advantage of the opportunities offered. Leaving for Owatonna early Tuesday it seemed a sure thing that the Staples Sub would offer up some traffic. Sure enough, it did-but they were all headed west, or in a spot that was hard to get to, or generally inconvenient in some way or another. Another letdown?

Sure seemed like as I cut across to Monticello and left the Staples Sub behind. I know where the traffic is, and a railfan sixth sense alerts me to nearby trains. So I just about left the highway as I cruised east on I-94 near Albertville when a glance out the passenger side window revealed a cascade green locomotive leading a short freight east-yes, that's right, into the sun under a code-blue sky. This calls for ACTION! Take the next exit south, race across the tracks and quickly pull over to the side of the road. Grab the camera and balance yourself on a guard rail post, for this:

I'm thining the Monticello local, with a pair of GP50's (the leader with a 5-man cab) leading a loaded centerbeam car and a Railbox. On jointed rail. Heck, yes!

On to Owatonna, and work. Luckily my clients finish up the day at 3:30, leaving a bit of daylight for an adventure in Waseca. An SD40-2 was sitting at the west end of the yard when I passed by, offering this image. My second green loco today.

Often there is a train sitting west of Waseca on the siding. I've only seen eastbounds there, but why not take a look anyway. It turned out to be worth the short drive, as tonight a westbound had taken up residence, sitting in the golden rays of a sun approaching the horizon, with no fewer than 7! SD40-2's on the head end. For anyone keeping score at home, that brings the day's total to 8.

So that was worth the trip. But. As I headed back to Waseca, the glow of a headlight and a pair of ditchlights appeared. More power. This time it was light engines, 3 SD40-2's with the two leaders being blue and yellow. U-turn time. I knew there was an ethanol train with no power at Janesville, so I speculated that was their destination. The train that they were passing surely had enough power already. I ran back to the west end of the ethanol plant siding, and waited. And waited, as the sun sank into the horizon. Finally the train appeared, and I took a couple of blurry shots as it approached. After slowing for the switch I finally got a better shot of these classics in the day's last rays of sun.

One more shot, as they nuzzled up to the buffer car. Shortly after this the conducter came out of the cab wearing, get this, (remember, it's January 10 in Minnesota) a t-shirt. The temp was falling from the 50+ degrees we had enjoyed but still didn't even require a sweatshirt.

All in all, a good day. A green engine in a new spot, and not to brag, 11 SD40-2's in half an hour. Nice.

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