Friday, June 22, 2012

Day Trip

On thursday I made a trip to Hallock.This was a quick trip-up and back the same day, hopefully with a little work mixed in to make it worthwhile. What that meant was that any train pictures had to work out perfectly, in order to not cut into travel or work time too much.

I was pretty lucky to start out with, intercepting an eastbound COLX train before even making it to New York Mills. Since the power up front was a pair of EMD's, a quick u-turn was in order.

My luck seemed to be holding when a headlight appeared just as I approached Perham. This time it was a different kind of energy-crude oil. Either the railroad or the Country Highway department has done us a favor by clearing out some brush west of the Otter Tail River bridge, allowing this shot, which was not possible in the past. 
No trains on the CP or the Noyes Sub all the way to Hallock. Just south of my destination, I did notice some activity on the new North Star Agri loop. It's hard to tell from this shot, but there are BNSF 3 bay covered hoppers, I presume hauling canola, along with tank cars and 4 bay covered hoppers for the finished product. Quite an assortment of cars at the plant, but no unit train. I think there was a trackmobile sitting near the main, which is well away from the highway at this point.
My trip home was fairly uneventful. I went through TRF but saw nothing on the CP all the way to DL. The clouds had rolled in by that time, bringing spotty heavy showers, so I wouldn't have shot them anyway. The Staples Sub had a couple of trains but after a long day I was beat and passed on them. So you get the entire helping of photos for the day in this one post. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

With a Whimper, Not a Bang

Following a recent board meeting, the parent corporation of the West Central Minnesota Railroad announced the strategic sale of the 74 mile shortline connecting Wadena and Cass Lake. During a news conference held at the railroad general office in Nimrod, MN (the terminus of a never-built proposed expansion that had been intended to serve a bison ranch) the CEO announced, "The board has decided that this is the proper time to refocus our activities to the east. The West Central Minnesota Railroad is a high class railroad that has made great strides in its ability to provided safe, timely, cost-effective service to a growing customer base. We are confident that a new operator will step forward and continue serving those customers." When pressed on the railroad's future should no new operator be found, the CEO was less encouraging. "Someone will buy it." he said, after being pestered by reporters for more than 2 minutes. "If it's a railroad operator, great, but remember that scrap prices are high too. We're outa here." He then turned tail and scampered away, an entourage of security guards covering his retreat. Local businessmen and civic leaders commented that "they never did trust that weasly @&;^%$$!"

Corporate officials following recent announcement of WCMR Sale

The next week local newspapers carried the following ad: "For Sale-11' x 42' HO Scale model railroad. Nice condition. Includes continuous run loop. Only operated by a little old lady on Sunday afternoons. Track cleaning records show meticulous maintenance. The infrastructure is in tip-top shape, except there is hardly any ballast and we do have to disclose some power problems on a couple of the #4 turnouts. Completely wired for DCC, most of the feeders tied in to #12 power bus. Loconet installed with 6 plug ins. Passing siding holds trains made up of 2-6 axles diesels and 21 cars. Most of the backdrop is painted. Bring your own rolling stock, motive power, DCC system, and customers. Buyer assumes liabilities with locomotive rebuild shop in Bemidji MN. Oh, and some of the trees have not been trimmed since a recent tornado. $12,000,000 or best offer. Call 739-4567."

Nobody called. And so ended the saga of the WCMR, once-high hopes dashed against the greed of out-of-state railroad executives known for questionable ethics. The only happy locals turned out to be the members of the snowmobile club, whose eyes twinkled at the thought of a new trail. Just goes to prove that every black cloud has a silver lining if you only look hard enough.

(Like a Phoenix, the railroad just may rise again in a different location. You can't keep a crooked RR exec down!)

Friday, June 8, 2012

"Dash"ing Through the Woods

8:00 AM found me bound for Randall. It was a lovely morning and dreams of trains were dancing in my head as I left Wadena. The tracks were quiet until I had almost reached Dower Lake when a westbound showed up on it's journey to Dilworth. I didn't get a good look at the power but decided to continue on. I'm satisfied with that decision. 

Before reaching Philbrook I spied the rear end of a stopped crude eastbound. Luckily in a matter of moments a westbound stack train had obscured my view. With any luck the crude train would be next, so I stopped catch the cantilever doing its job one more time. 
Since he was pulling from a dead stop, there was probably time to reach  Quiken Road. I quickly drove there and had time find a location to catch the train rounding the curve. Third unit was as shiny an H3 Dash 9 as I've ever laid eyes on.
 Then it was time to go to work. After spending a few hours in Randall, I check the ATCS before leaving. Sure enough the railroad had served up a westbound for my viewing pleasure. Sadly Mother Nature had also served up a nice helping of overcast. Here's what you get when you take a train and add haze.
4 more Dash 9's, these all matched in H2 paint. It was kind of pretty.

I also shot a train in the Staples yard on the way down, but due to the mixed power it didn't fit the theme of this post. I'll try and process it for Flickr. The overpass construction makes shots that once were easy quite a bit tougher.

That's my story of "Dashing" through the woods today.