Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

The fourth of July always brings to mind a day 5 years ago now when I shot this photo. Oddly it's not the only Independence Day shot I remember. This one from 2009, and this 2008 shot from Verndale are both products of the fourth as well. Last year I must have been in the basement working on the now-defunct West Central Minnesota Railroad.

All of which is a long introduction to this morning. For some unknown reason I checked the status of the eastbound Empire Builder, and sure enough it was late. In fact it should be in Staples at about the time that would allow me to attempt to duplicate the 2007 shot linked above. And so I was off. I decided to wait for the train at Wadena, where the dispatcher had him lined to cross over from Main 2 to Main 1. Consider that shot accomplished.

Then it was off to the races. Amtrak was making great time, and even risking a speeding ticket wasn't enough to keep pace. By the time I reached Aldrich he had built up a fair lead, but I knew (or hoped) that I could stop faster than the train, and would make up time as they approached the station. Sure enough, the head end passed the station about the same time as I did. There was only one fly in the ointment, though-for some reason the dome car was at the end of the consist, so the conductor decided to stop with the final car of the train at the platform. As a result the power was blocking the crossing east of the depot. Here's the shot I was able to come up with, which I didn't like near as much as the one from 5 years ago.

Finally, in that shot, there was a coal train waiting to cross over and take the Brainerd Sub. This year the situation was reversed, with an empty waiting to get onto the Staples after Amtrak cleared. I decided to shoot him, and after getting home and looking at the photo, was glad I did. Strange, strange power on this coal empty. Been a long while since I caught a coal train with DC power, much less a GEVO. In fact this may be one of a kind for me, certainly worth the "oddity" tag.

With that, it was off for home to work on the house. Now, after mowing, painting, and trimming hedges, I've squeezed out a moment to post to this long-neglected blog. More is coming, when time allows, including my report of the greatest railfanning day of the year, VR2K12. All for now.

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