Saturday, September 15, 2012

Old Days

One of the great blessings of my railfan "career", if such a thing exists, has been the willingness of Mrs. L4T (that's my wife for those of you who have always wondered) to humor me by tagging along on "train hunting" expeditions. We have explored nearly every inch of the Staples Sub together, and she has gotten to the point where she occasionally sees the train before I do. She even questions why I am taking a shot from time to time, commenting that "the light is no good here". We've been great friends as we cruise up and down Highway 10, always on the lookout for the distinct pattern formed by a headlight and a pair of ditchlights.

With an impending move to the Twin Ports just a few weeks away now, something Chris Muller posted on Facebook today inspired me to check ATCS, and sure enough, the westbounds were lined up all the way to Gregory. Mrs. L4T and were out the door with visions of GEVO's and ACe's dancing in our heads.

My first move was east. It seemed a good bet we could catch the leader of the pack the other side of Verndale, but he beat us to the punch and surprised me just outside Wadena. If not for the glorious consist of new BNSF covered hoppers I would have passed, but these cars called for a u-turn and chase. The slow order near Bluffton allowed us to just beat the train to a crossing.

Hoping to beat something to Staples, we once more headed east, and this time made it almost all the way to Aldrich before a Z train sailed around the corner. Once more we were ready.

The action was pretty steady at this point, as the next train was approaching Dower Lake when we got there. This time is was a crude oil empty, led by a GEVO. You might also notice a blur of color in the distance that will come into play a bit later.

But the interesting unit was third out. For the third or fourth time I got the H3 painted 8987, an SD70MAC. The paint sure holds up nice, as this is at least two years old.

One of my goals for the day was a shot from the new overpass in Staples. Alas, it was not to be, as the final westbound was passing the depot as we neared the parking area. Plan B took us back to the Dower Lake crossing, where we captured a manifest with lots of oilfield traffic, including pipe, sand cars, and empty tanks. I even noticed an ADM car placarded for crude oil in this train.

This thing got me excited. I wonder what it hauls and where it hauls it?

The treat of the day was next. A manifest train sat on Main 2, sans power, just west of the Dower Lake crossing. It was only a few minutes when the power for the train ran back west from the yard. It was great to see a 4 unit set of SD40-2's "leading" this power as it backed up onto the train. What a sight! I hollered "Nice Power" to the conducter as he passed by and got a smile and wave back.

After getting the air pumped up and the train underway, we were able to swing by the Staples yard and shoot three more classic EMD's sitting at the west end, including a fairly uncommon GP40. Second one I have seen this week, the other was in Superior.

And so you have the story from today. We probably won't get many more chances to fan the Staples Sub, but I'll always remember this one and the day Mrs. L4T once again brought me luck!

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