Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nosing Around in the Fog

A  clearing forecast and decent temps combined with the offer of a guide seemed to create the conditions for a dream railfanning outing this morning, so I took advantage of the situation and was out the door before 7:30 AM. After a short stop at to say hi to Dan's wiener dogs, it was back on the road in foggy conditions, just right to catch a train looming out of the gloom. I was driving but taking directions from the fearless leader, and he guided us to a meeting with four EMD's right off the bat, including a blue and yellow visitor to the ports.

With CP accounted for, it was off to Black Bear where a fantastic trestle was shrouded in fog when we arrived. The twenty minute or so wait for the train allowed all the fog to clear out, yielding the finest-lit shot of the day as CN "land barge" struggled by with two big units up front and a couple more mid-train. Six hundred and sixty some axles, with lots of loads, had these engines groaning as they worked the train out of the basin.  

The upside was that slower progress made for an easier chase. We were able to beat the train to this secret location even when it involved a short run that left my legs rubbery. The photo may not be much but the sight and sound of the train cutting through the fog was pretty cool. I've never thought about how hard trains have to work heading out of Superior toward Wisconsin, but apparently hills ring the Twin Ports.  

 By this time, I had worked up a healthy appetite and the Escape was thirsty as well, so we headed back to Superior to fill everyone's tanks. After stops at Holiday and McD's (and a few well-chosen words about the lateness of this year's McRib), it was back on the road, to check out what my old friend the BNSF was up to. 28th Street Yard was strangely unoccupied when we drove up, with only a couple of units present, but the railroad fixed that in a minute when a couple more GP's backed a cut of cars into the yard. The fog was back in force as I shot the action. I do find something uniquely compelling about these foggy day shots.
 Of course no railfanning outing in Superior is complete until you at least do a roll-by inspection of the engine servicing facility. Today, we were lucky enough to catch a crowd of EMD's, of various vintages, paint schemes, and wheel arrangements, being prepped and fueled for service. I couldn't resist.
Finally, a swing around the yard and down past the elevators produced nothing new. However, I did get a valuable tip about a photo location for boats loading grain at CHS. Today it was the "American Mariner" filling up. Even got a tiny bit of fall color in the corner of the shot.

And with that, our three-hour tour had ended. Not stranded on a deserted island, either, but just minutes from home and already dreaming of the next chance I have to get out and look for trains around the Twin Ports. Thanks, Dan, for the tour and all the info you shared. It's appreciated.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


The first ten days of the month went by in a blur, with a trip to Michigan for work followed up by the movers coming and packing up our household goods the following Monday and Tuesday and delivering to our new home on Wednesday. I managed to fit a couple of fun-filled unpacking days in last Thursday and Friday before getting up at 4 AM Monday to head, once again, to Michigan. Now I'm back at my new home in Duluth and Mrs. L4T is here with me, and all is well with the world.

My Mom and Dad stopped to see our house on the way to Florida for the winter on the same the movers arrived. We decided to go for a drive so I could show them where I work and sneak in a little railfanning, which is how I caught this "critter" at the end of the day, working the storage elevator in Old Town Superior. Since we were in a bit of a hurry I had to settle for this shot, someday I would like to get him out in the open.

The heir to the Look4trains fortune was next to visit, and help unpack over the weekend. Since he also needed to see my office, and do a bit of touring around the area, I again managed to sneak in a train photo. This time we were passing the west end of the BNSF pellet yard at Allouez and found a DPU sunning itself while I suppose the train waited to dump. Out came the Pentax and captured the sight.

What a difference between Friday evening (above) and Saturday, shown below. Coming back from Superior, a transfer was leaving Rices Point and a short trip down I-35 let me catch him as he passed through the gloom on the way to Grassy Point. Can't be sunny all the time.

Finally, one more at Allouez, another DPU sitting at the entrance to the yard. This time it was an ACe, but even though the power was nicer the weather wasn't.

That's it for the month so far. Pretty slim pickings but it sounds like the weekend might be at least partly decent so there's that. Wish me luck in my new digs.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


As my time in Wadena draws short (when I leave today, I won't be back here to live, the movers come tomorrow), I can't help but think back on the time spent here. Wadena is where I got really involved in railfanning, and where Mrs. L4T and I lived when she encouraged me to buy my first "real" camera.
6 years ago today, there was a coal train leaving Staples headed for Superior. With no knowledge of things like scanners or ATCS, railfanning was a hit and miss game. That fine day I was lucky to catch this train as it ventured onto the Staples Sub, led by a triclops 60M. A scene that will likely never again occur, it seems a blessing now that I was able to witness it then.
There are some things I will miss about Wadena. Having grown to love the Staples Sub, that's one thing, and I have a few good friends here in Wadena that I will miss. No longer being able to host an ATCS server is a regret. The disassembly of the first edition of the WCMR was a bitterseet event. All in all, though, I'm real excited about the future and look forward to what it holds.
Thanks to everyone who has been a reader, hopefully this blog makes the move well.