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.

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