|I'd been looking forward to
Sunday's bash in Staples for a few days as I had arraged to meet fellow
enthusiast and blogger Jim "Look4Trains" Ramnes there. Several
times this year we had been at Staples the same day, on one occasion
had been within minutes of running into each other. So when I knew that
I'd be up
there I suggested a meet up and he said "Sure" So at 6am on
Sunday morning I was up before the sun and on my way to Staples. The
drive was uneventful until I got to Baxter and there in front of me in
the distance was the single headlight of a DPU on a train of coal
west. The unpainted aluminium of the coal hppoers was shining in the
sun like a silver ribbon drawing me in, much like a lure attracts a
fish. I felt my foot press the accelerator harder and the chase was on!
I didn't know where I'd catch it. I was hoping Pillager but I didn't
get far enough in front by then so I had to settle for Motley. I made
in good time and got a nice shot of the lead unit ES44 No. 5882
appearing through the
|The trailing unit
that had been drawing me in all the way was an SD70, No. 8892 and I got
a shot of
it as it crossed the road. The early morning sunlight sort of kills the
BNSF orange for me.
|With that it was off
to Staples for both the train and I. I wondered if I could catch it
again. Staples is only 7 miles away and the train had a good
start but the road to Staples is straight and dual carriageway* so I
gave it my best shot. The train had to slow up as it approached Staples
and I finally passed the lead unit just out of town as it slowed for
the junction. I made it to the Depot car park with little trouble and
sure enough Jim was there waiting for the train I'd been chasing. We
barely had time to greet each other when the train arrived.
|Jim informed that
another train west of Staples had been given a warrant to head
east and I could see its approaching headlight in the
These are always nervy moments with the length of American freight
trains. We could very easily get blocked out on seeing the eastbound by
the westbound in front of us. But as luck would have it the two cleared
each other west of the
station presenting us with this nice shot.
|4 units headed up the trailer
train and here's all 4 of them for you. Lead unit was ES44 No. 7568.
|Then a C44 No 5527.
The light of the early morning sun does nothing to improve the grubby
|SD40 No 6390
was probably the cleanest of the 4 units
|Finally another C44,
No. 807 to finish it off. It certainly needs a wash.
|A few minutes after
that we were greeted with the sight of ES44 leading some empties from
Becker power station. Both Jim and I were aniticipating some good
(There's always a but) Then things went quiet for quite
some time. A long time, over an hour in fact. There wasn't even a chirp
on the scanner. Jim and I chatted about railfanning, cameras and
bemoaned the state of the Staples depot building. But still nothing
came. About 8:20 Jim had to leave so he wished me well and assured me
that now he was going things would pick up. But it didn't. I'd promised
myself I'd stay until 9am and pretty much exactly at 9am the scanner
came into life and and eastbound was given a warrant. At last! I got
the message from the track detector, 238 axles. Could be a container
train. That would be nice. It was about now the batteries on my scanner
decided to die on me. So I would be flying blind the rest of the way. I
could hear the horn of the train from a long, long way out and when it
came into view I wasn't disappointed. It was only a mixed freight but
it had a lovely clean ES44 on the front to make a very nice picture
with a cloudless sky in the background.
|Wouldn't you just
believe it? As this one was passing I heard the horn of an eastbound
approaching. More coal empties and ES44, No. 6116 and an SD70MAC, No
8916 working this one.
|Perhaps now the quiet
time was over and the rush was going to be on I hoped. Within another 5
minutes I had an Oakway leased EMD, No. 9027 leading a westbound auto
train. There is, for your records, (and mine) BNSF SD40-2, No.6333
behind the lead unit. Auto trains are a pretty impressive sight. "A
rake of these would look good on my model railroad" I thought to myself.
|Then once again
things went quiet. I decided to head back to the cabin. I didn't have
my scanner anymore so I wouldn't hear when things were on the way.
Overall I left feeling pretty
good. Six trains in 2 hours wasn't bad, despite the long gap in
between. I'd met Jim and we'll very likely be meeting up for some other
adventures in the future. Trainspotting is a great hobby, but it can be
something of a solo affair so its always nice to meet someone out there
who shares your interest.
Carriageway* - Two lanes of traffic in each direction