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Discovering new territory. Staples, MN July 5th

With July 4th falling on a Friday this year it gave the opportunity for a nice, long weekend up at the in-laws lake place. I'd decided way in advance that I would use one day of the weekend to go out trainspotting. Not on the 6 train a day Brainerd sub but over to Staples, about 20 miles west of Brainerd. Staples is where the BN transcontinental line divides going east to the twin ports of Duluth and Superior, South it heads to the Twin Cities and all points east. A check with regular Staples railfanners on the outstateminnesota Yahoo! group confirmed that it could be a pretty busy day. That was all I needed to know. So, Saturday morning dawned and after a quick breakfast I was on the way west before 8am and nothing but blue sky in front of me. A quick stop for coffee in Brainerd bolstered me and as I crossed the Mississippi I looked over and saw an Eastbound coal train headed for Superior. For a moment I debated wether I should do a "U"ie and race it back to the road bridge at the far end of town. But traffic was a bit heavy so I headed onwards confident that the day would reveal better stuff to me. The drive to Staples is pretty unremarkable and it wasn't until it glanced over to my left and saw a 4 unit lash up heading south that I realised I was getting there. The Amtrak station is easy to find and there's plenty of wide open space about to park the car and find safe places to trainspot. Barely had I been there 2 minutes when I saw headlights in the distance and I knew my first train was on the way. A C44 and an unidentified SD40 hauling a long train of autoracks.

BN 4155
In the middle distance in the above shot you can see some trains lined up in the yard. I was hoping that these would be clearing out quickly for my viewing pleasure. When they didn't I got in the car and drove down to the yard hoping for some kind of better view. Not knowing Staples well and not wanting to awaken the ire of any BNSF employees. I snapped this shot of a quartet of SD40's. 8118 and 6380 were paired together on one train, 8118 is  leased from First Union Rail. It carries the FURX reporting mark under the cab window. 6913 and 6793 are paired together on another container train
staples yard
On the other side of the auto racks was some other power. But  had to drive all the way back to 6th street over the tracks past the Amtrak station and keep going for another quarter of a mile or so to see what was there. The trip was worth it. ES44 7543 C44 5059 and NS ES40 No. 7640 waiting with what looked like a grain train.
BN 7543
It didn't move. It didn't look like it was going to move for a while. So headed over to the Amtrak station to take a look. The decreptitude exhibited there was embarassing. Amtrak is clearly so short of money that it can't afford the upkeep of its buildings. A pretty sad state of affairs if you ask me. I was jolted out of my feeling sorry for Amtrak by the distictive horn of an SD70 approaching from the south. I was way out of place for any picture and that fence in the way wasn't helping one bit. So I opened the back door of the car and jumped up on the sill (I should have come in the truck...) and was greeted by one of the most fantastic sights in Trainspotting. A pair of brand spanking new SD70 ACe's running elephant style. I'm just sorry I was out of place for this shot. This angle, shot into the sun just doesn't put over how pristine these babies are. They looked utterly, utterly, gorgeous.
two SD70 ACe's
I strolled back to the car, wondering where I should go next in search of good photo angles. When there was the blast of another westbound train horn. Up this time was another freshly painted loco, an ES44 this time heading up an NS (ex-Conrail) SD. With an ordinary C44 bringing up the rear on a mixed freight.  I've got to admit that the BNSF livery looks pretty darned good on a loco when it is clean. While this mile long freight train was going by I heard the sound of another horn and a eastbound crossed behind it. I cursed my luck for missing that one. I've no idea what was on that train.
Not wanting to be caught out of place anymore. I headed back to my first spot, the 6th street crossing. Where within a couple of minutes I was rewarded with another westbound. More auto racks lead by warbonnet liveried C44 No. 747 and another No. 5178 behind. As this passed, I heard the horn of another westbound train coming off the line to the Twin Cities. Aaagh! I wasn't going to be blocked again was I?
BN 747
Pretty much, for as the last cars of the auto train cleared out, the westbound freight eased its way into the yard lead by a C44 and an SD40 I think.
BN 833
Once the crossing was clear I walked back to the car and decided what to do next. It was close to 10:30 and I was getting peckish. But before I could decide what to do I glanced up and saw, in the distance the headlights of another oncoming train. This time I had a mixed bag of an SD40 and something that looks like it might be a Geep. The driver of the SD gave me a cheery wave. It's always nice to be acknowledged by the crew rather than receive "one single digit rampant" ( I believe Americans call that being given the bird)
BN 8952
So, that train cleared out  and barely had I got to the car when there was yet another horn from a west bound. I sprinted back to the crossing supported my camera on the crossing lights gantry and snapped this NS pair on a container train. It looks like an SD40 and perhaps an ES40 behind it.
NS 2561
Well, After that my hunger got the better of me and I decided to head for home. I'd really enjoyed that 2 hours there, 10 trains in a little over 2 hours. Let's not forget the one I was blocked on that makes it 11. I will defintely be going back. Though next time I might just go back in the late afternoon to see If I can get some better shots of the westbounds as they come off the curve from the Twin Cities line.