I was able to finish my work in Kansas on Monday June 22nd so Tuesday the 23rd found me on the road back home. Instead of taking the Kansas Turnpike southwest to Wichita I headed south out of El Dorado, KS with the intention of getting back on I35 north of Ponca City, OK. It has been around 40 years since my last visit to Augusta, and the last time I witnessed the old Frisco depot here the tracks were still in use through town on their way to Wichita.
I knew there was a westbound BNSF stack train heading my way, and at first wanted to catch it passing the old Santa Fe depot in Augusta, but Maintenance of Way was working in that area. I settled for this photo where the Frisco once crossed the Santa Fe at grade right behind where I am standing.
On the southwest side of Augusta the BNSF Douglass Subdivision swings south off of the Emporia Sub and runs thirty miles down to Winfield, KS where it connects to the Arkansas City Sub. I parked on the side of US 77 on the approach to the Walnut River bridge, and after about twenty minutes I caught this loaded coal train from Wyoming to the OG&E Red Rock power plant as it enters the Douglass Sub.
Running down US 77 ahead of the train I drove into the Sub’s namesake town of Douglass and set up for this pleasant view of the train passing the station sign.
After capturing the two BNSF units up front I moved to the south end of town for this shot of the two DPU’s nose to nose.
A few miles south of Rock, I pulled over on the shoulder of US 77 for this cross country view looking west.
I overheard the dispatcher telling the southbound coal train they would have to wait at WN Junction in Winfield for a northbound “Z” train that was approaching Arkansas City and would take the Arkansas City Sub north to Newton before turning east to Emporia. When I arrived in Winfield I immediately encountered this South Kansas and Oklahoma GP38-3 that started life as a SP GP35 back in 1965 making it only ten years younger than I.
Satisfied at this point with my photos of the coal train, I checked out WN Junction and other spots in Winfield, but did not find anything that offered a good sun angle for the northbound “Z” train. Driving south towards Hackney, I found this location at milepost 253.1 where the track curved just right to put sun on the nose of the approaching northbound. Ten minutes later I caught this view of the train passing this approach signal for both Hackney behind the train and Winfield ahead of the train.
Arkansas City is only a shadow of the Santa Fe railroad town I knew forty years ago and I drove on through without stopping for any photos. The radio indicated the coal train would stop there for a crew change and that a “Z” train along with a grain train would be behind it. Crossing into Oklahoma, I stopped in the first town of Newkirk and composed this photo with the local elevator for my last photo of the coal train.
The next community to the south is the tiny town of Kildare, and I paused on the south side of town to photograph the “Z” train along with the grain train right behind it at milepost 282.
Both southbounds met a northbound at Ponca City so I went back north with the intention of getting a photo that included the old but still in use grain elevator.
With nothing else close by I now drove west towards Blackwell and I35. When I arrived in Blackwell I did not find any of the Blackwell Northern Gateway’s locomotives in town so they were obviously on a run somewhere north towards Wellington. I did find this old Santa Fe 2-6-2 and caboose along with the depot.
It was now 2:15pm, and with many miles to go I decided to make a big jump towards home. Getting back on I35 I did not exit again until reaching Davis on the north side of the Arbuckles where I fueled up and drove up to the depot museum with only seconds to spare before this southbound grain train rolled by at 4:57pm.
The southbound “Z” train from Willow Springs, IL to Alliance, TX I had caught earlier in Kildare was approaching Pauls Valley and my first inclination was to wait and compose a shot of it with a better view of the depot. The dispatcher blocked this idea by bringing this northbound empty grain train out of Dougherty and lining it into the siding at Davis to meet the “Z” train.
With the siding on the west side of the main here at Davis, the empty grain train obscured my view of the “Z” train as it also sewed up the town. I strategized that the “Z” train would have to take the siding itself at either Overbook or Marietta to meet northbound Amtrak 822 just leaving Fort Worth. Since only the north end of Overbrook siding is readily accessible, I decided to bet on Marietta for the meet and get a shot or two with the depot.
I arrived in Marietta around 6:45pm with the “Z” train passing Ardmore while Amtrak 822 was still south of Gainesville, TX. Before long, the dispatcher proved I had won the bet when he told the “Z” train to wait a few minutes before pulling all the way into Marietta siding. I took this view at 7:12pm just before they started to pull the rest of the way in and sew up the town.
Five minutes later Amtrak 822 sped by northbound on the main towards its final stop in Oklahoma City. In the first view I widened out to catch a bit of the town and the depot.
As the “Z” train started to pull, I took my last shot of the day recording the current state of the old Santa Fe depot, one of a dwindling number still standing today.
I pulled into the driveway at home around 90 minutes later right at sunset. I had made it a long day, but one that I was happy with the results.