Author Archives: Ken

Bucket List Short Line

February 21st as I headed west on I40 through Arizona I unexpectedly accomplished one of my railfan bucket list items. Passing through Holbrook I looked down the tracks and spotted two green and white locomotives in the distance. While I have photographed the pristine Alco’s of the Arkansas & Missouri on multiple occasions, this was my first time to catch the more elusive Apache Railroad. Alco Century 420 number 81 (ex-Louisville & Nashville 1305) and Century 424 number 99 (ex-Canadian Pacific 4233) were finishing up switching the BNSF interchange before heading back to Snowflake 38 miles to the south.

As the crew was finishing up their air test I drove to the south side of the Little Colorado River bridge to catch them leaving town.

I had not done my homework on the Apache before this trip but I did remember the line became inaccessible a short time after leaving Holbrook. I took the highway south about two miles to the next road that branched off to the west and got lucky when I found the last prime photo spot at a grade crossing. The wind was gusting around 40 mph so I had to really brace myself for this final sequence as the train climbed the grade southbound out of Holbrook invisible in the river valley behind the train.

If I had passed through Holbrook thirty minutes later I would have missed them altogether. After this high, ninety miles further west in Flagstaff I found the weather to be radically different.

Twenty-four inches on the ground with another sixteen inches to come before the storm was over!

After Dark in Clovis

February 20th found me on the road to Arizona, and before stopping in Fort Sumner, New Mexico for the night I passed through Clovis around 9:00 pm. I was pleasantly surprised and quickly doubled back after seeing this new display.

The backstory is this 0-6-0 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1906 as the Santa Fe 2005 and was renumbered to 9005 in 1946 and switched in the yards here at Clovis until it was donated to the city in 1954. I had photographed it before in a less pristine state, but now it has been repainted as the centerpiece in a small park with complimentary lighting.

As you can see on the right side the city has even fixed up a lit semaphore signal.

This was a rest stop worth taking!

Two Perspectives of the Same Train

Pleased with the results I treated myself to lunch at BBQ on the Brazos here in Cresson. On the surface of the wakeboard pond outside I spotted this gaggle of geese.

Now if I can just put a camera on one of these and teach it to like trains maybe I can overcome that pesky battery related flight time limit……

Fall in Aledo

Today I drove the few miles to Aledo, Texas to have an early lunch at “Poquito Mas” (A Little More).  When I arrive the “79 Local” from Fort Worth to Abilene was beginning to switch the industrial siding for the Bryant elevator.  I can remember a few years back when the regular power was a pair of GP60’s, but now it is anything six-axle on the UP roster.  Today’s power was a pair of aging SD70M’s that were ready to head west with their short train when I came out of the restaurant after an always excellent meal with a view of the tracks.  I picked up my camera from the car and stepped into the open space next to the cafe to frame up this view between a tree and a church steeple as the train started to pull.

Too bad nothing passes for Fall colors around here, so you will have to take the visual cue that the leaves are on the ground instead of on the tree that winter is just around the corner.

 

   

KCS Railway Honors Its Employee Veterans

Kansas City Southern had asked me to keep it confidential and so I left the house at 5:00am on Veteran’s Day and drove to Shreveport to photograph their repaint of SD70ACe #4006 into a veterans commemorative scheme.

The locomotive was painted (not wrapped) by one man in three weeks and had not emerged from the paint booth since its completion so photos would not be leaked before this event.

Before noon in a light rain the unit was posed for me to take the first official photograph and then to capture it with a group of KCS employee veterans.

Within an hour the two main photos were sent out in a KCS Railway press release.  I have seen a lot of negative comments on Facebook about the paint scheme, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I like it and point out it was done only to honor the KCS employee veterans. Those on hand were very pleased with it, and to me that is what counts. I was proud to have been asked to take the first photos!

New Roy Hill Mining Locomotives

Living near to the new GE Plant in north Fort Worth has its advantages so for today we will stray from the Missouri trip account to show today’s catch.  This morning around 9:30 am I heard from friend Troy Minnick that two of the new ES44ACI’s under construction for Roy Hill in Australia were coupled up and looked like they would be tested today.  I met Troy on the public road at the north end of the GE test track just south of Justin around 11:00 am and we waited in the hot sun for something to happen.  The first thing that did happen was southbound Amtrak 821 just before noon.  I wanted to catch the head end just before it reached the “Justin” water tower in the background but as you can see I was a second too late.

At 12:47 pm still no Roy Hill units but now a northbound BNSF freight.

More time passed and at 1:27 pm the northbound Gainesville local came by led by B40W number 543 that itself emerged from this same GE factory not too long ago after a rebuild.

Shortly afterwards at 1:36 pm the stars of the show arrived.  ES44ACI’s number 1023 and 1024 are two of three units completed for what I understand is an order for five locomotives painted in this unique scheme to honor the Susan Komen Foundation.

The units pulled north of the crossing and stopped for the on board technicians to make changes to their sensors which gave me this opportunity.

Friend Barry Byington has been getting excellently lit early morning / late evening photos of the individual units so far but I was happy with these mid day photos of the pair.  The sun was slightly on the west side of the tracks by now back at the crossing so Troy and I took up a perch on a rock pile and were ready when the units moved back south at 2:20 pm.

We had been hoping for a southbound BNSF to come along while the units were still north of the crossing where we could get both side-by-side but naturally this did not happen until the Roy Hill units had passed by.

One more going away telephoto shot capped the photo session as I needed to get to an appointment back in Fort Worth.

For those who desire to learn more about the Roy Hill rail operation in western Australia, here is a link to their website:  https://www.royhill.com.au/overview/rail/

 

 

A Charger to Start the Day

While I was in Kansas City last December with the BNSF Christmas Special I missed getting a photo of one of Amtrak’s Siemens Charger SC-44’s by a few minutes so on Thursday April 5th I started my day in Lee’s Summit, Missouri with an agenda.  I had done my homework on Google Earth and Amtrak’s website, so I was aware that Lee’s Summit had a very nice depot and that Missouri River Runner number 314 eastbound to St. Louis out of Kansas City would arrive at 8:51 am probably led by one of the Amtrak Midwest Chargers.  I arrived shortly after 8:00 am and checked out the area.

The UP main here is oriented north-south and old Missouri Pacific depot is on the east side of the tracks and is now the local Chamber of Commerce.  The Amtrak platform is on the west side of the tracks so with the morning sun behind me I stood at the top of the stairs next to the fence on the track side of the depot.  A small crowd of passengers was gathering and right on time Train 314 arrived with Charger SC-44 #4623 leading.

Once the train stopped I moved to the head end for these two shots over the fence.

Then I quickly moved to the other side of the SE 3rd Street crossing for this sequence of the train leaving town with a good view of the local scenery.  I even had a nice clock to work into the photos.

The train had several dead-heading baggage cars on the rear that are supposed to assist in making sure the grade crossing warning systems would activate.

Happy with my success I drove east and north from Kansas City towards Bosworth and a few hours later caught this eastbound unit train with a 2 x 2 locomotive setup on the BNSF Transcon a few miles west of Carrollton, Missouri.

The train soon stopped for a welder to clear up and I made it into Carrollton before it reached the old AT&SF depot.

The east end of the depot has been modified for use by Maintenance of Way.

Carrollton is the east end of joint trackage with the Norfolk Southern west to Kansas City and next I heard the dispatcher talking to a westbound NS train that wanted to enter the Transcon coming off of their main line.  I drove down and caught it with these two photos as the result.

Driving out of Carrollton I took a grab shot of this caboose that more than likely came from the NS family although the Southern never ran here.

I took the back roads out of Carrollton heading northeast and next paused at an old steel truss bridge over the Transcon about halfway to Bosworth.  Here I caught two westbound trains in just a few minutes.

After this I drove 30 or so miles north to Chillicothe for the night I went down to the old Wabash station, now re-purposed as a BBQ restaurant.

With train order signals and operator bays on each side of the building I am assuming this was a joint operation by the Wabash and either the Burlington or the Milwaukee, all of which are long gone today.

I never would have guessed that Chillicothe was the birth place of sliced bread.

Parked a block east of the old depot was this ex-CNW GP7 that was obviously still in use by the Missouri North Central as it had a block heater plugged in and running.

If you look closely on the long hood you can still see the remains of the CNW “Route of the Streamliners” logo.

 

Five Trains on Two Subdivisions in Perry

In early April I started out on a business trip to Missouri.  I left on April 4th and 64 miles north of Oklahoma City I made a stop in Perry where the old Frisco from Tulsa to Avard came into town from the west and then turned north to parallel the AT&SF Oklahoma City to Arkansas City main for six miles to Black Bear where the Frisco crossed the AT&SF at grade and then headed east to Tulsa.  When I arrived a southbound train on the Red Rock Sub was just leaving town after a northbound had cleared up.

I drove to the north end of town and spotted a westbound intermodal on the Avard Sub with just enough time to pull over for this view over the Red Rock Sub main line.  Note the inquisitive mule in the lower left corner.

I doubled back and parked at Ivanhoe Street where the northbound train from earlier left town on the Red Rock Sub.

I relocated to the next crossing south and a few minutes later caught this westbound passing the Perry sign on the Avard Sub.  The Red Rock Sub is just out of sight on the right.

I moved back to Ivanhoe Street for a third westbound train on the Avard Sub with the Red Rock Sub in the foreground looking north.

Nothing else was close on either line so I drove on to Lee’s Summit on the southeast side of Kansas City for the night.

An Era Comes to a Close

March 31st, 2018 marked the end of an era stretching back fifteen or so years at Metro, TX near Denton.  The KCS would bring a block of loaded intermodal cars from Dallas in the morning to add to the BNSF’s northbound Alliance, TX to Willow Springs, IL “Z” train.  Then the KCS crew would wait and in the afternoon pick up a block of loaded intermodal cars from the counterpart southbound “Z” train from Willow Springs to Alliance.

I could not be there for the last outbound interchange on the morning of the 31st, but with friends Dave Steckler and Troy Minnick I was able to be there the day before on March 30th.  In this first photo the KCS local out of Wylie is on the approach to Metro.

At Metro the BNSF’s ZALTWSP has already arrived and stopped on the main while the KCS stops on the east leg of the wye where the KCS and BNSF conductors swap paperwork.

The ZALTWSP makes a cut and pulls the rest of their train ahead into the Metro siding, then KCS crew pulls their cars down close to the west end of the Metro siding.

The KCS power leaves its cars and clears up on the main at Metro.

Now the ZALTWSP backs up and couples into the KCS pickup.  Then they pull ahead again and clear up in the siding.

At this point the BNSF conductor rides the rear end back south to couple into the cars they had left on the main.

Once the BNSF train is ready to move it pulls forward into the Metro siding  and the conductor reattaches the FRED before getting a ride up to his locomotive from the KCS power waiting on the main line.

After delivering the BNSF conductor back to his locomotive at the east end of Metro, the KCS power comes back to pick up its conductor and their FRED before heading back up the east leg of the wye.  It is determined the southbound BNSF “Z” train will not arrive until early evening so the KCS crew runs back to Denton to eat and switch local customers there.

The northbound BNSF ZALTWSP is stuck in the Metro siding until Amtrak 821 out of Oklahoma City passes by on the way to Fort Worth.

With other commitments looming I could not stay until evening for what turned out to be the last southbound version of the intermodal interchange.

WP Heritage Visits the FWWR

 

 

 

 

 

I am an avowed opponent of graffiti on freight cars but even I have to admit the Rug Rats depiction on this hopper is pretty good.

 

 

A little more than a week later on the afternoon of Monday March 26th I happened to catch this unchanged train set coming back empty eastbound on the UP at Iona on the Baird Sub near the house.