A Fresh Repaint to End the Day

On Saturday January 27th my wife needed to work at her office for a few hours in the morning.  I drove her in and after dropping her off I went down to Arizona Street southeast of Tower 55 to see what was running.  I arrived just in time to see a southbound BNSF unit train accelerating away from Tower 55 with a line full of undisturbed pigeons overhead.

Behind me a northbound UP train was heading towards Tower 55.

As soon as these two trains had cleared the northbound BNSF in the distance moved on up.

The trailing unit BNSF 728 was an old GE C44-9W which was in one of the last group of units delivered new in warbonnet paint but lettered for BNSF.

Looking back north I spotted another southbound BNSF train approaching but this time I would be blocked by the northbound train.

Now there was a 45 minute gap with east and westbound trains running in the distance before the next southbound train; a UP coming around the wye from Davidson Yard as the clouds moved away.

Six axle standard cab locomotives are becoming a minority on the Norfolk Southern so I made sure to get this photo of the second unit, a GE Dash 9-40C.

I went back and picked up my wife for lunch before we returned back home.  She had brought more work home so I decided to visit the UP in nearby Aledo for a few hours and catch up on my train magazines.  I parked at the old Iona depot behind the city office where I could observe the approach-lit signal and only a few minutes passed before it lit up red to indicate a westbound was leaving Iona.  I walked up the embankment and soon captured the UP 8323 West leading a loaded frac sand train.

I moved to the west side of the old depot for an unobstructed view of the two DPU’s on the rear including one increasingly rare ex-SP unit.

Listening to the radio I heard the westbound would meet two eastbounds at Earls and Weatherford respectively.  I continued with my reading until the first eastbound showed up with a rather mundane lashup of a GE C44-9W and a GE ES44AC in fading paint.

I thought about going home and not waiting for the second eastbound which I heard was led by GE AC4400CW  number 7106 and assumed would also be faded and dirty.  I decided to wait the extra 30 minutes and to my surprise the time was well worth it when this freshly overhauled and painted unit popped out from behind the trees.

I quickly zoomed in for a closer look before it disappeared behind the depot to the right.

Too bad the sun was slightly behind so the nose was not lit up too but I have no complaints!  With this high point to end the day I called it quits.

A Pleasant Sunny Day

While we have had a few sunny days since the first of the year most of them have been too cold to want to get out to photograph except for business.  Yesterday Thursday January 25th the sun was out and the temperature quickly rose into the 60’s.  Heading north I picked up David Steckler and as we approached the south end of BNSF Alliance Yard we spotted a moving northbound merchandise train and a southbound grain train tied down in the new bypass.  We quickly pulled over for this view of the parked southbound train.

A moment later I took this view of the “meet”.

We added Troy Minnick in Justin and just missed a southbound grain train.  Nothing else was close so we drove up to South Metro and arrived after the northbound BNSF Alliance to Willow Springs “Z” Train had cut away from their train and the KCS connection was pulling ahead to add their cut of cars to the train.

I wished I had been recording sound as GP40 #2849 is equipped with a now rare Leslie S5T horn.  although not visible from this angle it really sounded great!

We observed the interchange for a few more minutes and then headed on to the first grade crossing east of Metro at Rector Road.  We at first set up to photograph the northbound “Z” train thinking it would move on up to Valley View to meet southbound Amtrak 821, but we quickly reversed direction when we realized Amtrak was coming on down to meet the intermodal train at Metro by using the siding just vacated by the KCS connection.

After a trip to Amtrak’s Beech Grove shop for electrical repairs cab-baggage car 90222 is back in service.

A few minutes later the northbound “Z” train accelerated past us on the way to Oklahoma City for its next crew change.

Amtrak 821 met the BNSF 5073 north at Ponder that Dave and I had already photographed earlier, and we stopped back by south Metro for this view shortly thereafter as the train once again headed into the siding just to the right.

A southbound grain train had been in the siding at Valley View, and once it met the northbound “Z” train it met this train here at Metro.  We were waiting at the Ganzer road crossing just west of the South Wye switch.

The white plume overhead is actually the smoke trail from a grass fire burning south of Denton.  After a few minutes had passed the single DPU came by shoving hard.

Now it was time for lunch, and after dropping Troy back off at his vehicle we met again at Rudy’s BBQ at Western Center and I35 for food and conversation before heading home after a productive and comfortable morning!

Busy Times at the “Hole-in-the-Wall”

This last Saturday December 16th I was out covering the work going on at the “Hole-in-the-Wall” in Fort Worth where the single track Trinity Railway Express / Union Pacific line passes under the four main tracks just north of Tower 55.  In order to make room for a second track below that will carry the TEXRail light rail to DFW Airport, the bridge pillars that support the four main tracks above and in turn the pillars that support Spur 280 on top have to be rearranged.  The four main tracks overhead from east to west are Choctaw Sub Main Two; North Yard Siding; Choctaw Sub Main One; and the “Gauntlet”.

I took a complete series of photos for the TEXRail documentation project and also took these to share from vantage points that are difficult for others to be in.  In order for the pillars to be reconstructed – all without interrupting train and highway traffic – the Choctaw Sub Main One and the Gauntlet tracks have been moved to a new curved bridge just west of their original location so the old bridge may be removed.  Here is a view taken Saturday while the cut-over is in progress from underneath Spur 280 looking south towards Tower 55.

Here is a view taken just to the right of the previous photo looking down at the TRE main and the construction that has taken place so far to add a second track on the close side.  The loaded coal train in the background is on Choctaw Main Two. Notice that the TRE main track rests on a concrete slab as the “hole” is also a drainage channel during heavy rains.

Next I moved to the middle of the new bridge above the TRE main.  My radio was set to Channel 038 to communicate with the UP “Form C” foreman keeping me informed about his clearance of trains through the work site where I was standing.  The TRE had a foreman performing the same function below on channel 062 and I communicated with him via hand signals that he had a westbound train approaching just after he blew his warning horn.  Just before the TRE showed up a southbound BNSF train came through the scene on its way south to Tower 55.

A minute later the TRE passed below on its way to the ITC and finally the T&P station.

Approximately 30 minutes later the TRE is seen again eastbound towards Dallas.

Now things came together for me as a northbound UP train came down the hill from Tower 55 on its way to Peach Yard and beyond.

On the way back to the car I caught this northbound UP train moving up the North Yard Siding leaving Tower 55 with an empty grain train. 

On the way home I drove through Davidson Yard and happened to catch this SD70M number 3994 that had been tagged in California as an SP unit and will now be repainted by UP as a result.  The nose door is open making the tagged logo applied to the nose harder to view but the “S” was upside down and backwards on purpose or just in haste?


Also present was this MP15DC in an attractive paint scheme for Harbor Rail Services number 3005.  I read later on Facebook that this unit is on its way to Pittsburg, TX.

In the next few days I will add multiple entries from my time earlier this month on board the BNSF’s Holiday Special from Fort Worth to Kansas City!

To The Rescue!

When I woke up on Thursday November 30th I never would have guessed when I went to sleep that night it would be on a passenger train instead of back in my own bed.  I was out in the morning in the Grapevine area shooting for TEXRail.  The entire first Stadler train set in Grapevine is not ready for a roster shot yet as parts are covered by tarps and other equipment.  This view of the east cab car will probably be used on the cover of the first printed system map.

Then the phone rang and BNSF asked if I would be available to help with a situation.  The 2017 Holiday Express had arrived in Fort Worth overnight from its first event in Temple but the photographer who has worked the train for the past ten years suddenly took sick and would be leaving the train in Fort Worth.  Would I be able to cover Thursday evening’s train ride event for military families and also quickly pack and move onto the train for the upcoming events in Oklahoma City, Springfield and Kansas City?  My response was that I had no firm commitments for the next few days and I would make the sacrifice…… 🙂

I managed to get home and pack, leave my vehicle in the garage at BNSF headquarters and get a ride to the train with about 30 minutes to spare before the 90-minute round trip from the Stockyards on the FWWR to milepost two on the Dublin Sub and back.  The train consisted of a locomotive on each end of eleven cars populated with approximately 350 people on board.  My job was to work with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and photograph them with the invited military families so the photos could be posted to BNSF’s Facebook page for the guests to retrieve and be used for media releases.  When we got back to the Stockyards there was a ceremony for the presentation of a $10,000 check to the local military support organizations.

After the ceremony we took more “family with Santa and Mrs. Claus” photos with the train as a background.  

After we were done with people photos I took a few of the train as an executive dinner was hosted in the dining car Lake Superior.

I took one more photo as I made my way back to the rest of the train under the Stockyards train shed.

Now it was time to set up the laptop at the conference table in the Red River and process all the photos from RAW to JPG and then reduce them down to Facebook size before uploading them to the BNSF media team.  After the dinner event in the Lake Superior ended the train started moving to BNSF Saginaw Yard where we picked up the four crew cars that had been left behind due to space limitations at the Stockyards.

Once the train was together and the GEVO on each end set up in DPU mode, we left Saginaw a few minutes before midnight on the way to Oklahoma City.  After I finished my work the on board crew helped me move my luggage to a very nice room on the sleeping car Trinchera Pass with a queen size bed and a private bath.  I took a much needed shower and settled into the bed as we were approaching Gainesville.  As we passed through Gainesville around 1:00 am I put my iPhone up against the glass and made this video with the sights and sounds of my new room with a wonderful view.  The night video is best viewed if you use the appropriate button to go to full screen while it plays.



The moon was nearly full so with the room lights out I could see outside pretty well.  I was tired enough that I should have gone right to sleep but this experience was too good to miss.  As we passed through Ardmore, Oklahoma where I graduated from high school I thought back to my early railfan days there and how I never would have dreamed that years later I would be rolling through town on the BNSF executive train.

Here are a few of my photos from Ardmore in the 1970’s as examples.  First is a northbound train with two U25B’s and a GP30 about to do some switching.  

Next is a southbound train rolling past the old freight house with a brace of five new GP38’s.

And finally here is a southbound on the freight main powered by a mix of F-units, a CF7 and two GP7’s.

I wanted to stay awake through the Arbuckle Mountains but after Ardmore I started to drift off and would wake up for a minute or two and look out and then drift off again.

Memories from this area include this view of AT&SF #15 the Texas Chief passing Gene Autry.

At the old Dolese crusher south of Dougherty here are a northbound and a southbound train respectively.

North of Dougherty a southbound freight curves along the Washita River.

The next thing I knew it was morning and we were parked in Flynn Yard just south of Oklahoma City.  Stay tuned for Part II!

Working in Oklahoma City

When I awoke in my room on the Trinchera Pass Friday morning December 1st we were parked in BNSF’s Flynn Yard just south of Oklahoma City.  I closed the blinds, cleaned up and got dressed to have breakfast in the crew dining car Fred Harvey at 8:30 am.  After a great buffet breakfast we had a staff meeting to plan for the afternoon event at the old AT&SF passenger station downtown where we would once again host a 90-minute train ride for invited military families.

Before I go further here is the front of the brochure handed out to all guests as they boarded for each event.

On the back is a list of our complete train consist with a brief history of each car.  To round out the list our power for the entire trip consisted of ES44C4 #6586 coupled to the Mount Ranier on the “crew” end of the train consisting of the Mount Ranier through the Red River; and ES44AC #6616 coupled to the Mt. San Antonio on the “guest” end of the train consisting of all the remaining cars up to the Fox River.

After the staff meeting I returned to my room to organize my equipment and personal items.  Along the way I stopped in a vestibule for this photo of GP38-2 #2329 and GP40X #3036  parked on the east side of our train.

When I said in the previous entry that I had gone home to quickly pack for the trip, by “pack” I meant rapidly throw everything I might need into a suitcase, Pelican camera case and a shoulder bag anticipating an airline flight back home from Kansas City at the end of this trip.  It took a while to get everything organized, and while I worked a switch job drilled the yard tracks on the west side outside my window.



The engineer looked curious as to what was going on next door.


Lunch was at 1:00 pm in the Fred Harvey and then it was back to the room once again for a nap since the previous day was a long one.  At 2:30 pm a crew arrived to move our train to the station and by 2:55 pm we were departing Flynn Yard as seen from the dome level of the Bay View.

To show just how far I go back at this location here is an official AT&SF photo I took from this same yard tower back in 1981 not long after the facility was opened for business.

After crossing over I240 we curved to the west and I captured this view looking forward from the other side of the dome.

At Burnett we had a rolling meet with a southbound intermodal train.

Just north of CP River a southbound grain train was tied down on the other main track.

Here we are crossing the Oklahoma River.

Back in the 1980’s while in the company of a local official I climbed a signal mast with permission for this view of a Santa Fe F45 southbound with the skyline in the background.

More than 35 years later our train approached an upgraded downtown.

Back in the 1980’s time machine, here is Amtrak Train 15 the Lone Star led by two SDP40F’s making a station stop.

We backed into the Amtrak station spur from the north end since it is no longer a through track.  I walked down to the south end of the train to capture this view of the 6616 with the depot.

Walking back to the boarding area I recorded this view of a southbound ethanol train passing the west side of the Bricktown entertainment district.

After boarding our roughly 350 passengers we left the station heading north towards Guthrie.  Mr. and Mrs. Claus along with the lead elf and I worked our way through the train and I started to settle into the routine after last night’s session.  In the third car we came across a face very familiar to me.  On the right in the photo below is old railfan/model railroader friend Greg Hall.  On the left side of Santa Claus is Eric Dillbeck, President of the Oklahoma Railway Museum.

One way to answer the question of how long Greg and I have known each other is to just look at the next photo.  Greg in his teens is on the left below……

Back to business!  Here is our entourage as we enter the lounge car Mountain View near the end of our quest to make it through all the cars before we arrive back at the depot.

Later on after we finished up the family photos with Santa outside the train we honored our engineer for the evening David Townsend who will be retiring in January 2018.  Can you guess what railroad David worked for before the BNSF merger? 

This night I had the option of going back to my room to do the nightly routine of process then upload. I had all this done by the time the train was once again approaching Guthrie, this time on our overnight ferry move to Springfield, Missouri.  Check back for Part III in the next day or so!

Waking up in Missouri

I finished the nightly photo upload to BNSF before we reached Guthrie on the first leg of our overnight jaunt to Springfield, Missouri.  There was a full moon out again and after a shower I propped myself up in the queen size bed under an extra blanket to watch the scenery flash by my now darkened windows.  Using Google maps on my iPhone I could easily see where were at any given moment.

This is a part of the old ATSF Railroad that once again I am very familiar with.  Since photos out the window at passenger train speed of 55 mph were not an option, here are a few memories of this line from the 1980’s.  First up is a southbound ATSF #325 freight with four Geeps led by chop-nose #2110 around Waterloo, Oklahoma climbing the long southbound grade between Seward and Edmond in August of 1984.

In May of 1980 the Santa Fe ran a director’s special from Topeka to Houston, and here we see the train northbound on the return trip heading downgrade towards Seward with three FP45’s up front.  Some of the cars on the train in the photo are probably also on the train I am riding on past here thirty-seven years later.

In about an hour we reached Black Bear north of Perry where at 35 mph we traversed the connector onto the Avard Sub eastbound towards Tulsa.  Here is a southbound ATSF train at Black Bear back in 1981 when the Avard Sub was a Burlington Northern ex-Frisco operation.  What is now a CTC-controlled welded rail connector between the two back in 1981 was a lightly-used interchange track with hand-throw switches.  If I remember correctly the Pawnee Local used this connector and trackage rights to reach its namesake town.

Now that we were on the Avard Sub our passenger train met the requirements for a maximum speed of 70 mph and we cruised smoothly east through the night.  Here are two more photos from my files back in the 1980’s on the Avard Sub.  In the first view in 1986 we see an eastbound train led by six SD40-2’s crossing an arm of Keystone Lake just west of Mannford, Oklahoma.

Five years earlier in 1981 east of Mannford, Oklahoma near Keystone State Park an intermodal train is climbing the grade westbound out of Tulsa paralleling the Arkansas River.  This shot is difficult to duplicate today due to tree growth.

I woke up once as were passing through Tulsa after we made our crew change and then slept until just before sunrise when we eased to a stop on the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri.  I looked out the window and saw we had stopped on the Cherokee Sub at the junction with the Fort Scott Sub on the west side of town.  Three DPU’s on a loaded coal train coming off the Fort Scott Sub from Kansas City were easing into the yard to the right of us in this photo.

Here is the view from my window looking back towards the rear of our train.

Soon we pulled out onto the Fort Scott Sub and then reversed direction to the yard where we pulled into our designated track.  As we arrived a hot intermodal train from Memphis to Los Angeles left town to head down the Cherokee Sub we had just vacated.

After breakfast the sun came out and I checked with the train manager that we would not be moving from this spot anytime soon.  I put on my PPE and hit the ground to walk a bit and capture this view of the engine terminal.

Also nearby were three locomotives whose time on the BNSF is growing short judged by their physical condition.  First up was ex-Frisco SW1500 #315 which has now been reclassified with Great Northern reporting marks.

Next in line was ex-Frisco GP15-1 #103 now probably ending its career on the BNSF as #1478.

Last up was ex-Frisco SW7 #302 which ended its career as the Burlington Northern 77.

To reference how old I am getting to be, I checked my files and came up with this “not so great but can never shoot it again” slide I took of Frisco #302 in Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 5th back in 1974.

Later in the afternoon it was time for boarding and these two views give you an idea of the crowd of invited military guests.

Here are two on board photos during the ride to give you  a feeling for the fun atmosphere and sea of smiling faces.

Later that evening the moon is up, the last guests have departed, and shortly we will be leaving for Kansas City.

  Watch for Part IV!


Christmas in Kansas City

After the event in Springfield on the evening of Saturday, December 2nd I worked on my photo processing as we moved out of the yard and started northwest on the Fort Scott Sub towards Kansas City.  I was able to get the upload done before we got far enough out into the countryside that my wireless hot spot started to lose signal.  As a side note during these events I would take two or three photos of each group with Santa which would total up to an average of 400 to 500 photos per session.  I would then cull out the bad expression, closed eyes, etc. pictures and end up with around 300 photos a night to upload to BNSF.

The GPS map on my phone mirrored the multiple curves I was feeling as we rolled along. I pulled up the Online Dispatching System and saw we had plenty of trains to meet on the way to Kansas City.  Most were waiting for us on the roughly six miles of two main tracks at Fort Scott where the Afton Sub joins in and at the numerous sidings to the north.  I fell asleep somewhere north of Fort Scott and when I awoke we were parked somewhere in Argentine Yard and I was looking at the side of a hopper car outside my window.

On the other side of our train was a main track leading to fuel racks at the east end.  On the way back to my room from breakfast I took this shot of an eastbound train moving up along side us.

I paused at the door to my sleeper and delved into the past for a minute.

There was no getting off the train here for a walk so I took a nap and watched local TV in my room until after lunch when we began our positioning move to Kansas City Union Station for our fourth and final military family event of the trip.  This time I decided to work both sides of the vestibule at the end of my car.  As we moved slowly east we passed an eastbound train sitting at the fuel rack.

This view is of the west side of the diesel shop.

And a few minutes later the east side.

Next I spotted the long-closed AY Tower.  It looks like it is someone’s office space now.

Before long we crossed the line between BNSF and Kansas City Terminal Railway as we approached the interlocking at Santa Fe Junction.

This view at the Junction is looking north towards the bi-level railroad bridge over the Kansas River.

A few moments later as our eastbound train was crossing the diamonds you can look up and see parts of the new “fly-over” east-west main tracks built back in 2004.

We moved up the ramp and at the top I took this view of Kansas City.

I heard a growing rumble behind me and turned to quickly capture this view of the eastbound train we had earlier passed by at the fuel rack now overtaking us at speed coming down off the fly-over.

Due to track lengths at the station we had to split the train up and set out the four living cars and put the train together in the same configuration as back in Fort Worth with the remaining eleven cars bracketed by the two locomotives.  As we made these switching moves a westbound intermodal swept past us on the way to Argentine Yard.

We had about two hours before boarding would begin so once we were tied down I got off and walked through Union Station to capture the feeling of Christmas in Kansas City.

I made good use of the upper viewing galleries.

I bought a railroad-themed snow globe in the Kansas City store and walked back to the train.  I made a detour by the ex-VIA/CN #6507 FP9A that is now on permanent display here as the KCS #34.

Noticing KCS 34’s reflection off of our train parked to the right I tried this artistic view combining the two.

As boarding time approached I climbed up into the adjacent parking garage to capture this crowd of invited guests.  This was only a part of the group waiting to board and by the time we were ready to leave we had achieved our normal loading of around 350 military family members.

I had no idea where we were going for this day’s 90-minute round-trip but as we worked our way through the cars I could tell from brief glances outside that we were taking the route to Topeka.

After our return the now normal ceremony to hand a $10,000 check to the local military support organization was held outside the train.

Once we wrapped up the final family photos with Santa in this scene it was time to head back to the Fred Harvey for our crew dinner.  I saw some potential for a final photo for the evening out the diner window and moved to the vestibule for this scene with a full moon.

I went back to my room and finished all my photo processing and uploading before taking a shower and dropping into bed.  I never felt a thing when later on some time the train was reassembled and taken back to Argentine Yard.  Part V the final chapter of this trip coming soon!




Last Day of This Great Trip

Monday December 4th was the last official day of the BNSF 2017 “Holiday Express” and we had one more trip to make in the late afternoon.  Returning from Kansas City Union Station the night before the train was now parked on the north side of the yard in the old intermodal ramp along Kansas Avenue.  The last trip of the series would be departing from this spot since there was plenty of parking here at the ex-intermodal ramp and today’s guests were not military families but instead local area residents and some employee families.

When the train returned to this location and the guests had departed, the equipment and crew would immediately deadhead back to their home base in Topeka to get ready for other local Christmas events around the system.  However, my plan was to have my bags packed and ready to set off the train when we returned so a crew van would pick me up and take me to a hotel near the airport so I could fly back to DFW on Tuesday.  A cold front with rain showers was due to come through around noon, so after breakfast I put on my PPE and got off to take advantage of the wide open ramp for a photo of the whole 15-car train.  I actually walked the entire length and shot every car but I will not bore you with those here.

Later the wind picked up and it did rain a bit outside while I was enjoying my last lunch in the Fred Harvey.  Afterwards I went back to my room to pack and a took a few photos with my iPhone to send to my wife who was curious about my accommodations.

The room had been great.  In the absence of a small desk or table I sat on the bed and put my laptop on the chair to do my photo processing.  That afternoon at 4:00 pm we all met in the Fox River and used its large open space for the official crew photo.  I was proud to have had the opportunity to observe and work alongside such a professional crew!

Later on the parking area was filled with cars and we boarded a full train for the last trip.  It was dark when we left and I am still not sure exactly where we went but I think it was west towards Holiday.  I did not share any of the military family photos so here is one of our crew members and her wonderful family as an example of the type of photos I had now taken several hundred times in the past few days.

This trip seemed to fly by and soon we were back at the facility.  On the way back to get my bags off the train I took this last official photo for the trip of happy passengers being safely assisted off the cars.


And so ended the railroad part of this unexpected Christmas train trip, and I could have not wished for a better time and experience!  Happy holidays to all!

Wabash On The Point

Nearly a week ago BNSF delivered five locomotives to Fort Worth & Western to be used on a frac sand train to be loaded at Vista Sand in Cresson twenty miles southwest of Fort Worth.  One of the units was a celebrity in the form of Norfolk Southern’s Wabash Railroad heritage locomotive number 1070.  This was only the second time a NS heritage unit had visited the FWWR since the Central of Georgia unit came to town several years ago.

The units were first stored at Waples Siding close to Granbury and then as the week progressed were brought back to Cresson.  The drawback was the NS 1070 was coupled at both ends in the consist so getting a perfect photo was impossible.  Luckily after working as the FWWR photographer for close to twenty years now I have a lot of friends in the railroad’s family.  I asked that if it were possible when the train was built to leave for its destination of Shattuck, Oklahoma if the Wabash unit would be the leader.

As the week progressed it appeared that Friday would be the day that Vista Sand would have enough cars loaded and BNSF would be able to take the train at Saginaw.  Friday morning I started out wearing my TEXRail hard hat as the FWWR 204 job used GP50 number 2010 to deliver the final two cars of the first Stadler DMU train to Grapevine.  The power car and the other two passenger cars were already in Grapevine after arriving by truck from their appearance at the American Public Transit Association expo in Atlanta last month.  Here we see the short train just east of Davis Boulevard in North Richland Hills.

A few minutes later the train is passing Bransford Park and the display caboose in Colleyville.

In both photos you are looking at the concrete ties and 136-pound rail that are replacing the old jointed rails and wooden ties from Haltom City to Grapevine.  Want to learn more about the TEXRail Project?  The website link is www.texrail.org

I spent the morning and early afternoon in Grapevine documenting the unloading of these two cars.  At 3:00 pm I got the call the sand train would be leaving Cresson around 4:30 pm and the NS 1070 would be leading as I had requested.  Success!!

I finished up my TEXRail work and then spent more than an hour fighting traffic back towards Fort Worth.  I received a follow up call that the train was leaving Cresson as I passed downtown and decided to go to Primrose Siding just off the Chisholm Trail Parkway southwest of town for my first shot.  Since the train would be essentially back lit on its trip from Cresson to Fort Worth in the afternoon light I needed locations with as much of a side view as possible.  There had been issues when attempting to set up the train in DPU mode; so in the end it left Cresson with all five units up front on a 103-car, 14,500-ton train to be delivered to the BNSF at Saginaw.

There was an empty sand train tied down in the siding and the lead UP SD70ACe had the perfect light that would be preferred for the Wabash unit, but trains run when they run and you learn to work with the cards you are dealt.

Less than 10 minutes later the loaded sand train sailed by at 40 mph and I worked both trains into the photo.


Now using the speedy Chisholm Trail Parkway to my advantage I easily beat the train to Forest Park where I was joined by friend David Steckler for this late afternoon series.


From here I paced the train as it approached Tower 60 and when they called the BNSF dispatcher he told them they would have to wait at the interchange for Amtrak 822 to go north and a loaded coal train to pass by southbound before they could come out and run to the west pass at Saginaw.  The head end of the train did not stop in a spot that would work for the next photo so I moved on ahead to the NE 29th Street crossing on the BNSF Fort Worth Sub where there was a patch of sun left for a few more minutes.  Amtrak 822 had already passed by on its way to Oklahoma City and a few minutes later the southbound loaded coal the dispatcher had discussed made its appearance.

A few minutes later the crossing gates activated again, but instead of the loaded sand train I was expecting it turned out to be an empty BNSF coal train that had been waiting at Bredenberg south of Tower 60.

The two coal trains were OK but now the patch of sunlight I was counting on had disappeared into the increasing dusk as my target train arrived a few minutes later.


If no longer in direct sunlight at least the subject was now evenly lit.  As the FWWR engineer started to notch out to run 8 for the climb up to Saginaw I drove on ahead to the NE 38th Street crossing.  While the last vestiges of direct sunlight reflected off the skyline in the background the five units were now working hard lugging the 14,500-ton train as they slowly approached my location.  I let the crew know on the radio that the engineer’s side ditch light was out.


As I had earlier changed into my BNSF PPE, I decided on one more run by at the south end of Saginaw yard.  I was ready when the train pulled by into the west pass.

I hoped that other photographers would have been able to get better shots on Saturday of the NS 1070 leading as it headed to its final destination of Shattuck, Oklahoma, but it was not to be.   I learned later that BNSF rules require an originating train to be led by a BNSF PTC-equipped locomotive, and the NS 1070 certainly did not meet that requirement.  Before the train continued on north later in the evening, BNSF ran the entire engine consist around the wye at Saginaw so the trailing BNSF 6709 became the new leader and NS 1070 was against the train.

So now I am especially glad to be able to share the results of this brief but productive chase since I did not realize at the time the photos above would be my testament to the NS 1070’s brief reign as the leader of the pack from Cresson to Saginaw.  

Today’s Catch

I got word late this morning July 22nd that BNSF was using their trackage rights on the Union Pacific’s Baird Sub today for the first time in a good while that I am aware of.  A BNSF intermodal symboled S-LHTALT (Los Angeles to Alliance, TX) was eastbound at Weatherford heading my way.  I decided to tackle the heat and drove to Iona near the house and set up at the private crossing in the middle of the siding. In about ten minutes I heard the detector at Aledo go off so I got ready for this photo a few minutes later at 11:43 am.

I had seen two units in the consist on paper and now it was obvious they were running in a 1 x 1 configuration.  I moved down to the crossing and set up for this view of the DPU as it transitioned from power to dynamic braking.

Listening to the radio no other trains sounded close so I quickly headed back home to work on this entry in air-conditioned comfort.