Riding the Christmas Train

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 photographing the first TEXRail train set.

Then the phone rang and BNSF asked if I would ride the 2017 Holiday Express.  I was able to board 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.   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.  

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.

We left Saginaw a few minutes before midnight on the way to Oklahoma City.  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

FWWR delivers 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.  I spent the morning and early afternoon in Grapevine documenting the unloading of these two cars.  In the afternoon I drove to Primrose on the FWWR to catch the NS Wabash Heritage Unit leading an eastbound train.

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.



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 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.

Last Light and First Light

On Wednesday July 12th the UP ran an engineering special from Herrington, KS to Fort Worth.  The original schedule showed it passing  through Saginaw around 5:30 pm and I arrived at the old Kosse depot/chamber of commerce a little after 5:00 pm.  I learned the UP special was running late and then adding to that frustration was the cloud that arrived to block the sun at the same moment that Amtrak 822 passed by.


Four UP units running light northbound towards Chico pulled up to the block signal and BNSF DS122 told them they would have to wait on one southbound BNSF that was already lined through.  It turned out to be a manifest freight.

As soon as the last car passed the UP light units shot over the diamond heading to Hicks with an ex-SP leading.

 BNSF 6976 North called DS112 wanting to leave Saginaw for Alliance Yard but the dispatcher told them they were now stuck for three south bounds.  The first south bound train was a solid autorack with a CSX leader.

There was a brand new KCS articulated car that had not yet fallen victim to the taggers.

The next southbound was a transfer run from Alliance to North Yard with a pair of old SD70MAC’s.

Once the rear of this yard job cleared up in the transfer track a 2 x 2 grain train came down the main.

Finally it was time for the BNSF 6976 to make its run to Alliance Yard.

A few minutes later a work train came out of North Yard into the transfer track with a Georgetown Railroad slot train.

Finally at 7:05 pm the radio came alive with the UP 3032 South calling DS122 to get lined through the diamond at Saginaw and being told to come down looking for a signal.  At 7:14 pm with only minutes left before the sun dropped below the trees, the UP special finally was in my sights.

I panned right for a view of the new Tier 4 SD70ACe UP 3032.  One small access door was open and the two short-haul microwave dishes that transmit the view from the forward looking camera to the rear inspection car Idaho detracted slightly from the clean look of the unit.

A few seconds later I took the well lit but cluttered going away shot of the eight car train as it headed towards Davidson Yard for the night.

I followed the same basic principle and headed home to tie down for the night.

After checking the schedule for this morning I noted the train would be heading west on the Baird Sub past my house.  Departure time from Fort Worth was set for 6:30 am; the same time as the scheduled sunrise.  I decided to get up and head over to Aledo to catch the train passing through town hopefully before the back lit sun came up over the horizon.

I pulled up next to the old Iona depot behind the Aledo city hall at 6:30 am just as I heard the dispatcher tell everyone west of Fort Worth to get in the clear for the special.  I was in place and got exactly the shot I wanted when the train rolled by at 6:46 am just a few minutes before the sun appeared in the immediate background.

Here is the going away shot as the inspection car Idaho passed the defect detector at milepost 264.  Everyone was staring intently at their track profiles and did not notice me.

It would have been nice to follow the train to Sweetwater but I had other things to do today.  Overall I was happy that I had caught it twice already even if the lighting was not ideal.

Lackawanna Comes to Fort Worth

Last Saturday July 1st the railfan grapevine indicated a westbound intermodal train coming off the Meridian Speedway and getting on the UP at Shreveport had a Norfolk Southern heritage unit leading.  This time around it was the NS 1074, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western heritage unit.  The projected schedule showed the train would pass through Fort Worth Sunday afternoon in good light, but as often happens this was not to be since this was a low priority “K” train and not a hot “Z” train.

By late Sunday afternoon the train had only made it to Mineola and would not reach Fort Worth until well after dark so I gave up on it.  Monday morning assuming the train was now well west of Fort Worth I headed out to take new progress photographs for the TEXRail light rail project between Fort Worth and DFW airport.  As I was paralleling the UP east of Davidson Yard on the way to start at the T&P building, suddenly I encountered the NS 1074 moving down grade towards the yard.  Since I was setting my own schedule this day I pulled a quick U-turn and followed the train as it pulled down to the west end of Bypass One for a crew change.

As I was already wearing my full PPE, after the crew van picked up the inbound crew I drove down the single-lane one-way road on the north side of the tracks and took this back lit nose shot of the NS 1074 with a BNSF train parked next door in Bypass Two.

With nothing else possible within the tight spacing here I quickly moved on and deciding the best shot with the full sun would be a broadside from the south side of the yard as the train left town.  I moved over to the south side access road and waited patiently as the outbound crew got on and prepared to leave for Sweetwater.  A call to the dispatcher indicated the Fort Worth to West Colton merchandise train in Bypass Five would leave first and the “K” intermodal train would follow.  I was letting the 2 x 2 powered merchandise train roll past in front of me without taking any photos until I spotted that one of the two DPU’s was a new Tier 4 SD70Ace #3036.

   Now it was showtime for the Lackawanna heritage unit and the broadside lighting did provide the best results for this sequence with the sun in the southeastern sky.

Since the merchandise train ahead was climbing the hill to Iona, the NS 1074 had to stop at the red signal at the west end of the yard and this gave me adequate time to relocate to the I820 overpass in Benbrook.  For some reason there was an older SD70M parked in the west end of the Benbrook house track.

I panned left for one more close up view before letting the train go.  You can see a few spots along the side where the paint has flaked off due to age.

Now I resumed my plan to cover all the new TEXRail construction updates between the T&P station and Grapevine.  I finished up at 4:30pm at the site of the upcoming DFW north station just north of Highway 114 which will be located between the end of the line at DFW Terminal B and the Grapevine Main Street Station.  In this view I am looking south towards where the station platform will be with Highway 114 in the background.  My new Explorer is parked on the future right-of-way and displays a required set of Fort Worth transit Authority “TEXRail” magnetic signs.

All in all a pretty good day before the Fourth of July!

NS Heritage in the Rain

It started raining again here at home around 2:00 am and was still raining when I was getting ready to take a shower and get dressed around 9:45 am.  Then things got interesting when I received a text that Rupert Gutierrez had posted to Railspot the NS 8114 Heritage Unit was leaving Fort Worth a few minutes earlier leading a westbound double stack train.  I quickly showered and listened to the radio while I got dressed.  Even though I live less than ten minutes from Iona siding, if the train was running unopposed it was already past me.  I would have to drive to Judd 30 miles west of Weatherford to get ahead of it, a not too pleasant undertaking in the steady rain.

I heard two trains meeting at Iona and even though no engine numbers were exchanged on the radio this was a glimmer of the possibility the prize was still within my grasp.  I jumped in the SUV and headed that way.  When I got to the point I could see the west end of the siding I could see a stack train there with smoke rising from locomotives I could not quite make out.  Instead of turning up that way I continued north on FM 1187 to Aledo.  When I pulled up in front of the Maria Bonita Mexican Restaurant (excellent food with a track side view!) I was prepared to hurriedly set up for my shot, but then I saw the signals were red in both directions.

New radio conversations between the dispatcher, signal maintainer and trains indicated the signals were out at Iona and here at Aledo.  A big headache for them but now clear as the fortunate reason I was able to shower, get dressed and drive here with plenty of time as the westbound train leaving Iona was having to run at restricted speed.  As I am a regular customer the owner of Maria Bonita did not mind as I took shelter on their porch for ten minutes until I heard the rumble of the slow moving train and took up my position for this sequence.

I like using the Bryant elevator as a background to define the location as being distinctly in Aledo.  Since the train was doing all of 5 mph as it passed the red signal just to the left of the photo I decided I had time to jump on ahead to the FM 5 crossing in Annetta.  I arrived with plenty of time to spare and made ready to shoot a long telephoto shot with my second camera.  Then after close to ten minutes the headlight appeared around the curve, but in the process of accelerating to track speed instead of running at a sedate 5 mph.  I quickly dropped the long telephoto idea and went back to my faithful Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-105 lens for this sequence.

The train was up to around 60 mph when the last car passed so I decided to end the chase here and head back home.  I was more than happy with the results and even though the rain was not fun, if it had been a clear morning the train would have been coming out of the sun.  This time for sure taking a chance instead of deciding “better luck next time” was the right decision!