Christmas Eve Close to Home

The FL9 Website is back!

Bear with me as I fine tune the new version of FL9.com, and please leave your comments so I will know how I am doing.

Thanks to the Russian hacker who destroyed the old site for no valid reason and inspired me to start over with better tools.

And now the first blog post:

As Christmas Eve fell on a Tuesday this year I had the day off from my regular job and I decided to get out early to see what I could catch a few miles from the house on the UP Baird Sub west of Fort Worth.  I probably come to this spot too often over time such that many of my shots are similar in composition; but it is close to the house and after an hour or two I needed to finish up my Christmas shopping.

At 7:32am the sun rose above the horizon at the east end of the siding as the car’s sensor indicated the external temperature was an invigorating 19 degrees.

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No trains came by during the first minutes of the ideal sunrise photo window before the sun starts to get too high, so I took a glint shot of the right-of-way fence at 7:47am as a consolation.

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A few minutes later I heard a radio conversation that a westbound train would meet an eastbound here at Iona; and indeed at 8:00am this westbound intermodal with UP 7481 leading came into view running wide open at about 20 mph.

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This train held the main line and started to slow down as the eastbound that would take the siding was still several miles away.  Iona siding is listed at 7731 feet, and this turned out to be one of the nearly 10,000 foot long intermodals as it wound up stopping around 1500 feet short of the clearance point and blocking the busy crossing here.

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So there I was wearing a UP yellow vest in full view of all the motorists stopped on the south side of the crossing.  I had a few honks but all I could do was shrug my shoulders and luckily no one got out to vent their frustrations on me.  Luckily in less than ten minutes I heard the eastbound on the radio as it pulled into the siding, and then the brakes released and the unmanned DPU’s next to me started to throttle up.  By the time they were several hundred feet distant the DPU’s were notching up to run 8 as they shoved their half of the intermodal over the crest of the grade.

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I waited for the guttural whine of the switch motor rolling the points over to the siding for the eastbound to leave, but after a few minutes of no activity I decided either there must be another westbound on its way out of Fort Worth or the eastbound was trapped here waiting for a place in Davidson Yard.  To pass the time and stay warm I framed up this view of a pile of frosty new ties waiting to be installed here.

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A few more minutes passed and then I could hear the roar of a second westbound train coming up the 1% grade.  I went for a low angle to emphasize frost on the grass as the engine consist with the UP 5509 leading came up to the home signal at 8:36am.

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The second westbound turned out to be a close to 10,000 foot bare table train.  I am guessing the dispatcher’s strategy was to keep these two long trains close together.

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As I was recording this view of a piece of rail laying on the ground close by, the switch motor rolled the points over to the siding as the Omaha dispatcher now intended to take the eastbound into Fort Worth.

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The eastbound was an intermodal with three older units up front led by the UP 6556 in perfect light at 8:46am.  Nothing else was close by, so I headed on into Fort Worth to run a few errands and finish my Christmas shopping.


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Later on after I finished my shopping I made it to the bridge over the Clear Fork of the Trinity with a minute to spare for this photo at 2:17pm.

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I drove home and unloaded my packages before deciding to go back out to Iona for one more Christmas Eve train while I read some of my magazine backlog.  At 4:05pm I was rewarded with the UP 7149 east pulling into the west end of the siding as it singlehandedly towed a shut-down GP38-2 and approximately 70 cars.

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The dispatcher told the crew nothing was coming west but the yard did not have room for them at that time.  He promised them a van before too long as indeed this was Christmas Eve.  I took that as my cue to call it a day and head home to my own Christmas!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Glad to see you posting again. Happy new year!

  2. Nice background! I thuhgot you were trying to Goth up your site! Seriously though, this really bites. Like you don’t have better things to do.I’ve thuhgot about self-hosting my place because WP.com can be a PITA, but at least they’ve never done anything like the mess you’re having to clean up.

  3. Ken, I was sorry to read about this! Had my own experience with Russian hackers. I’ve been enjoying your posts for a long time, is there any way to bring the old posts back? I was down in Temple and wanted to look up your great post on the Temple and Central Texas to understand how they reconfigured things. Thanks!

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