Monday, November 26, 2007

A Train Named Soo

A full selection of photos from this trip can be found in Photologues. Photos appearing on this page can be purchased at

Another great photo freight opportunity presented itself in October 2007, this time in Wisconsin. Historic Transport Preservation, a group dedicated to recreating scenes of past modes of transportation (particularly railroads) chartered Soo Line 1003 from Hartford to Randolph and Fairwater, Wisconsin, on October 20-21. The host railroad would be the Wisconsin & Southern. After initially planning to drive all day Thursday, October 18, to get to Wisconsin, I decided at the last minute that I didn't feel like doing all that driving. An internet search yielded an Allentown (Pa.) to Milwaukee air fare for about $200 on two days' notice -- that's cheaper than the gas to get there! Thus, I flew beyond the Cheddar Curtain.

Day 1 - October 18, 2007
Landing in Milwaukee early in the morning, I was greeted by cloudy skies and overall drab weather. Why did I fly? I really decided that getting into town a day early wasn't gaining me anything, so I picked up the rental car and sort of meandered north and west out of town, generally towards the Wisconsin & Southern. High on my to-do list for this trip was to get a train passing the Miller brewery at a location called Grand Junction. I found Grand Junction surprisingly easy (a previous trip there with Railfan & Railroad columnist Bob Gallegos made me somewhat familiar with the location) but the skies were dismal.

At this point I had a brainstorm. Good friend Jim Wrinn worked in nearby Waukesha, so I gave him a call to see if he wanted to meet up for lunch. I've known Jim for probably 20 years, back when I was just a railfan from the north and he was actively involved with the North Carolina Transportation Museum and the Norfolk Southern steam program. Now I was editor of Railfan & Railroad, and Jim had become editor of our rival magazine, Trains. Despite the rivalry, we remain good friends and he agreed to meet for lunch. With an hour to kill before Jim got out of a meeting, I headed to Waukesha's ex-Wisconsin Central depot and caught a Canadian National (now the owner of WC) southbound going past (somehow with the sun out). Then it was off to meet Jim.

Following lunch (at Dave's Famous Barbeque where we enjoyed southern-style pork) Jim invited me back to the office of Kalmbach Publishing, parent company of Trains. I know most of the Trains staffers on a first-name basis and it was good to touch base with Dave Ingles, Rob McGonigal, Kathi Kube, Matt Van Hattem, Andy Cummings and the rest of the gang. Jim photographed me in front of Kalmbach headquarters and again turning in my visitor's pass before sending me on my way. "Stay close by and keep in touch," he said. He wanted to ask his wife, Pam, if she wanted to get together for dinner.

I headed to Duplainville, a railfan favorite location where Canadian Pacific's ex-Milwaukee Road trackage crosses CN's ex-Wisconsin Central. First up was an eastbound Canadian Pacific freight, followed by Amtrak's Empire Builder heading west on CP (both in sun -- I was really lucking out on this mostly clody day). A local freight zipped by both directions on the CN, but I didn't shoot it. After a little while, I decided to try a location I hadn't been to before and headed for Brookville. I photographed the restored station as the sun set, but alas no trains came on the CP. From there it was off to Wawautosa to meet Jim and Pam for dinner, then head back to the Super 8 near the airport for the night.

Day 2 -- October 19, 2007
Friend Jeff Smith was arriving at the airport from Philadelphia early in the morning, and I made the quick drive from the motel to the airport just after his plane landed. If anything, the weather was worse today than yesterday. We headed up to Hartford where Soo Line 1003 was being prepped for its ferry move to Brandon (the locomotive lives in the antique car museum in Hartford). We arrived in Hartford, saw the locomotive outside under steam, and pretty much just hung out in the car in the parking lot until departure time, as the weather still wasn't conducive to photography. Even after the locomotive departed the museum, picked up its train and headed for a coal stop in Burnett, we still didn't take any photos -- we were happy just to shadow it as it made its way along.

At Burnett the locomotive was coaled and the skies brightened just to the point where we thought about taking photos. We paused at a nice grade crossing just outside of town for our first shot, got in at another crossing about halfway to Waupun, then again blasting past the feed mill in Waupun. The cow farm just south of Brandon would be our last stop.

Once in Brandon the locomotive crew offered a photo runby, which we gladly accepted and photographed, then we all enjoyed dinner and a quick meeting with trip organizer John Craft before starting a night photo session. Victor Hand and I lit up the 1003 by the Brandon mill using flashbulbs, then the locomotive was moved into the town park for some scenes lit by fixed halogen lamps. Finally, the lamps were turned off and the train headed for Fairwater, where Saturday's activities would start. As the train accelerated out of town, I listened to the locomotive working in the darkness across the fields and reflected that this sound was background noise to generations of Americans over the decades. I savored the moments until the train was out of earshot.

Day 3 -- October 20, 2007
The bad weather gave way to sunny skies by Saturday morning, and a group of about 40 photographers gathered around the 1003 in Fairwater shooting all kinds of servicing, detail and roster shots right up until departure time. After a spirited steamy runby in downtown Fairwater, the train was backed to the west side of town where a pond and a feed mill provided photographic fodder for five runbys. What a start!

After finishing at the mill, we headed back towards Brandon, stopping at Brandon Road for another set of runbys. Then a stop in a playground just outside Brandon allowed for another pair of runbys before heading into town for runbys, lunch and water for the engine. A Subway lunch was provided, but several folks took advantage of the fried brat sandwiches available in the city park.

After lunch the photographers descended upon the cow farm just outside of town to get 1003's southward move, and we got another shot just outside Waupun. At Waupun, the train made a stop just north of town while the photographers gathered near the mill in the town's center. Once everyone was in place, the train crew really put on a show blasting through the center of town at track speed. Wow!

Above Burnett another pair of runbys were held, albeit under cloud cover. By Burnett the sun (and an antique car) were present for another runby before coal was added to 1003's tender. The train then went into Horicon and changed lines, coming out on the branch to Randolph. While the train was in town making its moves, the photo line formed at a crossing west of town for a nice shot. From there, everyone was on their own to find a spot somewhere between Horicon and Fox Lake Junction -- we wound up at Sunset Beach, which looked like a not spectacular shot, but the ensuing image came out looking okay.

The grand finale was at a causeway along Beaver Dam Lake just outside the town of Beaver Dam. Using a private residence, we were able to get many shots of 1003 silhouetted on a causeway while the setting sun provided an ever-changing backdrop. The last runby was made just after sunset and we all headed off for a good night's sleep after an amazing day.

Day 4 -- October 21, 2007

Sunrise in Randolph found the photographers shooting scenes of the train crew preparing 1003 for the day, as well as glinty sunrise shots. Once the train was ready to go, we were told to find a spot somewhere between Randolph and Sunset Beach, then after getting that shot we were to gather at Sunset Beach. I knew the big field right in Randolph was as good as anyplace, so Jeff and I set up there, along with the father-and-son team of Bill and Mike Raia and others. Bill Raia was the man to stick with, as he was the liaison between the photographers and the train crew and he had the radio to communicate with the train -- the train wasn't going to get past him! If you knew where Bill was, you knew you were ahead of the train.

The 1003's freight consist was a mix of modern hopper cars and modern gondolas, and some had been badly vandalized with graffiti. An effort had been made to get most of the graffiti cars near the middle of the train, allowing for attractive shots of both the 1003 and the Soo Line caboose that trailed the train. Just before departure from Randolph, however, it was noted that the gondola up against the 1003 was badly vandalized, so a switching move was required to move the offensive car further back into the train. Our decision to stay at the field proved to be a good one, as we had a front row seat as the 1003 shuffled like a local train from the 1950s, setting out and making up its train. Once the train was together, 1003 backed through town and came roaring through for the benefit of the townsfolks (and us in the field). 

Hitting the car, we headed for Sunset Beach where most of the photo line was already set up at a nice pond just off Fox Lake. Here the 1003 made a nice series of runbys and everyone was able to capture a variety of angles. Then it was off to Horicon for lunch (and water for the locomotive). Before departing Horicon we photographed some of the Wisconsin & Southern diesel power there, and a simulated "hooping up orders" was done by the train order board, with the photo line doing the moving while the 1003 stayed in one place.

Out of Horicon, we set up for a shot just outside of town. From there the checkerboard roads and diagonal tracks kept us behind the train until we broke ahead near Woodland. Suddenly the 20-car motorcade descended into town and the first half dozen cars shot by the side road needed to access the tracks. With those cars wheeling around and turning into the side road from one direction and the other half of the motorcade not making the mistake and turning in from the other direction, it was like dueling motorcades as the cars poured into the side street. With about 90 percent of the photographers gathered at one spot, including Bill Raia and the radio, we had 1003 perform an unplanned runby through town.

Outside Woodland, the next planned runby was at a grade crossing that was fairly nondescript. The grade crossing just prior to that, however, featured a nice farm; fortunately, the back-up move for the primary runby spot took the 1003 back to the other grade crossing so folks were able to pick where they wanted to be. After that, it was off to the next crossing east where another nice farm was located. Here several runbys were planned. What wasn't planned was an antique car rolling up to the crossing. The car and its owners were quickly recruited as photo props and actors for several runbys.

Sunset was rapidly approaching, but so were clouds. The next runby location, at the cemetery in Rubicon, featured a couple of antique tractors. As the final runbys were held, the clouds swallowed the sun for good. Still, it had been an excellent day and an excellent weekend. The 1003 returned to Hartford and we said our goodbyes to each other and headed our separate ways.

Day 5 -- October 22, 2007
Jeff was catching an early flight back to Philadelphia, so I dropped him at the airport in Milwaukee. The dismal skies had me thinking about trying to find an early flight home, but Tuesday's forecast was good -- I decided to tough it out through Monday and hope for a better tomorrow.

I headed up to Slinger in search of Wisconsin & Southern action. At Slinger the WSOR crosses the CN's ex-Wisconsin Central, and approaching town I heard a northbound CN train. I set up on the overhead bridge at Ackerville and caught it there. I thought I heard a southbound WSOR train on the scanner, but the wait at Ackerville produced nothing. I followed the WSOR back through Hartford (there was the 1003 being cooled down before going back into the museum), Rubicon and Woodland (where I spotted a high-rail maintenance truck on the tracks -- no trains here) and went to Horicon. A check at the offices revealed there were no WSOR trains in easy reach, so I headed down towards the CP's ex-Milwaukee main line in search of action.

I finally landed at Richwood, where I shot Amtrak's Empire Builder heading east, followed by an eastbound freight. Trackwork had things gummed up and most of the eastbounds came to a halt, so I headed up to Atsico where I bagged a westbound (and missed a westbound). I headed back to Richwood where the westbounds were still rolling and caught the westward-heading Empire Builder bracketed by two freights. Bob Gallegos joined me after work, and we were later joined by Amtrak engineer Craig Willett who just happened by -- he had been running the eastbound Builder I had shot earlier. Finally, an eastbound rolled past (pretty much in the dark) and Bob and I headed for dinner in the restaurant that now occupies the former Milwaukee depot in Oconomowoc.

Day 6 -- October 23, 2007
I stayed in Hartford that night, and headed out first thing to check on the Wisconsin & Southern at Horicon. Once again, nothing doing. Okay, if I wasn't going to get the WSOR, there were two shots I really wanted before heading home on a 4:00 flight. The coaling tower over the former Chicago & North Western at Clyman Junction was high on my list, as was the shot at Grand Junction near the Miller brewery back in Milwaukee (the shot I had tried to get on Thursday). At least my airline gamble had paid off -- there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Bob Gallegos had given me a primer on interpreting signals at Clyman Junction, so I headed to the eastbound signals. Both green, which didn't mean much. I took a long drive around to the westbound signals and -- zounds -- a red signal. That meant an eastbound was imminent at the junction. I rocketed back to the coaling tower and pulled up in a cloud of dust just in time to almost get the shot I wanted as two light Union Pacific engines moved under the structure. Dang! The engines were heading up the branch that comes in near the coaling tower, and the conductor who was out throwing switches was friendly. I asked if there was anything out on the main line. Sure enough, there was an eastbound about 20 miles away. Excellent!

It took almost an hour, but soon I heard horns to the west. There were about three good angles at Clyman Junction, but I only had one train. I set up for the shot I wanted the most and waited. Much to my surprise, the train pulled up and stopped in the prime spot for photography directly under the coaling tower. It had to make a pickup from the adjacent yard, and each switching move took the engines back and forth under the coaling tower. To say I cleaned up would be an understatement.

With Clyman Junction a certified success, it was back to the other shot I wanted -- Grand Junction back in Milwaukee. The bad news was I only had about a one-hour window to get the shot before I had to head for the airport. The good news was the eastbound Empire Builder was scheduled to fall within that window. The best news was that the train was reported on time, according to Amtrak's Julie. The shot was crucial, though, because the Miller brewery had the classic Miller "bow tie" logo on a large sign on the roof, and with the pending Miller-Coors merger, the sign might not be long for this rooftop.

Arriving at Grand Junction, I noticed the sun hadn't quite swung around as much as I'd have liked, but it would do. I patiently waited. Uh, oh. A westbound CP freight suddenly came up from behind me. Please clear before Amtrak arrives... Okay, it cleared but -- here comes another westbound. Please clear....

Now I was looking at my watch. I had a 4:00 flight, and Amtrak should have come through at about 2:10. It was now 2:25 and I really had to go to the airport... Wait, I hear horns. Amtrak pulls through the shot at 2:27, my cameras are packed back into my luggage by 2:35, I'm at the airport by 2:55 dropping off the rental car, through security by 3:15 and I arrive at my gate at 3:25, with almost 40 minutes to spare before take-off. Success, indeed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

North Woods Railroading

A full selection of photos from this trip can be found in Photologues. Photos appearing on this page can be purchased at

"Come to Minnesota," friend Steve Glischinski said. He was putting together a freight charter on the North Shore Scenic out of Duluth in early September, and he further enticed me with the possibilities of other adventures -- there would be a night photo session featuring Soo Line equipment at the former Soo depot in Superior, Wisconsin; Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No.261 would be powering excursions with a nearly-matched set of Milwaukee cars trailing; the all-Alco powered Minnesota, Dakota & Western was being sold to short line conglomerate Watco, which would likely lead to the end of the vintage diesels plying the line; and even though Canadian National had recently purchased the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, there were still a lot of trains with matched sets of Missabe power hauling ore. Making this trip was an easy decision.

Day 1 -- September 7, 2006
An early flight from Newark put me into the Twin Cities before lunch, and I quickly grabbed my rental car. The attendant at the exit booth asked where I was heading. "Duluth," I replied. He quickly gave me directions to I-35 and concluded by saying, "...and if you don't hit any moose or goats you'll be in Duluth in two hours." 

Wheeling out of the airport (and through a detour the attendant didn't tell me about), I was soon passing through St. Paul. Trains from Canadian Pacific, BNSF and even Twin Cities & Western tried to lure me off the interstate, but I figured by the time I exited and tried to get to them they'd be gone and I'd have wasted time. Besides, I had a goal -- get to the Iron Range. Distractions behind, I pushed north and decided my only break would be just short of Duluth, where I'd check out the Duluth & Northwestern.

The D&NE was quiet -- it looked like their lone active switcher was ready to head into the engine house for the day -- but I did find one of the railroad's steam locomotives on display in a park. After photographing 2-8-2 No.16 I headed into Duluth, hoping to find a DM&IR (uh, CN) train heading northward.

The quest for a train on the ore dock proved futile, but an ore boat loading at the dock was recorded. Heading up Proctor Hill and into Proctor, I stopped to photograph the Yellowstone steam locomotive on display in the park. From there, a quick drive through the roundhouse area yielded nothing, and so it was time to head north into the hinterlands, hoping to either run into a southbound train or -- even better -- perhaps overtake a northbound.

Talk about a plan coming together. The road and tracks pulled along each other just below Munger, and off in the trees I could see limestone cars heading north. Cool. I got ahead of the train just north of where the former Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific (also now CN) crossed the DM&IR on an overhead bridge and I got my first shot of the trip of DM&IR power. After getting the train passing the signals at South Coons, I continued north with the train as it slipped into the siding at Kelsey. Hmmm, this means a southbound was coming. Since the road and railroad are within sight of each other all the way to Iron Junction, I saw no harm in heading north to intercept the southbound -- which I did at Zim. The surprise was that the southbound was led by a pair of CSX units!

Heading back south, I shot the CSX units at the north end of Kelsey, then resumed my northward chase with the limestone train. At Iron Junction there were a few railfans hanging out waiting for a southbound T-Bird (the shuttle that runs between the Thunderbird North mine and the taconite plant at Fairlane) and as I joined them it was becoming apparent that both trains could be meeting right in front of us. As it turned out, the T-Bird arrived just seconds ahead of the limestone train, so we shot the southbound then wheeled around to shoot the meet. 

Once the ore train cleared, I headed back south to the Fairlane plant at Forbes, where the T-Bird was just pulling in. Even better, a southbound ore train was waiting to come out (with a sister road engine from the Bessemer & Lake Erie second in the consist). I chased the southbound back through Zim to Kelsey, then dropped back north to pick up a merchandise freight at Zim. By Kelsey the light was fading, bringing the day to an end. As always, the DM&IR did not disappoint.

Day 2 -- September 8, 2006
An early rise put me on the road northward to get my next quarry. I was heading for International Falls (often mentioned as the coldest place in the continental U.S. on any given winter day) to shoot the Minnesota, Dakota & Eastern. The newspapers in the area were carrying the day's big news -- the sale of the MD&E to Watco had fallen through. The Alcos had been given a reprieve.

After checking in at the office, I started following a couple of the local jobs around. S2 No.18 would be my morning companion, and I followed it and its crew as it worked the various yards and leads around the Boise Cascade paper mill. A second switcher was working across the river in Canada, but the arrival of two trucks carrying windmill blades had the area around customs all tied up. I decided that venturing into Canada might be more time-consuming than it was worth, so I stuck with the switcher on the U.S. side.

On the scanner I heard a Canadian National train approaching the international bridge into nearby Ranier, so I scooted the five miles east and caught the train on the bridge. I then shot it as it made its customs stop in front of the impressive depot. Not unexpectedly, I drew the attention of a customs agent who came over to see what I was up to. I explained that I wanted a shot of the train in front of the depot. That was fine, he said. He just didn't want anyone taking photos of their new high-tech top secret security camera on the bridge. Okay...

Once the train was clear of customs, I headed to the Route 11 overhead bridge, getting the train there as it pulled into the small yard south of the highway. Then it was back to International Falls for one final check of the MD&W. Parking at the chamber of commerce building, I walked around the back and discovered -- the building had a bay window. Wait a minute -- this is the former Great Northern depot! After shooting the building, I wandered inside where I found only offices and a very nice lady who showed me the entire interior. She mentioned that an old freight depot had been moved away from the tracks into town (but I never found it on a later search). She also mentioned that they were quite proud of the new top secret security camera that was on the CN bridge...

Once away from International Falls, it was back on the road towards the DM&IR. My timing was pretty good, as I caught a southbound hitting the diamond at Ramshaw, followed very quickly by a shot of the train at Spruce. A good rule of thumb on the DM&IR is "if you don't know where any trains are, go to Thunderbird North and look for a T-Bird." I took my own advice and found not one, but two T-Birds there; one was just finishing loading while a second was waiting to go into the mine. Fortuitously, I heard a northbound train on the DW&P and headed over to the diamond at Ramshaw to get it, then headed to Iron Junction where I got a northbound BNSF "all-rail" train followed by the southbound T-Bird. The T-Bird was dutifully chased to the Fairlane plant where, true to DM&IR form, another T-Bird was waiting to come out.

About this time I ran into Steve Glischinski who was chasing with Steve Smedley, making for a confusing trio of Steves ("Hey, Steve." "What?" "Not you.") We caught a southbound CN merchandise train at Iron Junction, followed by a BNSF all-rail train. As the all-rail train headed south, the T-Bird came trucking north. Ya gotta love the DM&IR. With a night photo session scheduled for Superior that evening, the other two Steves headed south. I stuck around to shoot the sign for the yard at Keenan (still proudly saying "Missabe") and shot the next T-Bird as it prepared to launch from Fairlane. 

Once in Superior (Wisconsin, that is) I found the former Soo depot which is now a store but has been fully restored by its owner. The highlight of the restoration is the operating Soo "dollar sign" neon sign on the roof of the station. The Lake Superior Railroad Museum sent a Soo Line FP7 and GP30 over from Duluth, and about 75 photographers (most in for the Soo Line Historical Society convention) enjoyed the night photo session. Kudos to Angela Terry, wife of Railfan & Railroad columnist Jeff Terry, who braved a basement full of spiders to turn the neon sign on and off during the session.

Day 3 -- September 9, 2006
The "real" reason for this trip was the Saturday photo charter on the North Shore Scenic, part of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, from Duluth to Two Harbors on former DM&IR trackage. Power for the trip would be Great Northern NW5 No.192, with a mixed train consisting of a few freight cars, a GN caboose and a combine temporarily relettered for the GN through the miracle of magnetics. 

The first stop was along the harbor where some nice scenes were captured from various angles. Next was the bridge over Tischers Creek in Lakeside (from private property that Steve Glischinski had arranged for), followed by a stop in downtown Lakeside. The only clouds of the day hit us during a photo stop at Palmers, where a vintage sedan was used as a photo prop. Our train then ducked into a siding to let the regular North Shore Scenic train (powered by the Soo Line GP30) scoot past. We then backed down to the large bridge just south of Palmers, where we waited out the clouds for some sunlit shots. The final northbound shot was posed under the DM&IR bridge just outside Two Harbors.

At Two Harbors a lunch stop was made, but most photographers eschewed food to do some photography as the GP30 posed with the NW5 at the staion-turned-museum in town. The GP30 then departed south. Our train followed not far behind, but the necessity to turn our train on the DM&IR wye led to a substantial delay. Nonetheless, the move through the DM&IR yard allowed for some shooting from the train of locomotives and shop buildings that couldn't be taken otherwise (at least not without some serious trespassing). Finally clear of the DM&IR, a photo stop was made next to the approach signal for the junction between the North Shore Scenic and the Missabe.

At Knife River the somewhat forlorn station had a new sign applied by Steve G. for the photo stop there. Then it was a race against the setting sun to a bridge just outside Duluth for a photo stop -- arrival was just in time as shadows were rapidly swllowing the bridge. Backing north to Lakeside, our train took the siding as the "pizza train" from Duluth came north, making its stop to pick up its dinner right there at the siding -- Domino's really does deliver! Then it was back to the museum in Duluth, followed by a group dinner at a local sports bar. 

Day 4 -- September 10, 2006
Okay, based on my original plan I was supposed to be heading for the Twin Cities by now to chase Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No.261 on a couple of short excursions. The weather forecast for south of Duluth was fairly awful, however, while Duluth was supposed to have sun for most of the day. Thus, I stayed north.

The day was supposed to start with a photo session in the yard of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, where a few steam locomotives that are normally kept under the train shed would be brought out into the sun. Meanwhile, the Soo Line Historical Society was having a fan trip on the North Shore Scenic, powered by Soo Line GP30 No.700. A bunch of us went chasing the excursion, starting near Duluth. With the photo session beckoning back at the museum, the chasers mused whether to continue chasing or head back -- then it dawned on everybody that anyone who would be attending the photo session was already out here chasing! A group decision was made to hold off the photo shoot until after everyone got the shot of the excursion on the trestle at Palmers.

With that out of the way, it was back to the museum. While there was switching being done in the yard, I ventured inside to do some shooting (since it was still before normal visiting hours I could use my tripod without impeding traffic). The Yellowstone inside the museum is mounted on rollers and every 30 minutes or so the drivers turn. Neat. I was then offered a tour of the restoration shop, which I accepted. Back outside, Northern Pacific 2-6-2 No.2435, Duluth & Northwestern 2-8-2 No.14 and a variety of diesels were all photographed (Jeff Terry provided a concoction of used motor oil and flares to produce smoke from the steamers) before calling it a day before lunch.

Kevin Madsen was out looking for trains in Duluth and phoned in that a train would be heading up Proctor Hill shortly, so a large motorcade left the museum for milepost 2 on the DM&IR. We were only there literally seconds before a train headed up the grade, and a few late arrivals missed it. Not to worry, though -- that wasn't the train Kevin had seen (don't know where that one came from!) and the one we were looking for would be along shortly (which it was). A chase up Proctor Hill through a church parking lot (impeded by the fact that church was just letting out) got some fleet-of-foot folks a second shot.

Steve G. suggested a quick tour around Duluth to fill out the afternoon, so we headed over to the bridge at Tischers Creek to get the regular northbound North Shore Scenic train, powered by a DM&IR SD9. The Soo Line Historical Society train was due back soon, now with the FP7 leading, so we shot that at Lakeside. Then the scanner reported a DM&IR train approaching Two Harbors, so we raced up there just in time to shoot that. Then we heard a train on the scale at Highland, so we had to go after that. Then, while we were in the area, Steve called a contact at Cliffs Northshore Mining where he found out that, yes, there was a train in the area. We headed deep into the woods to get the train near Norshor Junction and again even deeper in the woods. Finally, the fastest way out of the woods would be to go through Iron Junction. So much for a short tour around Duluth!

A BNSF train was heading south, so we got him at Keenan followed by a nice shot passing a house at Kelsey.  A northbound limestone train was in the siding at Kelsey, so we shot him there and again at Iron Junction. Finally, a train was coming out of Fairlane, this one with a DM&IR unit painted in CN colors. We shot it, then headed back to Duluth. I was heading for the Twin Cities and beyond, so my five-hour drive began a little later than I had counted on. The good weather ran out on the way down, and when I arrived in LaCrescent for the night it was pretty rainy.

Day 5 -- September 11, 2006
It didn't take long to find Milwaukee 261 in the rain in LaCrescent on this wet morning. The 261's caretaker and usual engineer, Steve Sandberg, invited me up into the cab to get out of the rain. The 261 wasn't supposed to be here on this day, but its trainset was -- the coaches were heading to Iowa for a trip using two imported Chinese QJ steamers the next weekend, and when diesels couldn't be found to ferry the coaches south, it was decided to use the 261. The nearly matched all-Milwaukee trainset was interrupted only by a couple of private cars near the rear of the train.

The moist air made for a steamy show as the 261 did a bit of switching to get out of LaCrescent. I headed down to Norma for my first shot and was soon in a spirited chase heading for Iowa (keeping in mind that I had a mid-afternoon flight out of Minneapolis). I found a real nice spot in Brownsville, then shot the causeway at Reno. Entering Iowa, I got a couple of locations near New Albin, then finished off the chase at Lansing. It was time to head back to the airport.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pennsylvania Past Blast

Many more photos for this section appear in Photologues. Photos appearing on this page are available for purchase at

For nine days the past returned to eastern Pennsylvania. During the week-plus-two-weekends you could find a Canadian National 0-6-0, 2-6-0 and 2-8-2 under steam, EMD E8s from the Pennsylvania and Erie running on the main line, and even passengers boarding a GG1-powered passenger train. Some of it really happened, some was done with smoke (literally!) and mirrors.

Day 1 - November 3, 2007
This was the first day of the Lackawanna Railfest at Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton. The brainchild of Charlie Liberto, it was designed to be the biggest event at Steamtown since the grand opening in 1995. With lots of ambition (but a small budget) plans were made to bring in guest locomotives from all over the east. Some were just wishful thinking, some were actually committed then couldn't make it, and some actually arrived for the event!

Planning got started in early 2007, and I was asked to coordinate the night photo session, along with Pete Lerro of Lerro Productions and park ranger Kenny Ganz. By October 16 the plan was in place -- but soon became a moving target (I think Garth Brooks called it "roping the wind"). By the day of the event the night session was down to "let's see what's sitting where and we'll do something with it." (This is not intended to be a slam on Steamtown -- the Railfest introduced all kinds of challenges, but the park rose to the occasion every time).

The marquee event for Saturday was a trip from Scranton to the Delaware Water Gap, with diesels from the Delaware Lackawanna (a pair of RS3s scheduled) leading the train east and double-headed steam leading the train back. I got a late start, but soon made the 35-minute drive from home to East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, with my arrival occuring during the train's lunch stop. I discovered that a) the RS3s did not make the trip and b) there was only a single steam locomotive to pull the train back -- Canadian National 2-8-2 No.3254.

The train was west of town at Gravel Place shuffling the consist for the return trip, but when it arrived back in East Stroudsburg I was pleased to see that good friend Seth Corwin was engineer. Seth had some recent health issues that made his return to the cab questionable, but he was back! The crew was confident that the 3254 was capable of powering the long train up the tortuous grade through Devil's Hole by itself, so the diesel helpers were sent to the top of the grade at Pocono Summit (where they waited -- just in case).

Come departure time I set up at the concrete Lackawanna tower at Gravel Place and waited for the train. It wasn't a long wait, and 3254 came roaring past -- I had never seen a train move that fast through Gravel Place before. Into the car, and soon I was ahead of the train again at Cresco, where two carloads of passengers were unloaded. Knowing that there would be a photo runby about two miles west, I wasn't in any big hurry to leave Cresco to head for my next location beyond the runby at Mount Pocono, but most of the chasing vehicles had dispersed. Only a handful of us were left when the decision was made to hold the runby right there at the Cresco depot. Glad I didn't leave! Seth put on a great show during the runby, and while the train reloaded I headed for the overhead bridge near the grain mill at Mount Pocono.

A bunch of us were on the bridge waiting, while the solid cloud cover (wasn't the forecast for sun?) tried to break up. Small patches of sun on the surprisingly late autumn foliage teased us. We eventually saw smoke on the horizon and got set. And waited...

We saw more smoke on the horizon. Ready...set...wait.....

Finally, a chaser who had shot the train at Devil's Hole reported that it was barely crawling by. We pretty much figured out that the train had stalled on the grade. Unfortunately, the diesels that should have been sitting in the siding just west of us had run on to Tobyhanna -- the steam crew got such a good start out of Cresco that they thought they'd make the grade and told the diesels to go on ahead. When the diesels appeared to the west, we knew for sure the train had stalled. It wasn't long before the diesels came back west again, this time with the train behind them.

I thought about giving up the chase at this point -- I figured the diesels would stay on the head end all the way back to Scranton. But when the sun popped out -- it looked like for good -- I quickly went in to Tobyhanna, just in case. This turned out to be a good move, as the diesels were cut away to run light to Scranton. Alas, by the time 3254 headed west, the clouds had come back.

Meanwhile, I had a night photo session in Scranton I was supposed to be coordinating. The train was scheduled to arrive in Scranton at 4:30, and the 3254 was supposed to be ready at the roundhouse by 6:30. With a departure from Tobyhanna that was after 5:00 it would be difficult for the steam crew to make it over to the roundhouse on time, but I figured we'd improvise. I knew the planned set-ups for visiting diesels were not going to happen due to last-minute cancellations by a couple of operators, but I walked through the park's core complex and quickly identified about four scenes we could shoot. We'd make it work. Pete Lerro was going to provide fixed tungsten lighting of CN 3254 and Canadian Pacific 2317 at the roundhouse, and the Lumedyne lighting crew of myself, Frank Etzel, Jeff Smith, John Tully and Fred Jones would work the diesels.

While Pete and his roadies began running generators and wires, I got the 47 paying customers organized and as soon as darkness fell we began the night session, starting with a photo of Canadian Pacific GP38-2 No.7312, still in Delaware & Hudson paint and named for legendary engineer Bernie O'Brien. Word reached us, however, that there was a derailment out in the yard, and we wouldn't get any steam locomotives in the roundhouse area. Pete tore down his lighting set-up and headed out to the Union Pacific Big Boy to get set up there.

Our group broke into half, taking turns shooting two EMD E8s side-by-side. Pennsylvania 5809, owned by Bennett Levin's Juniata Terminal, had come to Scranton powering a private car train. Erie E8 833, owned by Jimmy Wilson's New York & Greenwood Lake, was in Scranton for a series of excursions the next weekend. They made quite a sight. Then the two halves went off separately with one half shooting Bennett's other PRR E8 (5711) next to Ken Briers's 1940 Pennsy pick-up while the other half shot Delaware Lackawanna's SC2 No.426. While the two groups were swapping, we were suddenly surprised by the appearance of Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 No.2317 on the turntable -- we thought the steam couldn't make it to the roundhouse! The tired crew graciously waited while we snapped off two quick photos, then they -- and the 2317 -- headed off to bed. We resumed our diesel trek, with each half-group getting the shot they hadn't gotten yet, then we all headed for the bright lights of Lerro Productions out by the Big Boy.

Pete had his lights ready to go, and as soon as the photo line was ready his pyrotechnic crew placed smoke bombs near the cylinders and down the stack of UP 4012. For about three minutes it looked like the Big Boy breathed again. After the bombs went out, another set was lit off, then a third set. It's a wrap!

As I passed under Bridge 60 leaving the park, I noticed 3254 up on the bridge -- and a very awkward-looking coach at a bad angle behind it. They had a long night ahead...

Day 2 -- November 4, 2007
This would largely be a day devoted to the Pennsylvania Railroad. I was to coordinate some side-by-side steam running at Steamtown for the Railfest in mid-morning, but there was time to chase Bennett Levin's PRR E8s as they took the private car train north out of Scranton up the former Lackawanna main line. The obvious shot would have been the massive concrete viaduct at Nicholson, but cloudy skies would make that a very contrasty shot. I opted instead to go to Factoryville Tunnel where I could minimize the cloudy-bright sky.

Finding the tunnel proved a bit tricky (thanks to Mike Burkhart who looked it up in an atlas and gave me directions over my cell phone), but once set up it didn't take long for the train to arrive. I opted to chase further north, just missing the train at Kingsley but getting it at Alsen. The dispatcher needed to send the train through the siding at New Milford because of a bad signal, so when I bagged the train at the south end of the siding I knew I could catch it at the north end (which I did).

Now it was time to head for Steamtown and the side-by-side steam running. I remembered that I had ranger Kenny Ganz's cell phone number, so I gave him a call to check on the status of the derailment. The news wasn't good -- the derailment was still there and it blocked the only way in and out of the park by rail. CN 3254 was trapped outside the park, CP 2317 was trapped inside the park and side-by-side steam wouldn't happen. Even worse, the scheduled trip to Moscow had been cancelled. When I got to Steamtown I could see the extent of the derailment -- not much damage, but the derailed coach had really dug into the ground. A temporary road was being built to the coach to expedite the moving of a crane. Meanwhile, the park service was doing a good job of making lemonade from a lot of lemons -- they were offering free (if not short) shuttle rides behind 2317 and allowing people up close to the derailment. When folks saw the derailment they thought, "that's different" and most were then quite understanding of why the Moscow trip didn't run.

Since my services weren't needed at Steamtown (and I had another commitment for that evening three hours away), I decided to make my exit. Before leaving, though, I stopped in to visit Mark Brennan (head of interpretation at Steamtown); park superintendent Kip Hagen happened by, and we discussed the current Railfest and Railfests of the future (including 2010 when the National Railway Historical Society holds its convention in Scranton). I opined that, despite all the turbulence below the surface as the plan changed by the minute, all the folks in attendance were having a good time and were being presented a well-run event. Kudos to Steamtown.

From Scranton I headed down the Pennsylvania Turnpike to King of Prussia, then headed down U.S. 202 and 30 into Lancaster County. Pete Lerro had a night photo session scheduled for the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania where he hoped to recreate scenes of the PRR. With a late night planned and an early wake-up the next day, I stopped to check in at my motel first before heading to the museum. And being it was the biggest football day of the year so far (Super Bowl 41.5 -- Patriots vs. Colts, followed by Cowboys-Eagles) I bought a small radio so I could keep up with events on the ol' gridiron during the night session.

As darkness fell, the Lerro Productions team went into action. Pete has a roadie crew that consists of wire stringers, actors and pyromaniacs. Soon the lights were run, the actors were in place and the photographers gathered around PRR 4-8-2 6755 and 4-6-2 3750. To bring life to the locomotives, the pyros ignited chemicals inside and around the locomotives, and suddenly we were in Altoona in 1950.

After several shots of the M1 and K4, the photo line swung around to shoot 4-4-2 460 and 2-8-0 7688 in a bumping post scene that could have been from a big city terminal. Engineers, firemen and hostlers were all depicted by the acting crew.

To cap off the evening, we moved under the museum's trainshed for a unique indoors night photo session. Pete's tungsten lights were turned on and the museum lights were extinguished and scenes of a GG1 on a passenger train and a 4-4-2 being serviced were created. Ken Briers's 1940 PRR pickup truck that had been a part of the Steamtown session the previous night appeared and was used for an LCL boxcar scene. The E44 under the shed was used and we finished off with a Consolidation being serviced. Nice stuff. We actually finished a bit early, and I caught the final couple of minutes of the Cowboys beating the Eagles before hitting the sack.

Day 3 -- November 5, 2007

The fields of Lancaster County could pass for the fields of southern Ontario. Thus, when Canadian National 2-6-0 No.911 headed into the rising sun just after 6:00 a.m., the Mogul and its freight train looked right at home. This was going to be an all-CN day on the Strasburg, using two north-of-the-border veterans.

Canadian National 2-6-0 No.89 came to the Strasburg following the shake-up of the Steamtown U.S.A. collection after the death of Nelson Blount in the late 1970s. Since Pete Lerro wanted to use old automobiles for some scenes, the 89 number wouldn't be appropriate (CN gave it that number somewhat late in life) so through the magic of vinyl lettering and a newly cast number plate, No.89 became No.911, the number it had worn early in life.

The other CN locomotive at Strasburg is the 0-6-0 known as No.31. As the tourist railroad's first steam locomotive, 31 got its number by dropping the first and last digits of its CN number. Finally, in 2007, all four digits were back and Strasburg 31 was once again CN 7312. No.7312 powered a mixed train throughout the day, shuttling photographers from location to location.

After sunrise in a field just outside Strasburg, the photography moved to Biler's Crossing near paradise. Levi Fisher, his horses, and dogs Snowball and Frisky were part of many photos, and a vintage bicycle and truck were also utilized. Following the shots here, it was back to the East Strasburg yard (which had been cleared out just for this event) where 911 and 7312 shuffled back and forth in what could have been any small town in Canada. Special thanks to Steve Gilbert for the outstanding vinyl lettering job on Strasburg's caboose.

Following lunch, CN 911 had been mysteriously replaced by CN 89 and it was off to a farm just outside the East Strasburg yard for a few shots. From there it was off to Groff's Grove where 7312 was attached to the rear of the freight to simulate a yard switcher giving the road freight a boost out of the yard. Finally, a double-header was run (does anybody have a vintage photo of a CN 2-6-0 leading a CN 0-6-0 on a freight?). No.89 was then sent back to Strasburg to turn for sunset while 7312 entertained the photographers at Groff's.
It was back to a field near Strasburg where sunset shots were going to be attempted. What color there was in the sky (the sunny day was rapidly detreiorating) vanished just before the runbys, though, asa huge cloud bank swallowed the sun.

No sun, no fun? Hardly. It was night photo session time, with 89 and 7312 making timeless scenes around the water plug. From there it was off to the shop, where the two CN locomotives were joined by Great Western 2-10-0 No.90. Through the generosity of the Strasburg shop crew, we finished off with more timeless scenes inside the shop. A long day and rain conspired to bring the day to a close. All that was left was three hours on the road in the rain.

Day 4 -- November 11, 2007
With a week to rest up, I began eyeing the calendar as November 10-11 approached. The Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society was sponsoring fund-raising trips featuring its newly-restored Nickel Plate sleeper City of Lima. Power for the trips would be Jimmy Wilson's Erie 833. Bad weather kept me home on Saturday as the E8 powered a morning Scranton-Moscow trip and an afternoon Scranton-Cresco trip. But Sunday's weather was looking real good.

The sun wasn't out when I got up early Sunday morning, but a look at the brightening sky told me the clouds overhead was actually fog -- and fog should burn off. Nonetheless, the fog stayed as I made the 90-minute drive into the Poconos, but as I arrived at my first photo location in Elmhurst the sun broke through for good. I walked along the Elmhurst Reservoir to one of my favorite shots from on top the reservoir wall, and just before the train's arrival I was joined by friends John Tully and Fred Jones. The E8 soon appeared with its train, and the chase was on.

Next stop was at Gouldsboro (named for railroad tycoon Jay Gould) where the ELDCPS had scheduled a photo stop. Somehow the managed to park the locomotive in the only spot for half mile in each direction where there was a shadow on the nose, cast by the crossbuck at the grade crossing. From there I went to Tonyhanna for a shot. Up next would be the overhead bridge at Mount Pocono, but that was completely shadowed in; a compromise location would be Devil's Hole grade crossing.

The next shot I wanted was at the cut at Henry Crossing near Paradise Valley, but it was also shadowed in. I settled for a shot near the grade crossing. Finally, the last eastbound shot was at the deck bridge near Analomink.

Since I was one of the last people to arrive at Analomink, I didn't have the best angle for the bridge shot. And with the train's turnaround point being only a mile or two down the road, I stayed in Analomink and secured a prime spot for the bridge shot while most of the rest of the motorcade went with the train. It didn't take long for the train to come back, and with that shot in the bag I went back to Henry Crossing for another shot. With the E8 trailing the entire train, the going-away shots were still quite nice.

Next up was the train's photo stop in Cresco, where once again the E8 was parked in the shadows. A little adjusting a few feet either way would have put the locomotive in sun, which would have been nice for the paying passengers. The chasers, meanwhile, set up a photo line just a few carlengths up the track, so when the train departed they got a nice shot of the E8 passing the Cresco depot.

Finally, it was off to Mount Pocono for a shot of the Delaware Lackawanna Alco on the west end of the train, and it was time to go home.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Summerail at Cincinnati

The images for this section appear in Photologues. Use the link at left.

Ohio in August is hot, sticky and downright unpleasant. That makes it the perfect month to hold a major slide show in a cool air conditioned auditorium. Summerail at CUT (Cincinnati Union Terminal, the grand former train station in the Queen City) provides a great opportunity to meet with friends from all over the midwest (and, indeed, all over the country).

August 11, 2006
On the Friday before Summerail, brother Bruce and I got a late start from New Jersey. We figured about the only interesting place we could get to in daylight on the way to Cincinnati was the tower across the Potomac River from Hancock, Maryland. Thus, we hammered out I-70 and crossed the Potomac into West Virginia.

The tower sits along the former Baltimore & Ohio, a final survivor of a string of towers between here and Martinsburg, West Virginia. Still an "armstrong" tower where the operator muscles levers attached to rods which are in turn attached to the signals and switches, it's an anachronism living on borrowed time.

We knew the westbound Capitiol Limited was due through Hancock about the time we would be there, and since it was only coming from Washington, D.C., it figured to be pretty close to on time. A call to Amtrak's Julie confirmed that the train was indeed on its schedule.
Just about the time Amtrak was due through, a westbound CSX train passed the tower in the late afternoon setting sun, making for a nice shot. An eastbound wasn't much later than that, coming out of the sun. Horns to the east indicated Amtrak might be imminent, but alas it was another westbound freight, this one led by Norfolk Southern power.

With a long drive still ahead of us, we were getting a bit antsy as Amtrak's estimated arrival time slipped by 30 minutes and kept slipping. We made due by photographing the classic B&O color position lights, which would also be doomed by the modernization project that would eventually end Hancock's status as an active tower. And we waited some more.

Finally, about an hour late, the Capitol Limited passed the tower. We dutifully photographed it, then packed up and pushed west. Arrival in Cincinnati would be well past midnight.

August 12, 2006
This would be Summerail day, but activities at CUT wouldn't begin for a few hours. We had previously arranged to meet with Frank Keller from Colorado Springs at a predetermined (and early) hour, so sleep was not in abundance. We drug ourselves out of bed, met Frank and crossed the Ohio (our motel was actually in Kentucky) seeking trains and a meeting with our tour guide, Willie Davis of the Cincinnati Railroad Club.

We got off to a pretty good start, catching a CSX train on the long approaches to the former Cheaspeake & Ohio bridge across the Ohio, capturing a train on the Cincinnati side. A ride along Queensgate Yard in Cincy produced a northbound train with Union Pacific power waiting to get out. A southbound Norfolk Southern train was spotted entering NS's facility aprallel to Queensgate. Then we went on to St. Bernard in northern Cincinnati where a large gathering of fans were clustered at one of the best train watching spots in the city. A southbound CSX train was followed by our UP power we had seen earlier. Behind the UP locomotives was a string of Tropicana orange juice refrigerator cars -- Tropicana gets a delivery of fresh Florida juice every morning. A southbound NS train was seen next.

The most interesting power of the morning came next, as a CSX GP30 painted in the new Royal Blue scheme came north through St. Bernard. This was worth a second look, so we chased it to the Proctor & Gamble plant where it would do more switching. Now our morning time was over (too short but quite productive) and it was time to head to CUT.

At CUT the first order of business was meeting up with event organizer Dave Oroszi for a photo of all the day's presenters in front of the magnificent art deco half-dome building. A railroadiana sale inside got us out of the heat, and finally it was show time.

The dinner break found over a dozen of us heading for dinner at the Skyline Chili parlor under the C&O bridge in Covongton. A southbound train was dutifully recorded by most of us from inside the parlor, but Steve Glischinski from Minnesota was quick on his feet and got outside for the shot (adding an element to our inside shot).

We then went to the Marriott Courtyard, where Mike Schafer and Joe Petric had a ninth-floor room overlooking the C&O bridge. After waiting for a train (and harrassing George Hamlin and Doug Koontz on the sidewalk a couple of blocks away) we were rewarded with a northbound train. We discovered that, with a little wedging, we could get 14 photographers out onto the balcony all at once (fortunately, the balcony is built into the hotel's frame and is not freestanding). A second northbound train came before it was time to head back to CUT.

Our return trip was interrupted, however, by a third northbound train -- and this one stopped on the bridge in perfect position with clean, good looking power on the point. Torn between getting back to CUT on time or shooting the train, Bruce, Frank and I opted to miss the first evening show and snapped away from the hotel's windows (once a southbound passed). Then, once back on the Cincinnati side we shot yet another southbound on the C&O bridge approaches and our northbound that we had just shot at the hotel. We then raced back to CUT where our timing was perfect -- we had only missed one show!

After the rest of the shows, we took some shots inside the rotunda of CUT, then headed for a post-show snackfest on a barge in Newport, Kentucky. Then it was off to bed.

August 13, 2006
Another early wake-up... This time Bruce, Frank and I met up with Willie Davis and the father-son team of John and Mike Biehn to tour the Rathole, Norfolk Southern's formerly tunnel-filled line (thus the name) in southern Kentucky. We headed south about three hours, getting below Somerset, then began our adventure in the mountains near Cumberland Lake.

Since this was Frank's first visit to the Rathole, a mandatory stop was made at the deep cuts outside Tateville. NS did not disappoint, and we soon had a southbound train. We then headed to Parkers Lake, one of John's favorite locations, where we caught numerous trains in the varied scenery that can be found within just a mile or so of the overpass here. Another requirement, lunch at the Goodie Shack in Burnside, was also met.

As the day wore on, we made our last stand overlooking the massive bridge across the Cumberland at Burnside. Here, though, our luck ran out. We waited and waited for a northbound, and all we got was a southbound. John had to get to work back in Cincinnati, so he left, but for those of us remaining, futility prevailed. We did get one last southbound as we left Burnside. A stop was made at Steak 'n Shake in Lexington before getting back to Cincinnati.

August 14, 2006
We had a heads-up that a special freight train would be operating on the Wheeling & Lake Erie out of Huron, Ohio, on Tuesday, so most of this Monday was spent meandering through the Buckeye State towards Lake Erie. Our first stop was at Leipsic, where an abandoned tower protects a crossing between CSX and NS. The good weather we had enjoyed for the trip hd vanished, and we got a CSX local shuffling back and forth past the tower before moving on.

Deshler was the next stop, a major junction on CSX where the ex-B&O main line crosses a line to Toledo on a diamond. A tower also stands here. A railroad park now occupies the southwest quadrant of the diamond, and we spent some time here. Our final gloomy stop was made at another busy Ohio junction town, Fostoria, where the ex-B&O main crosses ex-C&O and ex-Nickel Plate lines. A couple of trains here, and we were off to Huron for the night. On the way we passed our special train, tied up in the dark near Huron. Our plan was coming together.

August 15, 2006
The aforementioned plan had a train of brand new coal cars, just built by FreightCar America in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, running for FreightCar America's company photographer. The Wheeling & Lake Erie provided sparkling clean power for the train. The Wheeling's paint scheme is based on the old Denver & Rio Grande Western black and orange, and Frank Keller (remember, he's from Colorado) has adopted the Wheeling as his favorite eastern road; thus, he was anxiously awaiting this move as well. Our host on the Wheeling was Mark Demaline.

The move was perfect for our trip home. The train would load at Huron, then head to the steel mills at Mingo Junction, Ohio, right on our way home. A late afternoon arrival at Mingo would give us a long, but not unbearable, six hour ride home from there.

Arrival at the port in Huron found our train not there yet, so we busied ourselves shooting power from the adjacent and recently closed ConAgra elevator. Finally, our train showed up and rounded the balloon track, then sat for awhile before loading began. We noticed our morning was slipping away.

With the loading process taking a long time, we headed over to the former New York Central main line (now Norfolk Southern) where it crosses Sandusky Bay on a causeway. We got a two-car local at Gypsum on the west end of the causeway, then headed over to Bay View on the east side where a property owner let us wait along the shores shooting trains. Finally, we went back to Huron, where our train was finally loaded and ready to go. The afternoon was slipping away now.

Out of Huron, the train headed over W&LE track to Shinrock, where it would enter Norfolk Southern trackage to get into Bellevue. The power needed to change ends here, as well, since the switch off the Wheeling led east on NS and our train needed to head west. But first, NS had to send an eastbound train through, then a westbound, then another eastbound. Finally, a slot could be found for our train to get out onto NS for its move.

With the runaround complete, our train headed for Bellevue with us in hot pursuit. We got a nice shot at Kimball, and another nice shot at the big junction in Bellevue. From here our train headed dead east, not good for photography in late afternoon with the sun in the west, so we pressed east to Hartland where we found a nice high-nosed unit working the west end of the yard. Another westbound train, this one led by a blue leaser unit, graced our lenses right at sunset. Our ore train that we were supposed to chase all the way to Mingo Junction was still behind us, and still hours away from Mingo as the sun set.

We headed east across Ohio with a long trip still ahead of us. Fortunately, neither of us had to be back in New Jersey first thing Wednesday morning, so we tied up in Pennsylvania for the night. We finished the drive non-stop the next day, ending our Summerail '06 adventure.

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