Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Great Triangle Trip Part 2 - Up The Mississippi

Part 1 of the trip can be found here.
Photos of the trip can be found here.
Union Pacific; Morley, Louisiana; February 22, 2011
When last we met, we had just left New Orleans and were heading north. Our stop on Tuesday, February 22, was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where we met up with Forrest Becht for a day of shooting. The weather was dismal as we sought out some Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern trains south of the city. We finally camped out at the end of the lift bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway waiting for an eastbound. Trackwork dogged us however, and after shooting a westbound (above) it would be a couple of hours before an eastbound -- with Norfolk Southern power -- would show up.

Our luck turned a bit on Wednesday, February 23. We met up with Mick Nussbaum in Meridian, Mississippi, and got the grand tour of the city. The northbound Crescent came through and we even had a bit of sun as the train passed under an ex-Southern Railway cantilever signal bridge.
Amtrak; Meridian, Mississippi; February 23, 2011
Our ultimate destination for the day was Jackson, Mississippi, and we hoped for a westbound Kansas City Southern train. As fate would have it the westbound showed up right about when we needed it to and the chase was on -- at least for awhile. As the train was passing through Newton it went into emergency, coming to a stop with every grade crossing in town blocked. The conductor needed to walk all 8000 feet of train to find the problem and we knew that would take awhile. Fortunately, the head end was parked in a nice location, so we were able to get a shot or two and head on to Jackson.
Kansas City Southern; Newton, Mississippi; February 23, 2011
Our goal was to get to the railroad location of Switch Tender in Jackson where Kansas City Southern crosses the former Illinois Central (now Canadian National) main line on a series of hand thrown switches. While the sun wasn't completely cooperative, there were enough trains that sunny shots were possible, including a meet with the two railroads.
KCS and Canadian National; Switch Tender, Jackson, Mississippi; February 23, 2011
Who would have thought a decade or two ago that Canadian National would serve the deep U.S. south? Our best shot of the day would have seemed almost ludicrous a decade ago -- a locomotive from BC Rail (also a part of Canadian National) leading a train through Mississippi. This would be our last sunny shot of the trip -- and we still had several days to go!
Canadian National; Switch Tender, Jackson, Mississippi; February 23, 2011
Canadian National; Memphis, Tenn.; February 24, 2011
The next day would be perhaps the most disappointing day of the trip. I had never been to Memphis before, and what a wonderful city it is! We had a list of shots we wanted to get, including trains passing the abandoned tower at Aulon Junction (didn't get it) and the Liberty Bowl (got it sort of). Other shots we tried to get included CN Junction and KC Junction, but bad weather prevented anything decent. Most of the day was spent over on the streetcars downtown, and there are several good angles there. Too bad the sun didn't cooperate. The one thing that did work out, though, was Memphis ribs. Dinner consisted of a rack at the Rendezvous. We walked back to the car in shirt-sleeve weather. By the time we drove to St. Louis, five hours up the Mississippi, it was snowing.
Memphis Area Transit Authority; Memphis, Tennessee; February 24, 2011
Our hopes for getting shots of trains passing under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis were pretty well shot down as soon as it was bright enough to see on Friday morning; the gray Arch did not exactly pop against the gray skies. Near Gateway Yard across the Mississippi in East St. Louis, Illinois, we shot a Kansas City Southern train, snow stuck to the front, with the St. Louis skyline in the background.
Kansas City Southern; East St. Louis, Illinois; February 25, 2011
BNSF on TRRA; St. Louis, Mo.
Our tour guide was Mark Mautner and he has a great knowledge of St. Louis photo locations. We tried the shot that was on the then-current Amtrak timetable cover of a train passing the Arch (taken by Mark's brother Mike on a far sunnier day) and got two BNSF coal trains on the Terminal Railroad of St. Louis trackage directly under the Arch. We poked around on the Manufacturers Railway, in its last days of serving the Busch brewery, and headed across the river to check out ethanol and grain switching operations.

On our list was getting some power from the Terminal Railroad of St. Louis in its new paint scheme. The end-cab switchers are gone from the railroad, but the line's new road power is pretty sharp. We found a set at North Market Street in St. Louis early in the day, then found another set working at the Pillsbury Siding just off Kingshighway in the northern part of the city during the afternoon. Then it was back downtown to shoot Amtrak before calling it a day. We had a long drive ahead of us up to the western outer regions of Chicagoland, so we bid Mark goodbye and hit the road.
Terminal Railroad of St. Louis; North Market, St. Louis, Missouri; February 25, 2011
Union Pacific; Nelson, Ill.; February 26, 2011
The next day was the memorial service (more of a life celebration) for Jim Boyd in Dixon, Illinois. We spent the gloomy morning at nearby Nelson, waiting for a train to come under the coaling tower there. Then it was on to the celebration where we met up with friends of Jim that we knew and friends we were meeting for the first time (but I had read about them in the pages of Railfan & Railroad, so it seemed like I knew them for years). We had a dinner of Al & Leda's pizza (Jim's favorite), watched some slides of travels with Jim, then headed back to the motel. On Sunday we visited with Mike Schafer, editor of Passenger Train Journal, then hit the road eastward. We tied up near Sandusky, Ohio, that night and finished the drive to New Jersey on Monday. No photos were taken on the last two days of the trip.

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