NS Action in New Orleans
Sort of keeping in line with my "Random Roll" scanning concept, I am currently methodically scanning images in sequential order from a large photo album of images taken by me in 1996. I was pleasantly surprised to find this group of images taken on February 22, 1996 of Norfolk Southern Yard Job AN-03 using GP38-2 5126 to deliver a cut of cars to the New Orleans Public Belt (NOPB) in the French Quarter.
Railroad activity between the south end of NS Oliver Yard and the NOPB along the river does not occur very frequently. Adding to this the less-than-safe nature of the neighborhood at the time meant the this was really a little photographed aspect of railroading in the Big Easy!
The set begins with a few shots of the train leaving Oliver Yard at North Rampart Street. There is a large block of gondolas on the head end.
Most of the images were taken from the trackside dock of the Port of New Orleans Esplanade Avenue Wharf where the train can be seen nosing into the French Quarter before shoving the cars onto the NOPB interchange track. There is a great shot of the NS 5126 passing the Souther Railway Park sign on a classic light pole. This is where the NS could spot up to three business cars allowing guests excellent access to the French Quarter and the Louisiana Super Dome. Dan Akroyd's private car, GM&O 50, can also be seen in its French Quarter home.
The last shot is of the NS 5126 crossing St. Claude Avenue by itself as it returns to NS Oliver Yard after having delivered the cars to the NOPB.
Jacob and I make a "Guy's Trip" to KC!
It has been a long time since I lived and worked in Kansas City (2002-2004). During this time I was fortunate enough to make many new friends and get some exposure to a few of the extraordinary model railroads there. With a little coaxing from Dan Munson, I decided to make a road trip with my son Jacob this past weekend to revisit some old relationships, do some photography, and operate on three railroads. For Jacob, this would be his first exposure to some of these things!
Many thanks go to Dan Munson who coordinated the events, Joe and Tanya Brice who allowed us to stay at their awesome downtown loft, and Joe Kasper, Mark Steenwyk, and Eric Goodman who hosted operating sessions on their railroads. The view above is what we awoke to at the Brices' on Saturday Morning. We had left Fort Worth Friday afternoon after I got off work. The drive was eight hours...really not bad at all!
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Dan picked Jacob, Joe, and myself up at 0900 sharp and it was off to Starbucks for the obligatory morning caffeine injection before heading to Joe Kasper's house for an operating session on his N-scale Burlington Northern railroad.
Most of the crew was already in Mr. Kasper's basement when we arrived. In addition to Joe Kasper and the four of us, the operators on-hand included Paul De Luca, Joel Priest, Steve Priest, Eric Goodman, Keith Robinson, Mike Ditmars, Jacob Ditmars, Greg Murray, and Larry Tiffany.
Joe Kasper is very disciplined with his track geometry! This N-scale railroad operates smoother than many HO railroads. The theme of this railroad is the Burlington Northern--all routes into Kansas City. Represented are operations to Lincoln, Omaha, Brookfield, Springfield, and Tulsa. The centerpiece of the layout is Murray Yard with the complex Ustick interlocking at the south end.
Even more impressive is the home-made CTC panels designed specifically to operate this railroad. Housed on three walls of the tiny dispatching office, the three CTC panels can keep two dispatchers very busy during an operating session!
After the operating session at Joe Kasper's we got some lunch to go and ate next to the BNSF Emporia Sub main line in downtown Olathe (pronounced oh-lay-thə), KS. A unit sand train and a unit ethanol train passed in short order. We checked out the new LPK Logistics Park Kansas City intermodal facility and set up for this shot of westbound BNSF train Q-CHILAC6-08 at West 199th Street in Edgerton, KS:
No more trains were approaching on the BNSF Transcon so we decided it would be best to run south to the BNSF Ft. Scott Subdivision where we expected to find a couple of loaded coal trains. This jaunt landed us south of Paola, KS where we found two coal loads in beautiful sunlight. Scherer, GA bound train C-NRMMHS1-43 was holding off the main road crossing at Henson, KS with BNSF and NS SD70ACes basking in beautiful sunlight. Big Brown, TX bound coal train C-CAMKBB0-25 was stopped several miles behind the Scherer train at the Hospital Road crossing. Below are some of the shots of these two trains:
Though the light was excellent, an operating session on Mark Steenwyk's HO scale Milwaukee Road beer line was scheduled to begin at 1800. We had to make haste to his house after shooting the two coal trains!
Mark's railroad takes up three rooms in his basement and is primarily a switching road with a number of "zones" of industries and yards along the route. There is one job that runs the length of the railroad, picking up and setting out cars along the way. All of the other jobs work in designated areas.
All of the jobs call for two-man crews. Jacob and I would work together on the Gibson Yard switcher. We were given two switch lists. There was a lot of work to do! Several maps of the zones and track numbers assisted with the moves to be made. I think we only got through the first switch list.
Dan Munson and Joe Brice worked the Beer Hauler. This was the only other job we interacted with during the session. They dropped cars off as they passed in both directions. A second trip was begun to pick up all of the outbound traffic we had accumulated during the shift!
Rule G does not apply on this railroad! A great time was had by all. In addition to Jacob and myself, the list of operators included Dan Munson, Joe Brice, Bob Willer, Lou Steenwyk, Paul De Luca, Keith Robinson, Jeff Carlson, Greg Murray, and Mark Steenwyk.
By the end of this operating session it had been a LONG day! As we neared Joe Brice's downtown loft apartment, someone in the vehicle mentioned that the searchlight signals at Grand Avenue were scheduled to be replaced on Tuesday. These signals are on the KCT at the east end of the Kansas City Union Station platform. The searchlight signals at Penn Avenue at the west end of Union Station are also set to be replaced, but at a later date. The new signals were in place next to the searchlight signals at both locations.
Needless to say, instead of calling it a night, we spent several hours taking night photographs around KCUS. A slideshow of those images is below:
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Sunday, October 9, 2016 began with a walk to Kansas City Union Station for breakfast. Harvey's Restaurant is located in the grand waiting room of this amazing building! Not too long ago Union Station was in a state of disrepair with a questionable future. It was wonderful to see that this treasure has been recognized, restored, and turned into the focal point of downtown Kansas City.
We managed to shoot a couple of trains from the bridge in splendid daylight. An eastbound BNSF stack train and a UP coal train made quick appearances. The sit-down breakfast did have Dan Munson suffering from GEVO withdrawal so we charted a course for the BNSF St Joseph Subdivision with the intent of intercepting train M-KCMKCK1-07 which had a pair of GP50's in charge.
The I-435 bridge over the St. Joe Subdivision on the very western edge of Parkville, MO yielded a nice vantage point to photograph this train. BNSF 3160 was in the lead. This is one of five GP50's built with an experimental "extended cab" deigned to offer crews more room. This rare catch looked great in the morning light.
Continuing on the St. Joe Sub we caught two BNSF coal trains meeting at Waldron, MO and then found train H-SIOKCK1-08 rolling through the former double-track bridge at Platte City. CSX ES44AC-H 3180 was in the lead...GEVO withdrawal cured!
Next it was off to Steve Priest's house where we got to take a look and some of the top-secret projects he is working on. Among other things in his basement is his latest HO scale model railroad under construction. This railroad is his freelanced Santa Fe St. Louis Subdivision. As expected, the work going on there is second-to-none!
There was still some more time for shooting before out 1800 operating session at Eric Goodman's house so we headed to Parkville, MO. Here we found Hondo, TX to Columbus, NE train U-HOTCNB7-06 beginning its trek on the St. Joe Sub towards Lincoln. While I was working in Lincoln, ADM Columbus was probably the highest-focus customer we had. It was nice to see this train destined for the Bellwood Sub and Columbus, NE...and not be responsible for it!
We made the obligatory pass by Mid America Car. I was pleased to see BNSF 2701 there for overhaul and painting. This locomotive was assigned to Lincoln yard service while I was there. The 2701 was probably the crew's least favorite because it did not pull very well. It was generally kept in industry service. Regardless it was good to see the 2701 again.
An empty UP coal train caught our attention next. We followed this train across Kansas City, by the River Market area to the West Bottoms and into the Fairfax District. There was nothing special about this train with a particularly ratty looking AC4400CW leading the way, but is was headed the right direction and the light was good.
With the chase ended at Fairfax, we grabbed a couple of shots of a UPRR remote control yard job switching. We had several failed attempts to connect with some friends who were blocked by trains in the west bottoms so we all headed again for Union Station. Some BBQ from neighboring Fiorella's Jack Stack in the Freight House was ordered to go and we tailgated next to the KCT main line. Not a bad evening at all!
The last operating session of this trip was in Eric Goodman's basement. He as built an HO scale Santa Fe Emporia Subdivision layout with some fantastic Santa Fe models! It very quickly brought back memories of the many trips I made see the Santa Fe in the 1990's.
In lieu of running one of the many Santa Fe Warbonnet powered hotshots, Jacob and I took the old Wellington Local with an awesome trio of Santa Fe GP30's for power. These were Proto 2000 models re-powered with Kato GP35 mechanisms. They ran great!
The crowd of operators here was quite lively! We had a blast. Track Inspector Bender even made an appearance on the radio. I think the M-KCDV train spent most of the session in one siding primarily due to the engineer's conduct on the radio...HA HA HA! Let's hope no one pulls the tapes.
We switched our industries at Augusta, El Dorado, and Helix while dodging mainline trains. The Santa Fe office car special even ran with a pair of silver-and-red FP45 locomotives up front. It was a pleasure to operate on the same crew with my son.
Monday, October 10, 2016
This day would be a travel day back home to Fort Worth. We decided that we had some time for a leisurely breakfast before departing. Kansas City now has a streetcar that connects Union Station with the River Market area.
Branded "RideKC", operation began on May 6, 2016. Four CAF Urbos 3 model 100 vehicles make up the entire fleet. With ridership levels considered a success, plans are under way for future expansion.
The was a streetcar stop only a few short blocks from the Brice's loft, so we walked. In short order a car showed up and we hopped on. It is free to ride so there was no hassle buying tickets.
Our leisurely breakfast ended late morning. It was time to say goodbye to Kansas City once more and hit the road. The eight-hour trek home was safe and uneventful. This was a most excellent weekend adventure! Many thanks to all of my friends who coordinated and participated in the events! I believe Jacob had a very good time...
Front Range Explorers Passenger Special
I got a last minute message from Phil Gosney yesterday letting me know that he would be boarding Amtrak train No. 21, the southbound Texas Eagle, in Dallas that evening and staying with some private cars that would be set out for an overnight layover in Fort Worth. The message included a cordial invite to swing by and say hello! The cars would depart the next morning on a High Iron Travels Rail Excursion trip named the Front Range Explorers Special Train. He also added that a number of the cars would be painted in the IC Chocolate-and-Brown passenger scheme. This is a weak-spot for me for sure!
It had been a while since I went out to get the shot. It was time. My son Jacob joined me for the evening. We sung by my parents' house and borrowed a couple of digital video cameras and we headed downtown to scope out the shot. We decided to set up on the west levee of the Trinity River and photograph the train crossing the TRE bridge.
Normally the Texas Eagle is a "One-Unit-Wonder" with a single locomotive powering the train for the run from Chicago, IL to San Antonio, TX. Today's train had an additional two locomotives coupled back-to-back ahead of the regular locomotive. These units would provide extra horsepower to assist with the weight of the seven private cars on the rear. At Fort Worth the lead two units would be removed from the train and coupled to the seven private cars. This would set the consist for the Front Range Explorers special train. I handed Jacob the Canon 30D and he scored a few good shots. He even got a shot of me getting the shot!
We then headed for the Fort Worth ITC (Amtrak Depot), parked, and walked to the platform tracks. We grabbed a few quick shots of the IC colors that had taken over the scene. Sure enough, Phil Gosney was hanging out near the rear of the train. I have know Phil for a long time and my father has known him for even longer. In California he holds the Number 1 spot on the Amtrak engineer's seniority roster. It is always good to catch up with friends. Phil insisted that Jacob and I pose on the open platform of the Caritas for a photograph. Thanks Phil! It is a great shot. Next we got an interior tour of all of the cars. I think Jacob was impressed!
Phil joined us for a quick tour of downtown Fort Worth. We visited the historic T&P station as well as Tower 55. The Texas Eagle had positioned the equipment southbound at the Fort Worth ITC. Since tomorrow's departure would be northbound this wouldn't do. An Amtrak crew was on-hand to wye the train on the TRE at Dalwor Junction and Purina Junction. We managed to get some shots of this move at a couple of locations.
First was at the 8th Street grade crossing just north of the Fort Worth ITC. He we got some shots of the train backing out of the depot and under the Tindall Building. The sun was getting pretty low, casting long shadows. The crossbuck shadows were fun to work with on the side of the train. I handed Jacob a video camera on the fly just to see what he could do...
Finally we navigated the road construction and made our way to Purina just in time to catch the train on this leg of the wye. Our vantage point would be from the East 1st Street grade crossing. The train would pull by us to clear the control signal. Once the route was changed, the train got an approach signal and backed by us one more time. The Purina Mill is one of the more interesting elevator structures to photograph in the Fort Worth area. The shadows were getting longer yet, but I think it worked out OK! Again, Jacob had a video camera.
Schedule - FRONT-RANGE EXPLORERS SPECIAL TRAIN
May 31-June 6, 2016
Ft. Worth, TX-Denver, CO-Gillette, WY-Glendive, MT-Minot, ND (via Snowden)-Minneapolis/St. Paul. With connecting service from and to Chicago.
A 2,350 “rare mileage” extravaganza.
Connecting Chicago Service:
May 29. 1:45PM Dpt. Chicago on Amtrak #21 (Texas Eagle)
May 30. 1:25PM arr. Ft. Worth. Park overnight at Amtrak station.
Front Range Explorers’ Special
May 31: 7:00AM, Dpt. Ft. worth for Amarillo via Wichita Falls (ex-Ft. Worth and Denver)
Arr. Amarillo 6:30PM. Park overnight.
June 1: 7:00AM Dpt. Amarillo for Denver via Sixela, Trinidad and Pueblo. (ex-Colo. &
Southern). Park overnight at Denver Union Station.
June 2: Free day in Denver. Explorers’ banquet.
June 3: 7:00AM Dpt. Denver for Gillette via Wendover then to Gillette via the “coal line.”
Park overnight in Gillette.
June 4: 7:00AM Dpt. Gillette for Forsyth, MT (ex-NP). Park overnight in Forsyth.
June 5: 7:00AM Dpt. Forsyth for Minot via Glendive then on Sidney branch to Snowden
where we join the ex-GN high-line to Minot. Park overnight in Minot.
June 6: 3:00AM Dpt. for Minneapolis/Dst. Paul via KO sub. for Moorhead and Willmar
(original route of GN’s Empire Builder). Arr. Midway (former Amtrak station) 4:30PM. Trip ends.
Connecting Chicago ServiceJune 7: 7:00AM Dpt. Behind Amtrak #8 (Empire Builder).
Arr. Chicago 3:35PM.
Equipment will include a full (ex-Santa Fe dome), full diner, Caritas open-platform business car and sleepers with bedroom, roomette and section accommodations.
Roll of Film Scanned - New Orleans Trains - May 1996
Not being really sure how to tackle the huge amount of photographs I have taken in the pre-digital era, I have decided to try what I will call the "Random Roll" approach. I have literally hundreds of rolls of developed film, both prints and slides, taken in the 80's, 90's and early 2000's, which have not seen the light of day more than once or twice...ever!
So...I have decided to start a "Random Roll" Blog Category. Exactly as it sounds, I will indiscriminately grab a roll of film and scan it in its entirety. Larger files will be posted on rrpicturearchives as usual. These images will be linked from smaller images in the "Random Roll" blog post.
I feel that this will at least start me on the track of getting some of this material out of boxes, envelopes, and drawers so that they can be searched for and found on the internet! Working with drug-store developed prints does give me great appreciation for the digital era we are now in. Often the images are poorly cropped during developing. I still have not found a suitable scanner for color 35-mm negatives, so I will be working with the prints for now.
Once upon a time, our photography was limited to a 24 or 36 exposure roll of film. There was cost involved both in film price and developing. Sometimes a roll of film was in the camera for several weeks. With digital it is now cost effective to take several hundred images in a matter of hours. This blog category will give a glimpse into the mindset of film photography.
Without further ado, lets take a look at May 1996 starting with a 36-exposure roll of Kodak Gold 100-Speed color print film. The images were taken in the New Orleans area between May 10 and May 20, 1996. The film was developed by Eckerd Drugs in the last week of May, 1996.
Frames 1A-5A - SP Train HOCXM - 5-10-1996
Louisa Street was a popular place to photograph trains. This is on the CSX between Gentilly Yard and N.E. Tower. Generally the grass was cut here, allowing for clean shots of equipment. This roll of film begins with five images of Southern Pacific Houston, TX to New Orlenans, LA (CSX) train HOCXM. At 9:52 AM, four SP motors lead the way here: B30-7 7782, B30-7 7856, B36-7 7759, and SD40M-2 8644.
Frames 6A & 7A - CSX Train M-720-10 - 5-10-1996
Just seven minutes later, at 9:59 AM on 5-10-1996, I was at the North end of CSX Gentilly Yard where I took these two images of local train M-720-10, the "Bay Turn", departing with lone CSXT GP38-2 2689 and a handful of cars. The Bay Turn usually worked industries at Michoud and interchanged at Port Bienville. Occasionally this train went as far as Bay St. Louis, MS.
Frames 8A-11A - UP Train AVLICX-14 - 5-14-1996
The next images on this roll of film were taken four days later, on May 14, 1996. My records indicate that I saw quite a few trains between the 10th and the 14th, but no pictures I guess. Frames 8A-11A were taken at Central Avenue, another popular New Orleans area location to watch trains. Here we find the CSX connection of Union Pacific Avondale, LA to Livonia, LA train AVLICX-14 with three Union Pacific motors running "elephant-style" C41-8W 9422 leads C30-7 2449 and SD40-2 4152. According to my notes the train stopped at 12:40 PM and started rolling nine minutes later, beginning ascent of the Huey P. Long bridge.
Frames 12A-16A - CSX Train Q-605-12 - 5-14-1996
Back at Louisa Street on the other side of town, I took five images of a colorful locomotive consist leading CSX train Q-605-12: UP SD40-2 3328, MKCX SD40M-2 9012, and CR C30-7 526. The only freight car image on the entire roll of film was CSXT 291355 on this trian. Unlike today, where I can shoot an entire train digitally, I had to be very selective in the film era. This may have been one of the first, if not the first, grey CSX car with the yellow numbers I has seen and is likely why I took the picture.
Frame 17A - CSX Train M-720-14 - 5-14-1996
Frame 17A is a lone image of the day's CSX Bay Turn returning to Gentilly at North Gentilly behind GP38-2 2558. It is interesting to note that none of the Maintenance-of-Way employees near the rear of the train are wearing high-visibility clothing. It was a very different culture on the railroad back then!
Frames 18A & 19A - UP Train LINONB - 5-14-1996
Union Pacific Livonia, LA to New Orleans, LA train LINONB was the last train I recorded on May 14, 1996. Having just crossed the Mississippi River, this train was stopped at Central Avenue when I spotted it. Being somewhat back-lit, I probably would not normally have bothered to photograph it. The third engine, CNW C44-9W 8614, was a locomotive of interest; however, so I did get a couple of shots. Ahead of the CNW 8614 were UP SD40-2 3963 and UP SD60M 6226.
Frames 20A-25A - NS Oliver Yard - 5-20-1996
The next images were taken at NS Oliver Yard on Monday, May 20, 1996. This yard was the most risky to visit in the Big Easy as a large percentage of the city's homicides occurred in this area. Montegut Street parallels the east end of the yard and Galvez Street crosses over the yard where the locomotive servicing area is located. It is difficult to photograph power here from Montegut Street because of a fence. One can park under Galvez Street where there is a stairway up to street level for a good vantage point.
On this day there were four locomotive consists idling away at the Oliver Yard diesel facility so I decided to walk up the bridge and get a few photos. On hand were:
UP SD40-2 4161, UP SD40-2 3408, UP SD40-2 3916
SP B30-7 7872, SP B30-7 7853, SP B30-7 7873, SP B36-7759
NS GP38-2 5020, NS SD40-2 3219
NS SD60 6575, NS C40-9W 8945, NS GP38AC 4114, NS GP38AC 4124, NS GP38AC 4132
Frames 26A-29A - CSX Train Q-605-18 - 5-20-1996
The four frames following the visit to Oliver Yard were taken of CSX train Q-605-18 while it was switching the south end of Gentilly Yard. It was 9:57 AM and the sun was not in a very good position to photograph this west-facing train. The rear two locomotives were of interest to me so I shot them. The consist was west-facing UP SD40-2 3741 leading east-facing UP SD40-2 B4294 and LMS C40-8W 710. At the time Union Pacific stopped maintaining a number of former Missouri Pacific SD40-2s to "lead qualified" standards and designated them by putting a letter "B" in front of the road number. The middle locomotive in this consist was one of these units.
Trailing unit LMS 710 is one of 40 locomotives (LMS 700-739) belonging to Conrail-General Electric subsidiaty Locomotive Management Services. These units were leased under a unique agreement whereby they would operate for 6-months-per-year on Conrail and then they would operate for the remainder of the year on other railroads. Built to Conrail specifications, they look just like Conrail locomotives, but have block "LMS" markings instead of the Conrail name and logo. Pretty cool I thought. It looks like Atlas will have three of these in their next release - LMS 702, LMS 711, and LMS 713. I may have to add one of these to the Meridian Speedway fleet!
Frames 30A-32A - SP Train LANOF - 5-20-2016
This roll of film concludes with three eastbound Southern Pacific trains making their way across New Orleans in less than an hour! First up is Los Angeles, CA to New Orleans, LA (CSX) intermodal train LANOF. At 10:28 AM I was set up at N.E. Tower, where the CSX crosses the NS about a mile north of Oliver Yard, to get the shot. Power for this train was SP B30-7 7779 and CSXT C40-8W 7892. The propped open front door on the SP 7779 probably means that the air conditioner was not working.
I do remember this event. As the train was coming into view someone fired several shots from a weapon nearby, scaring pigeons which took flight and got in the way! Mr. Earl Hampton who worked at N.E. Tower for many years likely heard gunfire here more than once!
Frames 33A-35A - SP Train LBCXT - 5-20-1996
The second train in this EsPee fleet was Long Beach, CA to New Orleans, LA (CSX) train LBCXT. This train had a wonder consist of matched SP SD40M-2s in Speed Lettering, both with flared radiators having been rebuild from SD45's! I think this may be the best catch of the roll! Lead unit SP SD40M-2 8622 began life as BN SD45 6491 and trailing unit SP SD40M-2 8665 was built as CNW SD45 957.
I had moved up to East City Tower for these shots. The LBCXT made its appearance here at 10:43 AM. The white vehicle parked in the field to the left belonged to the Norfolk Southern Special Agent who was keeping an eye on things.
Frame 36A - SP Train HOSOM - 5-20-1996
The final frame was also taken at East City. Southern Pacific Houston, TX to New Orleans, LA (NS) train HOSOM was running about 30 minutes behind the LBCXT, passing East City Tower at 11:14 AM. Also sporting an all-EsPee consist, this train was a great catch as well! Three "B-Boats" running elephant style were in charge: SP B30-7 7790, SP B30-7 7832, and SP B36-7 7764 were gliding this train across the NS New Orleans Terminal with ease.
Had this not been the final frame of the roll, I certainly would have taken a few more images of this train. Hopefully the pictures in this Random Roll No. 1 will be useful to those who come across the images. All are posted and tagged in rrpicturearchives.net.
4-3-2016 - Photographing UPRR PCBSF2-02
Long-time friend and fellow New Orleans native Kurt Hampton gave me a heads-up that he would be in DFW this weekend for WrestleMania. He carved some time into his schedule to visit on the morning of Sunday, April 3. A quick check with the local railfan network revealed that the Union Pacific would be running a business car train into Fort Worth from McAlester, OK this morning. We had something to do!
Kurt picked up my brother, Steven, on the way to the house. My uncle, Joe Scorsone, and my son Jacob also joined us for the outing.
We decided on a spot in Argyle to get the shot of Council Bluffs, IA to Spofford, TX business car train PCBSF2-02. En-route from Council Bluffs, IA to Spofford, TX this train would have a pair of clean ES44AC-H locomotives and twelve passenger cars all adorned in the UP yellow and grey paint scheme.
(Note: Images are linked to larger files posted on rrpicturearchives.net)
I handed Jacob my Canon 20D camera with a 23-135mm lens, gave him a few ideas, and let him pick his shot. The third shot in the above slideshow is what he came up with! Not bad at all...
Below is a photo-consist of this train:
ES44AC-H Locomotives UP 2527 and UP 8112
Power Car UPP 2066
Crew Sleeper UPP 202 Willie James
Crew Sleeper UPP 314 Columbia River
Business Car UPP 102 St. Louis
Baggage Recreation Car UPP 5779
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 1602 Green River
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 1605 Powder River
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 412 Lake Forest
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 315 Little Rock
Dome Lounge UPP 9005 Walter Dean
Diner UPP 302 Overland
Theater Inspection Car UPP 420 Fox River
The Union Pacific business car fleet is impressive. Being able to see one of these trains in motion is a great experience! Union Pacific also has indexed their active business car fleet on their corporate website. The button below will take you to this index. Most of the cars have unique .pdf write-ups, many with interior photographs and floor plan drawings.
BNSF K-ALTALT1-23 Tests CSXT 3419 and 3421
On Tuesday 3-22-16 I noticed that the locomotive on Amtrak train No. 21, the Texas Eagle, was my favorite Amtrak Heritage Unit, the red-nosed No. 156. I put the bug in a few people's ear that maybe we should try to shoot it the next day on No. 22. This would work only if it was a little late. Of course the train was right on time with a scheduled Fort Worth departure 10 minutes before the end of my shift at work. There would be no catching train No. 21.
Ken Fitzgerald had accepted the invite to do some photography on Wednesday afternoon and we decided to meet at Alliance and see what the GE Job has in store for us. I had actually worked my Birmingham desk this day so I was not sure what was in store.
The "GE Job", BNSF K-ALTALT1-23, had spent the first half of the day building train J-ALTMEM1-23 which consisted of a number of new locomotives to operate as a special train to Memphis, TN. This meant that they were just beginning the task of testing the assigned new locomotives for the day. Today that would be brand-new CSXT ET44AC's 3419 and 3421. We arrived in Justin with enough time to set up to photograph this train taking siding to meet southbound intermodal hotshot Z-WSPALT8-22A
Once the Z-Train was out of the way at Justin, the GE Job had a straight shot to Valley View where the crew set the equipment up to test a different locomotive on the return trip. We were able to grab a few great pacing shots along the way! We also set up for a few runbys at Ponder, Krum, Metro, and a crossing between Sanger and Valley View. The light just kept getting better and better!
BNSF DS122, the Fort Worth Terminal Dispatcher, asked the GE Job how much time that would need at Valley View for set-up before they were ready to return south. They responded that it would be about 30 minutes. At this time, the railroad was being set up for the passage of Amtrak train No. 822, the northbound Heartland Flyer. The dispatcher let the GE Job know they would remain there for Amtrak. She also advised them that there was a soutbound train approaching Gainesville that she would flag into the siding at Valley View behind them for the meet with Amtrak. With that information in hand, we located a spot between Gainesville and Valley View to photograph this train. Adding more color to the evenings photographs, this train was 2x1 DP unit sand train U-CPPELT0-03 with all KCS power!
Amtrak engineer Donnie Novak had train No. 822 rolling through Valley View right on time! Cab control car (NPCU) 90222 was leading three Superliner cars and P42DC 115. Our perch was the I-35 embankment just south of the Texas Highway 922 overpass. From here we could see the Martindale Feed Mill elevator as well KCS 4144 on the rear of the sand train. Not a bad location at all.
BNSF K-ALTALT1-14 Tests 4 New CN Locomotives
As is the norm at work now that 67 dispatchers have been furloughed, I am working anything but the Birmingham North job I own. Today was no exception. A check of the slide sheet in the morning showed that I would be working the Fort Worth Terminal DS 122 position today. A note from GE advised that today's K-ALTALT1-14 crew would be needed to deliver two new locomotives from GE to the BNSF and then would be needed to test four new locomotives: CN 3054, CN 3055, CN 3056, and CN 3058.
The delivery move was first on the agenda setting the stage for an evening shoot. I made sure they did not get far before my shift ended at 1430! After work I headed to the house to grab the camera. My father met me there and off we headed for Rector Road at Sanger. Ken Fitzgerald and Troy Minnick were already on site waiting for the colorful quartet of GE's.
The images in the below slideshow were taken by me during the southward chase from Sanger back to the GE Plant at Alliance.
My father took some video of the BNSF "GE Job" testing the four brand-new Canadian National ET44AC locomotives on the BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision. The GE Job is a unique crew consisting of one conductor and two engineers along with GE technicians. These locomotives are operated in controlled conditions so that diagnostic performance data can be gathered. The engineer on the lead locomotive controls the testing locomotives under power while the engineer on the rear locomotive has them in dynamic braking to simulate load conditions.
I have edited this footage into the latest Meridian Speedway Production video and have uploaded it to YouTube. Enjoy a few glimpses of this unusual test train with four very shiny Canadian National GE locomotives! The scenes are recorded at Sanger, TX; Krum, TX; Ponder, TX; Justin, TX; and Alliance, TX:
It was nice to be trackside with my father again!
How I Made the MoPac/Virginian Locomotive Consist
Two years ago today an extraordinary Heritage Locomotive consist departed Lincoln, NE on train H-LINKCK1-29. I updated the photo essay in the Meridian Speedway Library with a slideshow complete with some images from this day not previously released.
To celebrate this special occasion I have shared this updated photo essay on Social Media. I do not think a two-railroad heritage consist has appeared in regular freight service since!
The image above is linked to the updated Photo Essay.
DM&E Trip - Lincoln, NE to Rapid City, SD...Via Denver
My current assignment as BNSF Valley Dispatcher brought to mind a trip I made nearly two years ago while I was stationed as Terminal Manager in Lincoln, Nebraska. Knowing that changes were ahead for the west-end of Canadian Pacific's former DM&E (Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern) trackage, myself and friend Nick Huth decided to make a trip to South Dakota to photograph this railroad. The trek to the DM&E would cross paths with several BNSF lines on the Powder River Division which I now dispatch.
Nick would be traveling from New Orleans so we decided to rendezvous in Denver, Colorado for this Journey. I would be taking advantage of a three-day weekend by boarding Amtrak train No. 5, the Westbound California Zephyr, in Lincoln just before midnight on the night of Sunday, September 15, 2013.
I rode on the head-end with engineers Derek Lewsader and Brian Gordon from Lincoln to McCook. It was a great ride! The railroad community really is a small family. Six years earlier, while working as BNSF Manager of Passenger Operations I made a trip on Amtrak No. 5 from Chicago to Denver. Under the watchful eye of engineer Ben Barnes, the Young Derek Lewsader was student engineer on that particular trip which arrived in Denver on October 17, 2007. One of my favorite in-cab photos that I have taken was the below image of Derek reaching for the radio to talk to the Train Dispatcher at Commerce City outside Denver:
Back to this trip, at McCook, Nebraska I went back to the train where I was able to sleep in an available room in the crew dormitory car. Rest would be necessary for it was a long day and arrival at Denver would be soon! The Amtrak California Zephyr normally operates between Chicago, Illinois and Emeryville, California (Oakland), however today everyone would be de-training at Denver. Colorado had been particularly hard-hit with heavy rainfall and several washouts had the Union Pacific Moffat Line closed west of Denver. The BNSF Front Range Subdivision was also washed out. Continuing passengers would be "bus-bridged" across the affected section of the Rockies and put on another set of Amtrak equipment out of California that was turned around.
Downtown Denver was "under-renovation" which meant that we would not be using the famous Denver Union Station. The train terminated at a temporary station facility several blocks away, adjacent to Coors Field. Passenger not transferring to one of the waiting busses had to cross Delgany Street to access the temporary waiting room and station facilities. It was not the grandest entrance into Denver.
Train No. 5 arrived in Denver a little before Nick's flight from New Orleans so I had about an hour to kill. Luggage in tow, I headed up the street where there was an elevated intersection with 23rd Street. From here I was able to get a few shots of our train in the temporary depot. A fuel truck was on-hand to fuel the locomotives as well.
Temporary Amtrak Depot - Denver, Colorado
Still having a few minutes on my hands, I continued on the overpass to photograph some of the activity around the BNSF Denver diesel facility and yard. I am very fortunate to have made trips to Denver several times as a child and later before the BNSF merger. Denver was almost a magical place then, with the iconic Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad calling attention to the spectacular Rocky Mountains just to the west and the Burlington Northern parading an impressive sea of Cascade Green locomotives through the Mile High City. These memories made standing here this morning feel very odd. I had been here before, but nothing seemed the same.
BNSF Diesel Facility - Denver, Colorado
A call from Nick advised he would be at the Amtrak depot with the rental car in a few minutes. I headed back down the bridge to begin the next leg of the journey. Our destination for this day would be Rapid City, South Dakota. The morning was overcast in Denver and the sky continued to darken as we drove northward toward Cheyenne, Wyoming. We could see some remnants of the recent flooding from the Interstate.
Both Nick and I have made several trips to Cheyenne in the past. Those trips were centered around railfanning the Union Pacific's busy main line. On this particular day we decided to bypass most of the normal attractions both because of the weather and because of the distance we had to travel. We did make a quick visit to the BNSF yard in Cheyenne where I was able to meet the new Trainmaster. Outside was a pair of SD40-2s idling between assignments. One of which, BNSF 1760, was still wearing its Santa Fe colors; though not as proudly as it once did.
North of Cheyenne we left I-25 and headed towards Torrington on Highway 85. Torrington is on the BNSF Valley Subdivision which is the gateway to Guernsey, WY and the bottom end of the famous Orin Line in the Powder River Basin. Little did I know at the time that I would soon be dispatching this territory...again! BNSF does not place a high priority on dispatcher road trips so they are few and far-between. Currently I own the first shift Valley desk which is my motivation for referencing the photos I took on this trip and penning this essay.
Our route, Highway 85, made a northwest turn at Torrington where it begins to parallel the BNSF Valley Subdivision towards Lingle, WY. The railroad is single track with a passing siding between Torrington and Lingle named "Texas". The next siding going westward is named "Grattan" and is closer to Fort Laramie.
BNSF Valley Subdivision - Lingle, Wyoming
We spent about an hour on the Valley Subdivision getting the shot. A light power move pulled into the siding at Texas to meet three eastbound trains. First up was an extra Guernsey, WY to Kansas City, KS manifest symbol H-GUEKCK4-16 led by C44-9W 4006. We set up by the small grain elevator in Lingle to get the shot. Next up was a loaded North Antelope Mine to Rush Tower, MO coal train C-NAMRTR1-38 led by ES44AC 6346. We chose a spot near Milepost 77 to shoot this train because there was a tree!
The final eastbound train was Antlope Mine to Iatan, MO (Sadler) coal train C-ATMSAI0-31 sporting plenty of power. Two Grinstein Green SD70MACs and a pair or ES44ACs led the train while a lone ES44AC was pushing on the rear. The first photo location was between the switches at Grattan. We paced this train for a bit and then shot it a second time at Milepost 74. Before departing Lingle for good we managed to get a going-away shot of the light power finally underway towards Guernsey.
BNSF K-ALTALT1-23 Tests Tier IV ET44C4's
GE announced on the morning of June 23, 2015 that they would be needing the BNSF "GE Job" K-ALTALT1-23 to test brand-new ET44C4 Tier IV locomotives BNSF 3917 and BNSF 3920. They were ready to roll after the passing of the southbound Amtrak Heartland Flyer. Today's test run would take them Northward to Metro.
After work I grabbed the camera and headed to Metro to get-the-shot. I arrived just in time as the power was departing southbound for GE. BNSF Tier IV No. 3916 was the first and only one to be previously released from the GE plant and it had wandered off-line for testing. The units today would be the first pair of production BNSF Tier IV's to operate together outside of the GE plant.
The low speed testing allowed me to get shots at five locations between Metro, Texas and Justin, Texas. The lighting was not bad at all!
At Justin the K-ALTALT1-23 held for a better signal indication. The last shots of the day were of the train ahead, Tulsa, OK to Teague, TX train H-TULTEA1-22 pulling the grade on Main Track 3 at North Haslet--right by the edge of the current runway at Alliance Airport.
Click on the images in this slide show to view larger files!
Slide Show from Dean Ferris' N-scale Ops Session
Click on images for larger views!
Rich Duncan talked me into spending an evening track-side, which we did on Wednesday, 20 May, 2015. We started on the soon-to-be-retired BNSF Main Track Three between South Haslet and Lambert and ended up at the recent derailment site of train Z-WSPALT8-06 in Valley View, Texas. Though the evening was fairly cloudy, we tied-up up with some great shots!
H-TULTPL9-19 at Haslet
The first train we came across was BNSF Tulsa, OK to Temple, TX train H-TULTPL9-19. This train was stopped at the Firehouse Crossing on Main 3 where it had just changed crews. The 12th car on the train was of particular interest. It was flatcar BNSF 592511 loaded with a locomotive under tarp en-route to the port of Houston for export. The tarp was labeled "NRE Locomotive" with the number 9612 over the cab. The blue-and-yellow pilots were all that was visible of the paint scheme.
This locomotive is one of 20 former Santa Fe GE B23-7 locomotives being rebuilt with 3-axle trucks and small fuel tanks for East African Rift Valley Railways which operates in Kenya and Uganda. It is fitting that this trip would take the locomotive over the former Santa Fe rails it once called home! These units are being rebuilt by National Railway Equipment and are identified as C23-7's.
Amtrak No. 821 at GE
Next it was off to the new GE Locomotive Factory to set up for some shots of a very tardy Amtrak train No. 821, the southbound Heartland Flyer. Two brand new BNSF ES44C4s were resting outside the GE Locomotive Factory--Nos. 8378 and 8380. These two locomotives had been tested on the mainline with BNSF "K-Crew" K-ALTALT1-20. This is a regular job that goes on duty at 0800 Monday through Friday to test and deliver new GE locomotives. After each test run the locomotives are returned to the GE Factory for final analysis and updates before being delivered for revenue service.
The BNSF Texas Division has seen some extreme weather recently, resulting in a blanket 40 MPH speed restriction. This combined with various other slow orders have made the environment unfavorable for the operation of passenger trains. On this day all of the passengers were detrained at Ardmore, Oklahoma and put into buses. The train seen here is operating equipment only and is about five hours late.
H-KCKTPL1-17 at Justin
We caught our next train just to the north of Lambert. Citirail ES44AC 1320 and BNSF ES44C4 7074 lead Kansas City, KS to Temple, TX manifest train H-KCKTPL1-17 through Justin on the BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision. This train's totals were 110 cars (52 loads and 58 empties), 8877 tons, 6849 feet including power, and ETD BNQ 47465. Sitting in the normally vacant house track was lunger TTZX 857078 which had suffered a draw-bar failure. I employed the little-used concrete loading dock for my vantage point for these shots.
Chasing Roadrailer Q-SAGKCK1-19 North From Lambert
When Rich asked where we should go for this evening's field trip, I suggested that we make it a point to photograph the northbound Roadrailer train which was called out of Saginaw, TX for 1330-CT-20. This train running with symbol Q-SAGKCK1-19 (yes originating with a day-old symbol) was held in the West Pass at Saginaw to meet the H-TULTPL9-19 and the very late Amtrak No. 821. As this was still playing out after we shot the H-KCKTPL1-17 at Justin we had a chance to grab a quick bite to eat and then strategize on where to shoot the Roadrailer.
We selected Lambert Junction where the old and new main track alignments come together north of Alliance. This train would be operating off the soon-to-be-severed Main Three. At Lambert the under-construction new Main One can be seen right in front of Main Two--both tracks sweeping to the west away from the original alignment. A new connection from the old main around what will become the "New" Control Point at Lambert is also under construction. This connection will be used to allow access to the GE Locomotive factory.
Train Q-SAGKCK1-19 would sport four locomotives today, the third being NS 9250 wearing a special Operation Lifesaver paint scheme. In tow were 116 Triple Crown Roadrailer Trailers on bogies.
The many speed restrictions in effect made this train an easy chase. After photographing the train at Lambert, we were able to get shots at Ponder, Krum, and South of Metro. We would again photograph the train at Valley View as it eased by the recent derailment site.
V-KCKPEA1-17 at Rector Road
Our Roadrailer was set up to meet a southbound train at Metro siding. This train would be southbound Kansas City, Kansas to Pearland, TX (Houston area) vehicle train V-KCKPEA1-17 with C44-9W 4754 and ES44AC 5944 leading 80 loaded autoracks. We set up in the curve at the Rector Road crossing just north of Metro for the shot.
There was a "Road Closed" barricade on Rector Road just east of the grade crossing, so naturally we went that way after shooting the V-KCKPEA1-17! This road is the long way to the next town which is Sanger, TX. There were four locations where flood waters from the recent storms was flowing freely over Rector Road. At the time of our passing it was shallow enough for us to safely drive through.
Having traveled this far it occurred to us that the site of the recent derailment of train Z-WSPALT8-06 was not far away. With train speed being very slow today, we decided to head to the derailment site to see what we could see.
Z-WSPALT8-06 Derailment Site - Valley View, TX
Our last photo location for the day was a very surreal scene indeed. In the very early morning hours of May 8, 2015 a severe weather event drenched North Texas. The BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision between Gainesville and Justin was directly in the storm's path. Train Z-WSPALT8-06 had stopped at the south end of Valley View that night to pick up the crew off a southbound Roadrailer train to take them to Alliance. After picking up this crew, train Z-WSPALT8-06 continued on its journey to Alliance, but it did not get far at all. Flood waters were swift and severe, compromising the roadbed that the main track rested on. In less than a single train-length, the journey for the Z-WSPALT8-06 would come to a sudden and tragic end. All four of the locomotives and the head 17 intermodal wells/platforms derailed in a pile.
All four employees (the two-man crew of the Z-WSPALT8-06 and the two-man crew picked up off the Roadrailer) were injured, though non-critically, and were hospitalized for treatment. This location was on a fill and did not have immediate road access, so site recovery took several days.
Tragically and coincidentally, very near the location of this derailment, BNSF Conductor Brandon Henegar was dealt a fatal blow by this storm. He had accepted a call to work that night. While trying to travel from his home in Gainesville to the Yard Office at Alliance, his personal vehicle was swept off the road by the flash flood that caused Spring Creek to rage. Brandon was found deceased in his vehicle late that morning. The button below will take you to local news coverage of this storm event:
Our visit this evening was twelve days after the incident had occurred. Many of the containers and derailed rail cars had been cut up and shipped off. The main line was back in service with much new rock in place, though the repairs still in progress and track speed just 25 MPH. All four locomotives remained on scene, upright and dragged a hundred feet-or-so away from the rail. They were damaged much more so than I had anticipated. After all in the media images, two of the locomotives were completely buried by cars so the damage could not be seen.
But on this evening, the locomotives could be seen. Very eerily looming over the muddy, scarred, and dangerous landscape. Only two contractors were on hand, using heavy equipment to tear apart the well of a Trailer Train stack car. We got shots of our Roadrailer and a southbound Z-Train passing the scene. Two very supportive Valley View police officers also made a presence. Their world had been turned upside-down by the events of the storm as well. After a pleasant conversation it was time to head home. I would need to report for duty at 0630 the next morning. My job as train dispatcher for this territory would be waiting for my arrival.
One of Jacob's first train photographs....
My 10-year-old son Jacob accompanied me on the mission to photograph Amtrak Heritage unit 156 last Sunday. I handed him my 20D and told him to snap away. I had not looked at his images until I just downloaded them to clear the card in the camera. Much to my surprise and delight several of the photos are very good. I have posted my favorite one here to share.
We followed BNSF Culbertson, NE to Beaumont, TX grain train G-CULBNT9-25 from Metro to Lambert, stopping a few times to get the shot. One stop was at Main Street in Ponder to try a new angle. I have always wanted to incorporate this quaint downtown in a railroad photograph. The shot my son took is not the angle I went for...and I should have. Well done, Jacob!
Clicking on the image will take you to a larger file posted on RailRoad Picture Archives.net.
Better the Second Time Around.....
Today there was not a cloud in the sky so I decided to get the shot that I did not get last Wednesday. I took my son Jacob with me and off to the bridge just south of Highway 114 we went. Right on time the Heartland Flyer zipped across, Heritage Unit AMTK 156 bringing up the rear as expected! The building visible under the bridge is part of the new GE Texas Locomotive Factory.
In several months, this bridge will not be seeing any rail traffic once the new main aligned several miles to the west is cut in. The rails on this main will be severed allowing for expansion of the Alliance Airport runway.
Alliance, TX Photos - 3-25-2015
While working the day shift Fort Worth Terminal Dispatcher position, I noticed in the cameras that the lead unit on the Southbound Amtrak Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City was the red-nosed heritage unit No. 156. It had been a while since I had photographed trains. In fact, I have not taken a train picture since last summer. With the impending relocation of Main 2 between South Haslet and Lambert two miles to the west, motivation struck me and I decided it was time to dust off the cameras and get back into the sport!
The day was sunny and perfect for photography. I thought I would go for a shot of the heritage unit rolling over the bridge just south of Highway 114 with classic "Santa Fe" lettering painted in white on the black steel girder.
At train time, a line of clouds had rolled in and the brilliantly lit shot I had in mind was not so brilliant. So I did a little exploring and decided to photograph the northbound Heartland Flyer, train No. 822, in the curve at North Haslet just north of the Intermodal Parkway grade crossing.
By the end of the summer the rails on main two will be cut forever to allow expansion of the runway at Alliance Airport. The new main currently under construction is located about two miles to the west of this location...on the other side of Alliance Yard.
Leading the train was the gutted carcass of what was formerly Amtrak F40PH 222. Reincarnated as NPCU (Non-Powered Control Unit) No. 90222, the little cab-control car sure made plenty of noise at the grade crossing announcing the train's passage!
As was anticipated, Amtrak P42DC No. 156 wearing the "Phase I" heritage paint scheme was powering the train from the rear. Today's train had the standard three-car Superliner consist between the NPCU and the locomotive. For more information about the Amtrak heritage units, visit the Amtrak History Page on their website.
While scouting for a location to photograph Amtrak No. 822, I noticed three brand new BNSF ES44C4 locomotives at the gate by the switch to Main Two. Earlier in the day I had dispatched the BNSF GE test job K-ALTALT1-25 from GE to Valley View and back with two new C4's. They had made the trip with enough time to make an evening delivery of new locomotives from GE to the BNSF Alliance Yard and the three units at the gate looked like they were poised for action after the passage of Amtrak.
Once train No. 822 had passed by my lens, I headed up to the GE Texas plant to see if they were coming out. Not seeing any evidence of movement right away, I circled the plant to see a few C4's randomly littering the facility. One more crossing of Main 2 at Eagle Parkway revealed a BNSF employee walking out to the Main 2 switch. Bingo! New GE's were going to be delivered from the factory and I would get the shot...
I had failed to get the shot of Amtrak 156 next to the large American Airlines logo on the side of the hangar. The shot still being in my mind, I decided to get ahead of this slow moving consist and try again. Back at the Intermodal Parkway grade crossing at North Haslet, I got the following sequence of photos of the three new GE's heading home. Once this main is severed at the new runway, new GE deliveries will have to run north from the GE plant to Lambert and then back towards Alliance on Main 1 or the new main from there.
There was still enough light for one more sequence. The power would continue south to South Haslet where it would then travel northward into Alliance Yard on Main 1 which is on a completely different alignment. There is a small park with a jogging trail and a disk frisbee course next to the tracks just south of the small town of Haslet, TX. The below scenes were taken from this location.