Friday, May 25, 2007

Weekend Excursion to Twin Towns (part 4)

(Click Here to go back to part three of this series, here to go to the beginning.)

Ray: Sunday morning began with a visit to Minnesota Commercial's facilities to pay homage to some of the remaining ex-GBW Alcos.

Galen: At CP's Humboldt Yard, we found a few sets of road power laying over.

New Brighton was also quiet this morning. The only conversation piece to be found was the defaced WC herald. New Brighton was one of the first stations to show evidence of the CN takeover in the fall of '01.

Back on the Wisconsin side of things, we stopped to check up on the St. Croix river bridge. The walkway was apparently undergoing repairs. Sadly, the granite monument to one of the founding management team of the WC on the east end had been removed, with a graffiti-stained toolbox chained to the base it had been on.

Traveling east, we found no action on the Minneapolis Sub, but a red signal faced us at Owen, so hope was present. When we arrived at Spencer, the hotbox detector lit off, and we captured the UP's MPRIT haulage train just east of there. Leading the short manifest was a former SP SD45 rebuild.

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Weekend Excursion to Twin Towns (part 3)

(Click Here to go back to part two of this series)

Ray: Arriving in St. Paul, our first catch was a BNSF intermodal at Hoffman Avenue interlocking.

We then look a gander at what was around the Pigs Eye diesel shop.

Galen: Though unseen, a UP road-switcher set was working the adjacent former CGW yard while we were there, as well.

After our visit, we began to run out of daylight and therefore brought the photography for Saturday to a close.

Click Here to go to part four

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Weekend Excursion to Twin Towns (part 2)

(Click here to go back to part one of this series)

Ray: Picking up from where we were in the last post, we were heading up the on the Minnesota side of the river. We came across a mixed freight in the hole awaiting crew change. Before reaching the head end, a sulfur train (616) came east.

Upon reaching the head end of the mixed freight, we discovered the hodge podge of power, which Galen termed the "Dog's breakfast." In some respect, it was a glimpse into the history of this railroad, with several GP40 ex-Milwaukee Road units, an ex-Milwaukee MP15AC, a SOO GP38-2, and a CP SD40-2.

Further up the way, we came through Red Wing, MN. Where the depot is in good condition, serving as an art gallery. Several post-modern pieces of art were out front, having the appearance of some discarded piece of industrial ductwork, were clashing nicely with the architecture of the building. One could of only hoped that the truck with the oxyacetylene bottles in the pictures would soon cut them up and haul them away for recycling.

Galen: The other depot in Red Wing was formerly used by the Chicago Great Western, before a succession of fast food restaurants. When I first came through, in 1994, it was a Hardees, with the drive-through orders being filled in the operator's bay.

At Hastings, MN, all was quiet. A lone CP Rail GP38-2 sat quietly just south of the lift bridge. Despite the appearance of the bridge, the signmaker that the Milwaukee Road hire must have used a very good grade of paint, as the herald on the lift tower continues to appear to be in good health.

Nearby, in Prescott, WI the BNSF (ex-BN, nee-CBQ) lift bridge spans the mouth of the St. Croix River. With this weekend offering a glimpse of summer-like weather, the boating season appears to be in full swing here.

We headed into town next...

Click Here to go to part three

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Weekend Excursion to Twin Towns (part 1)

Ray: Satiating an urge of wanderlust, Galen and I took a weekend run up to the Twin Cities at the end of April. We had no concrete objectives for this excursion, other than to just take in the scenery. Starting out on Saturday, we headed essentially west-southwest to rendezvous with the big river at Prairie du Chien. After our first brief stop in Horicon, to see what the WSOR had on display, we passed JLP transport's headquarters.

Yes, I realize this has little to do with trains, but those of you innately familiar with the membership of this group will understand the connection, albeit loosely.

Our next stop was in Dodgeville. There, we took a quick ride through the parking lot of the locally famous Don Q Inn. This hotel features a rather eclectic collection of objects, including a large Boeing C-97G airplane sitting on the front lawn. Also nestled in the back is the Dodgeville Depot, moved from its orginal location in town.

Speaking of Don Quixote, heading west on highway 18, we came across one of Wisconsin's recently developed wind farms near Cobb. The size is nowhere near the magnitude seen elsewhere, but it's at least a start, and to my knowledge the largest grouping of wind turbines in the state of Wisconsin at present. I suspect that the project near Fond du Lac will eventually dwarf this installation in comparison.

Galen: The wind farm was found as we were headed, toward the CNW coaling tower at Montfort Jct. One of four coaling towers left in the state (Adams, Ashland and Clyman Jct are the others) and made of reinforced concrete, when steam was dropped it was deemed too expensive to raze (and it would be only more so today).

A little bit further down the way, we made a quick visit past the railroad museum in Fennimore. Fennimore proclaims itself as the home of the "Dinky." The Dinky was a narrow gauge short line railroad that served the local transportation interests during the late 19th and early 20th century. Due to the nature of our trip (lots of driving) and the fact that the museum was closed, we did not take the opportunity to explore much further here.

Upon our arrival in Prairie du Chien, we found little of interest going on in town. We took a moment to check for activity on the other side of the river in Marquette, IA. Upon doing so, we found some activity with the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern.

Returning to the Wisconsin side, we proceeded to LaCrosse along the BNSF, with little worth mentioning to see.

Galen: STH35 follows the BNSF from PdC to LaCrosse like white on rice almost the whole way. During my fall River Run (opening day of gun deer season, with the MR2), I usually can find a southbound to pace from LaC to PdC, keeping mind of the Ferryville cops (first 25mph zone south of La Crosse, a big pain if I have a 70mph stacker on the line).

Ray: After a late lunch, we crossed over to the Minnesota side and followed the CP. Oddly enough, our first catch would appear to have ended up on the wrong side of the river.

More on this adventure in the next installment..

Click Here to go to part two of this series

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Let it snow...

Okay, this is a little bit out of season, but I took these one night in February after the big snowstorms that hit Wisconsin. I was called to work the M&P Job, G63, to Madison one night off the extra board. I had heard that they had gotten stuck the previous night, so I was glad that I missed that one! The snow had been so deep in one of the cuts that it broke both ditch lights on the lead GP38-2.

These were shot out the front window, in front of the engineer's seat, by my conductor.

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