Monday, March 05, 2012

A High Speed Chase

Paterson grain elevator at Marquette
Back on the leap day, February 29, I went up to CP Makwa just west of Winnipeg. As I approached the track from the south, I saw a westbound Canadian Pacific Railway freight train heading out of town. By the time I exited the highway and got on highway 221, the train was a good kilometre or two ahead of me. "No problem," thought I, "we'll just chase it for a bit and catch it at Meadows." I was thinking I might get a sunset shot there again.

The highway is 100 km/hr except for in the towns, so I made good time up to Rosser and then had to slow to 50 km/hr (or so) before getting back up to speed. West of Rosser the highway goes away from the track for a bit and then comes back near Meadows. As I approached Meadows it was clear that this train was going like a bat out of hell and I was gaining on it very very slowly. The railway speed limit is 60 MPH and this train had two engines and only about 20 cars so it was easily maintaining the limit.

It was clear I wasn't going to get any shot at Meadows - I was still behind the entire train - so I set my sights on the next elevator, at Marquette. After slowing briefly through Meadows it was back up to speed. The sun was setting and the light was getting poor by the time I was approaching Marquette. By this time I was just coming up to the rear of the train so there was no catching this train!

32 kilometres... for nothing. Well, not really. It was exciting (if a bit frustrating) but I chose to look at the plus side. I had never been to Marquette, so I spent ten or fifteen minutes and took some photos. The Paterson grain elevator was an obvious choice.
Grain elevator at Marquette

Then there's the signals at mile 29.1, taken by basically turning around after taking the above photo.
Signals at Marquette Manitoba

As I was leaving to head back to Winnipeg, I noticed a caboose off the highway.
Caboose in Marquette Manitoba

According to the Trackside Guide (2012 edition available now!), this is ex-DWP 79167 (Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific). It was originally a Canadian Government Railways (CGR) boxcar built in 1918, then it became CN 409036, and was rebuilt in 1957 to become a caboose. I see this has electrical power so maybe it is being a fine clubhouse.

One more shot of the grain elevator before I leave you.
Marquette grain elevator


Blair Ivey said...

Your story of a fruitless chase reminded me of the opposite experience while along the Albany & Eastern tracks north of Lebanon, OR.

I saw a train approaching, so I pulled over, set up my tripod, and waited. And waited, and waited. After about fifteen minutes, and the train not visibly closer, I packed up and drove down the road to the train. For some reason, the train was moving at about 5 MPH. By this time the light was about gone, so no photos.

Enjoy the blog, and the high-quality images.


Unknown said...

If you look carefully, there's usually an upside to a failed photo shoot. You have illustrated that excellently.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Glen.

I've had that experience too, Blair, waiting with a train in sight for ages. :P