Thursday, August 23, 2018

Waiting for the Sunset Train

I still can hear the whisper of the summer night
It echoes in the corners of my heart
The night we stood and waited for the desert train
All the words we meant to say
All the chances swept away
Still remain on the road to the dune

- "Desert Moon", Dennis DeYoung
After a successful evening of sunset Sprague subdivision railfanning, I went out again the following evening, hoping for some more good photos. This time I didn't take my son along, so it was a solo outing... kind of like Dennis DeYoung's first solo album, "Desert Moon".

I elected to start on the CN Rivers subdivision, since it has the highest rail traffic of any rail line around Winnipeg. When I arrived "on scene", there was an eastbound freight train rolling by, with another east-facing train sitting at mile 10. I chose to chase.

CN 2421 East

Too much train on my hands
CN 2421 and IC 2465 were powering that eastbound grain train. I elected to photograph them at Harstone Road, which is a crossing just west of one of my usual spots, Carman Junction.

I chose this location because I could get on the north side of the tracks, where the sun was. Since it was an eastbound train in the evening, the light wasn't great so I had to make the best of it.

IC 2465 - not a "Blue Devil"
These Illinois Central (IC) 2400 units (C40-8W locomotives) were originally owned by GE's Locomotive Management Services (LMS) and were leased to Conrail and painted blue. Eventually 12 of them became IC 2455-2466 and were dubbed "blue devils" by railfans. I like seeing them.

Sadly, IC 2465 was repainted sometime between 2013 and 2015 and is no longer blue. This was actually the first time I saw this unit, so I never saw it as a "blue devil".

Eric Gagnon has a great article on CN leasers between 1994 and 1998 that includes the "blue devils" when they were still LMS units.

Someone had dropped a pizza box in the middle of the road, so I had to include that in a photo.

MGLX 397044 and pizza
Note the ex Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation car... now MGLX (Mobil Grain). It's one of several hundred purchased from the province.

About 15 minutes later, a westbound train came. As I drove west to find a spot to catch it, I found that CN 8899 East was still sitting at mile 10 on the north track. I pulled off the road and I was able to catch the meet.

CN 8800 West, Meet CN 8899 East

East meets west
I like how someone has cleared the grime off the reporting mark on CN 8800.

PRLX 250 returns
Note the unit in second position - PRLX 250 again! I saw that the previous night coming into Winnipeg, so here it was, continuing westward out of the city.

I definitely had to chase this train!

I headed west, past Diamond, to mile 15. There I set my old Canon T1i up on a tripod to record video, then shot the train as it went by.

Little potash train on the prairie
Those locomotives and the pink potash cars looked pretty sweet in the sunset light.

Another shot of PRLX 250? Why not?
PRLX 250 redux
The third unit was CN 2225, for those keeping score at home.

Here's the video...

I didn't feel like there were going to be any more CN trains for a while, so I decided to take a quick trip north to the CP Carberry subdivision and see if I could catch a train there before I had to head for home.

Luck was with me, because as I arrived trackside, I could see a headlight in Rosser, several miles to the west of me.

I found a crossing and setup for video and still photography. As the train approached, I could see it was an oil train. The sunset sure looked nice shining off all of those tank cars!

CP 9668 East

Shot of the day
I took a number of photos as the train approached. Say what you will about unit trains, to me they look very nice stretched out across the Canadian prairie... especially with some sweet sunset light on the side. This was truly "the best of times", in my opinion.

As the train passed, I pivoted to get the "going away" view as they approached a set of signals.

Sunset snake...
Sunset snake
The tail end had another locomotive on it, and as the end approached, I saw it was a BNSF locomotive, BNSF 7413. I photographed them passing the signals, then I threw my gear in the car and gave chase, hoping for another photo of the BNSF unit.

BNSF 7413 splits the signals
Here's the video...

I wasn't really able to catch up to the train, but I grabbed this long distance photo of BNSF 7413 and the buffer car on the rear of the oil train before giving up and heading home.

The Grand Finale
As I turned onto St. Mary's Road, I spotted this sunset scene and had to pull over to capture it. That's the Investors Group Field stadium on the left, home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (arch-nemesis of my beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders).


PS - I quoted Dennis DeYoung at the start because I finally saw him in concert, here in Winnipeg, on August 16. Dennis is the former lead singer of Styx. He and his band played at the magnificent Burton Cummings Theatre. I sat in the 4th row and enjoyed the performance of the full album "The Grand Illusion" plus many Styx hits. At 69 he still sounds great, and his band was excellent.

Dennis DeYoung and band in concert
If you get the chance, go see Dennis - or Styx - in concert. Both put on great shows.
Dennis DeYoung, up close and personal!
I don't think I mentioned it here, but I saw STYX on Vancouver Island...
STYX.. 72485

See Also


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing a fantastic blog-really enjoyed the photos and videos and all the commentary.
Dennis Karpluk

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Dennis, I'm glad you liked it!

Mike Ferrell said...

The sunset unit oil train photos are spectacular!

My wife and I saw Dennis at Epcot in Disney World do a free concert as part of the food and wine festival. He was fantastic and we loved hearing all the old Styx tunes.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Mike!

I'm glad you got to see Dennis perform. :)

Unknown said...

2465 was still blue when I saw it on January 19th 2014.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks Taylor, I guess it was repainted between January 19 2014 and sometime in 2015!