I had another try today at NS 1065, the Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit. It’s always a challenge to catch these units; they have a bad habit of passing thru town in the middle of the night or sitting all day at some inaccessible location, and even when they do show their faces, the weather’s been bad! This time it looked like I might be in luck, the 1065 was due in this morning and I had a nice sunny forecast, so maybe, just maybe, I’d finally catch my first fair weather heritage shots!
Despite my optimism, this was not a done deal. The 1065 was leading NS train 65R, an empty oil that was making excellent progress towards Chicago, too excellent in my opinion since it looked like it would arrive well before dawn on Monday morning. The BNSF has never been speedy about forwarding these trains, but since it was the day after a holiday weekend to me it seemed like there were good odds that they’d have a rested crew ready and the train of town before I got up! All I could do was play wait and see.
Monday morning arrived and the news was not good; the 1065 had arrived at Western Ave around 3:30 and spotted on M3, which I was pretty sure that they wouldn’t do that unless they were about to head west. Sigh, so much for my sunny day shots! I resigned myself to the fact that it was gone and started puttering, only to get a heads up from a friend that the train was still here! Reportedly a crew had been called and it was due out about 10 a.m., but I decided to play it safe and head for the tracks now. My goal was Clarendon Hills; where the morning light would be far better than around Downers.
I landed trackside just in time to miss a couple east and westbound commuters, not a great loss since I had bigger game in mind. Great light, but a lot of shadows, I could already tell that catching clear shots except on M1 was going to require some careful planning. There were lots of clouds, but mostly to the east and as long as they stayed there, they wouldn’t be a problem. I crossed Prospect Ave (the only crossing in town) to check out the view along the curve to the west, but ran into problems with line side trees and a hedge that I’d love to take a trimmer to! An eastbound express blasted past as I was investigating and I while tried for a shot, the area was such a mess that I ended up saving the electrons.
Usually there’s a burst of eastbound freight action just after the rush, but not today probably because yesterday was Easter, a real traffic killer in my experience. A couple eastbound greens popped up, one for the first regular commuter of the morning, the other most probably for a freight. I wanted to catch the freight rounding the curve to the west, so I set up by the station where a jog in the sidewalk gave me a clear shot. A guy walked up and said, “Oh hey Mike; how are you!”, leaving me totally mystified since I hadn’t a clue as to who he was! It turned out that we’d met on one of my previous visits, but enough of my grey cells had died since then and I’d forgotten him! We chatted until the sound of gates announced the arrival of my first freight of the day:
08:51 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF e/b grain/merchandise
BNSF 7720 ES44DC
BNSF 4945 Dash 9-44CW
The make up of this train was a surprise, it was supposed to be a unit grain, yet up front were a whole bunch of tankers and whatnot, the grain cars didn’t start until about a third of the way back! All I can assume is they picked up the merchandise cars along the way to fill out the train. Midway down the train was a cream colored grain hopper with BNSF markings, but with a Frisco herald and name! Apparently a number of cars like this are running around tagged for BNSF predecessors just so that the BNSF can hold onto the copyright for the heralds! Fast moving train; between that and a nice stiff wind I lost my hat! My railfan compatriot thoughtfully chased it down for me.
Bringing up the rear was a DPU:
08:53 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF e/b grain/merchandise – DPU
BNSF 5624 AC4400CW
I got the usual coming and going shots, and well as a nice people shot of a guy looking over the unit as he crossed the tracks.
My railfan friend’s train arrived and he departed leaving me to contemplate the now empty tracks. An eastbound green appeared on M2 so I moved to the east end of the platform to vary the view:
09:08 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF e/b priority intermodal
BNSF 6713 ES44C4
BNSF 4525 Dash 9-44CW
I fired off a telephoto series as the train crossed Prospect Ave and then caught a final wedgie as it went past me.
Time for a break in the action. A slow moving headlight popped up to the east that I was pretty sure was for the next westbound commuter. Since nothing else seemed to be happening, I hobbled down to the station kick back on one of the few benches in the area. Nice, it kept me out of the wind and I got to listen to a couple woodpeckers across the way hunting for bugs stirring in the day’s warmth.
The weather, which I’d been so enthusiastic about, took a downhill turn; puffy clouds were popping up to the north and west, not many, but enough to raise concern. At the moment I was in the middle of a big hole, but I could see trouble on the way!
The westbound commuter drew closer and I decided that the morning light had improved enough to give it a go. Wanting as close to a broadside as I could, I set up at the west end of the station parking lot, the only spot that I could back off a decent distance.
09:32 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
METX w/b commuter
METX 187 F40PHM-2
I got a nice clean shot but at the expense of catching a lot of pavement too!
A pair of headlights popped up to the east, cool except that both of the were merchandise trains, so no 1065 yet! It would take a while for them to get here (at times I could swear that I can see all the way to Cicero) so I ambled down the platform to pick out some shots and watch the skies; those pesky clouds were becoming a problem. As the trains got closer I began to worry about an eastbound commuter that was due at any minute, I didn’t want to get blocked out! It didn’t help my nerves when just as the first freight passed Hinsdale the Metra announcer called out a four minute warning that the commuter was on the way! Luckily that was just enough.
09:52 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF w/b merchandise
BNSF 5491 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5413 Dash 9-44CW
I sidled up the hillside along the platform to open of the angle a bit. Right behind the engines were a number of MRAP’s (Mine resistant ambush protected) vehicles on flats, all in desert tan, a definite sign of where our attention is focused at the moment. I got some odd looks from the people waiting on the commuter as I photographed the train; maybe they thought that I was passing intel on to al qaeda!
The merchandise train cleared and the eastbound commuter arrived; I grabbed a quick shot of it pulling past the passenger shelter.
09:56 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
METX e/b commuter
METX 184 F40PH-2
Fine except that they had some kind of issue with getting doors shut, the next car ahead seemed to be the culprit, apparent it was hanging up just long enough to set off an alarm. One of the trainmen cycled it a couple times to make sure that it was working while I stood there hopping from one to another because the second merchandise was closing in. Finally they got the door shut to their satisfaction and they headed on their way.
OK, time for the freight, except that an eastbound diverging green appeared on M2, throwing another potential monkey wrench in the works! What I really should have taken note of was that the freight was also on M2, and had stopped just east of Hinsdale for something a little more high priority, the Illinois Zephyr was on the way!
09:59 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
AMT e/b Illinois Zephyr
AMT 113 P42DC
It was only as the Zephyr blew by that I realized the error of my ways, what a maroon! Maybe I need to check into a home.
Time for another problem, and this one wasn’t a product of my fevered imagination. Just as the Zephyr slalomed around the westbound, a big fat cloud began to edge over the sun, and it wasn’t going to clear any time soon. Great, all that useless heartache only to get skunked for real at the last moment! While I was completely shaded out, the area to the east wasn’t, so I grabbed some desperation shots as the train approached.
Then to my great surprise it began to clear, slowly but surely, and by time it arrived I had full sun!
10:06 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF w/b merchandise
BNSF 5461 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5528 Dash 9-44CW
Sheer luck on my part, plus the fact that the train was still getting up to track speed after their stop to the east.
In the mean time an eastbound yellow had appeared on M3, for what, I had no idea. I decided to stick with where I was at since this was one of the few spots along the platform where M3 wasn’t shadow struck. Good plan because just as the westbound cleared the eastbound’s headlight popped up to the west:
10:12 a.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF e/b empty unit fertilizer
CSX 754 ES44AC
CSX 779 ES44AC
Cool train, pure CSX, and in the older variation of the current scheme that I prefer. It was really hauling, forcing me to do my “man walking into the wind” impression.
As the train rolled by I headed for the west end of the platform, the neighboring hill with all its trees and buildings was giving my cell phone fits; no bars! Good thing that I did, I got a message that the oil train was set to go around 11:30, perfect timing for me since time was running out on both my bladder and where I could park, so I pulled up stakes and headed for home to catch a quick lunch and then back to trackside for an appointment with the 1065!
Previous post: 03/29/13 ”Good Good Friday”
I was blessed with some really great weather this afternoon so I headed over to Clarendon Hills trying to make up for a similar attempt last week that fell flat as a lead balloon when I missed two trains on the drive over and then sat for an hour looking at empty tracks. Things went much better today, lots and lots of well lit action, it was just a great day to be out.
I headed out a little before noon hoping to catch the odd little lunch hour rush of action that I’ve been seeing along the triple track as of late. Good timing, I arrived trackside to find something westbound heading my way. Great, I always like to start off these little jaunts with a bang. I wasn’t sure what it was, I could see the headlight long before I could make out any details, but it finally resolved into a freight. Fine and dandy with me, I found a spot about halfway down the platform where I could back off a bit for a wide wedgie:
12:07 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF w/b priority intermodal
BNSF 5052 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5337 Dash 9-44CW
I caught a single shot, that’s all I had room for, but it was a good one. The light was excellent.
The train cleared, giving me time to take a good look around. I had nothing but red eastbound so no worries about something sneaking around the curve to the west. Good news! The BNSF was doing some kind of work on M3 over in Hinsdale meaning that only M1 and M2 were open for business, great since that meant good angles on all the action. Other then that nothing much was happening so I settled back with a book (Redliners by David Drake, this month’s scifi book group selection) while periodically checking the tracks. I didn’t have a long wait, my first time up I stepped out just in time for a headlight to pop up to the east! Cool, another freight, a bit of a surprise because heated air rising from the roadbed made the lead unit’s ditch lights appear to be flashing on and off like a commuter’s. I stuck with my mid platform position to catch its passage:
12:32 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF w/b merchandise
NS 8394 Dash 8-40CW, ex-CR 6187
BNSF 755 Dash 9-44CW
As I lined up my shot a fellow out for a noontime walk passed by and remarked, “I want to see your shots up on RailPictures tomorrow!” Nope, try Flickr and probably the day after! I’d have given him one of my cards but I discovered that I was out; time to print up some more! To bad the #8394 wasn’t still in CR paint, now that would have been quite a sight! I fired off a useless telephoto (too heat shocked plus the commuter fence didn’t add any value) before catching a couple nice wedgies as the train passed the mid platform commuter shelter.
Back to my book. For some time Metra had been announcing that the next eastbound train would be loading from the north platform and I had to fend off a number of well meaning people warning me that I was on the wrong side of the tracks!
Must be something in the water because I’ve never had that happen in other towns, and after a couple times I tried to blend in with the shadows. There was a bit of a wait, but considering the weather I certainly didn’t mind!
12:55 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
METX e/b commuter arriving on M1
METX 113 F40PH-3
I had such a nice angle from where I was sitting that I didn’t even get up to catch my shots; what a way to fan!
The headlight for a westbound commuter hung in the distance until the eastbound crossed over on the other side of Hinsdale.
An eastbound green popped up on M2, so now my attention was divided to the east and west; who would be up first? Time passed and a second headlight joined the one to the east. I loved all the potential action, but I was also paranoid about maybe getting blocked out by a badly timed eastbound and missing one of the westbounds. I was hoping that this new train would hang on until the commuter and the eastbound cleared, but you never know. As it turned out the first of the bunch was the westbound commuter:
01:15 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
METX w/b commuter
METX 184 F40PH-3
I got a single wedgie from the exact same spot that I’d caught the eastbound a few minutes earlier; seat of the pants railfanning! One guy got off the train, walked past me, climbed the trackside hill and disappeared; it must be nice to live that close to your commute!
OK, one down, two to go. I had been hoping that the next westbound would hold until the eastbound on M2 passed, but no such luck, it got on the move as soon as the commuter cleared the block. A unit coal, it chugged steadily my direction and I had high hopes of catching it in the clear until the gates behind me went down; the eastbound was here!
01:23 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF e/b priority intermodal
BNSF 7604 ES44DC
BNSF 5081 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4584 Dash 9-44CW
I got a single wedgie with a town backdrop and then chugged west down the platform harboring a faint hope that the stacker would clear in time and I could salvage a shot of the coal train. No such luck, it thundered past with a fair number of stacks and pigs to go:
01:24 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF w/b empty unit coal
BNSF **60 Unknown
BNSF 5865 ES44AC
I got lucky and caught the unit numbers thru gaps between the stacks, but unfortunately my tape recorder hadn’t quite gotten up to speed and the first couple of numbers were just gabble.
Well I was certainly disappointed at missing that coal train, but I was heartened to see yet another headlight to the east!
It turned out to be a westbound intermodal on M1 and so to vary the view a bit I hiked down to Prospect Ave and set up for a dark side capture, a really fine idea except that the train took the crossover and switched to M2! Ack, no good, with the commuter fence in the way my dark side shot just wouldn’t work! I dashed for the sunny side making it across just ahead of the crossing bell. I considered making a run for the station area in order to clear some signs out of the way, but after about two steps it became obvious that I’d never make so I made my stand as best I could from the sidewalk at the crossing:
01:33 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
BNSF w/b priority intermodal
BNSF 5192 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5420 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4783 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4665 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 705 Dash 9-44CW
As it turned out by going telephoto I pulled off a nice series, although I was more than a bit exasperated with the track switch at the last moment!
An eastbound green appeared on M2, maybe a freight, maybe Amtrak, so I ambled towards the east end of the platform where I could set up a shot with the small businesses along Burlington Ave. Then it was kick back time with my book until I heard crossing bells. It was time for the start of the Amtrak rush:
01:57 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
AMT e/b California Zephyr – Train 6
AMT 147 P42DC
AMT 131 P42DC
I got coming and going shots and as for trying to get the business buildings in the background I failed miserably, mainly because at the last moment I decided to go for a low level view that left the train blocking them out! Not exactly brilliant thinking on my part.
Time passed while I strained my eyes to the east. A headlight popped up, but since it was probably for a commuter I didn’t get all that excited until another headlight appeared behind it, almost certainly for the outbound California Zephyr. I took off for the east end of the platform and by time I got there the commuter was pulling out of Hinsdale with Amtrak in hot pursuit! It looked like they might both pass right in front of me, but then the commuter pulled up short at West Hinsdale leaving Amtrak as my only subject:
02:21 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
AMT w/b California Zephyr – Train 5
AMT 116 P42DC
AMT 22 P42DC
I caught a series of telephotos as the train passed the signal bridge before turning my attention on the commuter, which was now back on the move:
02:22 p.m. – Clarendon Hills IL / Prospect Ave
METX w/b commuter
METX 188 F40PHM-2
I simply stepped to one side and went the normal aspect wedgie route.
OK, so what was up next? I was under a time constraint; I was parked in a three hour slot and needed to be gone by 3 p.m. so I didn’t have a lot of time to play with. Off hand the only trains I knew of were inbound and outbound commuters, not terribly exciting, but you never know what might show up. An eastbound green appeared on M1 and since they had run the last commuter that way I jumped to the conclusion that it was for the next one too. 3:45 arrived and in my mind it was pretty obvious that by now I only had those commuters in my future, so I started back to the car. At the pedestrian crossing it dawned on me that the green might be for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief and I hesitated for a moment. Good time to hesitate because a few seconds later the gates went down and it was “Hail to the Chief”!
02:45 p.m. – Clarendon Hills / Prospect Ave
AMT e/b Southwest Chief – Train 4
AMT 161 P42DC
AMT 5 P42DC
Just a single shot as it passed the pedestrian crossing.
Well that was it for me; while it would have been nice to hang an hour for the outbound California Zephyr it was time to be on my way before I got a parking ticket.
Previous post: 09/08/12 ”Running late”