Day and Night

I was doing a lot of errands on January 19th, driving people everywhere, so I had some opportunity to be trackside after dropping people off.

Snow Train

First up was CN 2973 East, storming east into Winnipeg through the blowing snow at noon. This train was on the north track of the CN Rivers sub, rolling toward CN Waverley and on through downtown Winnipeg.

I had my video camera out and recorded the head end, but it decided to shut itself off before the full train came through. Electronics, amirite?

Pretending to record the train

Here’s the short video clip that it did record.

Meeting the Mayor

Idling away the time
Idling away the time

Later that afternoon, I went up to the CP Carberry subdivision to look for the maroon (CP heritage units). Just after 3 PM, I spotted CP 2238 idling on the lead to the Paterson grain elevator at Lilyfield with a SOO car. I’m not sure why it was there but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a unit there!

Just down the road, I saw a vehicle parked trackside, and it looked familiar. It turned out to have the “Mayor of Diamond”, my friend Brian S, in it. We had a good chat while waiting for a train.

One of the topics we covered was persistence. He talked about some of the early railfans who photographed right to the end of steam on the rails (1960), then hung up their cameras, scoffing at the diesels that replaced the steam engines. We really wish they hadn’t, as there is a real lack of photos from the early 1960s until the mid 1970s and a lot of first generation diesel locomotives weren’t documented as well as they could have been.

There are parallels today with the profusion of GE “toasters” and other generic-looking power on today’s trains. It might be “boring”, sure, but a generation or two from now, people may look back on our photos and be glad that we captured that GE ES44DC.

The point was that you “show up” and take photos, even if there’s nothing “interesting”. Railfans are documenting the present, and it’s not always heritage units or rare movements.

Good times.

Even if a train hadn’t shown up, it would have been a good time trackside, but we did get an eastbound freight at 3:47 PM.

CP 9739 East
CP 9739 East

CP 9739 “split the goalposts” at mile 8.1 of the CP Carberry subdivision.

DANGER! There’s a DPU… and a buried cable, I guess.


I said my goodbyes after that train passed. It was time to get home and make some supper.

Night Train

Night train on the plain
Night train on the plain

I was out again at about 9:30 PM, on my last taxi trip. I spotted a train heading east on the Rivers sub, so I dialed in some settings on my camera and did my best as the train approached.

I really like how the photo above turned out. My settings were 1/320s, f/3.5, ISO 3200 for those who are interested.

As the train approached, I switched to a considerably lower shutter speed (1/30s) to pan the lead locomotive.

CN 3250
CN 3250

I noted the tail end had a distributed braking boxcar followed by another locomotive, which was unusual. By the time I saw that, I was back in my car. I tried a shot through the passenger window with my phone, but it was terrible.

Cell phone cameras aren’t great in the dark. Google Night Sight is impressive technology, but it won’t help here because the scene is in motion. The way the Night Sight software works is that it takes many photos and picks the best of each to assemble into one frame. That doesn’t work when much of the frame changes between photos!

I decided to chase it to try a pan of the rear locomotive with my big camera.

Driving was a little tricky as the roads were snow covered, and of course it was dark. Safety over photography! I did manage to catch up enough to pull over and pan the rear of the train as it passed.

Noisy but readable
Noisy but readable

It was pretty noisy (ISO 3200 is pushing it a bit) but it’s legible. CN 8003 was pushing distributed braking boxcar CN 00019 and the rest of the train. It was weird to have a locomotive and the boxcar at the same part of the train. I’m pretty sure the boxcar was “turned off” and was just along for the ride. It wouldn’t make sense to have two air compressors working right beside each other.


CEMR at Carman Junction
CEMR at Carman Junction

To wrap things up, I took a few shots of the CEMR (Central Manitoba Railway) train parked at Carman Junction. I admit I was lazy and just pulled onto the shoulder and banged off a few frames from the car. I should have taken a few minutes to take more care to get a better photo…

Just One More Thing

I have several print copies of my book Passing a Half Century on hand. If you’d like a signed copy, please email me at and we can work out how to get it to you.

If you bought a copy already, please consider posting a review on Amazon! I’d appreciate it very much. Thank you!

5 thoughts on “Day and Night”

  1. This post touched on two of my campaigns: Model and Railfan Local, and the one about Photographing the Mundane!

    Does the Mayor have a Non-Disclosure Agreement or he’s just camera-shy?

    Thanks for being out there, Steve!

  2. Have you tried going to Weston Shops? I’ve gotten 2 heritage units there (7010 and 7019). Sure, they’re not super shots out in the open prairies w/ motion blur, but they’re shots nonetheless.


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