It’s Been a While

I haven’t been railfanning much. I haven’t felt like it and I’ve been respecting that. In October I took a few photos of trains – almost entirely because I was bicycling past – and I didn’t “go out railfanning” once.

In early November, I was finally inspired to go photograph some trains. On Friday night (Nov 4) I set my alarm to wake up at 5 AM Saturday.

After a shower and breakfast, I hit the road in the dark and headed north to the Canadian Pacific mainline, hoping for some night train action.

No Trains on the CPR

Two grain elevators at night

Despite all my fervent prayers to the CPR gods, no trains appeared while I drove from Rosser to Marquette. The signals stayed dark and no headlights were evident.

I tried a few long exposures at the Baie St. Paul bridge near Marquette. The overlay of several images made a lot of stars in the image. I like the effect; to me it looks like a painting.

The Baie St. Paul bridge at night

Off to Elie

Night train on a prairie landscape

If Canadian Pacific wasn’t going to send any trains, I was pretty sure CN wouldn’t disappoint me… and they didn’t.

I didn’t have long to wait before a westbound train came rolling past. Unfortunately I didn’t get the focus right on the shot and the elevator is a bit blurry. I tried to focus using this method but it was so dark that I couldn’t see the silhouette of the elevator in the camera’s live view. It was also cold outside (just below freezing), so I didn’t want to stand there for a long time fiddling with the controls.

Once the head end passed through the crossing, I packed the tripod away and waited at the crossing for the rest of the train to pass.

View of a train at night through a windshield

It was time to chase the train westward, in the hopes of encountering an eastbound train before the sun rose.

Pursuit Mode

Train streaking across a night prairie landscape

At Fortier, I quickly slapped my tripod on the ground to capture them rolling through the crossing there. Again, the focus wasn’t quite right but I don’t mind the image.

I was able to get well ahead of them as I passed Oakville, and I discovered a train parked between Oakville and Newton. There was a CN truck at the crossing. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at first.

The tripod went back on the ground and this time I nailed the focus.

Train streaking by another train at night

The passing train looked a little ghostly passing by the stationary train and the CN truck.

Mr. Fix It

I eventually realized that the CN truck was there to help repair the lead locomotive. They had a panel open on the side of CN 2295 and the maintenance crew were using a stepladder to try to fix the balky locomotive.

Locomotive under repair

I decided to relocate slightly west to Newton. I checked to ensure there wasn’t a train waiting near Nattress (there wasn’t) then set up at a crossing in Newton.

After about 20 minutes, the crossing lights turned on and the bell started ringing. Show time!

CN 2800 East

Blurred train moving fast

CN 2800 led a general freight train through the crossing. I am quite happy with how that pan shot turned out.

One of the reasons why I like Newton is because it has a bend in the tracks, one of the few bends between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie. It’s better for westbound trains, but you take what you get.

Freight cars going around a curve at sunrise

I was pretty excited to see this freight car – POOOLLL!

Ex Saskatchewan Wheat Pool rail car

I’m glad that I still have my enthusiasm for ex Saskatchewan Wheat Pool cars like WFRX 850723.

After the train passed, I gave chase. I knew it would be hard to catch up to the train, so I headed straight for the Trans-Canada Highway to get as much speed as I could.

Chasing East

Two trains meeting near Dacotah, Manitoba

I drew abreast of the train at Elie, and by Dacotah I was slightly ahead of the train. I pulled off onto the shoulder to capture them passing the tail end of a stationary west-facing intermodal train. That’s the Starbuck grain elevator in the distance.

I thought I had a chance to beat them to the highway 424 crossing in White Plains, but they got there first.

Train rolling through a crossing

There was another west-facing intermodal train sitting at White Plains. I photographed the tail end remote locomotive as the sun came up.

Locomotive on the end of a train

While I was photographing this locomotive, I noticed another headlight to the west. Another eastbound was coming.

I chose to relocate to mile 16, where the track has a little bend. It would be a great spot for a railfan platform so we could have a little elevation. I know some people stand in pickup beds or on their car roofs, but I’m not willing to stand on my Civic’s roof just yet.

Train in the distance

Soon enough, CN 5736 East came rolling around the bend, lit beautifully by the morning sun.

Train rounding a curve

Proof that I was at mile 16:

Tail end of a train

It was time to head home. As I was driving east on Wilkes Avenue, I saw that CN 5736 East was going to pass a westbound freight train. I tried to stop my car where they would meet, and I was pretty close.

Two trains meeting at a crossing

It was not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Just One More Thing

I’ve been reading a lot recently. Here are a few books that I enjoyed:

  • Polar Bear Express Country by Michael Barnes. This is a good book on northern Ontario, specifically the Moosonee – Cochrane area that the Ontario Northland’s Polar Bear Express travels between. It’s more on the history of the area and the towns than the train, although there are some great train photos and a nice account of a cab ride over the line.
  • The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. In 1952, a giant meteorite smashes into the US East Coast, and the impending climate change leads the world to race to space… led by a brilliant female mathematician and her engineer husband. This was a great book.
  • How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune. This was a very odd and funny book. Gustavo Tiberius (“Gus”) is not at all normal and is defiantly OK with that. He just wants to be left alone. However, an asexual stoner hipster named Casey rolls into town and everything changes. Gus decides he needs to be more normal, and “hilarity ensues”. I liked it. It’s silly.
  • Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. You wouldn’t think that a book about a history department at a university would be interesting, but throw time travel in there and things heat up. The book rolls right along.

Naturally all my Amazon links here are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you buy anything at Amazon using the link, at no additional cost to you.

6 thoughts on “It’s Been a While”

    • Hi Jim, I spend a lot of effort updating and adding to this site and the ads are a way to be compensated for some of that effort. I turn ads off for blog posts. If you don’t want to see the ads then I invite you to install an ad blocker.

Comments are closed.