As the title of this post shows, I saw something that I didn’t in the slightest expect to see. But before I get to that, I will give you a little back story. I had been promised yesterday a chance to railfan today. I obviously was looking forward to it, but something came up. My oldest brother is into birds as much as I am into trains, and there was a rare chance to see a big group of birds that were staying about an hour and a half away from here during their migration. So we (my mom, brothers, and I) took a field trip to go see them. With this unexpected excursion (on which I saw tons of trains but couldn’t film them), I was starting to see my chance of railfanning today fade away. When we got back five hours later, I thought I had lost my opportunity altogether. But, I thought, I would ask my dad, (who hadn’t gone with us) on the off chance that he would take me railfanning, hoping beyond hope that he would agree. But, to my excitement, he agreed, and five minutes later we were on the road. As we drew near to my usual spot and saw the Union Pacific line, I saw locomotive headlights and thought, “Darn it we missed another train”. But it wasn’t what I expected. It was just one engine pulling another engine. Not a “real” train. So we continued and went our usual way to my railfan spot, a route that took us past both the UP and BNSF signals so I could see which one would have a train. The UP signals said a train was coming, so we decided to continue the rest of the signal check and move on to the spot where I film UP trains. But as we were about to cross the BNSF tracks, I saw there was a green on the signal, meaning a train was coming to the spot I like the most! We stopped the car about 20 ft. short of the track, and I got out and raced to my spot while my dad brought the car around and parked it. As I had thought, the UP train came by, pulled by a UP engine with a CSX tucked in behind. I thought that would’ve been awesome to film, but I was still happy that I would see a train on the BNSF. When the BNSF freight came I was REALLY happy I chose that one over the UP. It was an eastbound manifest, pulled by a CSX ENGINE LEADING BNSF AND UNION PACIFIC UNITS! In my time railfanning, NEVER had I seen something like that train with three flags. I don’t expect to see something like that for a long time, and part of me thinks that will be the only time. That train had nearly a hundred cars by my estimate. That train made my night, if not my week! I am already counting the days until I can go railfanning again! I hope that I have conveyed as much wonder at this awesome train that I felt the moment I saw the three units pulling it. I hope also that you enjoyed my post and will visit again. Thanks for reading!
Here is the footage of the train described in “Valley Park Railfanning 3/11/14, I COULDN’T BELIEVE MY CATCH TODAY!”
Valley Park Railfanning 3/11/14 AN INCREDIBLE CATCH I COULD HARDLY BELIEVE IT!
P.S. Sorry, I’m not very original with titles.
I went railfanning today, and nearly froze in the process. City: Valley Park, Mo. Location: a little roadside park along the Meremec River and the Union Pacific’s Jefferson City Subdivision. As my dad and I were literally driving in circles around the area near my other location for the BNSF, we were checking the signals for both the BNSF and Union Pacific lines. The BNSF and UP signals were all red, but I had a hunch that a train was coming on the UP because the signals wouldn’t even be on for that line if there wasn’t a train anywhere near. So as my dad and I were heading for the park to try to catch the train, it surprised us before we got there. We went back around in another circle, and I noticed that, even though the train had passed, the signal was still on. So I, confident because my other hunch proved correct, got my dad to take me to the park anyway in the hope that another train would come. I must have been there 20-30 minutes. I quickly could feel the cold, and tried to stay warm as best I could. I was about ready to throw in the towel, but then I heard the familiar rumble coming. I had thought that the train, if one was going to come at all, would come from the west. But I quickly had to reposition my camera for a train from the east. The train had something between 40 and 50, possibly 60, hoppers in tow. So ends another successful day of railfanning. I can’t wait until next time, and I can’t wait until you come again! Thanks for reading!
Here is video of “Valley Park Railfanning 3/8/14″:Valley Park Railfanning 3/8/14: Westbound Union Pacific Local
I have made this logo to help make my blog look more professional. You’ll be able to see it on more of my posts, especially my “Railfanning Tips” post series. It’ll also be the picture for the blog on my YouTube channel. I would definitely appreciate any feedback you can give me. Thank you!
When you’re railfanning, it’s important that you have the right equipment. To start, a good, reliable camera is the main thing you’ll need. But as you go, if you really like it and you’re going to continue, you might want to look into adding different accessories, like a tripod, to make things a little easier. Another piece of equipment, when you’re absolutely positive that you’ll continue with the hobby, is a radio scanner. You want to be sure that you’ll continue before you get a radio scanner, because the good ones can get expensive, although sometimes you can, if you have some type of tablet like an iPad or kindle, get an app for a scanner. It’s a matter of personal preference whether you go with a video camera or a stills camera. I go with a video camera personally, because I like being able to watch the footage later. If you do, however, go with a stills camera, then there are a variety of lenses available, including long-range and close up. To conclude this post, I would like to say that, ultimately, it’s your choice as to what you use for railfanning, but I hope that I have helped you figure out just what you needed to make your time in the field more productive and more fun.
I have finally finished getting my train footage on the computer! With the editing adding time to the process, it had worn me out immensely. So, without further ado, I present my railfan footage:
The Strasburg Railroad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntI3zvSv9Gk
Pacific Railfanning 12/28/13 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBjRep8Zd54
Valley Park Railfanning 1/18/14 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5K8RPtp07o
Railfanning 2/27/14 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_x2c-uYOww
Kirkwood Railfanning 3/1/14 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGG-iGcJKFA
All this footage matches up with an earlier post on this blog. In future posts I will try to keep the footage with the post.
I went on another raifanning trip today, and caught Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner making it’s station stop at the Kirkwood passenger station. The depot, built by the Missouri Pacific in 1893, remains alive today as the Amtrak station for the St. Louis suburbs. There was a fair amount of passengers on the train, and the stop took about seven minutes. I will try to link to the footage video tomorrow (I just got a massive amount of footage off the camera), because I can’t have it on the blog itself without paying $60 a year.
I went into the field again for some quick railfanning today. I usually post the location of my railfanning, but I don’t quite know where I was, other than I was west of Valley Park next to the BNSF line. I had a 15-20 minute window, though, so wasn’t really expecting to get anything. As I was pacing around the site I had chosen, I found several railroad spikes. I also noticed that I was on a concrete foundation. And then it hit me: I was standing on the location for an old Frisco depot, constructed to serve the summer resort that had little cottages on the hillside just behind me overlooking the Meremec River. While musing on all the people that must have stood right where I was then, I took a look at the signal that had been blank. IT READ YELLOW! A TRAIN WAS COMING! I was excitedly getting the camera in the right position when I could here the rumble. Within minutes of the signal turning on, an eastbound local unit train of covered hoppers, pulled by a single diesel, rumbled past. I hope to post video of this day and others of railfanning very shortly, and I also hope my writing has conveyed at least a fraction of the excitement that I felt when the train rolled by. Thanks for reading!