Railfanning 4/12/14

My Dad is so awesome!  He takes me railfanning even though to me he seems tired.  We went again today, starting at Valley Park.  No longer than 5 minutes after I finished setting the camera up, I saw the telltale headlights coming.  The train was a westbound UP oil train.  At least I think it was, because it was all tank cars except for the first few, which makes sense.  After all, they wouldn’t want anything from the engines igniting the oil, right?  Anyways, while Dad and I were talking about how good our timing was after the train had passed, I saw another set of headlights this time going east.  This one turned out to be a local, but hey, a train’s a train, right?  We had to go on to Kirkwood for an errand, so we left after that one passed.  Dad agreed to take me to the old Missouri Pacific passenger depot, now serving Amtrak, after we were finished.  While Dad was getting us some custards for us at a little custard joint across the parking lot from the station, I began to hear a low rumble.  Even though I didn’t know what it was, I had a pretty good idea.  I just wasn’t sure what line, since the BNSF had one nearby also.  Sure enough, I saw headlights come around the bend about 50 yards to the west.  Dad was just getting back in time to see the eastbound loaded coal train rolling by.  We contentedly ate our frozen custards watching it, wincing when the wheels on the coal hoppers screeched (which was often).  I decided I didn’t want to see another train that day, at least not there, because the train wasn’t even on the track closest to us and the wheel screeching still drove me and Dad absolutely nuts.  But on the way home, we got to the BNSF crossing just in time for the gates to go back up after a train had.  Driving away, I got an idea.  I was pretty sure it was a westbound, which would take it right through Valley Park, which also meant past my usual spot.  Dad agreed to try to beat it there.  On the way,  I looked at a nearby ridge where I was pretty sure the BNSF line cut across.  Sure enough, I saw the headlights moving along the middle of the ridge, headed right where I thought they would.  I though we had it, but when we were almost to the spot, I saw the train about to pass under the road we were on, which meant it was past my spot, which in turn meant we were too late.  Oh, well.  So ended my own version of the Great Locomotive Chase.  I guess you can’t win them all, but I can’t be sad knowing that I saw three trains in one outing, still really good for me.  I already can’t wait to get back out there next week and have some more Railside Adventures!  Thanks for reading, and happy rails!

The video from this trip is attached to this post.

Valley Park Railfanning 4/9/14


I had success today in some more railfanning for the spring of this year.  My catches today were a couple of westbounds:  one a local and one a coal empty.  This trip was a little different from the rest, however, because this time it wasn’t one of my parents driving me.  I would like to make a shout-out to my biggest brother for driving me to Valley Park, which is something he usually wouldn’t do.  When we got to my spot, it took about 20 minutes for the local to go by.  We then stayed there for about another 5 minutes, then we headed down to the Meramec to look at some wildlife (my brother’s idea).  Looking back, I’m really glad we did. When we were about to our car, I looked at the rail line and saw some headlights coming.  Saying “He’s coming!”, I took off like a shot to get back to my spot, leaving my brother at the car.  My brother said afterwords that it was the fastest he’d seen me run in awhile.  I was racing the train, it seemed.  And I won.  I had the forethought to reset the camera on the fly, and got there in time to get the camera rolling.  I was happy, but exhausted from the running and was catching my breath the whole time the coal train was rolling by.  Thinking afterwords, I’m really glad I brought my brother drove me, because if it wasn’t for him wanting to see the river I would’ve missed the coal train.  So here’s to my brother, a guy who doesn’t usually take me, but contributed to my success today.  The video of the trains is attached to the post.  Thanks for reading, and happy rails!

Valley Park Railfanning 4/5/14

I had some luck today in my first railfanning trip of the spring.  The location: a trackside park in Valley Park, right on the Meramec River.  The train: a westbound Union Pacific local freight.  I had been thinking that it was time to take to the field again with the mild tempatures of spring, so why not?  Besides, I missed the clickety-clack of a train.  So I tagged along with my Dad for the Saturday errands, and when we got to the location, it took only about twenty minutes for the train to roll by.  With warm tempatures and a train to boot, I think this was a nice way to kick off my spring railfanning for 2014, don’t you? ;).  The link to the video is attached to this post.  Thanks for reading, and happy rails!

Status update.

My about page and my first post both say that I’m a Boy Scout and this blog is for my communications merit badge.  I can now say that I have completed the merit badge, and that I’m almost to the rank of life scout, which is one step away from Eagle.  I know that this post doesn’t involve trains, but since this blog was started because of a scout badge, I should pass the news along.  Even though I’ve finished what I’ve needed to with the blog, I’m going to continue posting because I’ve enjoyed this a lot ;).  Thanks for reading, and happy rails!

My blog now has a trailer!

logo_530370_printI have uploaded a new video to Railside Adventures’ official YouTube channel.  It doesn’t contain new footage, but rather is a compilation of the old adventures and forms the trailer for the blog.  Here’s the link.  Enjoy, and happy rails!

Valley Park Railfanning 3/11/14, I COULDN’T BELIEVE MY CATCH TODAY!

logo_530370_print copyAs 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!”


P.S. Sorry, I’m not very original with titles.

Valley Park Railfanning 3/8/14

Railside AdventuresI 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