Friday, January 25, 2008

Snow Storm Saturday Train

I braved last Saturday’s snow storm to go to Okotoks and fill up my car with gas before going to a company function later tonight. But first, I grabbed a coffee and bagel at Tim Hortons. After I left the Shell station, instead of turning right onto Riverside Gate to head back home, for some reason I decided to keep going east on South Railway Street up to Centre Avenue and probably east on Elizabeth Street to see how close I could get to the steel truss bridge, and then head home.

As I crossed over the grade crossing on Centre, I glanced down the tracks and as luck would have it, there was a train coming in from the west just before the crossing on Northridge Drive. Fast thinking had me turn down Daggatt Street to snap a shot of this train just after what I think used to be a small grain elevator in the past. To my surprise, this was a really short train. As I don’t yet own a scanner, I couldn’t monitor which train this was or where it was heading. Two power units, CP 9513 & 9808, and a bulkhead flatcar with a load of pipes went by at about 13:20. But where is the rest of the train? Before I get to that, back to finding out about the bridge.

I headed east on Daggatt, turned right onto, take a guess at what this street is called, North Railway Street and drove to the end. The bridge is still about a quarter mile down the tracks and the only way to get to it is to walk there. But with the snowy weather conditions, and the fact that I wasn’t prepared to go trudging through the snow, the shot from where I was would not have turned out. Now to go find the rest of the train!

I headed back west toward Highway 549 by way of Lineham Drive, South Railway Street and Northridge Drive in search of this “lost” train. I wasn’t sure how far it would be, but I was prepared to go as far as De Winton about 20 km north. As I came to the crossing on 549, I noticed the butt end of a gondola car. I arrived at another crossing not too far down the road and noticed that 7 cars were separated from the rest of the train to allow passage through the crossing. I went through the crossing and turned around. I grabbed a few photos of some of the cars here.

All I could do now was sit and wait until the power for this train came back to grab the rest of his load. So I grabbed a coffee at Tim Hortons and parked my car in the driveway of truck and RV wash bay that is right beside the tracks on Elizabeth Street. I reviewed my 2008 Calgary & Southern Alberta Street Guide Atlas to see if I could pick out some good locations in Calgary and other towns and read through some of the user guide for my new camera and proceeded to wait. Elizabeth turns into Highway 549 further down the road. I knew where I wanted to try my next couple shots, which was just down the road from me. The snow was still coming down pretty good.

Finally at about 15:30 I heard the horns blowing at another crossing further up. Time to move to my third location and get into position. This location is pretty nice as there are plenty of trees in the back you can get close proximity to the tracks and there is place to park you car across the road. There is also a hillside across the road which would be nice to get a higher angle, but it unfortunately fenced off. The train blew by at 15:35.

I drove back to my second location to grab some shots of the train hooking up the separated train back together and this is where the brown stuff hit the fan! As I was turning around as I did earlier, I drove ahead too far and my right front tire went over the edge just enough to say that I was good and stuck. Fortunately there was guy driving by on the main road that noticed I was stuck. His name was Nick and he was more than happy to pull me out just so he could test his new tow rope. Thank you Nick. The unfortunate part of this whole incident is that I was caught on the wrong side of the tracks and couldn’t get ahead of the train to grab a few snap shots down by the steel truss bridge in Okotoks. Oh well, better luck next time.

I was wondering if that load of pipe went to Alderside so I headed out that way. As I was driving down Highway 7, I saw the lights of a westbound train coming from Alderside. I pulled a u-turn in the middle of the highway and made my way back to my third location just west of Okotoks. CP engines 8521 and 5746, an AC4400CW and an SD40-2, passed by at
16:36. I then proceeded to make my way back toward Alderside.

Once I arrived at the crossing in Alderside, I noticed bulk flat car pipe load on the north side along with a cattle car on a siding. Further down the track to the south, some other cars on another siding. After taking some pictures here, I figured it was time to head back home as it was getting late and the light was failing. The salt melted roads were starting to freeze and would most like get very slippery. Needless to say, I didn’t go to my company function due to the worsening road conditions.

Google Earth kmz file.


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