Sunday, December 28, 2008

Friday Off Meets Weekday Railfaning

If you wish to follow along in Google Earth to see my stops and travels, here is the kmz file for download.

June 27th, 2008

I left the house in Turner Valley at about 8:00am and stopped in Okotoks at Tim Horton’s for a coffee and bagel to go as I usually do before heading out on an adventure. Since this is one of the rare opportunities that I have a week day off, I wanted to head out to Carseland to see if I could grab a couple of pics of one of my friends who happens to be an engineer for CPR. He does daily weekday runs to a couple of chemical plants out that way. By 8:30 I was on the highway heading east towards Carseland on Highway 7 to Highway 547 and then North on Highway 24.

I arrived in the general area at around 9:15 about 8 km past Carseland. The two plants in the area both receive shipments of Nitrogen and they are Orica and Agrium. After a quick Google search when I arrived home that night, I found out that Orica produces commercial explosives and Agrium produces fertilizer. I could see Agrium's railcar yard, but Orica's was behind their facility and was not easy to see.

I proceeded to scout around a bit to see what was in the area for photo taking spots. There is no shortage of level crossings in this area, but not all were that great. Some were not as level with the road and were too elevated for my liking or there just wasn’t any place to park my car. I stopped at one crossing to take a few pictures of a pair of signals and of a grain elevator.

From there I headed north on a dirt road and turned west on Township Road 222. As I was driving, I noticed a blocked road leading to a crossing. I decided to keep going and return a bit later. I arrived at another crossing just north on Twp Rd 222, and took a few more pictures of some other signals. After a few minutes I headed back the way I came.

On my way back I stopped at the blocked road. This was one spot in particular that pleased me. This abandoned crossing was dismantled and the road to either side was barricaded. It was a nice location because I could position my tripod anywhere and not worry about being run over by a vehicle. I later returned to this location on the south side of the tracks.

There was also a white tail deer hanging around in the area.

I headed back toward the first set of signals and down toward Agrium and Orica. I wanted to get to the abandoned crossing from the south side as I could park my car about 75 feet away from it which was alot closer than the 300 feet on the north side. I was almost up to the two plants and just happened to look north and saw a westbound stack train slowing down. I booted it to the crossing just north of Twp Rd 222, but it had stopped way back.

Just before noon I heard the blast of the horn coming from Shepard. After a quick look back, I saw the headlights and they were coming up pretty quick. Thinking this was my engineer friend, I tried to race back to the abandoned crossing, but I was not fast enough. Thankfully it wasn't him. I did however manage to get some pictures of one of the 2010 Olympic locomotives, number 8861, in the middle of the westbound stack train heading for Shepard that had stopped for the eastbound stack train.

About 15minutes later, my engineer friend rolled by with his train. The engine was a GP38 unit number 5867 and was hauling 17 cars made up of various covered hopper, cylindrical covered hoppers and tankers. They were headed toward the wye leading to the two plants I mentioned above.

When they moved nearer to the wye, they had switched off three tankers onto one of the legs and proceeded to do a little shunting. After kicking off a covered hopper, they kicked another two covered hoppers toward the three tankers on the wye leg. After that they proceeded with some more shunting.

I took a picture just after they went by of a bridge that had been around since 1930.

After a few pictures of them shunting, I then moved to a different location further down the tracks to the west.

I zipped on over to a crossing on Highway 797 about 2.8 km south of 22X. I was quite pleased with this location because the ditch is almost flat and level with the road. Also, there is plenty of space to park a number of cars here and to set up a tripod or two.

At about 1:30, an Eastbound mixed freight train with the lead power being a GP38-2 numbered 3049, followed by another GP38-2 numbered 3094 and then CEFX 102. The train consisted of mostly of hoppers and tankers and came crawling by at a snails pace. This was great because it allowed me to grab a ton of pictures of it. In all there were 4 trains that went by between 1:30 and 3:00 pm.

About 45 minutes after the eastbound 1:30 train, a mixed freight train lead by a GE unit numbered 9772 rolled by. This unit had a number of odd features on it. It had what looked like bolts along all edges and corners. I didn’t get a good look as it was barreling by at a good speed.

At around 2:50, an intermodal train with two power units leading and one pushing at the back went by heading east. All three locos were ES44AC units. The two leading numbered 8813 and 9809 with the pusher numbered 8746.

About 10 minutes later, my engineer friend went by with a dozen covered hoppers and tank cars heading back to Alyth yard in Calgary. After that, I decided to head to my watering hole to cool down a bit and then headed home.

Goggle Earth kmz file.



clam502 said...

That's a great post! Awesome pictures.

Eric said...

Great railfan reports "Friday Off" and Alyth, Jason, and nicely-blogged as always, including the photos. I get a kick out of each adventure ending with a cold one, and starting off with a visit to Timmy's. When I went railfanning with the kids, we always stopped at Country Style or McDonald' thrus and railfanning go together! Happy New Year too, Eric.

jddc.trains said...

Thanks guys. Happy New Year as well. Yes, I always try to work in the cold one after a trip when possible, no matter how far away I am, whithin reason of course. I also use the slight detour to meet up with friends.