Thursday, July 26, 2018

The warbonnet in Wyoming

This year has been a tough one for my trackside adventures. In short, I haven’t been trackside nearly enough, due to many factors. However, recently, I went back to the Sarnia area to visit family for a large family reunion, spanning three generations of my family. It was a great event. I managed to get away when the festivities were over to sit trackside in Wyoming, along the Strathroy Subdivision.

You will recall that I saw something pretty special last year in Wyoming, when I saw this freight train (below) rolling west with five CN units. It reminded me of my younger days watching trains when long freights were usually led by more than two units.

When I arrived at the Broadway Street level crossing area in Wyoming, the signal controlling eastbound traffic was flashing yellow while the westbound signal was solid red. The signal for eastbound traffic is easily visible from the Broadway level crossing in Wyoming, although I had to use the zoom on my camera to see what the westbound signal showed.

After a few minutes, the signals changed. The eastbound signals went solid red while the westbound signals changed to solid green. This gave me a hint that something was coming from the east.

The train I saw wasn’t quite what I expected, but it did result in a first. 

My first decision was where to set up. There’s a gravel access road behind the Lions Hall in Wyoming, which is a public road, since I saw cars parked there. I got some great shots from an area around the Via Rail station last time I caught a train here, but I wanted to try something different this time. So, instead, I set up west of the station, closer to Broadway Street.

About 10 minutes after the signals changed, fast-moving and surprisingly short train came barrelling through town, led by a CN unit and an old Santa Fe warbonnet-painted unit, now owned by a leasing company. I was pretty happy to finally catch a glimpse of one of the many leased units prowling the CN network this year. 

Here's a closer look. This unit is ex-BNSF, ex-AT&SF  PRLX SD75M 205. Looking online, there are a few photos of this leased unit making the rounds through Ontario this year. I was pretty happy to catch it.

Shooting trains in Wyoming is not all that easy, even though the frequency seems to be pretty solid. The biggest challenge is the speed of the trains coming through town. Since the crossing is protected by highway guard gates, the trains seem to be coming through town at around 80 km/h (just a guess). That means you have to pick your subject of interest and get as many frames as possible. After I snapped photos of the engines, there wasn’t much to see except about 20 tank cars and a few covered hoppers. I snapped a shot of this hopper, mainly because it seems someone made the effort to cover over a fair bit of graffiti. Other than that, there wasn’t much to see in terms of rolling stock.

Back in April, I had a trackside day planned that was cancelled at the last minute, but I am hoping to finally reschedule that day and make up for lost time.


Canadian Train Geek said...

Nice catch! What was the overgrown track in the foreground of one of the photos?

Michael said...

Thanks, Steve. That old track is the former Wyoming siding, much of it still in place including a stretch through Broadway Street. It is overgrown, but I am not sure if it is still connected to the main line (which used to be double tracked through here). The track fed the Wanstead farmers co-op grain elevator, which I've featured in a few posts in the past, and a loading ramp near the Via station, which was used to load local boxcars.

AJ said...

Thats a nice catch of that leased unit. As much as I am a CN fan, I am not up to date on the leased units so this was a bit of a surprise for me.
I also feel you on the time to do railfanning. Mine has been limited as I have been finishing the last course for my degree program on the side.

While it is out of context for Wyoming, I did have something to update that is more local. I was taking a run out to find a new home for a squirrel yesterday afternoon and happened to be out by Twin Elm. After enjoying a VIA run through, I spotted a few cars out behind the Synagri location. I counted 3 Potash Corp cars sitting there on their spur which was new (I have a pic but having issues uploading to photobucket). It also looks like the end stop on the spur was either newer or freshly painted. I kept going down Twin Elm past the end of the pavement to turn around. On the way back, right around the pavement is a turn in to a farmers field. Suddenly a high rail truck for a contractor appeared which was full of workers. I did not get the contractor name on the side, but expect that they were the same people who have set up in the little yard Richmond. All this to say that while I don’t know what they were doing, I am encouraged by the presence of maintenance workers along this line and the prospect of track work, along with steady business with the local customers (Kott and Synagri). Gotta take whatever railfanning we can get around here!

Michael said...

Thanks Steve and AJ for your comments. AJ - What you saw is probably more common than you think. I often see the RailTerm trucks on the Smiths Falls Sub in and around Twin Elm and into Barrhaven. That company handles track maintenance for Via Rail. As for the Potash hoppers at SynAgri, I have spotted them there before and they do make sense. That place is a depot for farm products, so a shipment of Potash is probably a regular thing at this time of year. You are right that they recently did some maintenance on the SynAgri spur. The weird thing is, despite this work, they cover over the spur with snow in the winter, which to me negates the rehab efforts!