Old 09-23-2007, 09:07 PM   #1
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
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Default 800 miles and 3 minutes to spare...

My trip reports are usually ridiculously long so I'll try to keep it short.

You will see the meaning behind the title a little further into the trip report, but first I back up to the beginning, Friday, September 14, 2007. I had just finished finals (3-year school) the 13th day before and had the next week off until my next semester/quarter. After comparing the UP steam schedule In June we compared the UP steam trips to pick which week we wanted to chase, my brother, Christopher, and I decided to go for the September trip as it included more chase days. Details slowly falling into place the months between June and September such as L&N 152 running the weekend we would be driving out to get to Oklahoma. After visiting KCS's Rich Mountain back in 2005, we decided to follow the line from Mena, AR to Sallisaw, OK and then shoot out to Chickasha, OK to pick up the 844 (prounounced: chick-uh-shay). A last minute trip announcement on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic and schedule change by UP made it easy for us to plan the last few days of the trip.

Day 1: Sept. 14th - After my brother got home from work around 5PM we finished packing our stuff and got onto the road a little later than we hoped, but our journey had begun! The plan was to go from home to as far west as we could, which ended up being Hancock, MD.

Day 2: Sept. 15th - After a few hours of sleep we hit the road with the goal of reaching New Haven, KY, a distance of ~765 miles from our house, before the 2PM train. We knew the 11AM trip was already out of reach. Making only one stop for gas, we knew it was still going to be close. We calculated and recalculated the time we would arrive at New Haven and each time we figured 2PM + or - a few minutes. Smooth sailing around Lexington brought a little relief as it was the biggest obstacle to get past. Just as we figured from about 200+ miles away, we got to New Haven at 1:57PM. We had done just under 800 miles from New Jersey and got to where we wanted with only 3 minutes to spare. Naturally, the train left late anyway.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 203000
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

The chase went well for not knowing the line and not having a chance to scout it beforehand. We got back to New Haven and took photos of the crew getting ready to put the engine away when we were invited through the enginehouse for a closer look. The rest of the evening would be a straight drive to eastern Arkansas.

Day 3: Sept. 16th - Another [long] early morning drive across Arkansas landed us along the KCS line in Mena, AR around Noon. While getting close to town, the scanner picked up the detector south of Rich Mountain granting us the good news that we had a KCS train. This was certainly a relief after our last trip which included almost a full day of sitting and waiting. A quick look at the map confirmed that the race south into Mena would be another close one. Are you starting to see a pattern? Sure enough just as the road and tracks converge in town, we spot the southbound manifest racing (at 30mph)across the crossings of Mena. We chased south and caught the train in the towns of Hatfield, Cove, and Vandervoort. The detector at Cove was not working so an inspection of the train was needed at Vandervoort where we would leave the train and head back north to Mena. A southbound coal train snuck past as we got lunch with BNSF power, which isn't exaclty what you hope for on KCS. We ate at the station with no further word of a train, we pressed north towards Rich Mountain and ultimately, I-40. We caught two more southbounds between Acorn, AR and Heavener, OK before heading to the yard, shops, and fueling racks at Heavener.
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 203246
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

A few photos later we were off to the interstate to beginning this evening's trek to Chickasha, OK. Curiousity and anxiety got the best of us as we took a quick drive into town to see UP 844 for the first time; under a bridge of course. We hit the hay to prepare ourselves for the chase.

I'll keep the next few days short and let the photos, when posted, tell the story.

Day 4: Sept. 17th - Keeping with the theme of the trip, a few extra minutes of sleep keep us from getting trackside until just before the scheduled 8AM departure time. We shot the train departing Chickasha and the chase was on. The photo locations were Chickasha, a rural crossing north of Pocasset, the Canadian River bridge at Minco, Powers, El Reno*, Okarche, Kingfisher*, the Cimmaron River bridge at Dover, Hennessey*, Bison, Waukomis, and Enid. After a successful chase, we took the 70 mile drive west to Waynoka on the BNSF Transcon where we shot the GP10 on display as well as a westbound manifest. We drove further south to Curtis Hill on the BNSF and got some shots before, well while, clouds rolled in. We got back to Enid, OK and found they had left the 844 on the siding by the depot out in the open. An impromtu night session was certainly necessary.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 203005
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

We got back to the hotel, had dinner, and passed out like usual.

Day 5: Sept. 18th - The second day of the chase started a little earlier than the previous morning as we got to the depot before they pulled the train out of the siding to board the passengers.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 203477
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

After watching them pull out onto the main, we drove to North Enid to shoot the train exiting the ex-CRIP yard. The photo locations today include EDIT.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 203475
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

After arriving Wichita under clouds and rain, the train headed north to the UP yard and we headed northwest to the BNSF Transcon once more at Newton, KS. After watching 4 trains roll out of the sun and head west, we took a closer look at the map and realized that BNSF had a parallel line further to the east. A 40-mile drive landed us in the town of Cassoday, KS with a population of 110 people in 2000 and also Prairie Chick Capital of the World. In a little more than an hour and half we watched three trains head west.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 203004
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

We drove north into the hills of Kansas (I wouldn't have believed it either) and caught another westbound which we chased to the bridge over Rte. 177. Add being to chase trains on one of the busiest and fastet lines in the country onto the list of reasons I love the Midwest! We followed to train south past Cassoday to the single-track portion of the line, which is when it clicked and we realized that BNSF utilizes the two different lines for directional running. We caught one last westbound and took off for Wichita for dinner and sleep.

Day 6: Sept 19th - Unfortunately, this would be the last day of chasing the 844 through Oklahoma and Kansas, which we picked up at Kechi, KS, "A Place to Call Home."
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 203264
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

The list of today's locations include EDIT. At Herington the train would make its last scheduled stop to let passengers off and on as well as get the engine fueled and get a pilot crew aboard. At Herington, the train will begin its trip over SP's Sunset Route to Topeka. Two eastbounds went out before the non-revenue excursion, which we shot from the Rte. 77 bridge outside of town.
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 202779
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk

Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 203003
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

We continued the chase on Rte. 4 to Latimer and Dwight,KS missing two meets at White City in between the two. We were told that there was no way we would be able to keep up with the train along Old 10 Rd. through Volland to Alma so we shot straight up to I-70. While looking at the incredible scenery we were missing because of the locals' misinformation, we head the dispatcher inform the special they would be meeting two westbounds at Paxico, north of Alma, KS. We got down the the tracks and found a crossing midway through the siding with the end of the autoracker in sight. A few minutes later UP 844 pulled into the siding a few yards short of the crossing allowing plenty of photos and opportunities to pose with the train during the "unscheduled PR stop".
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 202992
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

With Ohio as our goal for Thursday afternoon, we left the 844 at Paxico and started heading east arriving at Warrenton, MO.

Day 7: Sept. 20th - We got off to a later start than we wanted and knew that our 5PM goal would be a close. Just as we did on Day 2, we pushed as much as we could, hitting small pockets of construction traffic and lost an hour due to the time zone change. We finally got to Jaite, OH around 5:45PM and were informed that the train behind OHCR 1293 was already through. We got ahead of the train at Ira, OH despite the insane amount of chasers, which would keep us from getting in front again until Akron. The sun had set before the train passed at Ira and darkness was upon us for the northbound trip to Rockside. We caught the train at Brecksville and our last photos of the trip were taken as Passengers were unloaded at Rockside.
Image © Christopher Blaszczyk
PhotoID: 202611
Photograph © Christopher Blaszczyk


Day 8: Sept. 21st - The only day without a plan turned out to be nothing more than a travel day from Northeast Ohio back to New Jersey with a stop to scout the Middletown & Hummelstown, east of Harrisburg, PA. We arrived back home shortly before 7PM, 4032 miles and thousands of photos later!

Hope you enjoyed the report and the photos! Thank you for looking! See ya trackside.
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Last edited by Andrew Blaszczyk (2); 09-27-2007 at 02:20 AM. Reason: Photos Added
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:08 PM   #2
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Is that a cop in the second photo?
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:22 PM   #3
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Where's EDIT? Seems to be a popular location...
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Old 09-24-2007, 01:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
Is that a cop in the second photo?
Could be a Park Ranger. I chased the Special south bound starting at Rockside and calling it a day at Akron. Anyway for the start of the chase, a RR official at Rockside was saying that Park Rangers were on the way and were going to fine those that didn't have tickets B/C we were "trespassing." Technicallities are technicallities, but if you don't want a mob of foamers, you shouldn't advertise a steam special on your web site and in the newspapers. This does not change my opinion of the CVSR, I'll definately ride it and chase it again. The train was well protected with other RR crew, but they wouldn't let anyone on the "sunny side" of the train at the platform except Press. There ya go Joe. Andrew was right about the insane amount of PPL. It was very hard to get a "clean" shot anywhere.


Edit: Andrew, I hope you don't mind me jumping on your thread. I didn't see a point in starting my own report for the same CVSR trip.

Here are some shots from my chase.
#1 was taken between Fitzwater Yard and Rockside during the tug to the station for boarding.

#2 I was playing around since CVSR staff would let anyone on the sunny side at Rockside as stated above.

#3 I don't know what kind of example the parents were setting by allowing this, but I couldn't resist a shot of it. Too many westerns already?

#4 Same location as #3 at the former Jaite Station.

#5 At the Everett Crossing.
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Old 09-24-2007, 04:21 AM   #5
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Well, well, well, Andrew B ventures onto my old turf! Glad you had a nice time. Do you have any links to your pictures? I've always been curious what pictures some of the better photographers would take in Kansas.
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Old 09-24-2007, 03:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMTRailfan
Edit: Andrew, I hope you don't mind me jumping on your thread. I didn't see a point in starting my own report for the same CVSR trip.
Nope, I don't mind; makes perfect sense.

Note: I have added the first batch of photos from the trip into the report above.
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Old 09-24-2007, 06:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
The plan was to go from home to as far west as we could, which ended up being Hancock, MD.
So where are the Hancock pix?????????

Oh, I see the problem now. You stopped in Hancock MD, foolishly not realizing that the yard is across the river in Hancock WV. Silly, silly, silly.
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:31 PM   #8
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Is there anything the BNSF will not put DPUs on? The other night the BNSF crew working the same industry as us didnt have a FRED so some genius manager had them link up one of their units as a DPU. The ironic thing is we had 3 FREDs in the nose of our lead unit that we were tripping over!
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Old 09-27-2007, 01:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tåg
Is there anything the BNSF will not put DPUs on? The other night the BNSF crew working the same industry as us didnt have a FRED so some genius manager had them link up one of their units as a DPU. The ironic thing is we had 3 FREDs in the nose of our lead unit that we were tripping over!
Hahaha thats great!

J - I wish we had ANY time to check out the tower, yard, etc but it was pretty much in around Midnight and out at 6AM, and we still just barely make the train in KY.

Just letting everyone new pics have been added in the report in case you missed them during the day!
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Old 10-12-2007, 11:29 AM   #10
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Great report Andrew.Im really like your shots and reading your reports.Thanks alot for sharing and keep up the work.
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