Old 07-22-2009, 01:53 AM   #1
rathman11
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Default Railfanning Minnesota

Hey everybody! So my buddy and I have this coming Friday through Sunday off and we are looking to get out and do some fanning. My question for any of you in the Minnesota area is are there any areas that immediately come to mind that you would suggest we try and visit. I mostly fan along the DM&E in SE MN and around the Twin Cities here and there when I am not working. We will probably plan on staying South of the Twin Cities but are open to going anywhere from the East to West border of MN. Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:47 AM   #2
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Staples Sub is always solid. Especially west of Staples.

More info...
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/outstateminnesotarail/
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:09 AM   #3
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Staples Sub. It's hard to go wrong there unless there is some sort of MoW stuff going on your bound to see several movements a day.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:54 PM   #4
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I know you didn't say 'north,' but don't forget about Duluth...
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Old 07-22-2009, 02:00 PM   #5
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My favs are along the Mississippi - both sides, Duluth/Superior, exploring all over the Twin Cities with hotspots like Pigs Eye, Daytons Bluff, Northtown area, etc.
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:15 PM   #6
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Awesome, thanks a bunch everyone! Duluth is definitely a trip in the future, I was hoping to actually get up there in the Fall with the color change. I was thinking about getting out on the TC&W again. We went out in the Winter and I think it would be a pretty neat looking line in the Summer, I really like going for that country feel. Anyways, thanks again and fire away if anything else comes to mind.
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:06 PM   #7
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Travis, is there a better time during the day to travel the Mississippi? Does the morning or evening provide better light?
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rathman11 View Post
Travis, is there a better time during the day to travel the Mississippi? Does the morning or evening provide better light?
The lines almost run east-west, so you can shoot eastbounds in the morning and westbounds in the evening. Many of the "up on a bluff" shots from the Wisconsin (BNSF) side are morning shots, the opposite is true for CP on the Minnesota side.

I have a reasonably good sample of many of the cliche spots in the Metro and Mississippi River Valley on my Flickr page:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ottergoose/

I've geotagged the majority of my shots, so you can see where they were taken on a map (look for the link on the right side of each photo page), if that's helpful to you.

If you're interested in shooting TCWR, I'd suggest doing a search for their Yahoo group - I know their transfer to Pig's Eye (St. Paul) has been running through downtown St. Paul just ahead of the Empire Builder the last few times I've been out.

The Minnesota Commerical runs their RS-27's Monday-Friday on Job 52, which is pretty interesting to look at.

If you're in southern Minnesota on Friday, another good option would be the Progressive Rail Faribault turn between Northfield and Faribault. They run an SW1500 with boxcars and hoppers down to Faribault on Fridays. When switching in Faribault, they also use an old NSP switcher.
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:48 PM   #9
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Nick, thanks a bunch for the info! I was hoping you would chime in before we took off tomorrow morning! This information will be really helpful while we put together a plan tonight! I really like that Maple Springs location you have a bunch of photos from. That will definitely be on the trip plan.
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Old 07-23-2009, 09:32 PM   #10
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With regards to Maple Springs, there are two sweeping S curves that you can shoot there. One of them is in Maple Springs proper (where you see the sign for "Maple Springs" as you approach from Lake City), the other is about a mile further down the road:

Maple Springs Proper - Bluffs in background further away, no trees on river side of track
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


Maple Springs Traditional (further away from Lake City) - Bluffs larger, trees on river side
Image © Michael Quagliano
PhotoID: 274592
Photograph © Michael Quagliano


To access Maple Springs Proper (my preferable location), park as close as you can to the Lake City end of the expanded shoulder in Maple Springs. Cross the street and look for the ravine, which will allow you to crawl up and get the elevation you need (after you crawl into the ravine, walk towards Lake City).

To access Maple Springs Traditional, you'll have to do some exploring - I haven't figured that one out yet

Light there is best between 3 and 5 in the afternoon this time of year, although you may need to get there earlier / stay later, CP hasn't had as much traffic there lately... you'll see several trains go past on the BNSF side of the river while you wait.
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Old 07-28-2009, 06:03 PM   #11
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How did it go?
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Old 07-29-2009, 04:10 PM   #12
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Nick, it was a pretty good trip! Friday was the best of the two days. We headed out on the TC&W but it was pretty dead all the way out to Brownton so we headed south to Winthrop. Found two switchers working the ethanol plant there and my buddy grabbed some shots of them but it was high sun at this point. We then went West to Fairfax and headed south to Sleepy Eye. Not much there so we headed to New Ulm. I have a shot of an old Soo Line GP9 with IMRL markings that was added to the database yesterday. A neat little locomotive.

I can't seem to get thumbnails to post (maybe I am doing something wrong) so here is the link to that GP9 shot.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=292213

The DM&E was pretty quiet, I'm assuming that is still due to the upgrades they are doing around the Rochester area. Most of the CWR is in but I think now they are replacing the grade crossings in Rochester, Byron, Kasson and Dodge Center. Stopped in Waseca but the DM&E yard is tough to access without trespassing so we continued East. I found a neat little bridge in Owatonna and we chased a west bound to it however I had some bad luck and had my camera freeze up after taking 3 or 4 shots of the locomotive crossing the bridge and the last frame still has a some obstructing objects so I will definitely be heading back to re-shoot that location. My parents live in Byron so we settled in there for the night.

Saturday we cruised the DM&E in the morning down to Winona and had no luck. Winona was fairly quiet but I didn't have much interest in Winona so we crossed the river into Wisconsin and headed up the BNSF line to Nelson, WI to cross over to Wabasha. The BNSF line was DEAD! And actually around that time I started feeling pretty sick but we decided to give Maple Springs a try. I climbed up the little bluff and I am pretty sure I found the location you shoot from. I was all set up and then I looked North and saw rain coming! Seeing as I was still feeling pretty crummy I packed up and got back into my truck just before it started to downpour. At that point I decided to call it a day and head back to the Cities because I was not feeling any better.

Needless to say, I found some pretty neat locations and I really like that Maple Springs location. I will be back down in the Rochester area next Friday to Sunday so I am definitely heading back down to the river to get some shots!
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Old 07-29-2009, 04:18 PM   #13
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What time did you go the Wisconsin side? Something was going on because there was a group of 6-8 trains going down river in the morning and another set of 6-8 trains coming up the river after dark. Maybe a crew shortage was backing things up? Sounds like you ended up chashing a lot of nothing. That always blows. Hopefully you still found other enjoyments on the trip.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:07 PM   #14
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Travis, we traveled the Wisconsin side late morning into the early afternoon. Nonetheless, I did find some interesting shots that I will go for next Friday when I am in the area. It had been a long time since I had traveled along the Mississippi on the Wisconsin side and I have to say I was really impressed. I like how the cities are set up right along the river and up into the bluffs. State Rd 35 looks to be a huge biker route as well.
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