Old 08-07-2009, 05:30 PM   #1
lock4244
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Default A thought on Powder River

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Wyoming (too little) on the Orin Line through Powder River photographing coal trains. Watching the endless stream of trains got me thinking about what I was seeing, putting into perspective the immensity of what I was witnessing.

If you have ever said to yourself, "I wonder what this must have been like back when..." as you look at a photo of Horseshoe curve or the Rockville bridge under PRR stewardship, or the flurry of long distance passenger trains that radiated out of Chicago in the 1940's and 1950's, or imagined what it was like when narrow gauge lines blanketed Colorado, then you can appreciate what I was thinking while watching the show. BNSF and UP sending train after train after train over two, three and four track mainlines; after seeing three trains moving while a fourth waited for track and time to pull forward into a mine loadout... and watching the headlight of a fifth appear over the horizon, creeping forward while the fourth train entered the loadout loop on it's track.

I was watching railroading at a place and time when its at it's height, not in decline or a shadow of it's former glory. Not after the consolidation and streamlining, economizing and rationalizing, but during expansion and growth. This is the time to see it, but more than that, to understand what it is you're seeing and to appreciate that you have the chance to see something of this magnitude while it's happening instead of looking at old photos and wondering what it was like to be there. Often we look back at something and realize in hindsight that it was something to behold. Not often do we appreciate what it is we are seeing before us because the present too new to appreciate.

So as I waited between trains, after snapping shots of the ever present Pronghorn grew dull, I stood back and breathed in the immensity of what Powder River is and that this is the time to see it. This is Horseshoe Curve under PRR when it was four tracks and there was always a train in sight, this is Colorado narrow gauge when it was more than a few tourist operations. This is Powder River, and I urge you all to head west (or east) if you can and see railroading at it's peak.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:43 PM   #2
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Thanks for the interesting thoughts, Mike. I haven't been there (yet) and I hadn't really thought about it from that perspective, but you're so right. It's only a matter of time before the demand for coal drops and the number of trains start to dwindle. Hopefully I can make it there in the next few years to experience what you've put into words so well.

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Old 08-09-2009, 11:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244 View Post
Recently, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Wyoming (too little) on the Orin Line through Powder River photographing coal trains. Watching the endless stream of trains got me thinking about what I was seeing, putting into perspective the immensity of what I was witnessing.

If you have ever said to yourself, "I wonder what this must have been like back when..." as you look at a photo of Horseshoe curve or the Rockville bridge under PRR stewardship, or the flurry of long distance passenger trains that radiated out of Chicago in the 1940's and 1950's, or imagined what it was like when narrow gauge lines blanketed Colorado, then you can appreciate what I was thinking while watching the show. BNSF and UP sending train after train after train over two, three and four track mainlines; after seeing three trains moving while a fourth waited for track and time to pull forward into a mine loadout... and watching the headlight of a fifth appear over the horizon, creeping forward while the fourth train entered the loadout loop on it's track.

I was watching railroading at a place and time when its at it's height, not in decline or a shadow of it's former glory. Not after the consolidation and streamlining, economizing and rationalizing, but during expansion and growth. This is the time to see it, but more than that, to understand what it is you're seeing and to appreciate that you have the chance to see something of this magnitude while it's happening instead of looking at old photos and wondering what it was like to be there. Often we look back at something and realize in hindsight that it was something to behold. Not often do we appreciate what it is we are seeing before us because the present too new to appreciate.

So as I waited between trains, after snapping shots of the ever present Pronghorn grew dull, I stood back and breathed in the immensity of what Powder River is and that this is the time to see it. This is Horseshoe Curve under PRR when it was four tracks and there was always a train in sight, this is Colorado narrow gauge when it was more than a few tourist operations. This is Powder River, and I urge you all to head west (or east) if you can and see railroading at it's peak.
QFT.

Hope I could make it out there sometime.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:25 PM   #4
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Well put! I hope your whole trip went well and I am sitting here waiting for the pics. I have spent a few nights trackside on the PRB. I didn't get a lot of sleep. Especially since UP must still have the bridge marked as a crossing while the BNSFs just glided by silently. From the top of Logan Hill, you can see miles away as the 3 tiny multiple specs of light off in the distance grow into trains as 3 are hitting the hill under your feet.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:32 AM   #5
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Just wait until CP gets out there too - red, yellow and orange trains running side by side - should be pretty nice

I'd like to go back and see it when the BN SD60's and CNW Lightning Stripe GE's were out there. I remember driving past as a kid on a few road trips, sadly any photos from that time were from too far away and of pretty low quality.
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