Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Drive: Part II (Chicago - Minneapolis)

After spending the night at Mile North Chicago, a very nice hotel downtown, we began the days trip to Minneapolis. Rather than taking the quickest route, we decided to go via La Crosse, Winona and the Mississippi River. We did this for the scenery, as well as to follow the Burlington Northern Santa Fe's St. Croix Subdivision.

Google Maps view of our drive from Chicago to Minneapolis
As our trip north began, we needed to get gas. This resulted in a stop at the North Shore Shell just off of Half Day Road in Bannockburn, Illinois. This was just a quick stop, but luckily for me, this gas station is located right next to the Canadian Pacific C&M Sub. While pumping my gas, not one, but two Metra trains passed. Both travelling in opposite directions.

After that, there was no more action until La Crosse, where we passed over the BNSF line for the first time.

In order to follow the BNSF line on the north shore of the Mississippi though, we had to cross over to Minnesota until Winona. This portion of the drive paralleled the CP River Sub.

Google Earth view of CP's River Sub, BNSF's St. Croix Sub, and our Route. Between La Crosse, and Winona.
Unfortunately for me, we did not see any trains on this CP line.

If you have the time, and know a train may be coming, this is a great stretch of track to shoot, as it curves along and hugs the river.

Pushing north and west, we crossed back over the river to once again enter Wisconsin, and follow the BNSF St. Croix Sub.

Luck however, still wasn't on my side. We stopped for about 25 minutes at the overpass into Merrick State Park, but to no avail. So, we continued on. About 10 minutes up the road, I finally spotted the first train, a southbound CN lead tank train, but too many trees in the way for pictures (an unfortunate trend that continues).

Not expecting another train for a bit, we didn't stop to wait. Bad choice. As near Nelson, WI (here) where the tracks split away from the road, I spotted another southbound train crossing the bridge in the distance. This time it was an intermodal train lead by a trio of BNSF units. Bad timing again lead to not enough time to grab the camera/trees getting in the way.

Finally, I caught a break near Stockholm, WI where we made a stop for a quick break at a lookout, and I heard a train horn close by. The race was on to grab the video camera, and quickly set up. Within 10 seconds of finding a clearish view and setting up the tripod, NS 8159 lead CSX 384, CSX 857, CSX 927,  and NS 8018 along the edge of the Mississippi River with an oil train in tow.

Once the train had cleared, the road called our names again.

The variety of power continued with the last train of the day as we neared Minneapolis, with a CP lead tank train. By now you know the deal, and why there is no picture to go along with this sighting.

Even though we only got one train on camera, it was still a great day.

I promise the final leg of the trip has a few more trains involved (with pictures).