Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

More Train Photos

This morning, the sidings in front of our house were empty. While ordinarily we have no issue with the small yard being full of cars, yesterday morning we really wished that they'd cleared the yard since we would have had an even better view of 844 coming through.

I posted a slightly revised version of the train video that corrected the typo in the caption date, as pointed out by nojay. Alas, the other issue he reported (white balance) isn't easily correctable. Later we realized that the cameras were still set for the shots we did at Worldcon, which means the indoor-incandescent-lighting setting was on. We thought we'd reset the cameras to Auto afterwards but apparently forgot to do so. So we're a little blue here, you might say.

While Lisa was shooting video, I was shooting still photos. Here's a selection of what I got before and during 844's run-by.

Lisa walked across the street and set up the camera pointing down the tracks. She took care to stay at least 5m away from the nearest railroad tracks, and at no time did either of us get on the tracks themselves. We're fairly respectful of these tracks, as trains can really sneak up on you, much more than most people think. Note the red circle on a post, which is a switch-stand leading into the sidings.

Fernley House is the two-story house across the street and to the right of Lisa in this photo. As you can see, travelswithkuma was along supervising, riding in a box to keep him out of the dirt.

Lisa sent me up to near the switch-stand visible in the first photo above so she could take some sightings, so I took a picture of her taking a picture of me. Note the other houses in the background. Because there are vacant lots on both sides of Fernley House, most of the photos of the place give the impression that we're totally isolated. And yes, if you're one of those people who think that any city of less than a million people isn't really a city, I guess we are isolated; however, I hope this photo shows that we do have neighbors here in Fernley's Old Downtown, even if one of them is a boarded-up clapped-out mobile home that really needs to be hauled away.

To the left of this photo is the general area where Fernley's train station used to be before it was moved away from the railroad. It now is located a couple of kilometers away on Main Street (US Alt-95/Alt-50) as described here. Alas, there seems to have been disputes about operations, and the depot building and the attendant small collection of railroad artifacts behind it are not open to the public. Also, their own web site seems to have gone offline.

When 844's automatic Twitter feed announced that the the train was passing Thisbe (ten miles west of Fernley), we prepared for action. Here's the view west along the Union Pacific (ex-Southern Pacific, originally Central Pacific) main line. To the left is an old closed-up lumber yard. If Lisa and I every had lottery money, we'd buy the property and have a siding put in connected to the existing switching leads. (This is vastly cheaper than installing a switch right off the main line.) That would give us a place to park our private railroad car and maybe even let us set up a "marina" for parking other private cars.

Soon, 844's headlight appeared in the distance. This section of track is pretty flat. After the UP line exits the Truckee River Canyon just west of here near Wadsworth, it flattens out for the run across the 40 Mile Desert. This means 844 doesn't have to work all that hard to get up to speed. The main line here is good for 70 MPH.

I pulled back as the train neared. You can see Lisa's shadow in the right foreground. What these photos do not show well is just how fast the train was going and how quiet it was. The video does a better job of showing that.

Then the train was right on top of us. I had the camera on "burst" mode, so as long as I held down the button, it took photos as fast as it could. It was sufficiently bright and the camera's shutter speed sufficiently fast that you still have a hard time realizing that the train is tearing by at speed.

Behind 844's black main tender (which holds oil to fire the locomotive and water to boil) is auxiliary water tender UPP 809 Jim Adams. Carrying an extra tender allows extended range with fewer stops for water. Tucked in behind the tender is AC45CCTE locomotive UP 7947, which we think is primarily in the consist for braking. While this stretch of track is pretty flat, the train traverses some pretty up-and-down territory overall, and the modern locomotive can be used for dynamic braking, saving wear and tear on the train's brake shoes and significantly reducing brake smoke.

The UP 150th Anniversary exhibit car was of course in the consist, which was trailed by UP business coach Portland Rose (PDF).

We had hoped they might sound the whistle for us, but we were the only ones trackside at this spot. Shortly after the train was out of sight to the east, in a location more visible from Main Street and passing the Black Bear Diner, the train let loose with a few toots on the whistle.

The train was past us in a flash, but I was still delighted that I got to see it. There are very few big steam locomotives left, and the chance to see one at speed like this is pretty rare. Kudos to Union Pacific for continuing to invest in keeping 844 (and 3985) on the road for people to see how big time steam railroading used to be.
Tags: fernley, lisa, trains

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