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Christmas Eve in Fort Worth

January 8, 2011

This past Christmas Eve in Fort Worth was cold and blustery with rain pretty much all day. Residents of Fort Worth weren’t complaining though, as it marked the end of 40 straight days without rain. Kind of like a reverse Noah’s Ark thing, but I digress.

With the weather being so ugly, we had no interest in railfanning. But when the rain tapered off around 8:00 PM, Andy and I decided to drive around to check out some of the railroad facilities in town.

We knew that pretty much everything would be shut down, but I grabbed the 5D Mark II in case an opportunity came up to play around with its high ISO capabilities.

The first order of business was to find Fort Worth & Western’s Hodge Yard, just north of downtown. Even though we missed the exit off of I-35W, but were able to double back and locate it without much trouble.

Their empty parking lot suggested that they were already shut down for Christmas, but I was able to get a few shots of their locomotive servicing facilities before we left.

(All  below images were hand-held with the 24-105 L IS 4.0 lens on the 5D Mark II set to 6400 ISO. Exposure was anywhere from 1/15 sec – 1/50 sec, all at f 4.0.)

Fort Worth & Western locomotives at Hodge Yard

I hadn’t noticed it when we were there, but is that a photocopier in the lower right corner of the above image?

Fort Worth & Western locomotives at Fort Worth, TX

We wanted to see the Saginaw interlocking, so we headed off in that direction. As we were northbound on Business 287, we came across BNSF’s Saginaw Yard. Everything was shut down here as well, but this empty grain train was at the north end.

BNSF grain train at Saginaw Texas

We made it to  Saginaw interlocking. This is where BNSF’s (ex Santa Fe) line to Oklahoma City, BNSF’s (ex-BN) line to Amarillo and UP’s (ex-Rock Island) Choctaw sub line to Oklahoma cross over each other.

Nothing was running here either. We did pause to admire the panoply of red signals, seemingly everywhere, that protect this interlocking.

We wanted to head south back toward downtown on I-35W, but mistakenly ended up northbound. We exited as soon as we could, but somehow missed the turn to get back on the freeway.

In the process of making a U-turn back to the freeway, I saw what appeared to be a BNSF logo in the distance. So we U-turned again, to investigate the logo. Amid all the navigational drama, somehow or another we ended up at another BNSF facility.

Sign at BNSF corporate offices at Fort Worth

We didn’t see any trains or tracks anywhere, so we figured that the sign was a mistake or something…

We managed to get on Main Street, southbound toward downtown. Once we got into downtown, our next goal was to check out Fort Worth ITC (Intermodal Transportation Center).

Of course, nothing was going on there. But we did see this good-looking sign on building just south of the ITC.

UT-Arlington building in Fort Worth

In 2007, the UT Arlington/Fort Worth Center renovated and relocated to the historic Santa Fe freight depot in downtown Fort Worth.

What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they know that historic buildings are old?  It makes more sense to just tear them down. At least that’s what we do in Houston… </sarcasm>

We had one main goal left on our night tour of Fort Worth’s railroad attractions.

Union Pacific Davidson Yard sign in fort worth, TX

Locomotive servicing facilities at the southeast corner of Davidson Yard

overpass at the west end of UP's Davidson Yard in fort worth

Overpass at the west end of Davidson Yard

A hump job shoves east from the west end of Davidson Yard

An eastbound intermodal at the West end of Davidson Yard

DPU from the above intermodal shoves past us at the west end of Davidson Yard

Head end of the above train passing through the east end of Davidson Yard

Might this be UP's commemorative locomotive honoring good eyesight and/or optometrists?

We jumped on  I-30 headed to our home away from home. At the last-minute, we decided to do a quick drive-by of the Tower 55 area.

From the Hattie Street overpass, we saw a switch job with a couple of gen-sets in the distance and an empty coal train head north on the UP through the interlocking.

We also saw the tail end of loaded coal train to the south of us on the Ney Bypass.  We headed south, looking for the head end. After a few minutes, we found ourselves of the bottom of Ney Yard.

Night picture of Union Pacific coal train at Fort Worth TX

Awaiting a new crew, the 6682 whiles away the last few hours before Christmas Day 2010

At this point, it was way past late-thirty. We called it an evening and headed home to await midnight, at which point we could open our Christmas presents.

All in all, I was quite happy with the images. I knew the 5D II was good in low light, but it never dawned on me that I could use it hand-held to railfan with after dark. There’s a bit of noise in the skies, but I bet a pass through Light Room 3’s noise reduction could fix it easily.

Sounds like I might need to do some after-dark railfanning when I get back to the Houston area…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ron Kiser permalink
    January 8, 2011 6:29 pm

    Good stuff about my favorite town. Someone probably has already pointed out that the former Rock Island track at Saginaw going into Oklahoma is not the Choctaw Sub but it is the Duncan Sub. The Choctaw Sub is the former Katy line going to McAlester, Oklahoma. Also, you are correct that the BN line to Amarillo crosses at Saginaw, but to us old Farts it will always be the Fort Worth and Denver (FW&D).

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