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Westbound Windmill Train

January 21, 2011

Lots of traffic today along my stretch of UP’s Glidden sub, but a backlog of work precluded me from getting out during the day. It was so bad that the 0900 relief crew that got on KCS 4015 West at Missouri City around 1:30 this afternoon was still sitting there at 6:00 P.M.

That was when the DS told the crew that they would be able to go once the “wide-load special” got by him shortly.

That remark certainly got my interest piqued. Since we were already heading out to dinner, I grabbed the camera to see what luck I might have.

It was getting dark quickly, but I figured I’d be OK. I made it to the Dulles Ave. grade crossing just as the detector at MP 15.6 went off.

“U.P. detector milepost 15.6, no defects, train speed 4-2 mph, axle count 1-4-0, temperature 4-3 degrees, detector out”

That’s kind of fast when the shutter speed my camera selected at ISO 800 was 1/20 second. Time to make some adjustments or else the train will just be a blur.

The best I could do was 1/80 second at f4.0 with the ISO set to 6400. The typical shutter speed I use for action shots around here is 1/800 second, so this is going to be interesting.

The head end of UP 8581 passed me at 6:19 P.M., a mere 29 minutes after sunset.

From a distance, it looked like a pipe train. As it got closer, I thought to myself  “Boeing 737 fuselages?” Then I remembered I was in Houston, so that was impossible.

As the cars passed by at a good clip, I couldn’t really pay much attention to the cargo as I was having to concentrate on keep the shots in focus.

As the train went off into the sunset, I was thinking it was a train of sections of wind turbine towers that I had just seen go by.  But  I wasn’t positive because I’d never seen a train like this before

We got back home around 9:15 P.M. Googling “Vestas” informed me that Vestas is a Danish company, and it’s a world leader in wind turbines for the generation of electricity.

A quick trace advised me that the train was already out of Flatonia at 9:01 PM, with an ETA into Yermo, CA at 9:58 A.M. on Monday, the 24th.

I suspect that these components came in through the Port of Houston, so the symbol on this train might be something like SHOYR, but don’t hold me to that.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Scott Sanders permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:12 am


    This did not come out of the Port of Houston, the symbol for this train is SNOCFW-18 out of the Port of New Orleans. We are loading Blades in the Port of Houston for Vestas, next train with the blades is expected to depart Monday night or Tuesday morning…Symbol for the outbound blade train will be SPTCFW-24

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