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St. Patrick’s Day Surprise

March 18, 2014

A beautiful day in Houston today, an exceedingly rare commodity this past winter. But I just wasn’t able to break away during the day to capitalize on the nice weather.  I did listen to the radio a bit and it didn’t appear that I was missing anything special.

Then about 3:30 this afternoon I learned that  NS 1072 ( the Illinois Terminal Heritage unit) had been spotted in Luling, TX at 7:32 AM leading the MKBHO-17 (Manifest Kirby [San Antonio]-Houston).  At first I figured the train was by me because Luling is only 128 miles west of Sugar Land,  and 8 hours is a long time, but a quick trace revealed otherwise. The MKBHO had only made it to Eagle Lake,  43 miles west of Sugar Land.

The good news was that it wasn’t past me. The bad news is that it’s still 43 miles away and it’s getting late. I decided against driving west to meet the MKBHO because the train would be very back-lit. My plan was to wait-and-see, but I was skeptical because there had been 3 recent westbounds through Sugar Land and there were 2 eastbounds  ahead of the MKBHO. With that amount of traffic, it would be at least 2 hours before the MKBHO would reach my area.

So I busied myself with chores and making dinner. Then about 6:15 PM, 2/3 of the way through my ham steak, stuffing, and mixed vegetables, the DS calls NS 1072 for a slow order and to advise that they would see a west man at Sugar Land after which it would be their turn to go in to Houston.

I looked out the window and saw that it was still pretty bright out (thank you DST!). This just might work, so I grabbed a camera and headed to the one spot that I might catch some decent light on an eastbound at sunset.

As I arrived to the Willowbend Drive grade crossing, the crossing gates activated. I bailed out of the car just in time to catch KCS  4045 at 6:44 PM leading empty grain train GMXKRJ. This was the second eastbound I referred to earlier.

KCS 4045-1

KCS 4045-2

KCS 4045-3 I went back to the car to await the MKBHO, confident that sunlight wouldn’t be an issue. I know better than to provoke the sun gods because within 10 minutes  some clouds appeared near the horizon and the sun was headed toward them.

Just when I was about to pull defeat from the jaws of victory, the MKBHO’s headlight came into view. I made a few camera adjustments right before NS 1072 East arrived at 7:06 PM.

NS 1072-1

NS 1072-2

NS 1072-3

Even the Union Pacific partakes (albeit with NS power) in St. Patrick’s Day festivities! Who knew?

NS 1072-4

NS 1072-5Before the MKBHO could clear the crossing, the sun dove into the clouds that were near the horizon and that was it for decent light. No matter. For once, I actually came out on the winning end of a close call.

As I was waiting the MKBHO, I heard AMTK 113 announce its departure from the depot at 6:55 PM. Despite the sun being done for the day, I figured it was worth waiting the 15-20 minutes for Amtrak #1 to get to me.

I drove a few miles west to Heacker and set up just west of the signals there. A few minutes later, AMTK 113 came into view at 7:26 PM.

AM 113-1

Am 113-2

Am 113-3

Am 113-4

Am 113-5Tomorrow is supposed to be nice as well, but wouldn’t you know it? I have a video job in the morning. Hopefully it will wrap up early enough for me to get a few more shots.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. THE OZARK WEAVERS permalink
    March 18, 2014 8:38 am

    I’d say you sure had ” THE LUCK OF THE IRISH “, and dressed in ‘ SOLID-GREEN all day long ! ! ! ! ! !

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