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Out & About – June 9, 2014

June 14, 2014

Welcome to another episode of after-dinner railfanning in and around Sugar Land, Texas. Todays adventure starts at 7:15 PM when I leave home in hope of catching Amtrak #1 in sun. It seemed to be a fools errand because the day has been mostly cloudy, but there were just enough sucker holes to entice, well, a sucker.

Upon arriving at my favorite late afternoon location, CP SA025, it didn’t look good. A slow-moving cumulonimbus cloud to the west made it clear that it wouldn’t be clear, at least not within the next 10 minutes when #1 would arrive.

No problem. I’ll just head west until I can find some sun, or the prospect of sun. I ended up at MP 27, where it appeared the sun might drop under the cloud bank in the next few minutes.

The sun did pop out for several minutes, but as #1’s headlight came into view, the sun went into cloud-magnet mode. A quick camera adjustment and test-shot rendered this view at 7:40:02 PM.


As I watched #1 approach through the viewfinder, the scene appeared to be brightening up a bit. Then it really started to brighten up. I fumbled with the camera settings, hoping to anticipate just what the light level would be in the next several seconds. No time for a test shot, because #1 is upon me at 7:40:44 PM.


One more shot at 7:40:48 PM.


By the time the last car gets by me at 7:41:05 PM, the light was gone.


Wow! 30 seconds of light, timed perfectly! Thanks be to all of the cloud deities!

An eastbound KCS intermodal hasn’t quite made it to Harlem to clear up for #1, hence the approach indication at CP SA028. (Can’t see signal? Click to little one to see a big one.)


I drove west to CP SA030 to see if I could scare up another shot of #1. Upon arrival there, the KCS train has just cleared the west switch as #1 waits for the signal to proceed.


At 7:51 PM, #1 gets a clear signal at CP SA030. Headlights back to full power, the engineer notches the throttle out to resume its westward journey.





I knew there was a westbound, UP 6403, following #1. But there wasn’t any light left to speak of. Normally, that’s my cue to head home, but I was curious about the lead unit of the next train, as I don’t see many 6400’s. I headed to Prison Road crossing to wait for it.

My curiosity paid off, as the lead unit was a patched SP AC4400CW. Sun or no sun, I’m always glad to shoot anything that reminds me of the glory days!

UP 6403, ex SP 357, leads Laredo-bound manifest MEWMX-09 by me at 8:13 PM.


The eastbound KCS intermodal we saw earlier at Harlem had been bumped up to Sugar Land. The DS had told them to go east after one westbound. They’ve taken the directive to heart, and have started pulling toward the east switch.


KCSM 4650 approaches me at 8:15 PM.


Speaking of glory days, ex-ATSF C44-9W 695 takes us back to the storied SuperFleet era.


It might not look like it, but the Sugar Mill is still over a mile away.


KCS has historically been a manifest traffic railroad, with some PRB coal trains added to the mix in the 1970’s. I suspect many fans aren’t aware of it, but the KCS also runs some serious intermodal trains. 2-3 solid trains like this one a day, and 2-3 other trains a day with sizable intermodal blocks.



That’s all for this episode of after-dinner railfanning.

PS – Apologies to the ADD crowd. I see 3 trains and end up with a Tolstoyesque post.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Annette Kovar permalink
    June 14, 2014 2:08 pm

    Great pictures. I’m glad the sun/clouds cooperated with you. My favorite is the double decker silver passenger cars glistening and so shiny in the sun. Geeze, I’ve not been on Amtrak since we went to Dallas in the late 80’s on the Sunset Limited!? Not sure if that was it’s name?
    I think I had mentioned to you about the Railroad Museum in Rosenberg. I went there this past week with my daughter and Grandson. It was awesome. The museum had tons of stuff inside, and of course, my favorite area was the large section on Hobo’s, which my Dad told numerous stories about, to me, since he worked for SP in the 1930’s-40’s!
    You should visit there, someday, if you haven’t done so, already. With your knowledge of the rails and trains of yesteryear, I’m pretty sure you’d end up spending the whole day there!!!
    Annette – Rosenberg

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