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Cold Thursday Range Report

madsek01's picture

On Thursday, I had a chance to get out railfanning.  Temperature was about -25F in Superior once I was able to head over to the Minnesota side about 45 mins. after sunrise.  I wanted to head up north for the clear skies and steaming pellets.  And if I got a couple of maroon units, that would be OK too.  

Just as I was driving through Proctor I heard a southbound clearing up its warrant at Coons.  Sounded like an ore train so I set up at Munger.  Was Wednesday's 1400 Minntac loader (U-711). The exhaust shows the cold but didn't show how cold I was.

Yes, It Was COLD Today

From there the track inspector got the tracks all the way from Coons to MP 51 so I got on the four lane.  Was a nice drive up 53 towards Missabefanland.  Not much traffic out at all as far as T-Birds when I got there. There wasn't much in the way of road traffic anywhere I went either.  Did hear the Keenan Switch working Utac with the 212 as the identifier.  Might have been working with the section who was fixing the track after a minor derailment near the Highway 7, Fairlane crossing.   It sounded like a couple of trains were at Minntac and one was at Minorca waiting to break loose.  Grabbed a cup of coffee and waited near Iron Jct.   

Heard the 404 coming into Shelton Jct. for Two Harbors.  Set up at the four corner crossing near Wolf for this Minorca.

404 on Minorca Loads

From there I headed south towards Iron, but I heard chatter on the yard channel so I headed to Southgate.  They getting signals for switching at both ends then going north.  After a short wait, caught them on the north leg of the wye at Keenan. Did not hear where they were going.  The crane could have been going anywhere and the empty pulpwood cars had me puzzled.

Getting Warmer: Now -16F
Keenan Switch Heading for Minntac

Once I lost the "212" I ran over to Virginia for some coffee and warm food.  By now the car thermometer was around -10.  Turns out the Keenan Switch went to Minntac with the crane and pulpwood empties.  I found this out as the 400 was going to leave the plant after the 212 cleared and looped around.  Guess I should refer to the Keenan Switch as the 215 as loop at Minntac kept it the leader for the entire day. Also heard I missed the limestone empties out of Minntac.  Had a CN/IC SD40-3 so I held my ground and did not chase south.

Off to the 169 bridge for the DM&IR 400 South.   I really liked the matched set with a clean leader.  And of course the steaming pellets help.  I could see pulpwood cars in the Mountain Iron Yard, so that is where they are loading pulpwood now. Good to see some more business for the Keenan Switch.

Still Cool at Mountain Iron, MN

From there I was thinking of where to shoot the 400 on the IR Sub. when it dawned on me that they said they loaded all 132 cars to the RTC, so they had to be a Proctor train.  Heard later on the radio that it was Wednesday's 2359 Minntac.  Lots of relief crews of course with the cold.  Express Shuttle was making money for sure.  The dead Minntac ID Doug noted earlier at Jones was getting a ride to Minorca for rescue power.  Later in the day when the rescue power was heading south, I took a shot for the record.  Have no idea where they got these three engines from except they were at Minorca.

Rescue Mission on the Iron Range Sub.

Back to the 400, I settled on the Hwy. 37 bridge at Iron.  Light was straight nose on, but again the pellets and the red nose made the results very acceptable.

400 South at Iron, MN

You saw the pellet train, now you don't.  The steam really starts flying when they get up to track speed, especially the just loaded cars on the rear.

Find the Ore Train Yet?

From there I let the 400 go as the Keenan Switch was calling to head out of Minntac with a stop at Mt. Iron Yard to set out and pick up 3 loads.  Since the 215 was going to be leading again and I just shot the 215 from the Mountain Iron overpass last month, so I stayed down near Fairlane waiting on the 1230 T-Bird crew to show and pull up the empties.  Information to the section who finished the Fairlane derailment clean up indicated the 1230 Bird would be there first train over the repaired switch.  Around 1325, the T-Bird pulled up far enough for shots.  Nice getting at least one T-Bird shot.

211 All Dumped Out

From there, the 215 was now heading to Keenan.  Set up on the 37 bridge again.   The NB T-Bird and the Keenan Switch arrived at about the same time and I was actually able to get a meet shot of two Missabe leaders, not an easy any more.  The T-Bird was running with 94 "empties"  They had the standard two idlers that stay loaded on each end, but are considered empties.  Also, today's T-Bird also has many cars that wouldn't dump at Fairlane as the next two shots show.  Still counted as empties to the RR.

Missabe Meet
215 After Meet

Since the 215 shoved into Keenan I was able to get one more shot on the wye.

215 My Last Shot of the Day

From there I deadheaded home to get some other things accomplished.  Would be nice if the T-Birds ran more frequently, but still a successful day.

Kevin Madsen
Superior, WI