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Snowy IR Sub

dmir227's picture

Another day trying to capture some shots in snow, this time I headed up the IR Sub where news reports had the Brimson area getting over 2 feet of snow over the past few days.

As we left Duluth the sun actually made a brief appearance and we made a quick stop at the paper mill to catch the switchers there.

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As we approached Two Harbors I noticed a couple of Great Lakes Fleet ships outside the harbor. I snapped a shot with stored DEEX cars in the shot.

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We headed up County 2 and the clouds began to thicken as did the snow totals on the ground. Just like Duluth, once you gained elevation away from the lake snow totals really jumped up. I drove straight up and monitored NSM for the "Noon" loads and it sounded like 653/654 and their tailings train were blowing out switches at MP 7. The drive up was like a Christmas card setting - heavy snow on the pine trees.

With no NSM activity around MP 23 we cut across Highway 15/16 to Fairbanks where a northbound Minntac empty was told to take the siding for two(!) southbounds. The old station sign from Fairbanks is still there, one a building tucked into the woods just west of the mainline. The antlers over the door is a nice touch.

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First southbound was a Minntac load behind three burners. They kicked up some nice snow, which by now had stated falling with big flakes.

I could have chased him to Highland where I was sure some decent snow had fallen, but I couldn't pass up 212 leading Minorca loads. It's fresh paint and bright red nose was worth it. Trailing was Missabe 403 (one side almost black from oil/grime) and an IC unit.


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By this time the NSM loads had passed MP 36 with crusty unlettered 656 leading, so I stuck with 212 for the trip south versus heading to MP 23 (I had checked out the Highway overpass earlier and the winter scene was great, but 656 was a deal breaker).

After shooting at Fairbanks I headed to Highland where 401 had started weighing. I went to Boomers Road south of Highland and came across Snodigger (nice to meet you in person!). Unfortunately, the plowed portion of the road stopped at his place so I couldn't get ahead of 401 (the access road at Highland was in the process of being plowed by, ironically, Bert Highland). I then went back to Highland and waited for 212.

Because this was a Minorca train and thus bypassing the scale track, I elected to shoot the outside of the curve to get more of the far hill in the shot. The whole hillside was covered in thick snow and it made for a great backdrop with even more snow falling. I was lucky to get 212 leading with its clean nose.


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From there we headed home as the snow stopped just south of Highland. On our way back it sounded like an IC unit went on the ground in Two Harbors on an iced crossing. Tomorrow should bring blue skies and it looked like the MRF had not run up to W11 yet, so if it runs tomorrow that should make for some nice snow shots.

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Dave Schauer
Missabe Railroad Historical Society
Publications Chair
Duluth, MN