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Schnabel Car Moves South

dmir227's picture

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This morning turned out be to a lucky one for catching the special CN southbound move of the Schnabel Car. Given it was Mother's Day I had the kids with me to give mom a morning break and some well deserved R&R. My version of R&R (Rail & Road) started off with an alert from Mr. Madsen that two southbounds were headed towards Proctor in perfect light (an ore load and the MRF with J 674 leading a pair of CNs).

As we arrived at Proctor I heard a CN 2306 talking to RTC for permission south on the Superior Sub and from the chatter it sounded like a short train restricted to 25 mph. I think RTC called it a 599 but that doesn't make sense if it was an eastbound (anyone know?). Figuring it was the Schnabel special move I quickly turned the van around and headed towards Parkland to intercept. NOTE: for those fans visiting Duluth this summer I-35 from Spirit Mountain through town will be down to one lane, making for some congested driving.

We arrived at Parkland and the signals were red for a southbound move. Did we miss it? Hum, I didn't know if we should wait or head towards Pokegama. Just then the RFGs smiled on me and I heard CN 2306 call out a restricting signal at Hawthorne, well south of my location! The train had to have been at Parkland when they called RTC to head south and not at Pokegama. The RFGs gave me plenty of time to catch up as the special train took the siding at Hawthorne for two northbounds. Whew...

Our first shot was at Hawthorne proper as the train eased though this small burg and then we caught it rolling under Highway 53 just north of Solon. I'm guessing CN put a couple of freight cars on the head-end to assist with breaking, but that didn't distract too much with only one burner on the point.

With a train like this you really need to shoot it on a curve to get the full effect of the Schnabel's length, even when empty. The nice sweeping curve at South Sauntry (Solon Springs) fit the bill nicely and given the train met another northbound here it was on the passing siding. This was the real keeper of the morning.

Dave Schauer
Missabe Railroad Historical Society
Publications Chair
Duluth, MN