Transit Sleuth TV


Long time followers remember contributor Adron Hall.  Adron runs a wonderful transit related blog on which he shares transit history, the economics behind transit, transit politics, and so much more.  He recently started what he’s calling ‘Transit Sleuth TV’.  Adron tells me that the show will be “…a multi-segment look at Portland Transit + Bike + Food + whatever other cultural bits seem to fit into it.”  If you like transit subjects and/or Portland topics this will be fun to follow.

The first episode includes some interesting discussion from one of the transit related (and possibly beer drinking) meet ups Adron hosts in Portland.  I thought the discussion was interesting and told Adron I would look forward to more of others thoughts on transit in Portland.  Adron also showed in the first episode that sometimes using your bike to get around town can have issues!  He has a great solution though that gets him where he needs to go.

If you are interested head on over and take a look at the first episode and choose your favorite subscription method.

Central Montana Good News

A pair of CMR GP-9s lay over in Denton.

Just in time for my weekend train ride on the Central Montana Railroad they have some great news to share!  They will be receiving a $4 Million grant to repair flood damage from the 2011 floods. This should allow them to restore their previous service levels to the region.  How the Moccasin Agri-Hub and end of the BNSF subsidy payments will impact the railroad’s future is not clear.  I believe good marketing and partnerships with BNSF will mitigate those items.  For now though it appears they will be able to run trains again on this former Milwaukee Road line!

Trouble on the Judith

I’m sure after my visit to Denton this weekend I’ll have a clearer understanding of what the future will bring and how soon this trestle will again see rail traffic.

To The East

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Tracks In The Snow 2013

Saturday Robert and Joel hopped in with me for the day and we joined up Dale and his brother Reed.  These guys are great to hang out with since we all enjoy the best of planes and trains.  ATCS and FlightAware are the main apps on all of our phones! Our destination for the day was the Trinidad hill area.  Unfortunately traffic on Saturday didn’t start off as strong as it did on Friday so we sat at Winton for a while to wait for an eastbound to meet Amtrak 7 at Scenic.

First Train of the Day

Amtrak’s Empire Builder crosses the east switch at Merritt, Wa.
BNSF spent quite a bit of time removing all the snow from around their their facilities in town.

While at the school house crossing we had an interesting discussion with the landowner there.  I’ll save all of you the gory details and just say that he is less than friendly towards folks parking in his driveway (we confirmed on the Chelan County GIS site the road is HIS driveway not a public road despite the fact BNSF marks it as a public crossing). We hoped to chat with the sheriff he threatened to call but that didn’t happen.   It was a good lesson in remembering to treat others as you would want to be treated.


S SEACHC1 31 storms through Winton, Wa.  The bright sun made a cool morning feel nice and warm!

We caught an eastbound train at the Longfibre crossing in Winton then made way for the other side of Wenatchee.  From about Leavenworth almost to Quincy the fog had things socked in pretty good.  No sunny photos to be had in this area.  We stopped along highway 28 at West Quincy and waited.  In fact we waited a couple of hours for anything to happen.  In the mean time we enjoyed speculating why a Delta 757 diverted from Sea-Tac to land at Moses Lake.  After some phone calls we found out they had a generator fail which prevented them from landing at Sea-Tac under ILS.  They needed VFR where they didn’t have to rely on the generator to make power.

Finally the SPOEVE and the SEACHC showed up setting off a 4 train wave that lasted us until dark.  The Z SSECHC6, which was the third of this group, did a pick up of fruit at Quincy before heading for Spokane.  Our last train of the day ended up being a westbound S LPCTAC.  Unfortunately nothing else moved on the hill until Amtrak 8 passed through.  Now that I count we only caught 5 different trains throughout the day.  I guess that is more typical for Stevens.


The pole line is still in place east of Quincy, Wa..  With PTC on the horizon who knows how much longer it will be here to frame photographs.

Up next, the last day…

The End of 8th Street

Sunday was the last day Vancouver’s 8th St. railroad crossing was open for auto traffic.  BNSF and the City of Vancouver are closing the crossing as part of the larger rail project to improve freight transit through town.  For now 8th St. will close and traffic will detour over the adjacent Jefferson St. crossing.  With 8th St. closed BNSF can remove the shoofly used to route rail traffic around the 6th St. and Esther St. underpass construction sites.  With the shoofly gone contractors can resume work connecting up 6th St. with 7th St. using the underpass.  Once that connections opens Jefferson St. will close leaving only 11th St. with an at grade crossing.  From what I can read on the City’s website by the end of 2013 the underpass will be in use and Jefferson St. will close.

8th St. was always a unique spot.  In 1993 when I first moved to town it was the first crossing I crossed in search of trains.  Looking north/west I was impressed by all the signals and railroad infrastructure visible from that spot.  I still remember that as one of my first impressions of Vancouver railroading.  Who knew at that point I’d cross that same crossing hundreds of times and that it would eventually close?

Stop sign all lit up at Eigth St.8th St. Westbound.  Stop.

8th St. hosted one of the most interesting crossing signals around.  It looked like most normal crossing flashers but it had the “Stop” bar below the regular flashing lights.  While this wasn’t a wig-wag it still made this crossing very unique.  This arrangement lasted until the crossing was rebuilt in early 2011 with the shoofly installation.  At that time modern gates and flashers went into service.

To celebrate the last day of the crossing being open I shot a couple of trains including the M-SPOLVJ and the Empire Builder.  In the Empire Builder image it is clear materials and equipment are in place for tomorrow’s closing.  So long 8th St!


M-SPOLVJ crosses 8th St. Sunday Morning.  In less than 24 hours this view will not be possible.

Amtrak Empire Builder train 27.

Amtrak’s Empire Builder crosses 8th St.  Equipment and materials are staged for tomorrow’s closing.


Happy New Year!

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Montana December 2012

 BNSF’s Shelby-Laurel manifest train blows through downtown Stanford, Mt. on a cold December morning.  The snow which fell on Christmas eve lingers around town thanks to temperatures which hover near zero.

Happy New Year!  Yep, it is now 2013 in the Pacific Time Zone.

How was your 2012?  Mine was pretty good. In January last year I published my thoughts about where I would go in 2012.  From the looks of it I accomplished 5 of my 7 railfan photography goals for the year.  Here’s my summary:

– Watch for snow in the Columbia River Gorge.  Last year was a bust hopefully this year will be positive. (Met)
– MLK holiday railfanning somewhere in the area. (Met)
– Montana at spring break.  I’m looking forward to another visit to Central Montana, this time while the snow is still around. (Met)
– GorgeRail in May.  I’ve signed up to be a presenter, so make sure you can find your way there. (Not met, however I did present at Autumn Leaf in October)
– Hot Rails/Gaynor Campout in July or August.  I’ve passed on a couple of trips to Stevens Pass lately so this will get me back up there again. (Not Met thanks to family obiligations)
– Autumn Leaf in October.  I think I enjoy fall best in the Northwest so this should be a good time as always. (Met)
– I have a few weeks of vacation to use this year so I’m sure there will be more. (Met)

Moving on to 2013 I can see some similar items on the horizon.

– Repair my 70-200mm lens in January.
– Tracks in the Snow in February.
– GorgeRail in May.
– Hot Rail/Gaynor Campout in the summer.  This year I have a chance to make it since we don’t have a huge family event planned
– Autumn Leaf in October.
– September may contain a visit to Canada.  Plans for this were just discussed today so this is very tentative.

On top of the usual I need to assign myself a photography project.  I have some thoughts but I need to think through the ideas and get plans put together.

What plans do you have for 2012?