July 2011 Local Action

Photos by Dave Ingles

These first photos of the month were made on the afternoon of Sat., July 2nd, after the funeral services for 40-year friend Chuck Porter of Oconomowoc, Wis., who passed away after a month in the hospital that began with nothing serious, but deteriorated into a series of complications. He was 79, a retired teacher, and a stalwart member of our local railroad slide gang; he and wife Pat had hosted outdoor picnics for the group each summer for 25 years, in the home next to the former Milwaukee Road tracks. Relaxing at home in the afternoon, I got a call from friend Terry Norton of Grayslake, Ill., who lives by the CN (former Soo Line and WC) tracks, that a northbound train had passed his place with an EJ&E SD38-2 in the lead. We gave the train an hour's lead time and then headed into Waukesha to add to my "rare things by the Waukesha depot" series, and didn't have all that long to wait before the train, we think #335, came by at 1550 hours. Trailing units are 2301/5776, the usual ho-hum stuff. He had 135 cars. Hiding in the bushes on the right on the "tie-up" track is our current Waukesha local engine for job L504, GTW rebuilt Geep 4616 in CN paint. Waukesha may be the last and only place now on the former Wisconsin Central where a local unit ties up each night next to an in-service old depot building.

The star today is the "Devil's Engine," #666, last seen by the photgrapher as a yard engine in Fulton, Ky., on May 21st (see "Paducah Rare-Mileage Trip" file).

We scooted up to Duplainville and got a good action shot at Weyer Rd., MP 104.5, at 1605 hours. He was wasting no time. I'd bet #666 was bound for a set-off someplace to be a local engine; a few of these have seen such service in central Wisconsin since CN took over the J.

We were about to head home, having learned nothing on Amtrak's automated call-in line about the status of #807 -- no report from Chicago, Glenview, or Milwaukee, nothing, whereas #808 had been fully reported. But as we crossed the CP after the EJ&E unit caper, there was a headlight, and here came #807 spot-on-time at 1615 with 125/199 and 5 cars, this time with the lounge smack in the middle position. This was our last photo until Monday.

On America's birthday, I knew that "America's Hogger," Craig Willett, was running the mini-Empire Builder, aka "America's Train," from Winona to Milwaukee, so Carol and I thought it appropriate to go to Pewaukee's Oakton Ave. crossing, where there is usually an American flag flying close enough to the tracks to include in a photo. Mission accomplished at 1333 hours, spot-on-time if not a minute or two early.
Moreover, PV Sierra Hotel was on the rear end. Only one unit was motive power, not the usual thing, but turns out that on #807 the day before, Craig said their lead unit developed flat wheels and had to be set out in Milwaukee. The rear unit was facing east, so they left it for Hiawatha #340, and took the unit, #140, that was going to trail toward Chicago on #340, as their power, as it was pointed west. I don't know if the unit for #340 pulled the train to Chicago ahead of the NPCU, or pushed it, nose-forward, at the rear. There's more: Later I learned that Mr. Willett (Sr.) was "firing" (i.e.,. calling signals) in this photo, as his son Scott, on the Extra Board, was the engineer today! It's a process called "Turning the Board," wherein Extra Board engineers sometimes take a job that already has an engineer.

We were ready to go home after Amtrak, but radio talk alerted us that CP #276 would take siding at Nashotah to let #280 run around him, so off we went. The bottom line was, within an hour's time, we got three CP trains, EACH with three SD40-2's, not a single "modern unit" on any of 'em. Sure, 5 of the 9 were leasers, and many of 'em looked their age, but if you consider the SD40-2 as "America's diesel" of the second generation, it was a banner day. Here is #276 in the siding, just having set the brakes east of the old depot in Nashotah, at 1415 hours. Engines are CITX 3170/IC&E 6454/CITX 3074; he had 115 cars, and all 3 units were working.

Here comes #280, behind CP 5947/NREX 823 (ex-CP), and CITX 3036 (ex-BNSF), with 93 cars, at 1427--six SD40-2's in one shot!

Only the lead unit seemed to be working on #280. Also, #276 was restricted to 25 mph, but the crew never did answer when #280's crew asked them why.

East at Vettleson Road in Delafield, 1430 hours.

Here comes #276 at Vettleson at 1441.

Meantime, an ethanol empty, #643, was waiting at Pewaukee for both trains. We got clouded for the repeat on #276 here, but no matter--the going-away shot at 1500 hours once again has six SD40-2's in one view!

At 1507, #643 heads out behind CP 5917/ICE 6362/HLCX 7003 (ex-BN). I learned from friend Greg McDonnell, who has retired to a penthouse-level condo overlooking the CP Toronto-Detroit's mainline bridge over the Grand River in Cambridge (former Galt), Ontario, that he had seen this very train a day or three before. He dug up the following information. This train passed Galt (station still called that by CP) at 1451 hours on Sat., July 2nd, as empty train 643-819 that had unloaded at Albany, N.Y., on CP's D&H. It was destined to Lawler, which I quickly Googled to be on the IC&E (old MILW) in northern Iowa, between Calmar and Webster City. The trainset had come east "ex-TCWR J'ville," which we think is Janesville, Minn., on the DM&E between Waseca and Mankato, but the "TCWR" doesn't add up as the Twin Cities & Western would not be involved. The IC&E hopper (apparently ex-IMRL) behind the units is the required empty "buffer car" between motive power and units on any ethanol train.

Remember the July 4th shot above of Amtrak #808 at Pewaukee with one unit? The story was that on #807 the day before, engineer Craig Willett said their lead unit developed flat wheels and had to be set out in Milwaukee. Their rear unit was facing east, so they left it for Hiawatha #340, and took unit #140, which was going to trail toward Chicago on #340, as their power, because it was pointed west. Our old friends P40's 816 and 815 were involved, and moreover, on July 6, when we dropped off friend Rick Moser to get Hiawatha #336, there sat the disabled flat-wheeled unit west of the depot, wheel(s) apparently too flat to move. (Incidentally, Mr. Willett reported that the unit they left behind for #340 was handled at the rear of the train for Chicago, as normal, its nose pointed into the end of the rear coach.) Adjacent to unit 816 was a flatbed truck with a replacement wheelset, awaiting the arrival of work forces and a portable crane to lift 816 to do the replacement right here!

On July 8, we took a break to go highball Mr. Willett west on #807, approaching Duplainville at 1615 on-time, and waving his timetable as customary.

Amtrak had to hold briefly at Pewaukee end of two main tracks for CP #280, engines 8781/Soo 6045, so we went to Brookfield to maximize the effect of the backlighting at MP 101, at 1622 hours.

For 3 or 4 days, the touring Farmers Insurance zeppelin was moored at Timmerman Field, the general aviation airport in northwestern Milwaukee, giving short rides ($375 a pop) to interested people, so we drove up there on Sat. morning, July 9, found a parking spot in a Walgreen's lot just across the fence from the airship, and made these photos. The N704LZ is the only active true zeppelin in the U.S., different than a "blimp" structurally. We were there about 45 minutes, watching, and eventually a van drove up with 8 passengers, who climbed aboard at 1140 a.m. and took off south, to circle Miller Park (baseball stadium) and downtown Milwaukee (lakefront, summer festival grounds).

A military chopper was practicing dropping riders down a rope, as if on a "drop" or rescue mission.

Here come the passengers for the day's first trip.

The cabin holds 12; we think we counted 8, plus crew. The shuttle van from the airport terminal is driving away.


On the way home from Timmerman, we heard on the scanner about a westbound CP train leaving Milwaukee with someone else's road number, so we hustled out to Duplainville, first encountering CP #282 with Soo 6031/CITX 3121/CP 6051, 85 cars, 1215 pm.

The westbound turned out to be #281, the "Ford train," with NS power, 8397/9164 (lead unit ex-Conrail), 81 cars, 1221 hours.

On Wed., July 13, we were alerted by phone to the next appearance of an Amtrak Heritage P42, again No. 66 and again on a Hiawatha trainset, this time in sunnier weather than the first time. We went to Grange Ave. overpass north of the Airport station to wait for the train, and first got CP #198, the stack train, leaving for Chicago with 8822/8538 at 1527 hours.

The people on the platform were waiting to catch #338 for Chicago, due at 1510 hours. They were not aware -- no p.a. setup in this depot, apparently -- that the trainset wasn't even into Milwaukee yet, here at 1527 hours.

At 1529 hours, 50-minute late Hiawatha #335 showed up, with the promised Heritage No. 66 on the point.  Signal problems in the morning at Sturtevant had caused the delay to this trainset on an earlier Hiawatha, which rippled thru the day; the other set was running on-time. In this photo, the overpass visible is Route 119, the airport freeway spur off I-94. We tried to imagine the crew on #335 here saying to the waiting passengers, something to the effect of, "See you in 30 minutes. We'll be back."

Right on #335's heels was #807, 127/42, 5 cars, at 1533 hours. He undoubtedly was in the MKE depot at the same time as the Hiawatha, probably on Track 4. Normally the Builders use Track 1, and if it's late, a Hiawatha will use Track 4, but with the Hiawatha running so late, radio talk indicated they used Track 1 for a quicker turnaround and put the Builder on Track 4, which involves a long walk for passengers down and up ramps and thru a tunnel beneath the tracks.

Scanner talk seemed to reveal that this crew, and ground inspectors at the depot in MKE, indeed expedited the turnaround, and the trainset was back at the Airport station -- 6 miles out of downtown -- in just about 30 minutes, meaning a 10-minute layover in MKE to unload, load, reverse ends, make a brake-test, and go. Routine in Europe, but not in America! For the return trip, we went a half mile south of the Airport station, on the ground below the College Ave. overpass, at Lake Interlocking, for these shots of #338 at 1600 hours.

Since we were down on CP's C&M Sub, the Amtrak route, we thought to hang around for the other Hiawatha set, and parked at Oakwood, MP 72.7, site of the detector you see here, and were surprised by this westbound coal train behind CP 5975/IC&E 6421, with 113 cars, at 1618 hours. I took this grab shot because I "cain't hep misseff," itchy shutter-finger syndrome. Hey, they're SD40-2's!

Six minutes later #337 showed up around the curve, engine 35, 6 cars, cab control 90413, at 1624 hours. With no other action known imminent, we hit the freeway, figuring to get the coal train again west of the city.

Sure enough, even with moderate rush-hour traffic and this coal train doing pretty well going thru Milwaukee without delay, we had between 5 and 10 minutes to wait at Brookfield station, MP 99.5 or so, for this repeat photo at 1712 hours.

An eastbound, CP #2/282, had been holding at Duplainville for a CN to cross, but he hadn't started up after a few minutes following the coal train's passage, so we gave up and drove over there. He had two red GE's, backlit, and we didn't sweat not getting a photo. Likewise, we found the CN, #335 up at Duplainville siding making a setout, with ho-hum dirty GE and GM power, so didn't even expose a frame, and went home for dinner.

After a week's inactivity following the Quad Cities Train Festival (see separate file), the unexpected appearance of BNSF detours through our area got us trackside for the last weekend of July. BNSF suffered major washouts on its Aurora Sub at Savanna, Ill., and between there and East Dubuque, Ill., where a foot of rain in some places wreaked havoc on both the BNSF and CN's Illinois Central Iowa Division line. BNSF sent a few hot intermodal trains between the Twin Cities and Chicago via the CN and CP, more on the latter. On Friday the 29th, we went out in the afternoon, leading off with Amtrak #8, the Empire Builder, which had resumed full Seattle/Portland-Chicago service about a week before. Here it is at Pewaukee at 4:35, almost 3 hours late, behind engines 95 and 4 with 12 cars, including a rear St. Paul-Chicago coach. Slow orders and congestion in North Dakota still plague the route.

CP train #280 was behind the Builder, having been run around at a passing siding to the west, here passing MP 101 in western Brookfield behind 8833/8767 with 91 cars at 5:21 p.m.

Friend Craig Willett is at the throttle, waving his timetable as usual, on Amtrak #7, engines 158/15, at 5:30, a full 1:15 late, also at MP 101. Late arrivals of #8 in Chicago have meant late departures of #7 the following day. The Builders met somewhere around Wauwatosa.

On the back, the last two coaches from the Milwaukee 261 group's fleet, returning deadhead to the Twin Cities after being used on the Quad Cities Train Festival excursions.

With a BNSF detour approaching from the west -- almost directly backlit at this time of day -- we searched for a "good" angle spot, "practicing" on CP #394, engines 8716/8789, with 79 cars, at MP 100 in Brookfield, about 3/4 mile west of the station, at 7:02 p.m. By this time of day, the sun had swung north of true east-west just a bit.

Ultimately, the mosquitoes here forced us back toward Duplainville.

With the sun glint, you can hardly pick this out as a BNSF train, but the long string of intermodal trailers is a tip, as CP only runs stacks, and not many of those, either. This is at Springdale Road, just east of Duplainville -- you can see the home signal for westbounds at far right if you look closely. Units are 4628/4726/615, with 110 wells or half-flatcars, at 7:15 p.m. A westbound was allegedly to be called out of Bensenville at 5 p.m., but he didn't make it to Milwaukee before total darkness.

Saturday morning, we were out mid-morning with high hopes for detours, but it was not to be. First, at Duplainville, a northbound CN train with trilevels up front, behind 5703/2138, with 115 cars, at 11:04 a.m. Note the rust on the CN-CP connection track in the foreground, which these days sees only the occasional coke train.

Almost home, I heard by scanner approaching Duplainville an eastbound ethanol train, CP #634, for which I raced east on I-94 into Wauwatosa. I got there in time, but he snuck up on me, so only a going-away on digital--units DM&E 6069/NREX (ex-CP) 5661/NREX (ex-BN) 8099, at 11:57 a.m.

After lunch when we returned to Duplainville, we just missed shooting CP #276, the DM&E train, seeing it with two IC&E blue units and a CP red SD40 with 85 cars at 2:58 p.m. We deliberately ignored a southbound CN freight with two 5700's and a 2400, at 3:09, and then this CP eastbound came along, 9604/9506, at 3:14 p.m.

This train, CN #446, had a CN-IC rebuilt switcher as 4th unit at Neenah in early morning, but he shed the switcher at Fond du Lac, and here he is along Duplainville siding at 3:54 p.m., engines 5687/8861/UP 6743, with 122 cars.

CN #446 kept to the main, and CN #335 took to the siding to set out 41 cars for the Waukesha area. Here he is creeping along the siding at MP 103 at 3:48 p.m., engines 2259/2600, still with a total of 148 cars.

CN #446 is crawling toward the home signal at 3:52, which he'll get since Amtrak #7 is running just a little late (due by Duplainville at 4:15).

Crossing the CP diamonds at  3:58 or so.

Running only about 10 minutes late, #7 is by Duplainville at 4:24 with engines 25/4 and again 12 cars.

En route home, we hear of a CN northbound, and it's #441, with NS 6689/IC 1019 and 122 cars, passing the Waukesha depot at 4:40 p.m.

Advance word for Sunday on BNSF detours was possibly one on CN, and three on CP, all scheduled to be through our area, given the call times at Bensenville, Ill., and Portage, Wis., after noontime. Well, on the railroad things change, and I got a call about 8:55 a.m. to get to Duplainville pronto, as a westbound had just left Milwaukee --- once again, about as backlit as you could not wish for. I did so, having less than 5 minutes before his appearance at 9:11 behind units 1066/1071/CN 2521.

A necessary gas station stop kept me from going straight home, which was to my advantage as an eastbound train hit the detector -- here he is, a coal train with CSX power, units 5457/7588 (still in stealth gray -- there can't be many left like that), with 73 cars at 9:32.

Trackside observers in Neenah confirmed a BNSF detour was southbound on CN, up there around 715 a.m., so we were alert, but the first southbound was this one, CN 8893/NS 6689, with 95 cars, by Waukesha depot at 10:28. The NS unit is the same one that led the IC unit the evening before, so he obviously turned back at Fond du Lac.

Our local, CN #L504, was to follow him south, with 9451 and 10 cars at 10:42.

Back to Duplainville, but the D70 misfired, as it does sometimes, on the approaching shot of CP #281, so here's the going-away, 8751/IC&E 6444, 98 cars, 11:11 a.m.

I had decided, with morning sun angles not good in Waukesha to show a long intermodal consist, to get the BNSF detour at Duplainville, and confirmed his presence before CP #281 actually showed up (the interlocking was lined for him well in advance). So here is the BNSF guy, starting up from the home signal, units 5408/NS 2618, with 103 wells or half-flats, at 11:18 a.m. At least he's not backlit!

A slow order had been put in on CP for two rough grade crossings in Pewaukee, so I headed west to try again on CP #281, making it to Nashotah West, near Oconomowoc, but with seconds to spare, so still no digital coming-on shot. He had met CP #290 at Nashotah, so I raced back to get him at the Lakeside crossing, site of the MP 108.2 detector you see here, with 69 cars behind engines 9622/9621, at 11:59 a.m. With such "blah" motive power, I skipped any repeat shots east of the slow order and headed home. No one called to report any more BNSF detours, so this concluded my local rail photo action for July 2011.

This page was designed and is maintained by Mike Condren. If you have materials
that you would like to contribute, contact me at mcondren@cbu.edu