June 2016
Local Highlights

Photos by Dave Ingles

Having returned from the 10-day “Front-Range Explorers” odyssey on June 7th, I had 3 frames left on the Provia 100 slide film in the N90, and resolved to finish the roll the next day, June 8. I knew the 5 “Friends of the 261” cars we saw parked at St. Paul Midway station the day before, were due to be coming east on Amtrak #8 on the 8th, and I figured that would be my slide target. Eventually it was, but the weather was nice so I went out in the afternoon anyway because, wouldn’t you know it, #8 was running several hours late, and had a BNSF freight engine on the front, which meant it would keep losing time. So until and if I could shoot that in daylight, I went digital-only, first on a routine Amtrak #7 and then a CN stack train before catching CN L504 headed across the Duplainville diamond, bound for Waukesha, at 5:02 p.m. Still with us, since early May, was blue GTW GP38-2 5856, built as Rock Island 4374, among 43 GTW siblings of various ancestry: original GTW 5812-5836; P&LE (GTW 5844-5849); DW&P (GTW 5850-5853); and RI (5854-5861). It is believed to be the only one to receive Operation Lifesaver lettering. CN is unpredictable on L504’s assigned unit. Sometimes one will stay just a few days, but 5856 was still here as June turned to July. As regular viewers of this website may recall, Waukesha-based L504 also has had ex-IC, GM&O, and DT&I GP38 family units assigned, plus some occasional original CN units.

The eastbound “Builder” would wind up racing sunset to us, but with the long-daylight days, the sun had swung north of the east-west legs of CP’s main line, so after supper we went to Mitchell Park in Brookfield, at MP 100 just east of the Fox River, and parked on the park south entrance road north of River Road (which parallels the tracks for a mile). We were rewarded first with CP #289, which went by at 6:28 p.m. behind NS 6978/CP 9367.

Almost an hour later, we finally heard #8 whistling for Duplainville and the two crossings to the east of there, Springdale and Barker roads. He passed us at 7:23, about 5 hours 45 minutes behind schedule. BNSF 4574 led Amtrak 76/87 and 16 cars, the usual 11 plus 261’s five cars including PV “Lambert’s Point,” the only one not in old MILW orange and maroon. Later we’d learn these were for some kind of Milwaukee-based charter, but they either were for a stationary event or ran only on the Chicago side of Milwaukee, not out our direction. I did shoot my final 3 slide frames, interspersed among the digitals below. I did go out the next afternoon, assuming one of the P42s on #8 had gone lame and so #7 would have different units . . . but that was not the case, 76/67 were again the power, so I don’t know why the BNSF unit was present.

Our next outing was on Sunday, June 12, when we chased NKP 2-8-4 on the Wisconsin  & Southern to Janesville — see separate file. Four days later, I lucked into a different angle in town for CN’s afternoon southbound stack train, at Carroll Avenue where the main line slips thru a couple of residential blocks with not much room between homes and tracks: engines 8830/2105 at 3:35 p.m.

Amtrak #8 came by on Sat., June 18, with a deadhead Superliner behind units 201/60 and PV “Puget Sound” on the rear, making for a 13-car train, close to on-time at 1:45. I was positioned at Oakton Ave. in Pewaukee to show how CP has rehabbed the old industry siding there, inserting some new ties. Trackwork all through the Pewaukee–Duplainville–Brookfield area had resulted in hundreds of ties being unloaded from 10 or so DM&E gondolas in piles along the main line east of this crossing, basically shutting off a preferred local photo angle for me (better for westbounds) for weeks, not to mention the creosote smell that poisoned the neighborhood atmosphere. The flatcar is IMRL 100303, a family member from the old I&M Rail Link, the Kansas City line that reverted back to CP in the DM&E/IC&E absorption. By this time, the piles of ties were much reduced.

Here’s what happens when you’re asleep at the switch and get up to the Green Road crossing gates at Duplainville too late to get out of the van to shoot. The date is June 20, and it’s CN #446 (the NS connection, whatever its number is now) with 2906/2134/3026, at 1:32 p.m.

The next day at Duplainville, Tues., June 21, a motorist almost but not quite ruined my shot as I stepped out of the van on Marjean Lane to shoot CP #289, with ex-Soo SD60 6242 and NS 2700 up front, at 3:40 p.m.

At our quasi-regular local slide-group meeting that evening, Bob Baker reported that the two Amtrak Chicago-Milwaukee “Hiawatha” sets that day had been unusual, one with a Heritage P42 on each end, the other with a 500-class P32 on each end. Wednesday began mostly cloudy, and since it is often a grocery-shopping day for Carol, I drove her to her favorite Pewaukee market and is my custom, drove to the lakefront to park by the CP tracks in the interim. I got CP #470 with NS 9192/CP 8953 and 136 cars at 12:15, and left at my designated time, 12:30, just too soon, being unable to shoot a westbound grain empty with two CSX units.

With a free afternoon and the sky clearing a bit, I headed out — unavoidably just too late to hope to nab Hiawatha #336, the 1 p.m. MKE departure — for the “C&M” corridor, to shoot #338 and #337 regardless of what they had. I set up at the old Sturtevant depot site, and knew both “Empire Builders” were in the picture too, since #8 was running over an hour late, a mid- to late-June habit it had seemed to acquire. So I figured I’d get 4 trains, at least. But first, another two-unit CSX-led loaded grain train skunked me again! I was parked pointing south, to shoot Amtrak #7, when the Hwy. 11 bells and gates activated, but too late did I realize it was an eastbound freight, so all I could get coming-on was a slide, and this digital going-away: 7882/3217 at 3:20. Ya can’t win ‘em all.

Amtrak #7 dutifully came by 2 minutes later at 3:22, engines 147/170 and the usual 11 cars; sorry about the dumpster. The Builder soon was followed by a CP MofW truck heading for the yard office to tie up for the day, raising all sorts of dust on the road (we are south of CP’s property here).

The much-anticipated #338 was next, on time at 3:29, with Army Heritage unit 42 leading and 3-stripe #145 trailing. The MofW truck’s dust hadn’t totally cleared, but the sun was out good; I apologize for those “pipes,” but I concentrated on shooting a few 50mm-lens slides of each end, so the digital telephotos are a bit cluttered. At the far left is the southeast corner of the yard office, built on the site of the old “witch’s hat” depot, which now is in a county park about 4 miles to the northeast. The “gate” in left foreground is the entrance to CP’s property. Note the Amfleet car first back of 42 is lettered “Northeast Regional”; it’s just a coach, of course.

Right behind #338 at 3:34 came #8, engines 43/199 and the usual 11 cars. He was scheduled out of Milwaukee at 2:07, and it’s a 23-minute or so run to Sturtevant.

I had over an hour to wait for #337, so after making a “necessary” stop at the new Sturtevant station, and having no evidence of any CP freights in the area, I moseyed north, choosing Caledonia, a few miles closer to home, as my vantage point, as it’s a point where one can park back from the tracks a bit, on private property but a place where we’ve never encountered a problem. En route as I drove, just north of Franksville on Hwy. H about 3:50, an eastbound CP freight slipped by, under clouds, but I didn’t see the power. I parked at Caledonia and waited for #337, which came at 4:21 but with a P42, 35, up front, and P32 500 trailing. Why both “Hiawatha” sets had 7 cars instead of the usual 6 (Wisconsin pays for cars 5 and 6), I don’t know. Milwaukee’s big “Summerfest” music event week on the lakefront hadn’t yet started, but often a 7th car is added when needed. I would later learn that a grade-crossing incident the previous Saturday night, with the summer-only late-Saturday train #344 at Franksville, had resulted in the motorist (who drove around the lowered gates and didn’t survive) striking the train squarely between the NPCU (F40 conversion to cab control car) and the rearmost coach, separating the NPCU, so the ones assigned to the Hiawathas were at least temporarily sidelined for inspection (and repairs to the one). The sun had gone behind clouds for #337, so things worked out OK on the nicer Hiawatha “catch” being first and in sunlight. I headed for I-94 and then I-43 immediately thereafter, and was home around 5 p.m.

The next day, June 23, I went out to see Amtrak #8, running a few minutes late, go by, and cut the timing close. As I crossed CP at Springdale Rd., I glanced west and saw no headlight but I did see an “approach” signal on Track 1. I barely beat CP #281 across at Dupy before the gates activated, and basically jumped out of my van at the last second . . . and just before #8 zoomed by. Yes, the meet was almost in front of me, and #281 had five (!) units — 9839/9765/CEFX 1052/8720/9768, the rear one in fresh paint. Those units passed me first, at 2:11, and I didn’t have time to turn around before #8 flew past, units 188/60. This day marked the end for shooting at “Dupy” until the weeds are cut down or burned as happens every summer — unless it’s an “emergency,” of course.

Friday morning, June 24, the next day, I had an e-mail from Bob Gallegos that this day’s CP #289, allegedly nearing Milwaukee, was being led by a “KCS Belle” unit, a class I’ve had mediocre luck with, at best, even on one complete day on the KCS south of Kansas City. So I kept an eye on my home ATCS as the weather began to turn from clear sky to cloudy sky; no westbound CPs showed, but #289 is, I believe, worked in Muskego Yard in Milwaukee, so the delay wasn’t surprising. With Dupy’s weeds, we aimed for Brookfield, eventually, and went there ahead of Amtrak #8, running almost an hour late again, anticipating a possible meet with #289. We wound up on the city “dump and maintenance road” west of the depot on the south side, and listened for a horn in each direction. Amtrak was first, routine (and not worth posting) with units 41/76 at 3:01. I immediately left and went across the tracks, beyond the depot to the east, where on the north track it’s fairly clear (in front of the new apartments being built), and immediately here came #289, only 3 minutes after Amtrak, led by KCS 4597/NS 2700. If the 2nd unit seems familiar, it trailed an ex-Soo SD60 on #289 three days previous! The next day was East Troy Electric Railroad’s annual “Railfan Day,” and we spent some time shooting trolleys; that day is in a separate file.


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