MRL Trip Report

Saturday - May 5, 2001 (Day 1)

      Saturday - May 5, 2001 (Day 1) With the intention of photographing semaphores under better weather conditions than my February trip back to the MRL in Western Montana (the word "sun" was rarely mentioned) I headed back for another three days this past weekend. What I did different was leave Saturday morning and head home Monday night. This was so I could catch the MRL Paradise Local on its Monday morning run.

      My Horizon flight from Seattle left at 9am and had me in Spokane, WA right around 10am. Getting off the plane I noticed clear blue skies up above but clouds lined up on all four horizons. After picking up my rental car I headed out to Cheney, just west of Spokane as the clouds advanced. This was another variation as normally I head straight for the funnel. My plan was to catch some BNSF on the Spokane-Pasco line and maybe see some trains on the nearby parallel UP line.

      The clouds arrived in Cheney as I did. I waited by the depot and the first train I missed was a UP eastbound. I was on the BNSF side and by the time I realized what it was, it was going by. 2 UP C40-8's so I didn't feel to bad. Soon another horn, but this one was BNSF and it was the V-PTLBRC headed east with BNSF 4371/ATSF 931 and all autoracks. Photographed it at 1130. Sun was actually out too. Got nailed by a cloud though at 1155 when BNSF H-KCKPAS came by westbound with BNSF 6918/BN 6850/BNSF 4381. Determined to get a shot of this train in sunshine I followed it as far as Sprague, WA and managed to get a couple of decent shots of it.

      It met an eastbound Z-PTLCHC at Sprague about 1240 with BNSF 5467/5441 which I followed back to Babb siding where the Z met a westbound grain train at 1330 with BNSF 1063/4859 up front. BNSF 4522 was pushing on the rear as DPU. Not too bad so far.

      Then it was back to Cheney to get lunch. I decided to eat by the tracks so I headed east of town where I found Anderson Road which heads down to the BNSF at MP 14. It had a nice curve for westbounds. I knew that as one was going by when I arrived! So I settled down to eat and moments later saw a headlight coming towards me. Another westbound was close behind the one I'd missed. So I got the shot after all. This looked like the P-LAUPTL and had ATSF 653/BNSF 6489/6307 for power and was by at 1415.

      Now it was time to head east towards the funnel. It wasn't till I got to Hauser, ID before even seeing a train. A westbound coal load with BNSF 8908/9745 up front and BNSF DPU's 9919/748 on the rear raced by at 1538. Missed 2 more westbounds between Rathdrum and Ramsay, ID where the highway is away from the tracks. You can hear the detector but not see the trains! Past Athol and on north towards Sandpoint, ID. I could see VERY dark clouds up ahead which would bring some showers to Sandpoint.

      Near Algoma I intercepted a westbound grain train with BNSF 1098/4801 leading. I turned around and headed back to Granite, ID where I set up and waited. It is cloudy when I arrive but soon the sun pops out from under the clouds just before sunset. I actually get the shot as the train comes around the curve before the sun goes away for the evening. This train was by at 1835. DPU's shoving on the rear were the ATSF 897/BNSF 4925 and a shot of this train is included. Then it was on to Sandpoint for the night. Tomorrow will bring Sunday in Montana and the MRL.


BNSF #4371 East (Autorack train) at Cheney, WA on 5-5-2001.
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BNSF #6918 West at Sprague, WA on 5-5-2001.
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ATSF #653 West at Anderson Road east of Cheney, WA located at MP 14.3 on 5-5-2001.
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BNSF #1098 West at Granite, ID on 5-5-2001.
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