Wednesday, July 11, 2007
1981 Trip, Day 9: To Lincoln in search of the U25B!
BN Nebraska division 1981: lots of small towns with local
switchers, like SD9 6170 at Fairmont. . .
June 14: We awoke under a slight schmutz of cirrus overhead. Trusty COMPASS printouts from the Denver roundhouse in hand, we were happily headed east towards Lincoln, Nebraska, maintenance base for the wheezing four-motor GE relics BN still had on its system. I was happy, at least. Marc. . .well, he didn't care much for BN, cared little for the flat lands, and his enthusiasm for GE locomotives was even lower than that.
But onward we went! Burlington Northern in 1981 was still a railroad operated with a lot of local switchers, yard jobs, clerks, and locomotives at outlying terminals. We photographed local power along the mainline at Holdredge, Hastings and Fairmont, places where branch lines still met the main and local turns originated. We took note of ex-Q SD9 6170 at Fairmont, tied down on the "Wymore main" parallel of the Lincoln mainline. Then it was into Lincoln. Now, to say I was unprepared for Lincoln is putting it mildly. I had no idea where the big yard in town was--but how tough could it be? Ha! We drove around aimlessly, finding the passenger depot, and, east of town, the big ex-Q car shop at Havelock. Before we could track down where BN's major terminal was (north and west, by the way, from the passenger depot), we saw a southbound train departing towards Table Rock.
Nirvana! U30B lead 5471 leads a southbound out of Carling yard. . .
. . .and ex-GN U25B 5408 chuffs away. I could've hugged it!. . .
We had no idea where this train was going (towards Table Rock, where it would enter the St. Joe sub towards Kansas City), and we really didn't have very good maps, but we managed to follow him around 30 miles across the corn fields of eastern Nebraska, getting one more shot of him east of Sterling at 1630, nicely lit by a break in the storm clouds. Storm clouds? Oh yeah. The area was under a Tornado Watch, and somewhere in the area, a Tornado Warning was out. Where? We had no clue. Marc was less than thrilled by this, being a Puget Sound native where thunderstorms are rare and tornadoes just don't happen. Somewhere near Beatrice, we got a room in a motel and watched the TV news spew out storm warnings the rest of the day.
Leave the Rockies to watch trains in the plains? Are you crazy? Maybe so.