MRL Trip Report - Part 3

Brian Ambrose

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Monday - May 7, 2001 (Day 3)

      A clear Monday morning greeted me as I left the motel at Plains, MT. The first thing I did was head east towards Paradise to check on the Paradise Local. At the west end of the siding there I noticed the signals were green for a westbound. At the depot I saw the local with 2 MRL GP9's unattended. So I continued east to find that westbound. As I drove between Paradise and St Regis a very large cloud appeared and darkened the area. I soon heard the dispatcher give a warrent to the BN 6372 West coming at Superior. This must be my westbound. I drove into St Regis with the plan of shooting him passing the "shorty" semaphores there. The blade was already down as I parked under I-90. As I walked to the signals I could hear the westbound coming. Then I watched as that cloud dissipated and the sun came out brightly! The train rounded the curve and rolled on by at 0703. A green BN SD40-2 was leading BNSF 1080 on the H-KCKPAS. Then back to the car and after him.

      Past Toole I heard the St Regis detector go off. What's this? A surprise westbound?! So I set up at MP 2086 (another semaphore) and waited. Then a cloud moved over the sun and just sat there. About to give it up when as I heard the train coming it moved off. (It doesn't always work that way) This was the H-MEMPAS with BN 6372/BNSF 6937. So what was that BN SD40-2 on the first train? I had just figured it was the 6372. After getting the film processed I found out it was the BN 8024! I wasn't even paying attention to the number when it passed. After the shot was taken at 0740 I followed him to Paradise and could also hear the local getting a warrent to go east after the westbounds arrival.

      At 0900 the MRL 131/109 started east with 14 cars. His first work was at St Regis and while this went on I headed to my shot at MP 1905. A fairly decent sun angle so it was just a matter of waiting. A bit later the semaphore dropped showing he was on the move. I set up and got the shot. Success! Then I continued after him getting a second shot at the bridge just east of Superior, also a very nice shot.

While the local worked at Cedars I drove west to the paired semaphores east of St Regis. My plan was to shoot the westbound local at the MP 1921 blades. At 1100 the westbound local showed up and I got a pretty nice telephoto. Also noted high clouds were coming in from the west. He had a quick pick up to make at St Regis and then it was off to Toole to meet the H-PASFTW with the LMX 8534 leading. So it was back to the semaphore at MP 1905 for another shot. This one I also telephoto'd to get the white sky out. The eastbound showed up at 1202 and had the LMX 8534/BNSF 3014/BNSF 105/BNSF 6726 and 101 cars.

      Knowing the LMX's are on borrowed time working for the BNSF I continued east for a last shot of the train. Just east of Westfall I set up on a knoll and got another nice telephoto. Then it was time to start back towards Sandpoint and Spokane. I had a 7pm flight home. From here to Sandpoint not a single train ran except for the Paradise local switching at Woodlin as I drove past. By Sandpoint the clouds had rolled in an well. After lunch at Sandpoint I started south. An eastbound grain empty went by at Algoma, ID but I didn't even bother shooting it. All the way to Rathdrum (missed an eastbound this time between Ramsey & Rathdrum) and into Spokane without catching any trains. Got to the Spokane Airport at 6:15 for my 7pm flight which went pretty fast. So another MRL trip is under my belt and this one was pretty good. Shot three new semaphores and catching that BNSF 546 made the trip! I think this calls for another MRL trip in July or August. But first I have a ten day outing this June to Minnesota/North Dakota chasing after the BNSF. Now THAT will be a trip! I hope you have all enjoyed this trip report and much as I have had telling it.

BN #6372 West at MP 2086 between St. Regis and Paradise, MT on 5-7-01.
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MRL #109 West at the MP 1921 semaphores on 5-7-01.
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LMX #8534 East at the MP 1905 semaphore on 5-7-01.
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