View Full Version : A morning off, 13 miles, and a Class III

11-09-2004, 04:08 AM
Okay, I think I'm on the pulse of what this site wants, what in longs for, what it needs: a fully detailed account of one railfan's journey chasing a local Class III railroad across the plains of Oklahoma!! The railroad in this case is the Hollis & Eastern, which operates over 13 miles of track between Duke, OK (pop. <1000) and Altus, OK.

Thanks to the scheduling gods, I was given the morning off with all training slated for after lunch. I awoke from a dream of when I had easy access to Class I railroads right at 0630. The forecast was for 'Partly Cloudy' (I have a degree in meteorology, and I still don't know what that means!), and when I looked out of my window, it looked a little more overcast than anything. But I figured, "What the heck, I'll head out."

My main goal was to capture the HE 8170 on a neat little wood trestle as it leaves Duke. I was in place by 0810, and made sure the angle was exactly as I wanted it. Magically, the sun decided to come out right as I got there. As I was waiting for the train to leave the American Gypsum plant (I could see the lights several miles down the line), I had a strange sensation that I was being watched. I looked over my left shoulder and saw three horses down the bank and about a hundred yards away staring directly at me. No big deal. Back to the train, but he still wasn't coming. That sixth sense was still in high gear, and I glanced back at the horses, and they were standing in the same manner as they were previously, but this time, they were only about fifty yards away. Hmm. Check the train, nothing. Back to the horses. 30 yards, still staring. Well, this time I was going to catch them sneaking up on me. As I went to check on the train, I quickly snapped my head around and caught them inching forward. When they saw me whip around, they stopped dead in their tracks. To an outside observer, I'm sure we would have looked like something out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon!!!

But then the horn blew and the horses scattered; HE 8170 was beginning its 13 mile trek. A hi-rail pulled up to the grade crossing of Hwy 62 and the two occupants got out and flanked the grade with handheld 'Stop' paddles to stop the speeding traffic. At 0823, the sun was right, the postion was right, and I was able to get the photo I've been plotting for about a month

I walked back to my car and started east to the tiny town of Victory, about 9 miles away. With a speed limit on Hwy 62 of 70mph, I was easily able to get far ahead of HE 8170. In fact, I was so far ahead, I had ample time to 'set the scene.' There was quite a bit of wild wheat growing up right next to the track, and knowing about the 'foreground clutter rule,' I decided to put some size 10.5 boots to work. While waiting, I felt I was being watched again. This time it was a dog, but there were no Tom & Jerry theatrics this time as he scurried away. Being isolated in the fields of Oklahoma, you can hear an old Geep chugging from miles away. At 0858 (35 minutes later, 9 miles!), HE 8170 passed an old, abandoned grain silo and I was waiting

Back in the car and back east to Altus. I wanted to get a shot as he hit the diamond, but a local had approached me and told me about some criminal activity in the area, and I decided to leave that spot. I went over to the yard a half mile away (not far, but Altus isn't that big, you know? I figure crime's pretty localized), and was fortunate to get a spectacular sky as HE 8170 neared its destination at 0930

One last spot that I wanted waited for me at the Navajoe St. grade crossing. As I got set up, I noticed a hand-painted sign by one of the neighboring houses that read: "1998: Cars 0, Trains 1." I feel bad for the person that got hit by the sloth-like movement of the old H&E Geep! At 0945, no one got hit as HE 8170 crushed the grade crossing at the end of its journey

And there's where my day's railfanning ended. Hollis & Eastern delivered another load of wallboard to Altus to be picked up by BNSF later that night. And tomorrow, the whole operation will be repeated again.

Now I know this may seem like small marbles to those of you spoiled by your local Class I, but when Hollis & Eastern is the only game in town, you learn to love it. Besides, when was the last time you got stalked by horses?

11-09-2004, 09:03 AM
The forecast was for 'Partly Cloudy' (I have a degree in meteorology, and I still don't know what that means!)

That's mostly sunny to a pessimistic weatherman. :lol:

Nice shots!

E.M. Bell
11-09-2004, 03:47 PM
great report ween...nice to see someone else use the trip reports forum fo ra change!...

11-10-2004, 05:11 AM
great report ween...nice to see someone else use the trip reports forum fo ra change!...

Amen, brother!

08-04-2006, 04:10 PM
Nice report Chris.I really like this railroad H&E.

08-04-2006, 10:58 PM
Exelent shots and report, Ween!

08-06-2006, 01:51 PM
Nice work! Excellent use of a TDY. The mental image of the horses stalking you is hilarious. Too funny. Beautiful shots.

EDIT: Oops. This was the "old" report. The horses are still funny....