View Full Version : 7.8 miles of tunnel, Canadians, and an assualt

10-06-2005, 09:35 PM
Location: Stevens Pass, WA. The line: BNSFs most north transcon. Objective: trains :-D

It started on a Thursday after school, as we had Friday off and camping season was coming to a close. Me and my friend shoved our camping gear into my Volvo wagon and headed for the pass. Time progresses as a few stacks with D9's dart by, barly worth a picture. There was some interesting action at Decpetion Falls [photoid=120099]

Enough with the west side. A train went into the Cascade Tunnel from the west and the chase begins. So we charged over the 4061' highway summit to the east protal of the Cascade Tunnel at 2800', where a chip train was stopped at Berne. From there, we went to the portal to get a shot [photoid=120110] Then back to the parked train to take some pics. We get there before the stack is done passing and the crew is doing a roll-by. As the stack passes, the unfriendly seeming crew says hi then goes back into the loco. About 10 sec later, the engineer opens the window and invites us up. We talked for about an hour until it was dark. They told us about some railfans that were east of them a couple of miles at the Nason Creek Bridge. So we leave in search of these railfans, but not before a picture [photoid=120200] .

Driving down the pass, we take the turn off to the bridge. We travled down the road and reached the bottom. We could see a camp fire in the distance. We pulled up and parked the car. Both the gents at the fire got up too, and very friendly introduced themselves as a couple of railfans from Vancouver BC. Theses guys were pretty hard core too. What a find! None of us stopped talking until about midnight. These guys were a scream.

Next day was pretty bad. Beautiful weather, but more importantly, no trains. Only 4 durning the day light hrs b/c of MoW work. Its never good to see a fleet of MoW equiptment go up the grade at 10am. But one last train we heard over the scanner. It was the hot UPS/Z train. Suddenly, here it comes! We position ourselves for the shot. As the train passes us, I am suddenly wet. Aparently, the engineer threw his water bottle at me [I contacted BNSF about this and they claimed they would "take action"]. How rude! [photoid=120046] Anywhoo, me and my friend left for Leavenworth to get some supplies. When we returned to camp, another railfan from Kent, WA, who knew the Canadians from previous railfanning adventures, was set up. So now we got 5, guys, about 10 cameras, and a really powerful scanner [we were getting detectors from 100 miles away!]. But by this time, tis night, so nothing else besides watching the passing trains by firelight.

The Builder came through a bit early the next morning. And from the chirping over the scanner, it was going to be a busy day! I was trying to eat breakfast, but had to keep putting down my oatmeal b/c trains just kept coming. We even had a loco that had already turned itself around [day 2: [photoid=120148] day 3: [photoid=120209].

As the trains kept coming, however it was time for us to go home. We bid our mulitnational group ado and headed back towards the Puget Sound. We even got a prefect race pacer to head west, an SD60M triclops on a V train! It was anohter great weekend of railfanning on Stevens Pass.

10-06-2005, 09:48 PM
Cool trip, must have been nice out there in the mountains.

Tip: use the form [photoid=xxxxx] for your pictures, and the thumbnails will show up right in your post! They are nice, show them off right away.

That night shot with the signals is neat.

10-06-2005, 09:52 PM
As the train passes us, I am suddenly wet. Aparently, the engineer threw his water bottle at me [I contacted BNSF about this and they claimed they would "take action"]. How rude!

Hmm. Was it this guy:


That dude leaned out and tossed a water bottle at me that landed near my feet. It was still sealed so I didn't get wet, but even though he never smiled or acknowledged me waving at him, I don't think his action was meant to be malicious. Just a gut feeling.

Anyone know if being tossed a bottled water is good or bad as a railfan?

PS I drank it a couple days later... ;)

10-06-2005, 09:59 PM
This guy was about to toss a bottle both times. It was in a nice way, as he waited until he went by, or threw it from a distance. He does that for my daughter, who gets a kick out of it. If it ever happened to me, it would probably be for malicious reasons, though if the throw is on target, it might knock some sense into me. I'm hoping someday he'll start throwing beer, cheeseburgers, bags of cash, or anything rather than bottled water.



In this shot, it was a blueberry muffin that came out the window soon after the photo was taken...


10-06-2005, 10:09 PM
I don't know, Ween-

That guy doesn't look too pleased to see you. My guess it was done intentionally.

I've read about stories of other perishable items being thrown at railfans, too. I wonder if some of these railworkers as kids threw rocks at trains. Maybe their motto is "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em?"

As far as the other image of SD70MAC's, I bet the crew was not too pleased to see someone that close to the tracks near a bridge. I think the last thing they want to do is scrape up someone's remains off the steps and pilot of their locomotive. Nice shot, even though I spot some scan lines on it. Very gutsy shot!!

10-06-2005, 10:14 PM

Never personally had anything thrown at me, but the most interesting thing I've witnessed coming out of a cab window is a pair of pants flapping in the wind.

This shot doesn't do any justice to what I saw a few hundred feet before the train's current position, but if you look closely you can see what I'm talking about. Wish I was a second earlier on this one, because they were really flappin'!


10-07-2005, 01:05 AM
In my defense, the roadmaster in his hi-railer didnt have a problem with us when we were at that same place photographing the MoW stuff coming through, nor did anyone else. Not to mention I was using a bulb with my camera, so i was a couple feet off. The engineer was in his 20s. Probably a little hot headed.

If its sealed and theyre not aiming for you, its a good thing. But this engineers was just being malicious. [I contacted BNSF b/c I recieved many e-mails telling me I should do so, it could lead to worse things thrown at people, and Im tired of getting crap as a railfan.] Ive had an engineer throw a 6-pack of ice cold water bottles at me from an SD40-2 b/c id been chasing him hard for a hundred miles and it was about 95F that day. Those really hit the spot 8)

10-07-2005, 01:37 AM
and i STILL cant get that [photoid=xxxxx] thing to work!

Hmm, that example looks right, not sure why it's not working.

Anyway, it seems that all crews respond differently to different people. I got a chuckle one day while quasi-chasing a train up the NS Columbus District. It was a slow day and a rare (to me) NS high nose piqued by interest. I first spotted it near Pride, Ohio, but since I was driving, I couldn't get a shot on it.

I smoked it 25 miles up to Circleville and had plenty of time to get this shot. (probably could be better, but they all can't be perfect I guess)


I then jumped back in my car and again got to Valley Crossing on the south side of Columbus (just east of Watkins Yard) and got this shot in which I was attempting to capture the whole lashup. I think there was too much clutter in the background to get this accepted here.


At any rate, it was funny listening to the crew talk to the yardmaster at Watkins, because they were all joking about how "popular" they were. The yardmaster replied with a hearty, "Yeah? Well, we knew (so and so) before he became famous!" I got a kick out of that.

For me, that's one of the many things that makes railfanning fun. :)

10-07-2005, 02:44 AM
My apologies for hijacking this thread.

Better go! :o

10-10-2005, 01:05 AM
For me, that's one of the many things that makes railfanning fun. :)

Best interaction I ever had with a train crew was when a guy on a ballest train asked if I had a plastic fork in my car I could give him. Too bad I didn't.

10-13-2005, 06:03 PM
Cool trip report! I love trackside camping, but the last time i did it this LORAM rail grinder came through at 4 am when we were sleeping and gave us quite a start.

Once when i was really little the engineer on this local train (now Finger Lakes Railroad, but it was Conrail then) that went right by my house threw me a bag of chips. Around Christmas time my mom made christmas cookies and we threw a little package of them up to him. Good memories. I havent had anything thrown at me since.