Old 03-24-2008, 04:30 AM   #1
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Default Rochelle part one

http://www.rochellerailroadpark.org/index.html
Heres some quick linkage the park.Edit
Thought I would take this time to write a little essay about my experiences down at the Diamonds of Rochelle.
I started railfanning late last summer because I wanted to look at track details for scenery and such for my friends HO layout.
I live North of Rockford so Rochelle is only 40 minutes from my driveway. I take 251 straight down to 38 west to the park. Watch for Illinois' finest as they do set up for speeders in this corridor,(State and Rochelle) particularly near the jct of 251 and 64. Beautiful drive never any traffic. All the major traffic is on interstate 39.


It seems posters here either love or hate the place. As a noob I love it as the volume of trains gives me lots of opportunities for shots. To everyone that says its a boring place to shoot I think you are only limited by your imaginations.
To those that say theres too many people in the way, get in your car and drive half a mile or so west (on 38 still) out by the Global intermodal yard you will pretty much be left alone unless you try to climb the fence or something stupid. Or come during the week when the volume of people is down and the volume of trains is up.
On the weekends the place is usually packed and most everyone is pretty friendly. Although there are a few with personality disorders who probably wouldn't give you the time of day. My experiences with people down there have been 90% positive. Generally there are retired RR workers who are really a plethora of knowledge(or just BS as the case may be) and will talk your ear off if you let them.
I go down there at least once a month but I've made it the past 4 weeks straight. I take my little 100$ digital HP photosmart and away I go. (I'm sure most of you are falling off your computer chairs laughing at that but hey I've got a kid to put through private school and college, state of the art photograghy equipment just isn't a priority.) I realize my skills are sub-par compared to the work I 've seen here and I'm cool with that. Thats why you don't see any of my shots here. I'm having fun and thats what a hobby is about.

The gift shop down there is open again. (limited hours during the winter and closed on Tuesday) They always have the scanner and the computer on and if you ask they will tell you when and what track the next train is coming on. There is usually a metric butt-load of Model RR cars and engines on consignment to sift through as well as postcards, photos, t-shirts,hats and the like. Not to mention a couple of rubbermaid tubs of old Model Railroad and Trains magazines for 50 cents or a buck apiece to leaf through.
There are pop and water machines outside, and the bathrooms are fairly clean. (You've been in taverns that were worse of this I am sure.)

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Old 03-24-2008, 04:46 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting, that's some pretty good info. I'm planning on going to Illinois for a week in the summer, and I'm sure I will find myself visiting Rochelle and its surrounding area (I'm particularly interested in some of the spots on the UP line a few miles in either direction from Rochelle).
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Old 03-25-2008, 02:20 AM   #3
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I also just recently started in this hobby and go to farther down the tracks to Clinton, IA for my pictures. In Clinton you can also get ICE and BNSF plus the many UPs. If you ever want to go a little farther away, that would be another option.
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Old 03-29-2008, 02:59 PM   #4
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The park at Rochelle is worth a visit just to check it out, but if you are in the area for photography, there are many better places East and West of the park itself to shoot at. There are too many poles to really shoot the BNSF, and it's a pretty tight shot too. I have found the park is best on a rainy day. They have a pavilion, so you just go and sit there and watch trains until the rain stops.
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:39 AM   #5
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Default Rochelle Part Deux

^^^^^
Generally there isnt as much BNSF action as there is UP but I have noticed all the obstacles on that side. And depending on the time of day the BNSF shots tend to be backlit when shooting from the pavillion side.

Motored on down to Rochelle yesterday, by 1:00 there wasn't a parking spot left. This on a 40 degree day I can only imagine what it will be like when it gets above 60. I think everyone is getting a little spring fever after the harsh winter we've had up here this year. And I know a lot of guys I overheard talking drove down after going to the Rockford Model Train show since they were already on the southside of town. UP3300(united way scheme) was a nice treat. It had to wait at the diamond for a BNSF to pass so everyone got a good look as it powered back up to speed.

I did take a cruise around the outskirts of town while chowing on a McBurger, and did find some BNSF power idling out by the cold pack plant. (East side of town.) Not to mention the Jet debris blaster sitting by the UP office.

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Old 04-15-2008, 02:19 AM   #6
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Default Rochelle Part Three

If you havent been to the Diamonds in the last year or two here is a change for the better.
It appears that two houses on the BNSF side of the park have been dozed for future parking or camping. I hope its for parking because a camper could take up to ten parking spots depending on the lot layout. For the time being it does open up that side of the tracks for a little better phot-op.
Rumour has it they are to be replacing rails soon and the old ties with the new concrete ones. Kinda curious as to how long that will impair the flow through there.
Went down there this weekend in between rain showers. Spotted a FerroMex unit running with the BNSF. I had never seen one of those up here before.
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Old 04-19-2008, 02:17 PM   #7
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[quote=Damaged]^^^^^
Generally there isn't as much BNSF action as there is UP

BNSF runs hot and hard after hours, Lots for West bound hot shots get moving after 3 p.m. the East bounds die off in the AM. Lots of down time middle of the day

BN & SF they now have 3 lines in from the West, With the Aurora sub getting just hot shots from Savanna East with the Majority of fright going to Galesburg South out of savanna, If you want a LOT of BNSF go there Galesburg,IL But stay out and off the Right of Way, They do have there own RR Dick there
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Old 04-19-2008, 03:09 PM   #8
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[quote=milwman]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damaged
^^^^^
Generally there isn't as much BNSF action as there is UP

BNSF runs hot and hard after hours, Lots for West bound hot shots get moving after 3 p.m. the East bounds die off in the AM. Lots of down time middle of the day

BN & SF they now have 3 lines in from the West, With the Aurora sub getting just hot shots from Savanna East with the Majority of fright going to Galesburg South out of savanna, If you want a LOT of BNSF go there Galesburg,IL But stay out and off the Right of Way, They do have there own RR Dick there
Thanks for the tip. This was just my personal observation from my trips and now that you mention it they do seem busier later in the afternoons.
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Old 04-28-2008, 03:53 AM   #9
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Default Part Four

Went to Rochelle twice this week. Wed. trip was fairly uneventful not much action til after 10 am but then it was pretty steady all day. Lots of BNSF power in misc shapes and colors including the fugly creme amd greens. Private park for the most part except for a couple of guys eating their lunch and the usual escapees from the geriatric ward.

Sunday was a good day today. Kinda slow until after 2 but steady after that.
During one of the lulls I went out towards Lake Sule where I had spotted some local switchers Wed but wasnt close enough to shoot. BJRY8701and 1609 The Burlington Junction Railway. After scaring the geese out that were swimming in the pond sized puddles I was able to get close enough to snap a couple fairly decent shots. Highlight of the day was UP1995 The Chicago & Northwestern Heritage unit. Normally (I'm told)the "specials" will slow down at the RR park so you can get a couple shots off. Not today he was highballin and I barely recognized the unit in time to get a shot off.
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Old 05-04-2008, 11:54 AM   #10
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When I linked to the park today to check on the Intermodal yard tour tickets I flipped when I saw one of my photos had been picked for photo of the week for April 27-May 3. Of the the 10-12 shots Ive submitted in the past couple of months this was one of my least favorite. Maybe they picked it for the friendly wave from the engineer,maybe because it was GP40 leading. In any event I am forever on the photo page.
Heading down there again after I finish mowing this morning.
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Old 05-06-2008, 04:36 AM   #11
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Default Part Five

Before heading south to Rochelle I decided to try and find where this "relic" was at. Link to this photo: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=232804
I recognized the back ground scenery so I headed to the west side where I grew up as a kid. After a little bit of cruising I was starting to get frustrated and decided to go where I remembered seeing trains while going to the Italian side of town(back in the day) to get bread with my grandpa when I was real little. I found it a few blocks off of West State St on Avon St near Elm. It is really in a bad part of town and I wouldnt suggest going alone. The neighborhood has really gone to hell and there isn't much left over there. The cars are in the old NiCor yard. It was Illinois Bell when I was kid and now it houses a food pantry. The cars are in a fenced and locked area and looked to only be accessible when the pantry is open. I'm definately going back when(and if) we get another sunny day. I wonder if the Wisconsin and Southern got them in the buy out and just forgot about them. I didn't see any graffitti defacing at all which amazes me over in the hood like that.

On to Rochelle, I hit the sidings on the east end of town to find the same mix of BNSF and EMDX sitting there from last week just latched up in a different order, grabbed a sandwich out of the trunk and headed towards the BNSF and UP MOW yards.
Across from the UP MOW office was the former CNW Operation Lifesaver caboose #261531 which must have been dropped some time in the last week. It was horribly backlit and blocked on the sunny side by a food service vehicle. I took a few shots anyway. I noticed three UP units that were servicing a siding when I was out on the east sidings heading back to Global III empty. I got a decent shot of a crewman standing on the rear of the back unit guiding the throttleman via radio, and tried to beat them back to the park. I beat them by a minute and when they got there the crewman hopped off and got a sandwich or something from a friend sitting at the park before heading back to Global.
In the gift shop I found out about the Intermodal yard tours in June, 8 bucks for about an hour tour. You have to sign a waiver which gives me hopes we'll be able to get off the bus for a couple photo ops. While in there I found out that because of a barge hitting a bridge on the Mississippi last week Amtrak had rerouted a train late Saturday night through the Diamonds.
At the pavillion I talked for about half an hour with a guy from Milwaukee nearing retirement and his Dad from Iowa who stopped on their way back to WI who had worked for the Rock Island, Soo and Milwaukee lines in their youth. Shot trains while we chatted.
Then I ran into my buddy who is going to help host a steam train run to Minnesota in June. I believe its the Milwaukee Rd 261. I can't spare that many days of vacation to run with him.
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:42 PM   #12
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Default Part Six

Its been a busy month and a half since I last posted. 3 Graduations, an Anniversary an extensive spring "to-do" list,and torential cloudbursts every weekend has left very little time for train watching.
When I went down a couple weekends ago to get my intermodal yard tour tickets I was surprised to see the UP side tore up and traffic blocked by crews preparing to install new rails and cement ties on the north side track. Lots of MOW equipment. Wished I could have stayed all day but prior commitments took care of that.
We got word from 3M last week that my shipments to California that are normally shipped intermodal from Chicago were to be shipped over the road until further notice as the rails shipments were backed up a week and a half because of the flooding and the orders were hot.
When I went down there last weekend the Diamonds were running hotter than I have ever seen down there. One right after another as fast as they can get them through. Usually the engineers will slow down and put on a show as they pass by. The only slow trains coming through were the ones that had to stop and wait for clearance. With the flooding on the ole Miss they are rerouting cross country Amtrak through the Diamonds indefinately also. At least two a day are rolling through. Odd lash ups too. CN lashed up with the UP,BNSF with UP, odd power plant engines with BNSF coal units and no pushers on the tail, you can never tell whats gonna show up.
Tomorrow after work its the intermodal tour.
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Old 07-03-2008, 02:26 AM   #13
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Default Part Seven

Went down for the intermodal bus tour. Nothing too spectacular but at least I got to see the yard. Tour was given by a Rochelle Chamber of Commerece volunteer not a UP rep. Had to stay on the bus and the driver couldn't vary from a predetermined route around the facility.
A fingerprint scan gets drivers in the yard.
More containers and trailers than Ive ever seen in my life. 580 get moved daily. They currently employ 70 with plans to bump up to 125 as trucking contracts expire and they reroute trucks from Globals I II &IV to III as it is currently way under capacity.
They also load and unload grain to and from semis to serve the local community.
Spotted UP1995 and an unrepainted C&NW sitting side by side by a bunch of power but we were too far away to get a shot.

Non-stop action at the Diamonds all day too!
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Old 07-05-2008, 04:56 PM   #14
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That's good that the trains are running there. I went to Morrison a couple of days ago and it was dead. Never had seen that before.
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Old 08-14-2008, 11:40 AM   #15
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Default Part Eight Trespassing

I was chased out of the siding by the local BNSF hogger last week. While waiting for a west bound on the main I was taking some shots of the old GP's, rental power and SD's parked out by Americold. Engineer Dick Head was in one of the units. Before he got to me I asked him how it was going and offered him an ice water (it was 86 that day)He gave me the usual shoot from the road not on BNSF property speech. Maybe he didn't like my BITE ME Joe's Crab Shack t-shirt I had on.
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Old 08-14-2008, 11:27 PM   #16
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Default Part Nine Hobos

A couple Sundays ago when I went to Rochelle I was surprised to see 4 hobos camped out at the park hobo camp of all places. I gave em a couple smokes and shot the crap with em for a while. It was their 3rd nite at the camp and they were moving on as soon as a west bound stopped.
Two of them were headed to Iowa and two were going to head back home.
Soon after the resident photographer Bryan G Hunt who lives next to the tracks and helps out at the gift shop came over and shot them. Heres a link to his pix http://rochelletrainpark.com/coppermine/index.php?cat=6
They filled up on some canned goods topped off their water bottles and on down the line they went.
Later I found out from a guy from Florida who was spending a week at the park that somebody came and picked them up the following Wed. in a vintage VW Microbus
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Old 08-15-2008, 12:20 AM   #17
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Default Part Ten Davis Junction IL

Davis Jct is west off of 251 on 72 about a 1 1/2 - 2 miles. Its about 15 miles north of Rochelle so its right on my way as a head to and from the park. Last few times have been decent as the IC&E usually parks at a couple of units for the local crew or for the following days work on the siding. And I have spotted DM&E CN and rental units spending the weekend also. I suggest early a.m. for roster shots not obstructed by telephone poles in the foreground.

Actually caught an ICE moving out west bound Sunday and on the way back two units that were on the siding in the morning were staging a load on the east side of 251 down by the junk yard where some freight was sitting.

Love the IC&E colors and photograghing the "City of" heralds on the sides makes it feel like I'm filling out a collector series checklist.

There is a good variety of foreground "clutter" to add a little character to your shots including the old diamond that was the junction. Plus old RR crossing signs, misc power boxes, telephone poles, ties, etc.
So I suggest if youre in the area anyway, its worth a couple mile detour to see if anythings happening down at the junction. I usually park on the slab of concrete that was the former site of the Track Inn restaurant. A local supper club that was listed in the Guiness book for being the only restaurant in the world completely surrounded by RR tracks. We used to go there for All you can eat family style chicken and fish dinners in the 70's.
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Old 08-15-2008, 01:20 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damaged
A couple Sundays ago when I went to Rochelle I was surprised to see 4 hobos camped out at the park hobo camp of all places.
Was that on August 3rd? If so I was there that day and I saw them too, quite interesting to say the least.
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Old 08-15-2008, 05:39 AM   #19
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Quote:
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A couple Sundays ago when I went to Rochelle I was surprised to see 4 hobos camped out at the park hobo camp of all places.
Shouldn't be to surprise. The paper for Sterling always has court articles about hobbies getting fined for riding the trains that go through there.
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Was that on August 3rd? If so I was there that day and I saw them too, quite interesting to say the least.
Yes that was the day. I was over there talking to them around 11. I was there early that morniing and left shortly after noon. It was entertaining to say the least. Just the look of disgust on most of the train park regulars faces had me laughing all the way home. One lady was completely horrified by the thought of living like that. One person even asked me why I would want to talk to them. I just answered why wouldn't I.
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:54 PM   #21
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Quote:
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Shouldn't be to surprise. The paper for Sterling always has court articles about hobbies getting fined for riding the trains that go through there.
It was 9:00 am and I was'nt expecting to see them camped out by the fire pit. Its only the second time I've seen hobo activity at all there.
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:33 PM   #22
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Quote:
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One lady was completely horrified by the thought of living like that.
Who wouldn't be?
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Old 08-22-2008, 03:52 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Who wouldn't be?
True. But I was having fun talking with these kids and she had to be such a buzzkill.
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:06 PM   #24
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Default Part XI My photos

Please refer to my avatar to see recent trains I ve shot.
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:20 PM   #25
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This isn't a blog...
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