A Rainy Day in Lucas County

Thursday, June 20



Simpson art professor Dave Richmond and I had been planning to take a day off to get some pictures.  Dave's a photographer and has recently acquired a large-format camera.  He wanted to try some images from a dense cover forest, and I'd suggested Stephens, about 30 miles straight south of us here in Indianola.  We had an overcast day but the forecast called for clearing skies, so we decided to give it a try.

We took a drive down into the park to look at a camping area near a pond.  The mosquitoes surrounded the Jeep in anticipation.  Dave went on a little scouting expedition while I waited wth the windows up.  We drove back out to the bridge over the BNSF lines, parked, and I dug out some repellant I had in the glove box.  While I waited on the bridge for railroad traffic, Dave started to set up his camera in the trees south of the road.  Every now and then the overcast would deliver a few raindrops, but we kept up hope that the day would improve.

At 9:42 an AEPX load came under the bridge, pulled by BNSF 9772 and BN 9695.  Amtrak No. 6 was close behind, running left-handed to pass the coal train.  They arrived at 10:09 with AMTK 167 and 169 on the head end.  The Zephyr had a long consist, with five coaches or perhaps some extra sleepers, behind the lounge car.

We decided to try a different location, so Dave packed his tripod and we moved over to Lake Red Haw on the east side of Chariton.  Conditions improved and it looked for a while like we might get enough light for Dave to get some pictures.  He set up the huge camera and lined up a picture, but it never got quite bright enough to expose the large film.  I had the advantage of being able to dial up (electronically) a little higher ISO, and of a much smaller area on which to concentrate the light, so I experimented with some "arty" shots while we waited to see what the weather would do.

Conditions didn't improve much, so we went into Chariton for lunch and then went back toward Stephens Forest.  We stopped at the base of Whitebreast Hill to catch another coal load, more AEPX cars, with BNSF 9784 in front.  A switch tender was at Shannon to cross them over from Main 1 to Main 2 before they tackled the hill, and he warned them that they would be getting their picture taken.  BNSF 8876 shoved on the rear of the train, which passed us at 1:10.

We went back to the Stephens Forest bridge for one more train before giving up and going back to Indianola.  This train had BNSF 8945 and BNSF 8942 on the point and was an AEPX empty with a few BN cars on the head end.  They were under the bridge at 1:30, with their "Freddy" leaning over on its rotary coupler mounting.

That's It!