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Western Railroad Discussion > Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train


Date: 01/24/23 08:41
Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: SCUfoamer

In June of 2022 my best train friend and I set off from my home in Seattle, WA with the hopes of documenting the last Summer of Montana Rail Link railroading in southern/western Montana. Like many others, we caught the urge to document one of America's favorite and most unique Class II railroads that still held onto healthy dose of its historical past. We took 10 days, starting in the Chimney of Idaho and making it as far east as Columbus, Montana. In an effort to organize my thoughts and pictures, I am going to release the coverage of this trip in 10 parts in order to give each leg of the journey justice.

Hoping for a Train
We researched traffic patterns, satellite maps, notes from other railfans, and too many timetables to throw together what I hoped would be the best possible coverage of the MRL in ten days. On day one we left Seattle and headed east with our night one accommodations at the Clark Fork Lodge in Clark Fork, Idaho. We made a day of chasing trains on the Scenic Sub, Lakeside Sub, and the Funnel between Spokane and Sand Point. We got trains left and right, but time was of the essence because the only thing that I NEEDED to shoot on day one was an evening westbound at the Hope searchlight cantilever signal bridge. We picked up dinner east of Spokane just across the Idaho border. We then drove to E. Hope, parked the Jeep, got out the chairs and table, and waited for a train. This section of MRL's western side is very difficult to "find trains" so we just enjoyed our dinner and hoped for the train gods to drop us a line. The train gods came through and I nabbed one of my favorite ever photographs.

1. First train of the morning was a Seattle to Chicago Z train fresh off of a crew change in Wenatchee. I had always been intrigued by the Rock Island Bridge structure built by the Great Northern in the late 19th century. The double steel structure looked fantastic in the late morning light, illuminating the train crossing the Columbia River. GN chose this location at Rock Island because they determined it was the single narrowest river crossing of the Columbia in the state of Washington. 

2. We shot several trains across Washington, but my focus was spending some time with the old Northern Pacific cantilever signal bridge at Hope, Idaho. We waited and waited as the late summer sun started to drop behind the mountain range to the west. Just as we thought all light was lost, a strange horn could be heard in the distance. Just as one last sliver of light shown down through some clouds, a BNSF H1 Dash-9 leading a westbound coal train emerged from the shadows. I still thought light was lost until the nose of the train swung under the bridge and into the last minute of light. Truly an amazing experience that I will never forget!

3. These coal trains are long! so I had some time to move west a few yards and get a nearly as spectacular going away shot. About the best 10 minutes of railfanning I have ever experienced!








Date: 01/24/23 08:52
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: stevef

Superb shots.  Thanks the efforts and thanks for the posting.



Date: 01/24/23 09:09
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: czephyr17

Great shots! I look forward to yoir subsequent reports and shots.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/24/23 09:34
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: jgilmore

Excellent set!

JG



Date: 01/24/23 09:47
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: funnelfan

Great pics!
 

Ted Curphey
Ontario, OR



Date: 01/24/23 10:08
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: PasadenaSub

Wow, great pics all - but the lighting in the last one is amazing.

Rich



Date: 01/24/23 10:18
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: Ritzville

An excellent series!!

Larry



Date: 01/24/23 10:27
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: DJ-12

Very nice. Hope was not lost! :-)



Date: 01/24/23 12:11
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: TheNavigator

Excellent shots!  Looking forward to the next installments.
GK



Date: 01/24/23 14:40
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: BoilingMan

VERY nice! #3 is a tiny bit awkward- but it’s my fave!
SR



Date: 01/24/23 14:56
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: bobk

Fantastic shots!!



Date: 01/24/23 17:12
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: broken_link

Really nice series.

I find that I'm often telling myself to turn around and shoot what's behind me. The current state of image sensors (dynamic range, color depth, etc.) allows for really compelling shots that would have highly taxed my digital camera from 15+ years ago with a single exposure. Shooting RAW and using the current crop of software tools for processing continues to impress me.

Sean



Date: 01/24/23 18:26
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: gobbl3gook




Date: 01/24/23 22:08
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: SCUfoamer

broken_link Wrote:
> I find that I'm often telling myself to turn
> around and shoot what's behind me. The current
> state of image sensors (dynamic range, color
> depth, etc.) allows for really compelling shots
> that would have highly taxed my digital camera
> from 15+ years ago with a single exposure.
> Shooting RAW and using the current crop of
> software tools for processing continues to impress
> me.
>
> Sean

I agree and have been talling my self to shoot more going away shots these days. The dynamic range of mirrorless has really made the straight into the sun shots more workable. I can't even comprehend of the legends of film pulled off those perfect glint shots. 



Date: 01/25/23 10:35
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: jbohdan2

Homerun shots all.  Very nice.



Date: 01/25/23 11:28
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: broken_link

SCUfoamer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> I agree and have been talling my self to shoot more going away shots these days. The dynamic
> range of mirrorless has really made the straight into the sun shots more workable. I can't even
> comprehend of the legends of film pulled off those perfect glint shots. 

Film (generally but with caveats) had a similar but different constraint in that you would have to manage exposure of dark regions versus clipping highlights / whites in digital. So you might be exposing to the left or right, respectively, and then managing the results by pulling down highlights or pulling up shadows in processing. The dynamic range of Sony and Nikon FF sensors is quite high these days, with film's range varying by type. Back when I was shooting film in college I would often be saved by working with a competent processing lab at a local photography business (versus the machine processing found in grocery stores, drug stores, etc.).



Date: 01/27/23 06:17
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: KimHeusel

Great set of images. I love shots with infrastructure in them, especially shots like the one with the signals. Thanks for sharing you efforts.

Kim Heusel



Date: 02/17/23 13:36
Re: Part 1 Summer of MRL - Hoping for a Train
Author: jericson

I'm new to trainorders and caught this series at Part 6... and am now working my way from Part 1 again. Amazing shots.



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