random thoughts on railroad photography, railfanning, technology, and such

Entries from December 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009


Expand Your Vision

I love cool technology. On occasion I come across some great designs or devices that fill a niche in my photography or railfanning workflow. Today I discovered a link to a device from NewerTech which allows you to put up to six monitors on a Windows PC and up to four monitors on a Mac. It is called USB Video Display Adapter and is bus-powered and includes everything needed to hook-up a DVI, HDMI, or VGA monitor. Cool.

This means that I might be able to hook-up a bigger monitor to my netbook out in the field to make doing photo edits easier and also allow for more screen space for an ATCS Monitor session.


Wow, Even CNBC?

What is it with the news media and railroads?

Railroading has been around for a long time now yet it seems that the media rarely gets their facts straight. More often than not, it seems, the reports contain inaccurate or completely wrong information.

Now I can understand that when a small-town newspaper or media outlet reports on a railroad-related story that there might be a mistake or two in the story. The reporter might not be railroad-savy. You see this often.

I do have an issue when a major news organization makes a error when reporting a railroad news item. They are suppose to have a very talented staff of writers, and more importantly, vast resources and good editors. At the very least, they certainly can “Google” like the rest of the world.

I was surfing the web today and came across this article from CNBC about Berkshire Hathaway acquiring BNSF Railway. The title is, mistakenly, “Berkshire Hathaway Gets Antitrust Clearance to Buy Burlington Northern.”. It should read: Berkshire Hathaway Gets Antitrust Clearance to Buy BNSF Railway Company, which is the right name of the company.  Burlington Northern is the old company.  But, it doesn’t end there. Here is the graphic they chose to put with their image of Warren Buffett.  It is the old Burlington Northern logo and not the current logo of the BNSF Railway Company!

The logo of the old railroad company, Burlington Northern

The real logo for the BNSF Railway is shown here:

I would be happy to verify facts for any media company, for a small fee, of course. Contact me here.


My Scariest Moment

This is a post I made almost four years ago on the Western Railroads discussion board on Trainorders.com. I am reposting it here because I refer to this incident in the caption of one of my photographs.

Wow! After 30 years of railfanning, it finally happened to me!

After spending the morning hanging out with Don and Wayne up at Hill 582 I decided to check out Sullivan’s Curve since I had never been there before. I arrived and scoped things out. It appears that there was storm related track-work being done at the curve so traffic was light.

With nothing else to photograph I shot some pictures of the track gang hard at work.

Around 3:30 PM today, the gang opted to finish thier present effort and clear the track for an Eastbound stack train.

This photo shows that train - the BNSF 5109 East leaning into the brunt of the curve just below the west switch at UP’s Canyon siding. Notice the Roadmaster pacing the train as it tranverses the area where, only moments before, his gang was working replacing ballast.

The train continued on through the curve and I began to walk back to my car when I heard the most God-awful sound I have ever heard. I knew instantly that something was amiss. I hurriedly crossed the UP main to look directly down onto the BNSF Main 1 track and saw the BNSF 238841 derail right before my eyes.

I jumped to capture it on film and had to wrestle with the ON/OFF switch but I was able to get a shot of it right after it happened.I called 911 from my cell phone and while trying to relay all the train’s location to the CHP dispatcher I heard the Roadmaster trying to get the 5109 crew’s attention to stop the train because he saw smoke coming from one car 6 ahead of the rear. They eventually stopped the train about 1.5 miles from the location of the mishap.

The last photo shows the train stopped and the lead truck of the B-end of the car clearly off the track. Highway 138 can be seen in the background of the photo.

I was talking to another BNSF crew later and they said the train ripped up or severly damaged over a mile of concrete ties. It was still tying up Main 1 when I left the hill around 7:30 tonight.

It was a scary moment for sure.