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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Catching up with Whiskey

Lots to report from the past nine days, so let's get started...

Monday, August 15

M and I went out on a bike ride during "high sun" and caught a northbound on the Choctaw:

13:10 - UP n/b MHOKC-14 crossing Wall-Price in Keller:
UP 4439 (SD70M)
NS 8710 (C40-8)
66 cars mixed freight

Pumping up a flat tire
M helps pump up our tire. August 15, 2005.

Tuesday, August 16

I had a dentist appointment at noon, then went to QT on Denton Highway to buy gas ($2.56 a gallon), and headed to Whataburger for lunch. On my way back home, I spotted a southbound on the Choctaw:

13:20 - UP s/b MKCEW-15 crossing North Tarrant Parkway in Keller / Watauga:
UP 8422 (SD70ACe)
UP 2971 (SD40-2)
40 cars mixed freight

Wednesday, August 17 - bike ride to Roanoke

What better way to laugh in the face of rising gas prices than to take a railfanning bike ride close to home? I'd been wanting to ride US 377 (which parallels the UP Choctaw Sub) from Keller to Roanoke for a while, and I had a few hours available on Wednesday morning. I wasn't sure I was ready to ride all the way there from my house though (about 4 1/2 extra miles each way), so I decided to park in downtown Keller near the E-unit display and begin there.

Before I even got started, a southbound blasted through Keller:

1) 0928 - UP s/b MKCEW-16 passing the Keller E-unit:
UP 5124 (SD70M)
UP 9473 (C40-8W)
27 cars mixed freight

Next, I enjoyed an easy ride north to Roanoke. On hand there, I found:

2) 1000 - UP Roanoke switcher power
SSW 9701 (GP60)
UP 1951 (GP60)

When I turned around at the north end of Roanoke, I discovered why I'd had such an easy trip north... a strong breeze was coming out of the south! I'd be riding into it all the way back.

Back at Keller, I stopped by the E-unit and saw a flashing yellow signal for an approaching northbound...

3) 1040 - UP n/b MHOKC-16 passing the Keller E-unit
CSXT 8740 (SD60I, "dark future" scheme)
UP 3969 (SD70M)
41 cars mixed freight

I decided to ride on down to the Kroger crossing, where I found another northbound:

4) 1054 - BNSF n/b U ARCCAK1 14 crossing Kroger Dr:
BNSF 1086 (C44-9W, H1)
BNSF 5130 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 648 (C44-9W, warbonnet)
90 empty gons

It's all about the monikers...

One of the reasons I like mixed freights and "junk" trains better than unit coal trains and intermodal trains is the variety of cars (i.e., different shapes, sizes, and colors, and the possibility of spotting cars from a far-away railroad.) One of the things I watch for are "monikers", the small drawings and sketches drawn with chalk or grease crayons on the sides of some of the cars. Traditionally, monikers and scrawlings in a railroad context began when hoboes used them to communicate with one another... more recently, carmen, switchmen and other rail employees seem to have entered into some sort of unofficial contest to see who can get their names and drawings on the most pieces of North American rolling stock.

The undisputed moniker "champion" of the late 1980s / early '90s was "the Rambler", whose bubbling champagne glass sketch and "Port of Beaumont, Texas" signature graced the sides of hundreds (probably thousands) of freight cars. I still spot one of his drawings every now and then. These days, although aerosol (spray paint) graffiti is all the rage (and takes away valuable "canvas space" from the moniker writers), plenty of monikers can still be seen.

My favorites are the sketches of the smoker-in-a-cowboy-hat, widely known as "Colossus of Roads", which are usually accompanied by some sort of cryptic phrase. Pictured below is a "Colossus" drawing, along with a couple of others I occasionally see. All were photographed on Wednesday, and serve as examples of why the "rolling yard" junk freights are fun to watch....

Colossus of Roads . . . . Mad Hatter moniker

Smokin' Joe moniker

After the U ARCCAK rock empties rolled by, I turned around and back to the truck. The signal at Keller was still red, so I drove up to Roanoke and caught up with the ARCCAK. He was stopped 2nd out behind MHOKC to meet a southbound:

5) 1130 - UP s/b GSBRLD-03 at Roanoke:
UP 7236 (AC4400CW)
UP 6851 (AC4400CW)
UP 6398 (AC4400CW, ex-SP "patched")
100 cars

The grain loads had to wait for another northbound, which rolled to a stop south of the south switch to wait for traffic ahead to clear out...

6) 11:40 - UP n/b CHPCA9 at south Roanoke:
UP 6733 (AC4400CW)
SP 179 (AC4400CW)
UP 8110 (SD9043MAC) - DP
132 UFIX rotary gons

After that, I headed home to start getting ready for work. It was an interesting morning, and I figured out that I could probably handle the full round trip from my house to Roanoke... will probably attempt that one in a couple weeks. Maybe by the end of the year I'll be riding all the way to Denton!

Other pics from Wednesday...

Keller E-unit, Keller, TX
UP 6398 at Roanoke
The Keller E-unit. Aug 17, 2005.
UP 6398 at Roanoke, TX. Aug. 17, 2005

Saturday, August 20

Took a bike ride to Keller and spotted a southbound on the Choctaw:

1039 - UP s/b MKCEW-19 crossing Kroger Dr:
UP 9609 (C44-9W)
BNSF 5274 (C44-9W, H2)
70 cars mixed freight

Sunday, August 21 - wasting time and gas

I knew of some inbound traffic coming on the BNSF Wichita Falls Sub on Sunday morning, so I headed out for a few hours. My first stop was an outbound Wichita Falls Sub train, just out of Alliance yard on the former Santa Fe:

1) 0720 - BNSF w/b Z ALTRIC1 21, headed south on the BNSF Ft Worth Sub at Lake Wanda:
BNSF 5139 (C44-9W, H2)
NS 8760 (C40-8)
BNSF 600 (C44-9W, warbonnet)

Z ALTRIC at Lake Wanda
BNSF Z ALTRIC on the BNSF Ft Worth Subdivision at Lake Wanda.
August 21, 2005.

An eastbound coal load (BNSF 9747) was stopped at Avondale, but I continued west to Herman, where a coal empty was stopped to meet a UP load:

2) 0740 - w/b E IOGCRM0 38 at Herman, BNSF Wichita Falls Sub:
BNSF 9861 (SD70MAC, H2)
BNSF 8818 (SD70MAC, H2)
BNSF 8942 (SD70MAC, H2) - DP
128 cars - mostly WFCX / HZGX, a few BN / BNSF

3) 0746 - UP e/b CWELHG at Herman, BNSF Wichita Falls Sub
UP 5742 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 8505 (SD90MAC)
UP 6265 (AC4400CW, wings) - DP
101 cars - MP, UP, DRGW, CTRN, CHTT, CNW

UP 5742 at Herman
UP 5742 leads eastbound CWELHG departing
Herman, TX. BNSF Wichita Falls Subdivision,
August 21, 2005.

I stayed at Herman until the Z ALTRIC arrived (0813), then headed west to Alvord. An eastbound was stopped in the siding at Alvord:

4) 0845 - e/b M AMSALT1 21 at Alvord:
BNSF 4306 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4815 (C44-9W, H2)
106 cars mixed freight

The dispatcher decided to hold the AMSALT at Alvord for a while longer... apparently Alliance wouldn't be ready for the train until after noon. Since he was parked in the siding, he was blocking the shot I wanted of a following Z-train. I relocated to "downtown" Alvord, west of the siding...

5) 0955 - e/b Z LACALT2 18 at Alvord
BNSF 4673 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4985 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 920 (C40-8W, warbonnet)

This eastbound Z was no "prize pig"... the nose door on the lead unit was wide open... but the real clincher was the huge patch of brown primer covering the access doors (and totally covering up the BNSF lettering) on both sides of the long hood. Guess it had suffered a stack fire recently... I saw one just like this a few months ago in Amarillo (and no, it wasn't the same one).

A Q-train with one of the new "swoosh" units was somewhere farther back, but I decided I'd had enough... besides, some high clouds were starting to roll in. I came home feeling kind of disappointed, having used all that expensive gas for hardly any decent shots. These results wouldn't even have been worthwhile with CHEAP gas! Oh well, maybe I'll do better next time...

Monday, August 22 - another bike ride to Roanoke, circus train stakeout, etc.

M started his first day of pre-K in Keller / Southlake on Monday morning. After I dropped him off at school, I went to get a haircut. As I exited the barbershop, a southbound was blasting away for the North Tarrant Pkwy crossing:

1) 0933 - UP s/b GSMFEG-18 crossing North Tarrant Parkway in Keller / Watauga:
UP 4333 (SD70M)
UP 4701 (SD70M)
UP 5122 (SD70M)
GECX 8637 (SD40T-2, ex-DRGW "patched")
101 cars

I decided to do another bike ride from Keller to Roanoke, and caught a meet in Roanoke:

2) 1012 - s/b MNPEW-20 at Roanoke:
UP 7571 (AC6000CW)
UP 7539 (AC6000CW)
101 cars mixed freight

3) 1030 - n/b CHSCD at Roanoke:
UP 5904 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 5887 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 6787 (AC4400CW) - DP
129 cars - FPPX / LCRX / MCHX / UP rotary gons

MNPEW at Roanoke
UP southbound MNPEW at Roanoke, TX.
August 22, 2005.

UP 7571 stopped at Roanoke
UP 7571, lead unit of southbound MNPEW, stopped at Roanoke.
A crew member makes a call on his cell phone while waiting
for a meet with a northbound. August 22, 2005.

driving around the gates
This driver in north Keller was in too big of a hurry to wait for the train.

Monday evening, I was monitoring the progress of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey circus train, which would be departing Fort Worth on the Choctaw Sub on Monday evening as it worked its way from Austin to Kansas City. Our friend Matt went out and caught it south of Tower 55 near the old Broadway crossing, but since the kids and I hadn't had dinner yet, we decided to stake out a trackside table at one of the fine restaurants along Denton Highway in Keller / Watauga. Midway through dinner, a southbound grain train rolled past, but I wasn't quick enough to catch the power. After dinner, we left the restaurant and OS'd a northbound:

4) 1950 - UP n/b light engine, crossing North Tarrant Parkway in Keller / Watauga:
UP 3331 (SD40-2)
0 cars

That's right, just a single light unit... it was reportedly headed to Roanoke to serve as power for some sort of work train.

Still no sign of the circus train, so we headed downtown and finally found it still sitting at Broadway:

5) 2020 - UP n/b SMCKC on Ney Bypass at Broadway:
UP 6342 (SD60M)
UP 3701 (SD40-2)
RBBX cars, unknown number

We didn't get any pics, but at least we saw it.

Your "New Music" Alternative?

I am back on a straight afternoon shift after working a "relief swing" schedule for the past year and a half. Now that I work 2nd shift on Saturdays instead of 1st, I can catch the morning shows on KTCU, the local college radio station. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that "DJ Janice"'s show "Sputnik", still airs at 12-noon, and still opens with They Might Be Giant's "S-E-X-X-Y", just like I remember it from a couple years ago. Even though they don't maintain a 24-hour schedule, KTCU ("The Choice") still kick's KDGE's butt all over the place with regard to playing actual alternative music... I like how KDGE can run a plug billing itself as "the NEW music alternative" and then play a Red Hot Chili Peppers song from 1993... give me a break. The Edge has sucked ever since it quit being a real alternative station back in the mid-90s. So if you're tired of all that crap, check out KTCU sometime, like every Saturday at noon for DJ Janice's "Sputnik".

Examples of Songwriting Genius (part of an occasional series)

You probably won't hear this one on KTCU, but I thought I'd share a verse of a Todd Snider song I heard recently on KHYI (KNON spins this one occasionally as well). The song is "Alright Guy" from Snider's "Songs For the Daily Planet" album... and if nothing else, it's a welcome change of pace from his chronically overplayed "Ballad of the Kingsmen" that KHYI subjected us to on nearly an hourly basis for several months earlier this year! Anyway, here's the first verse of "Alright Guy"...

You know, just the other morning, I was hanging around in my house
I had that new book with pictures of Madonna naked; I was checkin' it out
Just then a friend of mine came through the door
She said she never pegged me for a scumbag before
She said she didn't ever wanna see me anymore
And I still don't know why...


What did I tell you? Songwriting GENIUS! The second and third verses aren't bad either. Check out some of his stuff if you get a chance: .

Rangers road trip re-cap

Well, the Texas Rangers recently returned from their abominable 1-12 road trip. They started the trip with a record of 56-54 and returned at 57-66. I've got just one thing to say: Thank you, Kenny Rogers. Your temper tantrums (and resulting suspension, which ended during the road trip) really helped motivate your teammates to achieve greatness. If I owned the team, your a$$ would be gone, brother! Oh well, at least we're still better than Kansas City...


np: David Frizzell & Shelly West - "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma"
(part of a "ladies day" edition of Bruce Kidder's Hard Country Radio on KHYI.

nr: Jack Skiles - Judge Roy Bean Country

Monday, August 15, 2005

Whiskey's Week in Review

Lots of interesting news from the week gone by... L went back to school, M went to the doctor, Union Pacific operated a business car special, and K and I caught some live music on Sunday afternoon.

Monday, August 8

This was L's first day of Fourth Grade... not much to report, other than the 40 minutes it took me to pick her up when school let out... it seems that her school has quite a few more students this year than it did last year. Hopefully, they'll get the drop off / pick up traffic problems sorted out soon. She likes her teacher better this year.

Tuesday, August 9

A Union Pacific business car special, powered by one of UP's new "heritage" locomotives (the 1982, displaying Missouri Pacific colors), was scheduled to run through north Texas today. The train was en route from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Houston.

After we dropped L at school, M and I went out to search for the train... thanks to frequent posts on the Railspot list, we knew that the SCBHO had departed Denison at 0651. Even though the Choctaw Sub isn't exactly designed for high-speed passenger traffic, I figured the train might make Fort Worth in as little as two hours.

As we approached downtown Keller, we spotted the headlight of a southbound. Not wanting to risk possibly missing our train, we stopped at the Wall-Price crossing. Alas, it was just a "routine" train:

1) 08:39 - UP s/b MDNMXX-08 at Wall-Price in Keller:
UP 3966 (SD70M)
UP 2827 (SD40-2, externally an SD45T-2)
UP 3979 (SD70M)
RLCX 8586 (B39-8, ex-LMX gray)
96 cars - mostly grain loads

At Roanoke, a northbound coal empty was stopped:

2) 08:50 - UP n/b CHSBT stopped at Roanoke:
UP 7004 (AC4400CW)
UP 6194 (AC4400CW, ex-SP "patched")
UP 5694 (AC4400-CTE) - DP
134 cars - UP, CMO, MCHX, CHTT

We continued through Roanoke toward Argyle. Road construction on US 377 kept us from making it all the way into Argyle... they were only letting one lane of traffic through at a time and I didn't want to risk missing the train in the "single track" portion of the highway and then get stuck in traffic and not being able to catch back up to it. We soon found out that our train was close... the crew on a coal load reported a broken crossing gate to the dispatcher, who then forwarded the information to the UP 1982.

3) 09:11 - UP s/b CROSA south of Argyle:
UP 7106 (AC4400CW)
UP 8169 (SD9043MAC)
UP 6458 (AC4400CW) - DP
131 cars - CHTT, UP, MCHX, CMO

4) 09:22 - UP s/b SCBHO south of Argyle
UP 1982 (SD70ACE, MP blue)
6 cars:
UPP 207
UPP 101 "Lone Star"
UPP 5779 "Promontory"
UPP 200 "Omaha"
UPP 1602 "Green River"
UPP 420 "Fox River"

Our spot south of Argyle was a little short in the "scenery" department, but that didn't stop me from shooting this rolling roster shot as it cruised past...

UP 1982 south of Argyle, TX
UP 1982 displays Missouri Pacific colors south of Argyle, Texas on
the UP Choctaw Subdivision. August 9, 2005.

Obviously this is the train we were after, so we decided to pace him back to Keller. We got him again at one of the bridges north of Roanoke (0931), and again at the north end of Roanoke (0935).

UP 1982 approaches Roanoke, TX
UP 1982 approaches Roanoke, TX with southbound
business car train SCBHO. August 9, 2005.

We spotted a few other "fans", including two that I know personally, out shooting pics that morning... I think it's safe to say that the special's passage through north Texas was well documented. We stopped for one more shot at the Keller E-unit at 0950.

M had a doctor's appointment, so we did not chase the train into Fort Worth... but we did catch one more train on our way home (to the tune of Guy Clark's "Texas 1947", an "optional train tune" on Plano's KHYI 95.3 FM):

5) 12:00 - UP n/b MHONP-07 at the Keller E-unit:
UP 6421 (AC4400CW)
UP 2943 (SD40T-2)
CEFX 7116 (SD40-2, ex-BN green)
92 cars mixed freight

That's all for Tuesday... it was definitely cool to catch the specially painted "Mop" unit on the road just 11 days after its official unveiling! Thanks to everyone who posted "up to the minute" locations on Railspot.

Wednesday, August 10

Above, I mentioned M's Tuesday doctor's appointment. It seems that Monday evening, M woke up from a nap with some pain in his left leg... by Tuesday morning he could barely walk, so we scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician. M's doctor pinpointed his left hip as the source of the problem, and suggested that M was probably experiencing a condition known as toxic synovitis, a joint inflammation that frequently affects young children (boys more than girls) as an after-affect of a viral infection. Symptoms such as pain and stiffness generally only persist for a few days. But the doctor sent us to have some x-rays made, just to be sure. Well, the doctor called us later on Tuesday afternoon and said that the x-rays suggested that M might have a blockage to the blood supply of the head of his left femur -- a condition considerably more serious than synovitis. So we scheduled an appointment for him to visit the orthopedic clinic on Wednesday...

The orthopedic surgeon who saw him Wednesday first suggested the possibility that M might have a condition known as perthes, a softening of the bones in the hip joint. Treatment for this condition would require lots of physical therapy and would require M to be a lot less "active" than he normally is... fortunately, the x-rays we took Wednesday did not show any evidence of perthes, and I'm pleased to report that M has made considerable progress during the past five days... he's running around again like nothing ever happened. He has a follow-up appointment scheduled for next Wednesday, so I guess we'll know a little more then...

On the way home from the doctor's office, I caught a southbound on the Choctaw:

1) 12:42 - UP s/b MKCEW-09 approaching Walgreen's along Denton Hwy in Watauga:
UP 3800 (SD70M)
UP 4584 (SD70M)
82 cars mixed freight

Friday, August 12

M joined me on Friday morning for a bike ride to
"Old Town Keller". We spotted a southbound on the Choctaw as we approached the Kroger crossing:

1) 09:37 - UP s/b MNPEWX-09 crossing Kroger Dr. in Keller:
UP 9182 (C40-8)
UP 1822 (B40-8)
99 cars mixed freight

Saturday, August 13

I took a bike ride to Keller again Saturday morning, but came up empty-handed on train sightings. All was not lost, however... at the Wall-Price crossing, a family of four (dad, mom, and two kids) were setting pennies on the tracks. "We'll come back tomorrow after church to look for them", the mom said. I didn't have the heart to tell them that they'd get smashed a lot flatter if they put them on the shiny rails of the main line and not the Kroger spur track! Maybe they learned their lesson when they came back Sunday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, I made a brief pass through Saginaw on my way to work.

1) 13:48 - BNSF n/b V PEACHC1 11 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub, stopped at Saginaw Yard:
BNSF 523 (B40-8W, H2)
BNSF 122 (GP60M, warbonnet)
unknown car count

2) 13:50 - BNSF n/b light engines on BNSF Ft Worth Sub at Saginaw interlocking
BNSF 4558 (C44-9W, H2)
NS 9799 (C40-9W)
BNSF 4005 (C44-9W, H2)
0 cars

Sunday, August 14

Mom was nice enough to agree to keep the kids while K and I, joined by dispatcher trainee Matt, headed to Plano to catch some live music at Love & War in Texas. Now that I've got Sundays off again (first time in three years), I can catch some of the "Shiner Sundays" shows at L&W. Tommy Alverson was headlining on Sunday... we hadn't seen him since, well, three years ago...

Tommy Alverson and Bruce Kidder

KHYI's legendary Bruce Kidder
(right) introduces Tommy
Alverson at Love & War.

The opening act was folk singer / guitarist by the name of Jimmy Baldwin, whom I had not previously heard of. His music sounded a lot better after I'd chugged down a couple of beers. His set lasted about 45 minutes, and then one of my heroes, KHYI program director Bruce Kidder, took the stage to introduce Tommy Alverson.

The last time we saw Tommy, he was performing as part of the " 3 Fools on 3 Stools " acoustic act. This time, he had his full band in attendance. His fiddle player had a lot of talent, and the guy on the pedal steel guitar was awesome! They opened with "Texas Woman", and played most of Tommy's better-known songs like "Me on the Jukebox" and "Una mas Cerveza". They threw in a cover tune or two, most notably "Whiskey River". Later, Texas singer-songwriter Heather Morgan joined them on stage for one song... she can really wail!

There are few things I enjoy more than cold beer, good food, and great music in an outdoor setting (even on a sweltering August afternoon). Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on your outlook), some dark clouds moved in and dropped some rain on us, causing a brief delay in the show. At least it cooled things down a bit... a great time in all!

Tommy Alverson and his band - Love & War in Texas in Plano
Tommy Alverson and his band perform at Love & War in Texas in Plano.
August 14, 2005.

The patio at Love & War is located a mere 15 feet or so from Kansas City Southern's main line between Metro and Wylie. We were hoping to see a train roll past, but none did during the 3+ hours that we were there.

We did manage to catch some rail activity on our way home... as we departed Roanoke, we caught up to the rear end of a southbound grain train on the Choctaw Sub, but we weren't able to catch up to his head end through Keller and Watauga. There are just too many stoplights to slow us down while chasing a train on this part of the Choctaw. However, we caught a following train a short while later...

1) 19:50 - UP s/b MCPFW-10 crossing Kroger Dr. in Keller:
UP 4043 (SD70M)
UP 9696 (C44-9W, ex-CNW "patched")
44 cars mixed freight

Email of the Week

I've been running my website, which began as Southwest Shorts, for about five years now. I've gotten some strange, unusual, and definitely "random" emails over that time, including several from overseas. One of my most recent noteworthy messages came from a fellow "Metroplex-er" in nearby Flower Mound, in reference to an obscure location in the extreme northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle :


My name is Don Hobbs. I live in Flower Mound. I am an avid collector of items related to Sherlock Holmes. Recently, I lead a group of 7 others to Sherlock, Texas located between Follett and Darrouzett on the Southwestern Railroad.

I am now trying to research why it was named such. Do you have any resources where I might dig deeper into this?

ANy help would be greatly appreciated.


Don Hobbs


I wasn't able to definitively answer Don's question, but I did locate a few sources of information, including one that said that most of the stations on this former Santa Fe branch from Shattuck, Oklahoma to Morse, Texas were named for the railroad's past presidents and directors. And one of Santa Fe's earliest steam locomotives, 4-4-0 # 5 built in 1870, was named the Thomas Sherlock, possibly in honor of the same president or director for which the station was named. If that were indeed the case, that would confirm that the station was definitely not named for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective. You can read about Don's "discovery" of Sherlock, Texas here:

Emails such as Don's often help serve as a reminder of how many obscure special interest groups -- with areas of interest considerably narrower than the general category of "railfans" -- there are out there. I mean, imagine spending 5 days driving 1800 + miles through Oklahoma and Texas just to visit a few places with names related (some directly, some indirectly) to a fictional 19th-century literary character ... that is some dedication! But at the same time, it sounds like a great excuse for a road trip! And who knows, this might be my cue to go pick up a Sherlock Holmes mystery or two... I haven't read any of that since Eighth Grade English...


np: all-request lunch hour on KHYI-FM 95.3 (Bruce and Brett are accepting calls from internet listeners only today)
nr: Jack Skiles - Judge Roy Bean Country, September 2005 Trains Magazine

Monday, August 8, 2005

Saturday's trains

M and I were over in Watauga on Saturday morning (Aug. 06) and OS'd a southbound:

1) 11:30 - s/b AAMMQ on the UP Choctaw Sub, passing QT on Denton Hwy:
UP 4688 (SD70M)
GECX 8631 (SD40T-2, ex-DRGW displaying a UP "patch", all "Rio Grande" lettering removed)
31 cars

A little while later, and after lunch, I swung through Saginaw on my way to work and observed the following:

2) 13:50 - BNSF n/b X LAREDU9 04A on BNSF Ft Worth Sub at Saginaw Yard:
BNSF 9254 (SD60M, BN green/white)
BNSF 1020 (C44-9W, H1)
BNSF 5383 (C44-9W, H2 - badly faded)
108 empty grain hoppers - almost all new cars featuring the new BNSF "power bar" / "swoosh" / "wedge" logo or whatever you want to call it, except for a handful of odd-lot cars toward the rear.

* * *

After stopping through Saginaw on Saturday, I headed to work for my first day on my new dispatching job -- the Avard desk. Territory is the Avard Subdivision (former SL-SF) from Tulsa to Avard, OK, and part of the Creek Subdivision (former SL-SF) from Sapulpa (just south of Tulsa) to Mill Creek (north of Madill). It's too early to tell if I'm going to like working that desk, although it seems ok so far. If nothing else, at least the schedule will be a big improvement over the 1st-1st-2nd-2nd-3rd "relief swing" that I've been on for the past year and a half. I don't care if I never work another 3rd shift the rest of my career!

* * *

The other big news is that today is the first day of school... yep, we start 'em back early here in Keller, Texas. Of course, that means the kids get longer breaks during the school year, so it's not all bad... L is starting the Fourth Grade today... M will be attending a pre-K program three days a week starting in a couple weeks.

* * *

Definition of eclectic musical tastes? On Saturday night after work, I walked four miles on a treadmill at our employee fitness center. Wearing my Billy Joe Shaver t-shirt, I had my Walkman tuned to the "Dirty South Block Party" (my weekly dose of southern rap and hip-hop) on KNON out of Dallas. Meanwhile, in my truck out in the parking lot, I had a Stone Roses cd loaded up...

* * *

We had clouds and scattered rain over the weekend, and also this morning, so I haven't been out to take any photos. Maybe this coming weekend...


NP: Slaid Cleaves - Wishbones
NR: Jack Skiles - Judge Roy Bean Country

Friday, August 5, 2005

Thursday's train:

I caught a Halstead coal load on my way to lunch (before work) on Thursday:

1) 13:20 - s/b CROHS9 30 on UP Choctaw Sub at Kroger Dr. in Keller:
UP 5923 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 5692 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 6298 (AC4400CW, ex-SP "patched") - DP.
133 cars - mostly FPPX / LCRX gons

* * *

I was watching Jimmy Kimmel Live a few minutes ago... he did a brilliant satire of R Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" ("urban opera") video... maybe you've seen it on MTV... I saw it for the first time last week. I don't really dig R Kelly's style of music, but I will say that it was a refreshing change from a lot of the drivel on MTV ("Laguna Beach" and "Real World - Austin" excepted). At least it showed some creativity. Hell, at least it was an actual music video! What a concept! I didn't think anyone was making videos anymore... Anyway, Kimmel's version is called "The Pizza"... a bit of Googling revealed that it is a multi-part series, with the first two episodes available for viewing at the links below. Get ready to laugh yourself silly (it helps if you've seen the R Kelly video first) :

Part 1:
Part 2:

I don't spend a lot of time these days watching the late night talk shows, although I have been a big fan of Letterman for about 15 years. I used to watch him religiously back in the NBC days. Since Carson retired, Letterman is obviously the king of late night (it sure as hell isn't Jay Leno). But I really do like a lot of what I've seen on Kimmel's show. And to think that I once thought Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla would never be heard from again after The Man Show! Carolla is really a trip... I love hearing his "color commentary" (read: rants) with Dr. Drew on the radio call-in show Loveline (once an MTV show for those of you who can remember all the way back to about 1999 -- a qualification which probably excludes a sizeable percentage of ganja-smoking Carolla fans). And, of course, Carolla and Kimmel were big parts of the driving force behind the Comedy Central series Crank Yankers... I wasn't a huge fan of that shows, but they did do some fairly amusing stuff. And I really enjoyed Carolla in one role that will probably never see the light of day -- the voice of a minor character on the Phil Hendrie animated pilot for Fox. The character suited Adam perfectly.

I'll have to dedicate an entire blog entry to Phil Hendrie another time... I've been an occasional listener of his show for over five years now... what a breath of fresh air he is for the stale world of talk radio! But getting back to Adam Carolla, Carolla mentioned on a recent Loveline broadcast that he might be selected to replace Howard Stern when Stern goes to satellite radio. I wouldn't mind seeing the change happen right NOW... I used to be a pretty big fan of Stern, but lately all he ever seems to talk about is how the FCC won't let him do anything and how great his satellite show is going to be. Well, maybe it will, maybe it won't... his show was a LOT more enjoyable when Jackie Martling and the original Wack Pack were still around. If Carolla gets the gig, I might have to start listening again...


NP: Waylon Jennings - Greatest Hits
NR: Jack Skiles - Judge Roy Bean Country; September 2005 Trains Magazine

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Playing catch-up

Well, it looks like I'm overdue for an update... lots of trains and some great live music to report.

July was "Live Music Month"

I hadn't caught much live music lately... until the second half of July. In addition to seeing
Ray Wylie Hubbard on July 16, I managed to make it to a couple of other shows. On Friday the 22nd, two friends joined me for a trip to the new Love & War in Texas in Grapevine to see Billy Joe Shaver. Billy Joe might be better known in the music world as a songwriter (didn't he write most of Waylon Jennings' "Honky Tonk Heroes" album?), but Texas music fans are probably familiar with his work as a vocalist. K and I had seen Billy Joe perform last year at 8.0 in downtown Ft Worth (great show!) and I was looking forward to seeing him again.

Billy Joe Shaver at Love & War

Billy Joe Shaver
July 22, 2005

The show was scheduled to start at 10:30, but Billy Joe and his band ("Diamondback, Texas") actually took the stage at about 10. They opened with "Georgia on a Fast Train" and "Black Rose", two of my Billy Joe favorites. He played a few songs from each of his albums... I was a little disappointed not to hear "Leavin' Amarillo" or "People and their Problems", but he did do "Black Rose" a second time (someone in the crowd had missed it the first time!) Billy Joe had a lot of energy, and his band sounded good. He always looks like he's having a great time up on stage. One nitpick: when I pay $12 to see a show, I'd like to actually be able to see the guy singing the songs. Love & War has their dance floor set up right in front of the stage, and after about the first seven or eight songs, the dance floor was too crowded for me to see Billy Joe or the band. But at the same time, it was good to see the crowd getting in to the show. They played for about an hour and a half and left the stage to lots of applause, but didn't do an encore. A classic case of "leaving the audience wanting more"... but we were definitely glad we went.

On Wednesday the 27th, I caught Adam Carroll at Poor David's Pub in Dallas. This was my second time to see a show at the "new" Poor David's (I caught Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Band there a few months ago). The new place is definitely a big improvement over the old one... lots more room. Now if they could just do something about those $4.25 beers (priced to encourage under-consumption, I guess). The only other problem is their location on South Lamar... no other bars or night spots anywhere near the place, except for the new Gilley's, which I haven't yet visited. Anyway, on to the show...

Gordy Quist and Adam Carroll
Adam Carroll (right) and Gordy Quist
Poor David's Pub - July 27

I guess Adam Carroll could be described as a "country-slash-folk" artist... most of his songs are just vocals and acoustic guitar and occasional harmonica. His work has drawn comparisons to Todd Snider, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, and even Bob Dylan. Very "down home" and listener-friendly. I first heard his music on KHYI about 4 years ago. His song "Girl with the Dirty Hair" from the "Lookin' out the Screen Door" album had me hooked the first time I listened to it. I bought the cd and it has been one of my favorites ever since. But Carroll doesn't get much airplay on the stations I listen to, so I hadn't heard any of his more recent stuff.

Adam took the stage at about 9:45, opening with "Girl with the Dirty Hair". Texas singer-songwriter-guitarist Gordy Quist joined Adam for the entire set to play lead guitar. Their song selections included several numbers from "Screen Door" and also Carroll's latest release, "Far Away Blues". They sounded good, but I was a little disappointed to see only about 25 or 30 people in the crowd. (I guess I shouldn't have expected a large crowd for a Wednesday night show, but I thought he might have drawn a slightly larger audience.) Anyway, it was good to finally catch one of his shows... I've been wanting to see him ever since I bought "Screen Door", but he doesn't play in north Texas all that often.

Well, that's it for the live music... I'm on a new schedule at work now, so I probably won't be seeing many shows anytime soon, since my new rest days (Sunday and Monday) aren't normally big nights for live music. But I do plan on trying to catch some of the upcoming "Shiner Sunday" shows at Love & War in Texas in Plano...

Attack of the Summer Movies

I remember how summers used to be when I was a kid... I'd catch every one of the big summer movies the week that they came out, and I'd always see the "mega blockbusters" (like Star Wars or Batman) two or three times before the summer was over. These days, I'm lucky if I catch one or two movies a summer. I haven't been to the pictures this summer since I saw the latest Star Wars offering. I'd been wanting to catch Cinderella Man, but it looks like we missed it... guess we'll have to wait for the dvd.

Anyway, a few nights ago K and I took the kids to see the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. Going in, I didn't exactly have high hopes for this movie... although I was interested to see how Johnny Depp handled the Willy Wonka role. I've seen the original early 1970s version (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) and Gene Wilder as Wonka just gives me the creeps. In fact, a lot of that movie seems like a bad acid trip (even though I've never done acid, I'd imagine the experience as somewhat like being in that movie!)

Well, I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the "newer" version... I've read comments from some of the production team of the original Wonka movie, criticizing the newer one for not being "true" to the original. Well, I disagree; I thought it was totally true to the original, and a lot more watchable and entertaining. The kids who played the four brats who join Charlie on his factory tour all do brilliant jobs... and Depp turns in a fantastic performance with the Wonka role... the only other person I could think of who might have done justice to the role would be David Spade. But although he could have nailed the sarcasm and the "talking down to the stupid kids", he probably would have struggled with the more sentimental aspects of the part. I just thank God that they didn't use Jim Carey (although I did enjoy Carey in the Lemony Snicket movie).

Now, about those Oompa Loompas... well, call me a traditionalist, but I'm still more of a fan of the original Oompas, those little orange dudes with green hair. Seeing the Oompas looking exactly identical to one another (in fact, all played by the same actor) was definitely a little strange. But overall, the movie was a lot of fun... the story was very much the same as the original, although the newer version provides some previously undisclosed "insight" into the background of the reclusive Wonka. The sets were pretty cool (would you expect anything less in a Tim Burton film?), especially the outdoor shots of the factory. And finally, the reference to 2001: a Space Odyssey (one of my all-time sci-fi favorites) in the "tv room" scene was a great touch... I laughed my a$$ off!

Anyway, anytime I don't go home from the movies wanting a refund of my 8 bucks or wanting two hours of my life back, I'm usually pretty happy. If I feel like I was genuinely entertained, as was the case with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then so much the better. I was glad we went to see it.

* * *

Now, I haven't been to see War of the Worlds this summer, and I probably won't make it to the Stealth movie or whatever it's called, but so help me God, come hell or high water, I am GOING TO SEE THE NEW DUKES OF HAZZARD! Got that? I think the first preview for it aired during the American Idol finals and I was ready to see it RIGHT THEN. Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott as the Dukes? (Well, I'm game for Knoxville... not quite so sure about Scott)... Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg? Well, Danny DeVito might have been a better fit for the physical requirements of the part, but nobody'd ever buy him as a southerner. Reynolds will do nicely... Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke? Well, I'm not really a fan of her work, but after seeing her in the previews and watching her video of "These Boots are Made for Walkin'"... I could definitely be a fan after seeing this movie! And Willie Nelson as Uncle Jessie? Can I get a "Hell, yeah", turn in the direction of Austin, bow three times... To hell with the critics who say that the newer version is too risque, too sexualized, to bear the "Dukes of Hazzard" name.... hey man, it's the 21st century. Get with the times! If you want to see the originals (extremely poorly acted and produced, IMHO... I can't believe I used to watch those every week before "Saturday Night Wrestling"), then buy the dvd's. Based on the commercials I've seen, it looks like there are about 18 million of them coming out... but if you're game for the movie, you just might see me in there on opening weekend, wide eyed with a huge grin on my face, enjoying one of the bigger celebrations of white trash / redneck culture to hit the silver screen in years. I'm there, dude!

Fort Worth on fire

If you're a north Texan, you definitely heard about it, and from what I hear, it also made the national news... of course I'm talking about the north Fort Worth chemical plant that exploded last Thursday the 28th. M and I had just dropped L at her piano lesson in Keller and we could see a large cloud of smoke in the direction of downtown Fort Worth. We decided to go investigate... we drove down to the Basswood overpass above I-35W and got a good view from about three miles away... even from that distance, we could see flames and occasional fireballs shoot up into the air.

Gordy Quist and Adam Carroll
Valley Chemical Co. on fire, as viewed from
the Basswood Blvd overpass above I-35W
July 28, 2005

Reportedly, the smoke was visible from as far away as Denton and downtown Dallas. Although our home is much closer than that, we were lucky to be upwind from all the smoke. But it definitely made for a day's worth of local excitement, and some spectacular tv news footage. As far as I know, the cause is still under investigation.

Creating a Buzz

Well, on Saturday the 30th, Union Pacific unveiled the first two of their six "heritage" locomotives... SD70ACE units wearing modified versions of the schemes of pre-merger roads Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific. In case you missed them (although I'm not sure how that's possible, given the amount of discussion on most internet forums and discussion lists), here's a view of each:

While I'm not crazy about either scheme (I believe the first words out of my mouth when I saw them were, "somebody must have been smoking CRACK!"), I will admit that the MoPac scheme has grown on me a little, and I probably wouldn't look the other way if it rolled by me out on the tracks. But I've got to give UP credit for being able to create a "buzz"... railfans have been discussing the possibility of specially-painted UP locomotives for months, and their Saturday unveilings turned into one of the most highly anticipated events since the first UP "winged" SD70Ms hit the road about 5 years ago (another buzz-worthy event). God knows what their SP, Rio Grande, and North Western units will look like... but I'm looking forward to seeing the 2005 version of a Katy unit!

* * *

Train reports

Wednesday, July 27:

Seen leaving downtown Dallas after the Adam Carroll show on Wednesday night:
23:55 - UP e/b IHJNS-23 on UP Dallas Sub passing CJ / Cadiz Yards:

UP 4941 (SD70M)
UP 9729 (C44-9W)

Thursday, July 28:

Seen in Watauga, while having lunch at Quizno's with the kids:
+/- 13:00 - UP n/b GEFWMA-27 on UP Choctaw Sub near North Tarrant Parkway:
UP 8189 (SD9043MAC)
UP 8049 (SD9043MAC)
79 cars

Saturday, July 30:

Seen during a bike ride to Keller:
+/- 10:30 - UP s/b GSDKBE-27 on UP Choctaw Sub, crossing Bear Creek Parkway in Keller:
UP 7199 (AC4400CW)
SP 335 (AC4400CW)
UP 8101 (SD9043MAC)
96 cars

Sunday, July 31: UP Baird Sub and Fort Worth stuff:

Sunday morning, Dispatcher Trainee Matt joined me for a few hours on the UP Baird Sub and then checking out various locations around Ft Worth (Sunday mornings are about the only time that one can drive around the city unhindered by heavy traffic or road construction).

We had our sights set on a few inbound trains on the Baird Sub, but our first stop was actually at Lake Wanda on the BNSF, where a fleet of northbounds was backed up to meet something coming south. We shot the first northbound:

1) 07:21 - BNSF n/b M TEAALT1 30 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub at Lake Wanda:
BNSF 4570 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 6846 (SD40-2, BN green / white)
mixed freight, unknown car count.

Next, we headed out west to check out the UP Baird Sub traffic. A couple of the eastbounds we were expecting had already gotten into Fort Worth, but two more were coming. We set up for them at Aledo:

2) 0806 - UP e/b MODFW-29 on UP Baird Sub at Aledo:
UP 4004 (SD70M)
UP 3824 (SD70M)
UP 4567 (SD70M)
mixed freight, 105 cars

3) 0817 - UP e/b ILBDA-26 on UP Baird Sub at Aledo:
UP 4407 (SD70M)
UP 4168 (SD70M)
UP 9834 (C44-9W, wings)
UP 3505 (SD40-2)
UP 4913 (SD70M)

two at Iona - both stopped

All dressed up & nowhere to go: MODFW
(left) and ILBDA both stopped at Iona.
July 31, 2005.

MODFW held the main at Iona but did not immediately cut the crossing... ILBDA headed into the siding and did cut the crossing... a short while later, a taxi arrived to pick up ILBDA's crew. It didn't look like MODFW was going to move anytime soon, so we headed back to town.

At Centennial, we caught an eastbound (one of the Baird trains we had missed earlier) yarding their train in the receiving yard:

4) 0940 - UP e/b MWCFW-27 arriving in Centennial:
UP 3800 (SD70M)
UP 4911 (SD70M)
CRIX 5978 (SD50, ex-UP yellow)
GSCX 7353 (SD40-2 in "GATX" blue and white)
UP 9252 (C40-8)
UP 4078 (SD70M)
mixed freight, unknown car count

Next, we checked out the "ready" tracks at the east end of Centennial.

5) 0953 - Centennial service tracks:
SSW 9647 (GP60)
UP 2005 (GP60, ex-SSW "patched")

CSXT 7914 (C40-8W)
HLCX 6302 (SD40)

UP 3713 (SD40-2)
UPY 847 (SD38-2)
UP 7300 (AC6044CW)
UP 9599 (C44-9W, wings)

variety at Centennial

Variety at Centennial Yard. Fort Worth, July 31, 2005.

6) 0956 - e/b light engs passing Centennial service tracks
UP 8111 (SD9043MAC)
UP 6876 (AC4400CW)
0 cars

We spotted something pulling from the departure yard and scrambled to set up for a shot of him from the Vickery - Rosedale overpass:

7) 1000 - UP e/b YFW63 (transfer from Centennial to BNSF North Yard) leaving Centennial:
SP 7136 (GP40-2, speed-lettered)
UP 301 (GP38-2)
UP 1387 (GP40-2)
35 cars mixed freight

YFW63 had work at Peach Yard en route to the BNSF, so we set up for another shot of him on the north edge of downtown (1027 from the Spur 280 overpass, just south of Purina Jct). We continued north to Northside Dr. for another shot (1039), and also bagged a southbound rock train (which was crossing over from the UP Duncan Sub to the former BN at Tower 60)

8) 1037 - UP s/b RCITP-30 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub underneath Northside Dr.
UP 1909 (GP60 "mini" wings, with wings mostly peeled off)
SSW 9708 (GP60)
UP 2056 (GP60)
UP 2003 (GP60, ex-SSW "patched")
79 cars

Next, we headed to Tower 60 for a BNSF southbound:

9) 1108 - BNSF s/b G ANDPTR9 27 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub at Tower 60:
BNSF 6945 (SD40-2, ATSF blue/yellow)
BNSF 5512 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 1015 (C44-9W, H1)
109 cars

After that, YFW63 departed Peach and headed for BNSF North Yard. We headed to the Long Avenue overpass for one more shot (1124) before we called it quits for the day.

YFW63 at Long Avenue

YFW63 heads up the BN with a delivery for North Yard.
Photographed at Long Avenue in north Fort Worth, July 31, 2005.

Not a bad Sunday morning, and it was nice to re-familiarize myself with (and introduce Matt to) some of my old favorite Ft Worth locations that I hadn't shot for a while.


NP: KHYI 95.3 FM - Earl Pitts, Uhmerikun on Bruce Kidder's "Hard Country Radio"
NR: Jack Skiles - Judge Roy Bean Country; September 2005 Trains Magazine

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