Mountain West Rail
Day in North America 2002
The idea behind this event is every lunatic railroad photographer goes out for the entire day to photograph the railroads of North America and then send in their favorite shots to potentially be published in the same issue.   CTC Board Railroads Illustrated selected Saturday, June 1st for 2002's Day in North America event.  It is supposed to reflect a "typical" day on the railroads of North America, but I'm not sure that is a Saturday.

At any rate, I went out again this year, burning much fossil fuel and loading up on unhealthy snacks traveling the dirt roads and some paved roads of Sheridan County, WY.  I sent the following shots off to the head office in Ferndale, WA and this year they actually picked one.

Simply click on the thumbnail image to view a larger version or view all of the larger images in one page.  If you have any comments or critisism, I would like to hear them.  Just e-mail me.  - Paul Birkholz


The first four shots are ones I composed with the cover of the magazine in mind, thus the greater amount of sky for the magazine masthead.   I figure if you are going to spend the day shooting to get a photo published you might as well set your goals high.
BNSF 5277 East makes the short climb towards West Dutch, WY in the morning sunshine with the Bighorn Mountains in the background.  This H-PASKCK1-30 has a mixture of manifest and intermodal equipment this day.

It is a 1.25% eastward climb to Ulm, WY and this manifest is about a mile from topping out over the hill.  BNSF 5277 & 4591 are the sole power for this H-PASKCK1-30.

BNSF 5277 East rolls over the undulating hills of eastern Sheridan County near the former BN location of Big Corral.  Snow still covers the Clouds Peak Wilderness area of the Bighorn Mountains in the distance.

The H-PASKCK1-30 begins its descent towards the Powder River at East Kendrick, WY.  This is the image that was selected for publication.

Sheridan, WY is the base of operations for BNSF’s Big Horn Subdivision helper district.  For nearly two decades, helper sets were two BN SD40-2s, but in roughly the last year those units have been replaced by SD60Ms.  During the same period, fuel tender use was discontinued due to a number of factors.  This means that many times a week the helper sets must be refueled such as BN 9267 and its mate just after midnight on June 1st.  Due to the cost of refueling these units locally, many BN fuel tenders have been upgraded and are now in use again.

Morning light falls on the H-PASKCK1-30 as it passes through Kleenburn, WY.  In a few more miles a new crew will board the eastbound train to take it on towards Gillette.

After a quick crew change in Sheridan, WY, the eastbound H-PASKCK1-30 climbs the 1.6% grade of Sheridan Hill behind BNSF 5277 & 45291.

Two BNSF C44-9Ws lead the H-PASKCK1-30 east past an old grain elevator at Arno, WY

Enough rain has fallen near Dutch, WY to keep the grass green – for now – in northern Wyoming as the H-PASKCK1-30 begins the climb towards Ulm.

Eastbound helper set BNSF 9204 & 9206 pass by the Golden Willow Ranch east of Verona, WY on their way to help a loaded coal train back west.

A matched set of SD70MACs drag the C-JRMBEN0-25 towards Parkman, WY.  Once this westbound loaded coal train tops the hill their helpers will cut off and return east towards Sheridan.

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