Sunday, January 24, 2010

Southwest (Arkansas) shorts

Wednesday, October 21

I was up around sunrise and began making my way around the town of Prescott, in search of the Prescott & Northwestern. Unfortunately, the good weather from Tuesday did not last. Skies were overcast the entire day, and the rain moved in after dark. But rain or shine, I was here to shoot the P&NW, so I tried to make the best of it. It didn't take me long to locate them; they were switching cars on the north side of town before they heading to a nearby tire plant. Next, they headed south to interchange cars with the UP.

Prescott & Northwestern # 24 - Prescott, AR

Unique locomotives were the attraction: Prescott & North- western owns three GE 70-ton switching locomotives. # 24 was hard at work during my visit.

Next, I headed back over to Gurdon to check out the Caddo Valley Railroad, a shortline which operates a former Missouri Pacific branch. They had a few ratty looking geeps and some of the worst track I had ever seen.

walking-speed track through a tunnel of trees

Caddo Valley shop tracks northeast of Gurdon

Traffic was busy on the Union Pacific Little Rock Subdivision through Prescott and Gurdon throughout the day. This former Missouri Pacific line sees predominantly eastbound traffic between Texarkana and Little Rock. (Westbounds use the former Cotton Belt line bewteen Pine Bluff and Texarkana.) Trains rolled through Prescott about once every 30 to 45 minutes during my visit.

CSX locomotives power an eastbound past the Prescott depot.

An eastbound stack train streaks across a gravel road approaching Prescott.

The Colossus sightings continued...

I planned to spend Thursday on Rich Mountain -- in the Ouchita Mountains between Mena, Arkansas and Heavener, Oklahoma. So I drove west to Ashdown, stopped for a brief night photo session, then continued north to DeQueen to spend the night.

This pair of Kansas City Southern locomotives in the "Southern Belle" scheme made a nice subject for an after-dark photo shoot. Light source was a sodium vapour street lamp directly behind my camera.

Coming next: Rich Mountain in the rain. Check back soon...


np: Kathleen Hanna - "I wish I was him"

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Really late road trip re-cap

In Whiskey, Texas, just because a vacation trip took place 3 months ago doesn't mean you won't get a chance to read about it. Coverage of my October vacation to Kansas City begins now.

I had a week of vacation scheduled for the third week of October. Anxious to be out on the road during my favorite season to travel, I planned out an itinerary which would allow me to visit a friend in Kansas City and do plenty of sightseeing along the way. It would be a typical Whiskey road trip... run & gun, spontaneous changes, no motel reservations, and maximum productivity of limited time. That's how I roll, baby... and this is how it went down.

On the road: Highway 80 in east Texas

Tuesday, October 20 - Surrealville Sojourn

I was on the road just after sunrise with a goal of reaching Gurdon, Arkansas by mid-afternoon. In Gurdon, I would meet buZ blurr, the retired railroader who draws the "Colossus of Roads" railcar icons.

It was a great day to begin a road trip. I traveled east and north at a leisurely pace, stopping to photograph church signs, ghost signs, the Texas & Pacific depot in Marshall, and various other small town scenes, before arriving on buZ's doorstep at the appointed time.

Marshall, Texas: Texas & Pacific depot and steam locomotive display

Texarkana church sign: Shouldn't this say "Tweet God"?

I've been noticing the Colossus of Roads monikers for many years; the Colossus is one of my favorite drawings out on the rails. Every time a train passes by, I watch intently, hoping to see one. A couple years ago, buZ and I began corresponding via mail and e-mail. In fact, he originally contacted me through this blog after I posted some Colossus photos.

buZ and his wife really rolled out the red carpet for my visit and made me feel welcome. After a visit in their home, buZ provided me with a guided tour of Surrealville (that's Gurdon in buZ nomenclature). We stopped by the railroad depot, the yard, and his art studio... and even made it out to the family farm in "Surrealville West" so I could view the "Rust Never Rests" / "Fill the Ford Fully" works-in-progress.

Colossus Ground Zero: buZ blurr and Colossus drawings in Gurdon, Arkansas.

Driving to Surrealville West with buZ.

buZ blurr with 1950 Ford, part of the "Rust Never Rests" project. buZ welcomes contributions of old keys to "Fill the Ford Fully" in an effort to confound future archaeologists.

It was a pleasure and privilege to finally meet the man behind the moniker, and learn more about his background in railroading and his modern-day artistic endeavors. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Thanks, buZ...

Surrealville scenes: empty chair in open field...

Signs of Surrealville...

chainsaw mailbox

I would tie up for the night in nearby Prescott, and planned to spend the next morning tracking down operations on a local shortline, the Prescott & Northwestern Railroad. Stay tuned...


np: Cross Canadian Ragweed - "Boys from Oklahoma"

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

North Texas White Christmas

We've enjoyed plenty of 70-degree Christmases in Texas over the years, but this year gave us something different: actual snow on Christmas Eve (which remained on the ground on Christmas Day, and then some!) Driven by fierce 40-mph wind gusts which blew it into large drifts, it was the kind of snow that's more enjoyable to stay inside and look at rather than step outside and experience. Of course, I was at work on Christmas Eve, but I stepped outside the NOC long enough to snap this photo of something rarely seen...

White Christmas Eve in north Fort Worth

Before I went to work on the 24th, we celebrated Christmas with the kids at Mom's house.

M had a good haul this year...

L's credo

M's favorite gift - the Lego pirate ship

This "reindeer tongue" sucker was runner-up in the "bad taste in Christmas candy" category...

"Bad taste in Christmas candy" winners: Panda and polar bears that poop brown jelly beans

Even Sprocket got a gift: a chewable rubber tongue

I worked on Christmas, too. Not a single train moved until 7 pm, by which time I had enjoyed the nice catered dinner that the company provides for dispatchers on Christmas Day. Before work, I stopped through Saginaw to snap a photo...

White Christmas in Saginaw.

Hope all of my family and friends had an enjoyable holiday season.

Stay tuned for more coming soon.


np: Wayne Hancock - "Track 49"

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