Rails & Trails Pages

Thursday, July 31, 2014

PGR Cab Ride 2014

On July 30, 2014, I had the opportunity to take a train ride on Progressive Rail from Northfield to Lakeville, MN and back.  Accompanying me was friend Rod Peters.  Rod had recently accepted a job as a train crew member with the Union Pacific Railroad and this was his last free week.  Here is Progressive's office in Northfield:

Here is Rod, posing in front of our power for the train.  Our train will be powered by three GP38-3s, this engine being built in 1965 and has 2000 horsepower.

Progressive Rail interchanges with the Union Pacific and the Canadian Pacific at Northfield.  Only CP delivered cars the previous night and their train was left on the siding for another crew to take back north.  That crew would arrive about 3 PM.

There is a new grain loading facility in Randolph which loads unit trains.  A loaded train was sitting on the track to Randolph so we can't make a trip to Randolph or Cannon Falls today.  That train has been sitting there for four days, waiting for additional UP power.  That power would arrive today so hopefully the unit train will be gone shortly.
With only CP delivering cars, our train crew deftly made up our train in less than an hour.  Cars are blocked for industries in Lakeville so they can quickly be switched into industries there by the Lakeville crew.
Looking north as we switch:

As we switch, Progressive's section crew changes ties on the lead to the large Malt-O-Meal plant which makes cereal.  As I understand, this was the original Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern mainline track to Lakeville.  When the Soo Line took over the MN&S, they didn't want to maintain the highway crossings so for about a quarter of a mile, they access the UP/CP mainline before returning to home rails.

And this is the TITAN trackmobile used by Malt-O-Meal crews:

We will be taking these 3 carloads of pipe to Lakeville:

Looking north from the south end of the yard as we switch:

Our train is about ready to go:

We get our Track Warrant for the mainline and head out.  The track to the left of the mainline is the lead track for our switching:

Out on the main line.  This City of Northfield truck had just pulled ahead a little.  He was sitting dangerously close to the crossing.

We pass by the Northfield depot.  A group is trying to save the building and is raising funds for moving it and restoration.

Looking back, we see some of our 31 cars on this train:

Here is the switch to the track to Randolph and Cannon Falls:

This is the switch to the connection track from the main line to the old MN&S main track.  PGR's conductor travels in a truck and throws the switches.

It's a climb up the hill but our 6,000 horses have no trouble dragging the train up the incline.

Come along for a neat train ride through the Minnesota countryside on a beautiful late summer day:

Pretty soon Rod will be sitting in this position on the Union Pacific!!

We get to Lakeville but we can't get into the yard just yet as the Lakeville crew is finishing their switching and making up our train for the return trip.  So we sit south of the yard at a town road.

The switcher is waiting for us.  After we pull by him, he will grab the tail end cars and quickly start spotting the industries.

The switcher is already spotting cars as we back in more cars.

Here are the attractive PGR offices with outside displays including an MN&S boxcar and a caboose.

Our train is made up and almost ready to go.

One of the hazards of summer railroading is bees.  Here we find a swarm in the switchstand!!

We'll pull forward, grab these flats, do the air test, and head south.

Our lead unit for the trip back to Northfield is GP38-3 #3800 and fresh out of the paint shop.  It also has air conditioning!!

Thank you to PGR owner Dave Fellon and crew members Brandon and Tony for a great day of railroading!!

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