Tales of Tower 17

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#1
Back home in Texas after wrapping up freshman year at LA Tech. I live in Richmond, which is next door to Rosenberg, a crossroads for KCS, UP, and BNSF. The UP Glidden, BNSF Galveston, and KCS Rosenberg subs all intersect in Rosenberg. Dozens of trains daily, lots of photo opportunities. Tower 17 was original interlocking tower which controlled traffic in Rosenberg, thus the thread title. The plan is to post photos from all three area subs, with the occasional excursion afield. So here goes...

The Sunset Limited approaches Sugar Land on the UP Glidden sub.
AMTK 195 (Custom-Small).jpg

KCS manifest passes Harlem Rd on the UP Glidden sub.
KCS 4190 (Custom).jpg

BNSF coal drag passes the N Booth CP under cover of a thunderstorm.
BNSF 5738 (Custom).jpg

BNSF unit train waits in the Wallis siding.
BNSF 5790 2 (Custom).jpg
 
#2
I got out at 0600 yesterday morning and caught 2 EB trains on the UP Glidden sub. Went home, and got back out at 1630 to catch WB traffic. Here are some of the results from those excursions. I shoot at the East Bernard siding quite a bit ue to a combination of good light, two tracks, and a good spot to park my car.

Unit sand train sitss at the East Bernard siding. This is actually a local from a sand facility about 20mi west of this location.
UP 7193 2 (Custom-Small).jpg

UP local from Eagle Lake meets the sand train at the East Bernard siding. I was hoping for a pair of GPs on this guy, but apparently UP uses SD70s as road switchers.
UP 4178 (Custom-Small).jpg

BNSF WB stack train waits in the passing track to meet an EB at Wallis.
BNSF 5602 (Custom-Small).jpg

UP MoW track moves into the East Bernard siding.
UP 7167 2 (Custom-Small).jpg
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#3
Thanks for risking the heat, humidity, and bugs of a Houston area summer to start this thread and take those photos. I'll put in a request for more photos of the sand train, including the freight cars, source, and destination (if possible without trespassing).
 
#4
Thanks for risking the heat, humidity, and bugs of a Houston area summer to start this thread and take those photos. I'll put in a request for more photos of the sand train, including the freight cars, source, and destination (if possible without trespassing).
My pleasure. It's home, you get used to it after a while.

Freight cars I will do in the future, but the source is off-limits on private property. I don't know the destination. I'll try to find out.

Sand train at first light. Low angle light is not a UP friend.
UP 7193 (Custom-Small).jpg

Another angle.
UP 7193 4 (Custom-Small).jpg
 
#7
Nice stuff! I look forward to seeing more.
Thank you. I'll be happy to oblige.

The last two days have unusually been cool and dry, autumn weather in May. I got out trackside at 1630 to catch WB traffic. Caught 2 BNSF trains in Wallis, and 2 UP trains around Rosenberg and East Bernard. The second UP train was a bad decision, as the sun was low in the sky and highlighted a very dirty SD70M. But otherwise the excursion was a success. Here are a few of those results...

BNSF 5856 pulls an empty coal drag through Wallis.
BNSF 5856 Wallis (Custom-Small).jpg

BNSF 8419 hot on the heels of the previous with a cut of autoracks.
BNSF 8419 (Custom-Small).jpg

UP 8952 approaches Robinowitz Rd, exiting Rosenberg with a stack train.
UP 8952 3 (Custom-Small).jpg

UP 8952 sounds the horn approaching Pilcik Rd, startling a trio of calves.
UP 8952 (Custom-Small).jpg

A couple notes on the day. I'm going to bring a step ladder out to Wallis sometime to deal with the grade and high weeds. See if maybe I can mix-up the tele shots. I've got a number of unused Wallis teles, most of which look the same. Not good. On a better note, this was my first time shooting from Pilcik Rd. No roadside power lines, few trees, and good public access. I believe that it's the only spot like that on the UP between Columbus and Rosenberg. Definitely a keeper.
 
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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#8
See if maybe I can mix-up the tele shots. I've got a number of unused Wallis teles, most of which look the same. Not good.
That is the big challenge when you shoot from the same location, whether it is MP 17 near my home or Tower 17 near your home. Nothing beats shutter time to hone your photography skills.
 
#9
The skies cleared up for the first time in a week and a half, so I hit the road to see what I could find. Mostly WBs, including a military train hauling HMMWVs, gooseneck trailers, and support vehicles. The only EB was a manifest heading into Houston from the Eagle Lake yard. I photographed it a few miles west of East Bernard and again crossing the Brazos River at Richmond. The East Bernard location was a new one, I've wanted to try it but hadn't due to high weeds. This time I had a stepladder, so I was able to get above the weeds for a decent shot. The train crew got a kick out of it, in the first images you can see them grinning. But without further ado....

Rounding the corner
UP 3997 3 (Custom-Small).jpg

Closing the distance
UP 3997 1 (Custom-Small).jpg

Crossing the Brazos
UP 3997 4 (Custom-Small).jpg
 
#12
Nice set of photos USSHelm. That quite an interesting looking bridge support in that last photo. Is that some sort of retrofit bridge pier?
Yes. Last year Texas experienced torrential rains over most of the state, the river at Richmond set a record at almost 55ft. The east bank of the Brazos was substanially eroded away where the railroad bridge lands, and the east pier under the middle camelback span sank a couple feet into the riverbed. That resulted in the Glidden sub between Richmond and Houston being shut down for around 6 weeks while repairs were made. There is drone footage on youtube of the construction activities. On posts 15 and 16 in the linked thread you can see how the pier sank compared to the approachway.

http://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?threads/rebuilding-the-brazos-river-bridge.95014/


Watch out for ticks and rattlesnakes in that tall grass.
Absolutely.
 
#14
Interesting, thanks for the Info!
My pleasure.

Yesterday afternoon I got back out at 1700 to intercept WB traffic. Bagged two trains, one in East Bernard and one in Eagle Lake. I returned to the East Bernard curve where I shot in the morning and hacked out a new spot with a better view east. The Eagle Lake location was one I'd shot before, but never at sunset. In the first photo, those are UP motors peeking out from behind the BNSF leader.

Leaning into the curve
BNSF 5949 2 (Custom-Small).jpg

Down in the weeds
BNSF 5949 4 (Custom-Small).jpg

Wedgie at Ramsey
UP 6775 (Custom-Small).jpg
 
#16
Another nice set of photos!
Thank you!

I've been doing some reading about polarizing filters and how to use them. So yesterday afternoon I pulled my filter out of storage for the first time in over a year and went out trackside. Cloud cover was between 50-30%, not conditions I generally like to shoot trains in. The tally on the day was 2 in Wallis, and 1 in Ramsey (6mi NW of Eagle Lake).

My thinking in using the polarizing filter was to keep the clouds from blowing out, but I'm not sure about the results. The filter knocked down the exposure anywere from 1/3 of a stop to 2 stops depending on conditions. Ergo, I question whether the clouds would have been better preserved by simply using a slower shutter speed. However, that introduces the risk of capturing motion blur when the train is passing. The polarizing filter used was a Tiffen that came with the camera purchase. Any thoughts/recommendations for using polarizing filters?

Another Wallis wedgie
BNSF 7024 (Custom-Small).jpg

East end of Wallis
UP 6361 (Custom-Small).jpg

Manifest and military train at Lyle Rd
UP 9003 3 (Custom-Small).jpg

Dusk on the Sunset Route
Dusk On The Sunset (Custom-Small).jpg
 
#18
I use a circular polarizer quite often. I use it to darken the sky, its like a pair of sunglasses. It works great in the middle of the day, in the middle of summer.
 
#19
It's been cloudy for past couple weeks so I haven't spent a lot of time chasing. Instead I've been practicing long exposures in the area. Highways, and the local powerplant (served by BNSF). In order, a UP stack train passing through downtown Richmond, a manifest passing over the busy intersection of TX99 and US90A, and the W. A. Parish Generating Station which powers a good chunk of SE Texas. Hopefully the clouds will break towards the end of this coming week and I'll get back out on the chase.

Old Richmond
UP 4567 (Custom-Small).jpg

30 Seconds over 90
30 Seconds Over 90 (Custom-Small).jpg

W A Parish
W A Parish (Custom).jpg
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#20
It's been cloudy for past couple weeks so I haven't spent a lot of time chasing.............. Hopefully the clouds will break towards the end of this coming week and I'll get back out on the chase.
Don't knock clouds. Some very good railroad photos (like your first one above) have interesting cloud formations in the background. Many times an overcast sky will present better lightning conditions than bright, harsh sunlight.
 



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