Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alan's Second Post

"More from Nikki in McGregor.
I often have difficulty using Nikki indoors due to her longer focal length and low light levels; the early darkness of winter also limits my shooting. I've made sure to put her to good use these past two days.

From today:
The town of McGregor is named after one Dr. Gregor McGregor and owes it's existence to the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (the Cotton Belt, or SSW). The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway was building northward from Temple, TX to Ft. Worth, TX and established the town of Banks, TX two miles south of McGregor's present day location in 1880. In 1881, a predecessor of the SSW built through the location of present day McGregor with the intent of reaching Mexico from it's terminus in Waco. The Santa Fe and residents decided that a township at the junction would be more logical so Banks ceased to exist as all of residents and businesses moved to McGregor in 1882. I have been watching trains here since being only a few years old and I vividly remember being 2-5 years old and climbing up sign poles and riding my tricycle into the middle of our street to watch the trains pass by. Anytime I hear the airhorns go off while I am outside, I still watch. Old habits die hard! :D

The union station of the two towns was built in 1904 and remains unchanged but for the loss of the interlocking tower after the Cotton Belt pulled it's tracks up in the 1980's.

The depot still bears the name of it's former owner, a holdover from a merger nearly 20 years ago:

The town historically was served by the GCSF Texas Chief, and is currently served by Amtrak's Texas Eagle and even has a ticket agent at times.

In my childhood, the depot sat largely derelict and we expected it to be demolished. With the merger, BNSF started using it as a maintenance hub for tracks up and down the line and it is now accompanied by typical rail maintenance paraphernalia:

Nikki clearly loses to Nikon's newer G lenses when it comes to flare-resistant coatings, but manufacturers certainly couldn't sit still for 40 years; this is a lovely look anyway.

I was hoping to catch a train while out on our walk. While we waited for a few minutes, I continued detail shots:

Double red signals for any southbound trains was a good sign that something would be heading north soon:

We were rewarded shortly as my wife and I caught the sound of a distant whistle at the crossing two miles south of town, near historical Banks. Within three minutes, we saw headlights bearing down on the station quickly. Much to my surprise, I was rewarded with the railfan's delight, a BNSF train headed up by three different generations of 'pumpkin' paint schemes.
 I strongly preferred the red/silver or blue/yellow Santa Fe warbonnets of my youth...

The train passed quickly, and I naturally didn't have a tripod in order to get a stable image at 1/10s:

And as quickly as the train came into town, it was gone:"

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