On any given day the east switch of the siding in Luling, Texas sees a lot of traffic; and Sundays are no different from any other day.
At 2:26 pm on the warm and sunny afternoon of January 28th, 2018, the engineer in 4-year-old BNSF ES44C4 number 7182 stopped his train on the Sunset Route mainline to allow his conductor to access the crew shed at Union Pacific’s small trackside facility.
Then, at 2:31, after regaining his crewmate, the hogger throttles up his charges. With mostly new covered hoppers and tanks fresh from the carbuilder, the comfortably over-powered train steps smartly across Hackberry Avenue and resumes her eastbound journey.

Long ago, a humorous and un-remembered sportsman coined the phrase “The worst day fishing is better than the best day at work!”

On this I will heartily agree, even though there were times in the distant past that I would arrive at pier’s end well before sunrise, fueled by the great anticipation of plucking hearty samples of Speckled Trout or Reds from the waters of Galveston Bay, toting any number of spinning reels, tackle box, bait, folding chair and over-sized cooler filled with generous amounts of canned adult beverages, only to retreat in the face of a horrific defeat at noontime, possessing only a good buzz and the prospect of a couple of Quarter Pounders with cheese for dinner.

Now I buy my salmon in the supermarket and grill it the same evening, without having to have risen at Zero-Dark-Thirty. 

In the interest of continuity, let us transmute our phrase from above and apply it to our shared passion—Trains. 

Is there EVER a bad day to watch trains?

I’ve been fortunate to have experienced the grandeur of a gorgeous and sunny late-summer Saturday afternoon on Union Pacific’s Sherman Hill from trackside at Tie Siding. The weather was perfect, the views outstanding, and the trains plentiful. A train watcher’s dream!

I have also spent Saturdays along the Joint Line at Colorado’s Palmer Lake when the fog had visibility measured in tenths-of-a-mile, and the frozen hoar frost covered everything, including the railheads! The drama was high indeed as one could hear the laboring of Burlington Northern SD40-2s and C30-7s grinding upgrade with 110 loads of Powder River coal on slippery rails coming up the hill from Larkspur long before one could see them.

The Front Range indeed was the Grand Theatre for railroading during the crisis of the Flood of ’93!

I miss those days. 

But, is there EVER a bad day to be trackside?

Let’s throw a thermos of coffee into the front seat of the pick up and drive down to Kingsbury on the Sunset Route and see if we can’t capture an eastbound Union Pacific freight heading into the orange glow of the rising sun. Maybe we’ll get that long-sought-after shot where the Scotchlite decals glow brilliant on the nose of that SD70ACe!

Or maybe we’ll just share a cup from our thermos with a fellow railfan and enjoy the beginnings of another south-central Texas day.

Yeah, ANY day doing this is better than the best day at work.

I’m quite fortunate in that I live along Union Pacific’s ex-Katy Lockhart Subdivision, and that the highway into town runs parallel to the tracks for a good ways. And rare is it that I travel without my Canon, for EVERY day is a good day to shoot trains! 

Here, at 1:12 pm on the sixth day of February 2018, 9-year old BNSF ES44AC number 6314 and haggard Warbonnet veteran 9-44CW number 682, a 1994 graduate from the GE erecting shop at Erie, Pennsylvania, struggle with a solid westbound block of company grain hoppers two miles out of the siding in Lockhart, Texas.

There’s a slow-order up, and the big GEs will test their mettle as they fight wet rail and the rolling profile of the Texas countryside to get their heavy train down to Ajax Jct. at San Marcos.

Indeed, amid the mist and fog and cold, as the hot turbocharged exhaust from GEVOs and FDLs piles into the leaden Texas skies, there’s drama on the high iron.

And every day is a good day to stand as witness.


Remnants of this year’s cotton harvest are still scattered about the black-land prairie at Clark’s farm as a passing cold front is clearing the sky with a brisk north wind at 2:20 pm on the 15th day of December 2017.

Here, two miles west of Lockhart, Texas BNSF C44-9W 4523 leads sister 4952 as they muscle a timetable southbound block of company hoppers laden with northern grain on Union Pacific’s ex-MKT Lockhart Subdivision.


Here’s the look of late-autumn railroading in central Texas:
It’s 2:20 pm on December 15th, 2018, and with the winter solstice just days away, the declination of the sun has created long shadows in the somewhat diffused light.
The passage of last night’s cold front has the skies clearing and left a brisk north wind blowing across the fallow fields of Caldwell county, leaving the air crisp and dry.
Where once the torrential rains and gale-force winds of Hurricane Harvey lashed away and threatened to destroy the cotton crop on the Clark family farm, only stubble and clusters of errant cotton bolls are left. The wise and weathered family has been farming these fields for many generations, and their experience and stick-to-it-ivness led them to a successful harvest just a few short weeks prior to this scene, where BNSF C44-9Ws 4523 and 4952 roll a solid block of company hoppers filled with Northern grain along the rolling farmland west of Lockhart, Texas.
This is Union Pacific territory, but the Lockhart Subdivision sees plenty of foreign traffic on the southbound directional-running route out of Smithville, and the grain season always proves to be especially busy. 
There's been a stiff southerly breeze blowing all day off the Gulf of Mexico, bringing plenty of humidity to central Texas, bending the tall trees and blowing heat waves off of approaching BNSF ES44C4 number 8092.
Here, at 12:37 on the last afternoon of April 2018, the 4-year-old GE, accompanied by a Norfolk Southern unit, leads a southbound block of loaded company grain hoppers into the sweeping curve in Maxwell, Texas on Union Pacific's Lockhart Subdivision.
The temperature in the valley near Maxwell, Texas reached 104 degrees today as the ridge of high pressure keeps the region locked in a sweltering heat wave.
At 8:07 pm on July 20th, 2018 the temps are still in the very high 90s as the rapidly setting sun lights up the face of 2003-built BNSF C44-9W number 5188 leading a newer GEVO as they head a southbound block of empty auto racks downgrade on Union Pacific's Lockhart Sub under a Saharan dust-tinted sky.
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