The day was supposed to end by doing something I hadn’t done: photographing the 9th Ave. Local with a pair of GP38-2’s on the return to Kipp Yard on the outskirts of Lethbridge.   It was a beautiful May evening, and the sun was finally getting to the point where it would still be up long enough that the local would still be in daylight.  Talk about Murphy’s Law!

Did I mention that Murphy was an optimist!

So I sat at the University Drive bridge, which would be a PERFECT location for the local…. nice outside of the curve shot with two engines and one or two cars, with the rest swinging around behind the engines in shadow.  Magic stuff!!!  The problem was that the sun was getting lower.  And lower.  And LOWER.  Pretty soon, it would be to the point where, although it would still be above the horizon, it would be below the bridge berm.  At this moment I heard a rumbling from behind me.

Eastbound trains drop down a bit of a grade to get to the High Level bridge.  Between the fact that the locos are coasting, and the sound barrier produced by the bridge, you get VERY little warning for an eastbound.  No sooner had I heard the rumbling that I turned around and saw an ES44AC and a GP38-2 on an empty coal train.  This of course was unusual for two reasons; the single ES44AC AND the GP38-2 on a road freight.  Needless to say, all thoughts of the local went out the window as I ran back to the car to make chase.

As I drove across the Oldman River valley from one side of Lethbridge to the other, thoughts raced as to where I could go to get a shot of the coalie.  Luckily for myself, trains have a speed limit of 30km/h across the High Level Bridge, whereas cars have a 110km/h on Highway 3.  As a result, even though I had to travel a fair distance north in order to go east, I was still able to beat the train into Lethbridge township.

The only place I could think of that might even come close to working was just on the other side of town.  Road speed dips down to 80km/h, so it would be a bit more of a race, as the train can pick up speed again after it finishes crossing the bridge.

Did I mention that Murphy was an optimist?

I made it to the location with no problems.  Time to spare even.  What I didn’t realize was that although the train can pick up speed, it’s still only to about 50km/h until it reaches the other side of town.  So I sat and waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Starting to get nervous that I was going to be beaten again by the path of the sun, I began to see the headlight approaching.  Finally it made it into the area, and I pressed the shutter a few times to try and get SOMETHING out of it.

In the end, it turned out to be quite reasonable.  Not quite a glint shot, but I’m happy with it.

I never did get a shot of the westbound local in the 5 and half years of living in Lethbridge before I left in December of 2011.

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