This morning I heard over the squawk box that some private varnish was suppose be trailing behind Amtrak's Rebel. So I made a few phone calls and got the skivvy from some of the local railfans.
The Rebel leaves Alexandria around 9am so it was going to be an early morning for me.
After arriving in Alexandria I hit the local Quicky Mart to grab me some foamer snacks for the day then headed for the yard. Within 10 minutes I heard that the Rebel just left the station and I caught up with her passing the house tracks. Sure enough, there was the private varnish just as expected, but what the? The Gargoyle II? Oh well at least it was something different to shoot for once.
I snagged one picture and sped out of the yard and headed for the diamonds at Winnfield to setup. No sooner than I got set up I could hear the Rebel nearing my location.
Another short jaunt down the road I and came to Ruston hoping to catch it again crossing the ICG diamonds this time. Made it just as it passed the tower. If they keep their speed down this morning I might be able to keep up with it and get several pics before it leaves El Dorado?
I did manage to get a bit ahead of the Rebel this time. I caught it as it begins the swing into the big "S" curve on the north end of Dubach.
After Dubach they must have hit a slow order something as I made it to El Dorado with a few minutes spare. It's a grab shot as it enters the yard limit, but what the hey? Just as I got over to the depot to get a closer look, I found them spotting it on the house track, Really?
At first I thought they might have a bad order or something but when I asked the agent, they told me that their plans had changed and the passengers decided they wanted to take a detour over to Hot Springs, AR for the night and enjoy the National Park. Awesome, that could only mean one thing!
The W&OV will be coming to down to El Dorado to pick up the car. I wonder if they plan to tack it to the end of the daily Razorback and return to Malvern with it? Oh this is going to make for some cool shots! ALCo's on the point and private varnish on the rear!
Knowing the Razorback isn't scheduled to shown until 1pm or so I decided to go and grab a soda. Just as I got back and parked the truck I heard the horn of the W&OV just north of town as it crossed the Ouachita river bridge. But it's too early for the Razorback?
A few minutes later W&OV #2073 pulled down the passenger siding and eased up to the varnish and made the joint. Much to my amazement they wasted no time in getting under way!
I grabbed my gear and jumped in the truck and headed north to follow them. I caught up with them at Calion just as they took the siding. Ah, they must have been in hurry to get here so they could meet a SB?
Sure enough, no sooner than they closed the switch I heard a horn coming south through Fordyce.
Once the LRMP went past, the 2073 slowed to a crawl as they rolled down the siding only to come to a full stop on the north end of MQ siding, another train? Yep! This time it's the SB Katy coal drag that is heading to Baton Rouge. Well this would explain the rush to get out of El Dorado. MQ is the only siding between El Dorado and Haskell.
Once Miss Katy cleared, the 2073 resumed north to the junction at Haskell.
With the Riceland elevator as a backdrop, I snapped another shot of 2073 in the junction siding.
I caught up with her again as she entered Malvern then again as she rolled past Heavy Metal and Crushmoore, Ind.
By this time it was getting late and there wasn't many more good shots to be had before they reached Hot Springs so I called it a night. On the way home I stopped by the W&OV shops and found Homer and asked him when they were coming back through? As he scratched his head he said "Maybe in a day or two, wasn't too sure, but I'll give you a call when I find out, iffins you'd like"?.
On the way home I got a call from Homer saying that the group had decided to stay in Hot Springs for a full day and return the following morning.
Two days later Homer called me again to say they had a schedule on the varnish. "Gonna be in Malvern heading back to El Dorado later that day and that if I hustled I could catch it leaving Malvern around 11 am"
Just as Homer had promised I caught the 2073 doing the honors again, this time near Crushmoore.
Then passing Frump Gas near the Haskell Jct.
At haskell they had to wait for another SB grain train before entering the main.
Cool! A Rio Grande SD45! Normally I see more more SP power but this was a nice catch! After getting clearance, they hustled through Fordyce, this time they didn't need to take the siding so I lost them.
By the time I reached El Dorado the switcher came out to meet them and looks like they're going to snag the car off the 2073 on the main and spot it on the house track with the 4206. Looks like the 2073 will return to Malvern light, too bad I couldn't sweet talk a cab ride?
A short time later the Rebel arrived in town and backed onto the varnish. Again, wasted no time in departing.
A friendly wave and they were off.
The next day, a buddy called me and said he got some good footage of the Rebel running through Haskell with his new video camera.