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Edition #177  July 1, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

Photographer: Ken McCutcheon

                                                                      Photo by Ken McCutcheon

Expect the Unexpected

As a railfan for many years I have come to expect the unexpected from time to time.  Maybe it’s the train that runs every day at the same time except when I’m at trackside waiting for it.  Or your camera, ‘old faithful’ which hasn’t given me any problems over the years, then one day when I’m several hundred miles from home it packs it in.

Here in the Prairies we have small herds of deer, lots of deer in fact.  Sometimes when driving along you’ll come across one of these herds, deer all gathered in a grain field beside the highway.  It draws your attention.  Unfortunately, there is always the straggler deer off on its own that chooses to run across the highway in front of you to join his buddies.

The same applies when railfanning.  Many, many times I’ve watched trains scare deer or a fox out of the bushes as it passes them and they run off across a field.

In June of 2006 I embarked on a railfanning trip from my home in Kelowna British Columbia to southern Saskatchewan to hunt down and photograph the Great Western RR M420 Alco’s.  It turned out to be a very profitable excursion even though I had to tolerate a leased CP GP38 in the power lashups.   During the middle part of my trip train chasing the GWR, I found myself following the westbound running from Assiniboia to Shauavon.  At mile 47 on the Shaunavon Sub approaching the village of Kincaid the track curves slightly and not wanting another photo of the red CP unit mixed in amongst the GWR green I opted for a head on photo using my 200mm zoom telephoto.  One of those “in your face head on” shots to help mix up the variety of images captured.   As the train approached I noticed off to the left a deer running along the fence line keeping pace with the lead unit.  I clicked off a few images and then, lo and behold, the deer makes a left hand turn and leaps across the tracks directly in front of the engine. “CLICK.”

As a footnote.  Six months later my wife and I moved from BC to SK, escaping the overcrowding of Kelowna and welcoming the small town hospitality of Assiniboia and the GWR’s fleet of ALCO’S.

Ken McCutcheon


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