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Edition #257  November 1, 2015

What are the Odds?

Photographer: Hal Reiser

                                                                                  Photo by  Hal Reiser


What are the Odds?

 It all started with a trip on a passenger train. In July of 1977 my buddy Steve and I took to visit a friend in Louisiana and we took the Southern Crescent.  We had planned to do some railfanning with our friend Reggie down there and at the same time it allowed us to experience non-Amtrak train travel in the grand tradition. We rode the Crescent as far as Meridian Mississippi where we drove to Reggie’s home in Louisiana.  The following day we headed down to Minden LA to the headquarters of the Louisiana Northwestern RR, a Pinsley shortline that operated with a roster of ex-SP and WP F units.  At Minden the L&NW mainline crossed the ICG’s ex-GM&O Shreveport-Vicksburg line. The ICG line was very much a secondary route evidenced by swinging stop sign signal that protected the diamond.  When we arrived we discovered that the L&NW wasn’t running but as we were planning to leave an eastbound ICG train arrived and made a set out before continuing on.  We decided to give chase and we followed along stopping in several places and doing some pacing shots. Our last shot was of the train crossing the impressive Mississippi River combination road and rail bridge. We weren’t very excited as we figured the lead unit was just another GP-38 we weren’t too interested in them as they were killing off all the neat first generation diesels we were searching out back then.  The slides were filed and forgotten.

Fast forward to 2011 I took a weeklong trip down south with my friends George and Candy with the purpose of visiting the A&M, the Tennkenn RR, and the Grenada Railway. In the past several years George, Candy, and I have ridden numerous passenger trains to travel to some of our railfanning destinations. It’s gotten to the point that if we have the time we take the train rather than fly. For our southern 2011 trip we rode Amtrak’s Crescent to of all places Meridian MS.  Jumping into the rental car we headed west following the KCS on our way west to shoot the A&M. Stopping at Vicksburg we spent a fruitless couple of hours waiting at the east end of the now KCS's Mississippi River bridge hoping to catch an eastbound.

After several days on the A&M we headed east to Tennessee for our visit to the Tennkenn.  Our agenda allowed for only one day with the Tennkenn RR to shoot their 5 ex-IC GP-28's and with only 36 built including 10 of those for N de M in Mexico GP-28's are pretty rare. Since none of us had any recollection of ever photographing a GP-28 before this was something that needed to be rectified.  We wanted to chase their road train but already knew before we left home that they generally ran one trip a week up and back to the end of the line at Hickman TN and there was no set day that they went. We just had to trust in our luck otherwise we would have to content ourselves with shooting them working around Dyersburg TN. We arrived in Dyersburg and checked in with boys at the office to find out that the Gods were smiling on us as they had run up to Hickman the previous day and the crew was going to taxi up and bring the train down.

We followed the train from Hickman all the way back to Dyersburg and when we finished with the Tennkenn we were feeling really good that we had lucked out and had done very well.

The last day of the trip, was planned for the Grenada Railway and then driving back to Meridian MS to catch the eastbound Crescent the next day. It turned out that the Grenada was not running so we headed down to Vicksburg to try our luck at the bridge again. But as before we were denied that eastbound after waiting several hours until the light turned.

I recently had a phone conversation with George and talking about potential trips and we got onto the subject of his wanting to go back and get the bridge at Vicksburg after our dismal failure in 2011. After our call I pulled the forgotten Vicksburg bridge shot and figured I’d send it George to tweak him a little. When I scanned it I noticed that the radiator grilles looked different so I checked back on the number and discovered the 9435 was a GP-28. After discovering that I had previously shot a GP-28 without realizing it I dug back into my records to see which one of the Tennkenn GP-28's we'd followed that day. I was absolutely stunned to find out that it was the 9435 the same GP-28 I had shot without knowing 34 years previously. 

What are the odds?

Hal Reiser

The next edition will be posted on November 15, 2015


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