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Edition #164, December 15, 2011
Photographer: J.P. Bell
Photo by J.P. Bell
On April 2, 2010, I felt lucky to be alive to photograph Union Pacific No. 844 as it made an early spring trek east out of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
I had just spent the last week of March 2010 crossing-country skiing and photographing along the Rocky Mountain Front near Choteau, Montana. I knew that Union Pacific's Northern would be steaming across Nebraska on April 2. I would photograph the train on the old Overland Route as I drove back to my home in Arkansas.
My plan was to leave Montana and reach Cheyenne by midnight on April Fool's Day. This all seemed in jeopardy as a late winter blizzard slowed traffic to a crawl on I-90 in northern Wyoming. In the blink of an eye I was spinning 360 degrees on black ice beneath the snow-packed roads. Finally my right front fender caught a guard rail and stopped the uncontrolled rotation. Fortunately, no one was behind me. The freeway was deserted. My Toyota Tacoma was still drivable and I continued on to Cheyenne.
April 2 dawned cold with blowing snow and a ground blizzard still in progress. Cars and trucks lined the ditches of I-80 east that morning. Keeping my tripod on the ground proved difficult in the wind. The effects of moisture in digital cameras concerned me also. East of Cheyenne the train stopped briefly while crews checked the locomotive. I opened my truck window into the blowing snow and steadied my Nikon D300 on the foam window cushion I normally use for bird photography. I squeezed off 5 shoots into the eye of the storm and the photograph you see here is the result.
Fort Smith, Arkansas
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Revised: 12/14/11 19:12:00 -0500