Fargo, North Dakota [August 1998]


Mention "Fargo", and most folks will conjure up two images:

  1. The movie Fargo (which is gloriously inaccurate; for starters, those are Minnesota accents, not North Dakota).

  2. Cold (which is very accurate, as early February temperatures dip into the -50F range for a few weeks).

However, Fargo is a railfan's paradise, particularly during the summer months. For starters, about 70 trains transit the Fargo OCS daily. Fargo is a nice, friendly, safe town, and the residents work very hard at keeping it that way. It's also a pretty cheap place to spend a week, if you're from out of town. Finally, while it's true that North Dakota is flat, and that the telegraph pole just might be the State Tree, the flatness extends the sunrise-sunset window, allowing for some spectacular early morning and late evening photography.

Fargo is a particularly difficult town to photograph. Flat, straight, and telephone poles everywhere.

What Fargo is blessed with is one heck of a sunrise.

August 11th, 1998

Coal is very much the business of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Another unit train heads East from the Powder River Basin.
The morning Fargo Yard switch job arrives from Dilworth.
BN 234 is one of a handful of EMD SW-1200 switch engines remaining in active service. Now over 30 years old, it lives on borrowed time.
Fargo is a crew change point, where trains stop momentarily to trade the tired for the refreshed. Or maybe just for the Big Mac.
BNSF recently sponsored an Employee Appreciation Special, consisting of most of the business car fleet, a brand new EMD SD-70MAC, and the star performer, the Milwaukee Road 261.
The Milwaukee Road triumphantly returns to Fargo, and for a moment, an ancient wrong is righted.
Well, they don't call it the Theatre Car for nothing.

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