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Thread: The Wreck of the 8099

  1. #1
    Two23 Guest

    Default The Wreck of the 8099

    On last Monday morning at 3:30 AM, a BNSF manifest from Sioux City was cruising north towards the Willmar MN junction. As it approached Clara City, a major siding location, a southbound grain train pulled into a siding. All except for the last two hoppers anyway. Those apparently picked a point and went sideways on the mainline. The northbound manifest did see the hopper, but it was way too late to stop the train going roughly 25 mph. Hitting the hopper caused the engines to derail. Along with about 80 other cars! Most of these were empty ethanol tankers, which went on their sides in a neat little row. The empty tankers helped to cushion the two propane tankers so they didn't explode as they toppled. Unfortunately, the tanker full of HCL did rupture, spewing its contents into the Minnesota night. Local firemen and deputies went door to door waking people up and evacuated them. No one was injured. This was the worst accident on the Marshall Sub since the Manley derailment a couple of years earlier. An email from a buddy was waiting for me when I woke up later that morning.

    Below photo

    "Dispatch, this is FURX 8099 North, MP 20 on the Marshall Sub. Uh, we have a problem. Can you call Hulcher and have them bring us out some dry underwear?"


    Kent in SD
    Last edited by Two23; 11-07-2007 at 03:50 AM.

  2. #2
    Two23 Guest

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    Everybody showed up. BNSF sent the war wagon, EPA came, Kandiyohi HazMat Team came, Hulcher came, and the Minnesota Highway Dept. engineers came (to inspect the highway overpass the derailing tankers hit.) Even I came when I got done in Willmar for the day.

    1. EPA suiting up. Maybe I'm not in such a great place to be?
    2. BNSF field headquarters
    3. The Troublesome Tankers
    4. In the dirt.

  3. #3
    Two23 Guest

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    Hulcher brought tons of equipment and a small army of guys. It's amazing how fast they got the line back open after putting down about 500 ft. of panel track. One of the BNSF guys said all this was costing about a million dollars an hour. Not sure if he was exaggerating or not. Hulcher crews are always something to see when they are in action.

    1. Hey! The sideboom has a green board!
    2. Before the tankers are set back, better put wheels under them eh?
    3. Dancing with a truck
    4. "I'll kick your butt if you set this down on my toes!"
    Last edited by Two23; 11-06-2007 at 01:51 AM.

  4. #4
    Two23 Guest

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    The crash happened just short of downtown Clara City, along the elevator row. I tried to imagine what the scene would have looked like if the propane tankers had lit up the grain elevators, which are chock full of corn. Might have had popcorn 10 feet deep for half a mile around there if that had happened. That would have been something to see!

    1. What would they do without sidebooms?
    2. The pile of unpopped corn keeps watch
    3. Part of the tanker string. The rest went under me.

  5. #5
    Two23 Guest

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    Night was falling fast on the overcast day. The line was opened and a backlog of about 16 trains began to trickle through. Did the Hulcher crew knock off at dusk? Some did. The rest switched on some towers of work lights and kept on going like the Energizer bunny.

    1. Northbound manifest train. No doubt crew is gawking and thinking, "Damn, glad that wasn't us!"

    2. Passing by the dark 8099.
    3. Night falls
    Last edited by Two23; 11-04-2007 at 10:15 PM.

  6. #6
    Two23 Guest

    Default

    No one is paying any attention to me, which gives me a chance to take some of my favorite kind of wreck photos-the arty kind! Finally, the light was gone. I considered bringing out all my flash units and carrying on, but that would have attracted a LOT of attention, something I really didn't want to do. So, I went home. Line is restored and most everything has been hauled off during the past week. I'll go and reinspect next week. Maybe there'll still be a souvenior or two?


    1. Tanker truck, railroad style.
    2. A broken hand.
    3. The day shift calls it a day. And it was a good day--the line was reopened and no one got hurt.


    Kent in SD
    Last edited by Two23; 11-04-2007 at 10:24 PM.

  7. #7

    Default

    This is a good essay. Just some very good, basic photojournalism here showing a story from about as close to the beginning as possible to the end. The writing was in a factual style appropiate to the story, with a little humor interjected in the captions which I liked.

    I vote yes.

    Martin Burwash

  8. #8

    Thumbs up

    Kent,

    I'm going to start of by saying this is a very unfortunately, yet very interesting event, and you have documented what you could very well.

    As it sits right now, it seems a bit incomplete to me as an essay, though fully complete as a news story. Maybe I am a bit off base, but my preference would be to see the full story, from start to finish, within an essay.

    My preference would be to see the images and story organized starting with the event, what was derailed and why. Next up I think would come the arrival of the crews, their inspections, and their working to get the line cleared. Finally, I think the story would end best with images of damaged cars being taken for repair, and finally the cleared track.

    So much for my preferences. Of course, what I am really supposed to be doing is reviewing what you presented, and so I will get on with that.


    The Text

    Overall, the text makes for a very good, and easy read. Like Martin, I enjoyed the bits of humour added in here and there. I do have a handful of very minor editing points, that really don't take anything away from the essay as a whole.

    1. In the first line, you write "On last Monday morning at 3:30 AM..." While this is fine for a news piece, when others come to view this essay at time in the future, this is going to read a little strange. I would prefer if an actual date was used. Something like, "At 3:30am on Monday, October 29th, 2007,..." would read a bit better to me, I think,

    2. When I read through the first page, I am struck that there were two hoppers that picked the switch and ended up on the mainline, yet only one that caused the derailment. Not knowing exactly what did occur, I cannot say exactly how I would suggest rewriting this, but there must be something just a bit better.

    3. This may seem very picky, but "Marshal Sub" on the sixth line of the first frame should have a period after "Sub". Contractions such as this require a period to indicate this. "Sub" would be a submarine, while "Sub." is a Subdivision. Alternatively, you can get away from this by using the full word. While the full word can get tedious if used over and over, using it the first time, then using the contraction for all further cases, can be a good way to go.

    4. In the second frame, I find the word "came" is repeated too often for my taste. I think it would read better like this:
    "Everybody showed up - BNSF's War Wagon; the EPA; the Kandiyohi HazMat Team; Hulcher; and the Minnesota Highway Dept. engineers (to inspect the highway overpass the derailing tankers hit.)"

    Just out of curiosity, what is the "War Wagon" anyway?


    5. In frame three, I believe it should read "I'm not sure...". Yes, dropping the "I'm not" happens a lot in casual talking, but it should remain in writing. Similarly, in frame four, I would rather see "It might have..." for exactly the same reason.

    6. Frame five seems to be a bit disjointed in how it reads. Rather than having two sentences at the start, you could combine them with the word "before". For example, "Night was falling fast on the overcast day before the line was opened and the backlog of about 16 trains began to trickle through."

    7. In frame six, the tense changed from paste tense to present tense. "No one WAS paying any attention to me, which GAVE me a chance to..." Changing tenses is a pet peeve of mine, and so it does tend to bug me when I see it. I am not suggesting one over the other, only that the tense should remain the same throughout the essay.


    So, as I wrote, these are all minor editing points, and can be easily correct if you wish. As a whole, the story is interesting to read, but I think a few tweaks would make it all that much better.


    The Images - Suggestions

    Again, as Martin noted, you have some good photojournalistic style images here. Overall, they do a very good job of showing the situation, as well as tying in with the text. But, of course, being who I am, I do have a few comments.

    1. I think you could thin down the images just a bit. I don't really see a need to have three images of the same locomotive, so paring this down would help, in my view. I am referring to F1-I1 (Frame 1-Image 1), F2-I4, and F5-I2. Similarly, I don't think you need both F5-I1 and F5-I2. So, I would suggest the removal of F5-I2, to tighten up the essay just a bit.

    2. Three of the images seem just a bit soft to me. This likely is partly due to what appears to be low light day. In particular I am referring to F2-I3, F4-I1, and F5-I2 (another reason to pull it?).

    3. F2-I4 has a very shallow depth of field, and thus this image feels a bit awkward to me. When close and distant objects are juxtaposed like this, with a shallow depth of field, it usually is more esthetically pleasing to have the close item sharp and the distant item soft. Of course, you may have been planning to go against what is normally esthetically pleasing, in order to force an unease upon the viewer. If so, then you succeeded.

    4. F3-I3 looks tilted to me - not enough to appear intentional, yet too much to go without comment. This can easily be corrected in post process, either to give more tilt for an artistic effect, or to give less.

    The Images - Kudos

    1. F4-I3 is hands down the strongest image here. Not only does it tell most of the story of the derailment within the one image, it does so with a really strong graphic nature, and with simplicity.

    2. As an overall image for the event, I think that F5-I3 succeeds very well. Better, in fact, than F2-I3. Both give a good overview, and incorporate the surrounding elements, but the tank cars are much more recognizable when you can see the top of them.

    3. The sleeper of the bunch is F3-I4. At first glance, it does not seem all that dramatic. However, it tells a story far beyond what can be seen within the image, which is a very good thing. Also, I absolutely love how tiny and little those springs look sitting all over the ballast. They are sitting around much like springs sit in a pile when modelers are making trucks or Microtrains couplers. Of course, those springs are much, much heavier than they look.



    So, there you have my comments. While I think the essay would be even stronger with a few tweaks, and with the addition of some future "repaired" images, it certainly more than meets the standard for acceptance as it sits right now. And thus, I give it "thumbs up".

    Thank you for sharing your essay with us, Kent.
    Rob Scrimgeour
    Victoria, BC

  9. #9
    Two23 Guest

    Default

    Rob--

    The location is a 6 hour round trip from where I live, and I only get up there twice a month. So, repeat visits to see the progress just weren't possible. The light really was dim and I made use of f2.8 and f1.8 lenses at max aperature to counter that, and the stiff wind. I knew DOF would be nonexistent but the alternative was blur.

    This sentence I will scrub off when the thing gets opened up. To get many of these shots, I had a little "help" from a friend getting closer. I was well past the perimeter barrier for most of these. I had to be fast and careful when putting a camera up to my eye. A tripod was out of the question--I relied on a VR lens and fast shutter speeds.

    The grammar tweaks make sense, and there probably are a couple too many photos. These kinds of photos are unusual and hard to get, especially from this close in. I have a tendency to include more rather than have too little. There was another interesting aspect I need to include. The tankers all stayed coupled because they have the newer "double shelf" couplers. These are designed to stay coupled so they can't puncture hazardous cargoes. Looks like they worked! I'll do some refining when I get home from Watertown SD tonight.

    You also gave me some insight. My photos from a couple of years ago began as "landscape" type shots where I was after "pretty pictures," but I have been evolving into more of a journalistic style. I still have an eye for detail though, such as the broken pieces scattered about.


    Kent in SD

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    The location is a 6 hour round trip from where I live, and I only get up there twice a month. So, repeat visits to see the progress just weren't possible.
    I can fully understand this. My comments were made in regard to what I think would be ideal. Obviously, what is ideal and what is practical can be different things. But, the ideal is worth keeping in mind at times, in hopes of getting a bit closer to it once in a while, when possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    The light really was dim and I made use of f2.8 and f1.8 lenses at max aperture to counter that, and the stiff wind. I knew DOF would be nonexistent but the alternative was blur.
    As I suspected from looking at the images. Still, most viewers only see the end results, not the hard work and challenges along the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    These kinds of photos are unusual and hard to get, especially from this close in. I have a tendency to include more rather than have too little.
    Absolutely. When you end up with an opportunity to record something like this, it makes sense to shoot everything in sight. Then, with a well documented and well rounded selection of images, comes the time to edit it down to the very basic required to tell the story. I think we all, with some exceptions, tend to want to show a little more of our work that is absolutely required. I know I do, and this is something I always try to keep in mind when creating a presentation, no matter what kind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    There was another interesting aspect I need to include. The tankers all stayed coupled because they have the newer "double shelf" couplers. These are designed to stay coupled so they can't puncture hazardous cargoes. Looks like they worked!
    That was something that I noticed, too. It is because of these couplers that you end up with such a strong image in F4-I3. It is also likely because of these couplers that there was no accordion effect within the tankers. Yes, in deed, the couplers did their job.

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    You also gave me some insight.
    Thank you. That is, after all, the main point of detailed comments and critique.

    All the best,
    Rob Scrimgeour
    Victoria, BC

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