Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota – 3 April 2012

by admin on 2017/04/03

Welcome to Day 5 of the big Spring Break 2012 Great Plains Road Trip, Tuesday 03 April 2012.  Day 1 showed pictures from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Heavener, Oklahoma.  Day 2 showed pictures from Heavener, Oklahoma, and Rich Mountain, Arkansas, to Pittsburg, Kansas, and a few scenes from parts of eastern Kansas north of Pittsburg.  Day 3 showed pictures from eastern Kansas and southeastern Nebraska.  Day 4 showed more scenes from southeastern Nebraska.


Day 5 starts in Omaha, Nebraska, where I left my truck at the home of my pal TS so that we could head north in his truck.  Where were we going?  You’ll eventually see, but, first, you’ll see a stop that we made along the way.


We stopped at the old Chicago & Northwestern mainline and saw a parked westbound train at Missouri Valley.

Yes, that’s not an inspiring start to the day, but, trust me, it gets better, even with this train.  Next, partly in anticipation to shoot this train once it started moving and partly because TS wanted to show me this neat little junction town itself, we headed a few miles west to California Junction, where we saw a parked southbound grain train on the old C&NW mainline from Sioux City.

Anything that the Union Pacific Railroad moves between the Twin Cities and the Overland Route passes here.

I suppose that TS heard that it was time for our westbound train to get moving, since we returned to the southern side of the east-west mainline to get these next several images.

Here comes the train!

This is a Chicago-area-to-Los-Angeles-area stack train, and I presume that it will take the LA&SL route.

I must include the bean bins in the pictures!

This is the rear-end of the train that we are seeing.

Speaking of rear-ends, a well-used picture of me was taken right at this moment.

You can see some of the town here.

So long, train; enjoy the trip to California.

You can now see some light power – I guess for a local train – on the junction track.

Let’s get one more shot before we get out of here.

That was fun.  So long, California Junction.

Now, we continue on our trek northward.

Well, okay, then.  We shall see.

So long, Iowa.

Our Real Destination

We stayed on I-29, which means that we went right on into South Dakota.  I think that we ate at a Culver’s in Sioux Falls, but, other than that, we stayed on I-29 until we go to the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, which by this time was part of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

I don’t recall what the calculus was once we arrived in Brookings, but we may have gotten word about an eastbound loaded ethanol train preparing to depart the ethanol facility in Aurora.

So, eastward we went in search of a shot.


I do not know in which US state the next two images were taken, hence their being labeled as from somewhere near the border separating South Dakota and Minnesota.

If you like windmills in cornfields, this is the place for you!

That was fun.

Minnesota – Lake Benton

We found a shot in this neat valley near the neat town of Lake Benton, and I got a few shots of some agricultural activity first.

Well, that’s interesting.

About a half-hour later, our train shows up.

This is a really neat place.

Yes, this is what we do when we live in a world in which we now have far more food than we have people who can eat it: we turn food into gasoline.  So, how do we still allow people to go hungry and worry about if they’ll be able to pay for their next meal?

If anything, the existence of trains like these combined with the falling price of petroleum is evidence that it’s simply no longer necessary to require every person who wasn’t born with money to perform tricks in order to eat; we should stop this madness and embrace the fruits of 21st Century technology.

We don’t have actual personal freedom or individuality for all, and the act of making these pictures and the act of publicizing them represents a yearning for that freedom.

Now, let’s get a better view of the locomotives for this train, and I really like the swoosh effect that the road has here.

The first shows the line’s recent, previous owner, the middle is a leaser, and the third shows who the new sheriff in town is.

Imagine the yellow C&NW locomotives that once moved on this line.

It’s tough to see in this 934-pixel-wide jpeg, but there are some windmills on the horizon.

This could be one of those trains that heads to Maryland on the CSX.

I like this wider view.

I sure would rather a bunch of bright hopper cars carrying bentonite, or something, but I’m happy to have this at all.

Why is this train taking so long to end?

Why do I even photograph trains at all?

Hey, look!  It’s the end of the train!

Now, it’s time to head back to South Dakota for the night.

South Dakota

Perhaps we went to check into the hotel next, or perhaps we didn’t, but we just hung around the track in Brookings for awhile.

Despite the impression that you might get from the next few images, we weren’t done with railroad action photography for the day!

We were hanging out by an airport.

We saw an airplane!

I’m glad that I didn’t become a pilot, because I’d probably be dead by now.

Yes, so, now, we are going to get a few images of the sun setting before we get some more train picture action.

I feel strange using italics to stress inflection on a word when the exact same style change is used for names of books, trains, railroad cars, magazines, and other such things; perhaps there could be a better way.

Well, 12 minutes later, we’re a few miles to the west at some processing plant, getting some duskish shots of the Brookings Wayfreight.

This is a good way to end the day, I guess.

That’s all for pictures.  Next, it was time for some food, some good Mexican restaurant we visited, and then to the hotel, where, as I recall, I had trouble staying awake to chat.

Thanks.  I hope that this was educational.

E-Mail List – Both An Offer And A Request

Partly because this essay has likely reached some persons who do not normally read this site, I’d like to share the best way to be alerted to newly-posted content here on Jimbaux’s Journal: the automated e-mail list.  Usually no more than once per week, I send out an e-mail message with links to any new blog articles – often, as many as three or four new articles in one e-mail (so as not to clutter your inbox with a message for every single new post) – that have been published since the last mailing.

The best part about all of this is that you can both subscribe to the list and, then, if you get tired of it, unsubscribe from the list all without any involvement from me!  :-)

Please join the automated e-mail list, and you will rarely get more than one e-mail message per week.  To sign up for e-mail updates, send a blank message to and check your inbox and your spam folder (the latter being the more likely to receive the message) for a confirmation message.  Open the confirmation message and follow the instructions in the message, and you’ll be a member!  (It’s a closed group where only the moderator can post.)  Once you are subscribed, if you decide that you no longer want to get updates, you can send an e-mail to to stop receiving messages.

So, you can subscribe to and unsubscribe from the e-mail list all without Jimbaux knowing!  If you sign up for updates and eventually wish to stop receiving the e-mails, you don’t have to ask to be “taken off of the list,” since you can unsubscribe yourself!

Thank you.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charlie Kilbourne April 3, 2017 at 15:05

James, for me, photo No.4 captures the essence of the container train. First of all, you can only shoot panoramic scenes like this on the plains of he West. Little hazy but a vast distance is involved here. Hard to imagine only three units are pulling this tonnage.


2 nancyhudson April 3, 2017 at 19:00

Glad to hear you are still alive! I took the Chicago-Northwestern back and forth from Green Bay to Milwaukee while I was in college.

Hugs, Nancy


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