Day 2, Part 1 Of 2 – Heavener, Rich Mountain, and Page – 31 March 2012

by Jim on 2022/03/31

This is part of the Eastern Great Plains Spring Break 2012 Road Trip series.

Welcome to Day 2 of my 10-day Spring Break 2012 Road Trip.  This is Part 1 of two parts for the pictures taken on Saturday 31 March 2012.

As we ended Day 1, we started Day 2 in Heavener, Oklahoma, right next to the Kansas City Southern Railway’s terminal there.  I had spent the night at the Green Country Inn, which is the hotel that KCS uses to accommodate its out-of-town train crews.

The hotel, right across the main highway from the yard, is about the only decent hotel in town, and its existence depends on the presence of the railroad in the town, as it is the hotel that the railroad uses.  Out-of-town crews from Pittsburg, Kansas, where we’ll visit later today, and Shreveport, Louisiana, which we saw yesterday, stay there before working their way home on another train.

I can’t remember what I did for breakfast, but it surely wasn’t the Downtown Cafe, since I had learned the night before when I arrived that it had apparently closed since the last time that I was here, which was June 2008 when I was on my way to North Dakota.  I just forgot to mention yesterday that this was my first time to Rich Mountain in nearly four years, and that prior to that visit, I had come here every fall since the Shadow Warrior, who died 362 days after these pictures were taken, first introduced me to this area in February 2003.  Thank you, Shawn.  Seriously.  I have a debt of gratitude to you.

Anyway, I may have eaten breakfast at the Sonic, which is right by the hotel, but I seem to recall trying a doughnut place in town.

It’s hazy and humid this morning in Heavener.

We are at the mainline fuel racks, an often busy place.

Railroading is a ’round-the-clock affair, which is why even Americans who don’t have special skills and talents (even if they have college degrees) or intellect can still buy big houses, fill them with cheap merchandise, and keep water and electricity constantly flowing into them.  You can thank men like the one seen here for your lifestyle.

I’m not liking all of this haze, but I’m just happy to be here.

Hopefully, the guy fueling the locomotives here, too, is happy.

Chase Time!

A southbound loaded grain train left the yard.  Oh, it is on!  The thing to do here is to chase a southbound train up the Rich Mountain grade, and that’s what we do, but it’s not until we cross into Arkansas that it’s finally clear enough to photograph this train.

Three quarters of an hour after and more than a dozen miles east of the above shot at the fuel racks, we finally have an action shot.  I can’t remember if it was The Shadow Warrior or The Arkansas Kid – or both of them – who are responsible for my habit of referring to this shot as “Casey’s Spot,” but, even after a four-year absence from this place, I still called it such.

It’s just like old times, except I’m the only foamer around here, which is somewhat weird and unsettling, but I somewhat like it that way (having the place to myself, not being unsettled), which is part of the reason that I stopped attending the gatherings, the other reasons being that other activities, people, and desires began competing for my limited resources and attention.

Rich Mountain

Now I realize another reason that the gatherings are in the fall and the winter.  Not only is the weather often better, but so is the lighting.  I’ve become a much better cloudy day shooter in recent years, and you might remember that I had an epiphany about cloudy day photography on my February 2006 trip to this area, but I wasn’t blessed with cloudy skies today.

There wasn’t much that I could do other than set up on the outside of a curve near the crest of the hill, and while waiting for the train, I popped off this rather iconic view of what Rich Mountain means to me and perhaps to a few other people.

Yes, it’s the good old Rich Mountain Country Store, with the KCS tracks in the foreground!  ‘Twas good to visit Steve again, but I didn’t notice until after I had left the absence of Chase, the wonderful dog that lived there.

Well, I’m all set up for a not-so-inspiring shot, and, wait, what’s this sound behind me?  Oh, damn!  Here comes a northbound train that my southbound is going to meet, and it looks like it’s getting here just a few seconds soon enough to jack my shot!

I guess that wasn’t so bad.  I mean, it is a photograph of a meet on Rich Mountain.  Let’s see what else we can do while we are here.

Here is the rear-end DPU on the southbound train.

I chased this thing further south to Acorn, then realized that a new radio tower jacks the shot, then set up for a wider shot at the crossing, only to get jacked by some motorist who insisted on hurrying up to wait at the crossing.

Darn!  I’ve had enough of this, and I’ve gone south enough on a northbound trip as it is.  It was time to turn around and head back northward.  I can’t arrive too late at the strange destination in Kansas that I’ll mention in the next couple of posts, but I can’t arrive in Pittsburg too early either.

The Mountain Itself

Now that I don’t have any trains to chase, I can stop to see the mountain itself, and I take the drive up the steep and windy road to the top of the mountain.  Once I get to the top of the mountain, there is a much less steep and windy road along its crest.

Trees on the top of the mountain are very short because of the wind and the fact that water can’t stay atop the mountain for very long.

I really wanted to photograph the road down the mountain, but it is winding, narrow, and steep, and stopping on it to take a photo is just asking for big trouble.  About all that I could do was get a shot in the straight parts near the bottom, and you can see the railroad crossing where we were earlier, with the country store hidden behind the trees at the left side of the road.

Going down that road, it’s best to put your vehicle in first gear.

I stopped at Page, of course.

This is a parked northbound empty grain train.

This is the only place on the grade between Heavener and Rich Mountain where there is a brief break in the grade, making it an ideal place for a siding.

I want to show you the water and the rocks here.

Is this impressive?

If you’re not impressed, please forgive my fascination with this scene, as I am from the deltaic plains of southern Louisiana, where all rocks and stones are imports.  Naturally cascading water over rocks, even relatively placidly, will probably always fascinate me.

Now, I am back in Heavener.

I like the NdeM logo.

That’s the locomotive shop, and, next, I go to the northern end of the yard.

I guess that’s the same grain train that we saw earlier.

Hey, check out the former Chicago & Northwestern unit still in CNW paint working as the pusher on this coal train!

And check out this northbound H-train with the two grey SD70MACs – my favorite of the wide-nose units on the KCS roster – with a switcher in the Heritage paint scheme tucked in behind it.

You’ll see a similar scene in Part 2 of this day’s images.

A View From Atop The Hill

I think that I introduced The Shadow Warrior to the Heavener Runestone State park when The Mid-City Marine and I came here in February 2007.

You’ve already seen that tank and that pasture from where those mobile homes are.

Here’s the yard and the Green Country Inn.

I recall that Shawn had not been to the top of the hill before, and I remember well the three of us taking pictures from up there that day in February 2007. 

Here’s a view of the diesel tanks.

I really love the view from up here, but everything including life is temporary, and it’s time to get down so that we can head north.

Can We Leave Town Already?

First, we take a look at the yard office.

I was quite fat – for my own standards – when I made this trip, and this self-portrait in a storefront shows it.

I hadn’t noticed until after I processed this picture that the vase is giving me the bird.  Nice.

Los Heaveñeros

There is a substantial population of Hispanics in Heavener, and judging by the signs, I guess they are mostly Mexican.

There are probably some of you who will look at the sign and think that it says something about Hispanic culture, but take a step back and realize that it’s just about human culture in general; it’s just a beer advertisement, no more stupid and no less stupid than the beer advertisements that you are accustomed to seeing in English, and, language aside, no different either.

Okay, I’m really about to get out of town now.

Let’s drive on the eastern side of the yard one more time as we leave town.

I probably had lunch at Braum’s in Poteau.  Yes, I guess at least in that regard, I’m as predictable as I am pathetic.  Oh, well.

The next few hours were mostly of just driving and few pictures as I departed the Heavener area for points northward, and that’s where I will stop this post, because the number of pictures here is so large.

So, see the rest of the images from this day in Part 2.



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