As the old saying goes, sometimes it IS better to be lucky than it is to be good... Such is the case on August 5 at 0200 hrs at Fire Lake, Quebec! Having set out on the road on Wednesday, August 3, with Patrick DeLarue to provide photos for Arcelor Mital's former Quebec Cartier Mining Railway, I checked the Aurora Borealis forecast and was pleased to see storm level viewing being a possibility through the weekend. While my project list was extensive for this particular sojourn, adding a Cartier-led train under the Aurora was a must. Overnight from August 3 into 4 saw moderate activity from both the Cartier and the Aurora, but the train that arrived there was the weekly Cartier passenger train with Arcelor Mital (AMMC) SD70ACe #9003. While neat, the Aurora was not as intense as I was hoping for. No worries, we formulated a plan to head to a remote location near Fire Lake on Aug 4 overnight with the intent of getting another crack at it. As the afternoon progressed, we received a text that there was a derailment down the line and nothing would be moving until sometime Friday. An alternate plan to shoot the Fire Lake ore train - single unit each end with side dump cars - but was not my ideal plan. Then at 1830 hrs we received word that a C804D empty ore train had made it north before the derailment and would go to the mine to load - lucky us! Knowing that the northbound trip would not be primo for the Aurora and that the best viewing is typically midnight to 0300ish, I set up the Bees to take a shot, mostly to see the power and plan accordingly for the return loads in a few hours. Off went the flash and in the LCD screen we saw the QCM AC44CWs 16 and 17 bracketing newly arrived AMMC ES44AC #098 (originally built for Liberia but reassigned to Quebec) - lucky us! Doing the quick math for the turn time at the mine, we concluded that the train should arrive to our location at Fire Lake by 0230-0300, perfect for intense Aurora, should we get it - lucky us! I packed up the lighting equipment, set my alarm for 2 hours later (0200) and kicked back in the truck to catch a couple hours of nap time (after being up nearly 48 hours by this point). I awoke just before my wake up call to a phenomenal sky FILLED with waving and dancing Aurora - lucky us! The radio piped up within a few minutes to announce that the D-FIRE raw ore train was ready to head north to the concentrator, but not before meeting the southbound pellets train C804D at Queen, less than 10 miles away. This put the C804 in prime viewing time if no glitches - lucky us! Off to set up the lighting equipment and get the camera ready for its seemingly nightly workout. Soon the sound of the GEs reverberated and the horn blasts disrupted the otherwise extremely quiet setting. A test fire and look in the LCD screen...no way, the Big Dipper constellation also? Lucky us. I watched the celestial dance of the green waves and the intense colors to ALL of the sky around us as the train approached. I gave the warning flash to the crew who already knew we were there and as the train arrived in my viewfinder, click and flash! A peek at the LCD screen and voila - lucky us!
A continuously growing album of photos that IMHO reveal the awesome and seldom seen beauty of railroads from the dimming of day to dawn's early light! From dusk to dawn, trains roll on! (I'm still finding sunset to sunrise surprises!)