Montana Rail Link's
EMD SD70 ACE locomotives
on Bozeman Pass by Nick Krantz

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Nick Krantz (my good friend and brother in Christ) sent me a couple pictures from a trip in 2006 and I have put them up on the website. He made several trips up the east side of Bozeman Pass chasing the new SD70 ACE locomotives built in 2005. Here is his story and the pictures.

MRL train switching car in Livingston, MT

After serving as a pastor in Tukwila, WA, for 28 years my congregation gave me a four month sabbatical in 2006 (and yes, they wanted me to come back). My wife, Jeanette, and I used that time to travel around the western US sightseeing, reading, hiking, enjoying God's great creation, and train chasing! Rail photography is a hobby of mine and as any rail fan knows is a hobby replete with dashed hopes and unexpected joys. I experienced both within a few days during our stay at the Livingston, MT, KOA. It was late July and I hoped to catch some Montana Rail Link (MRL) action on Bozeman Pass, preferably with MRL power. Tuesday morning, July 25, was my opportunity. Leaving Jeanette at the KOA to read on the banks of the Yellowstone River I made my way in to Livingston. As I arrived at the tracks and looked west I was delighted to note that a westbound was beginning its arduous climb up to the summit of Bozeman Pass. Normally in the morning I would look for eastbounds moving towards the light. However, this "begging-to-be-photographed" train was being pushed by three new MRL diesels, helper units perfectly situated to capture the morning rays. I-90 parallels the main line, visible all the way to the summit, a distance of about ten miles from the west end of Livingston. I easily overtook the slow moving drag, which turned out to be a grain train. A few miles before the summit there is a ranch road exit which I took. I had plenty of time to find the ideal spot to photograph the train as it came by. Now the chase was on. After my initial shots at that spot, I raced to the car and within a mile made a quick stop by the edge of the freeway to attempt a side view shot of the helper units. I quickly switched from my telephoto lens to my regular lens. However, as the units came in to view I didn't even shoot as I realized it wasn't the framing I had envisioned. Back on went the telephoto lens and the chase continued with more photo stops. After recording the train setting out the helpers at the summit, I followed the freight on to Bozeman. Then, when it was apparent that there were no imminent eastbounds I headed back to the KOA eager to take a look at this great catch I had that morning.

Alas, train chasing has its great disappointments. With my new Canon Rebel XT digital camera that I had procured before the sabbatical, I could process my pictures immediately. When I downloaded my morning shots on to my computer I was stunned. All but my first sequence of shots at the ranch road were blurred! How could that be? Then I recalled - when I had hastily reinstated my telephoto after my brief attempt at a shot with my regular lens, I had neglected to fully twist the lens in to its locked position. I had blown my great opportunity!

Thursday morning, July 27, we broke camp on our way up to Glacier National Park. I mentioned to Jeanette how nice it would be, however unlikely, to find another westbound MRL train with helpers. Arriving in Livingston, to my delight there was a freight holding the main. It was another grain train! Eagerly driving east through town to check the rear of the train, my hopes were dashed when I saw no helper units in sight. After about a 15-minute wait, I decided we needed to move on. But as we reached the west side of town, I noticed an eastbound MRL freight sliding slowly by the grain train. Back we went to the east side of town where I was able to photograph this train. Thankful for at least this opportunity, we then headed west through town again. Keeping my eyes on the tracks, this time I spotted a three unit helper set moving east, undoubtedly to couple on to the grain train. I was going to get a second chance at shooting MRL units on the hill! [Thanks to my wife for patiently letting me yo-yo back and forth through Livingston and, I couldn't help but think of the analogy - thanks to our Lord Jesus for giving us a second chance in life with Him]. This time, with telephoto lens securely in place, we chased the train up to the summit. This picture gallery tells the story in pictures.

Tuesday Grain Train at Ranch Road
Eastbound MRL Arriving Livingston, MT
Grain Train Beginning Assault on Bozeman Pass
MRL Grain Train Head End Power at Ranch Road
MRL Helpers at Bozeman Summit
Engineer is swapping ends