While preparing for a new site design I had to come up with a new header image for my website. It needed to be 1140 pixels wide and 200 pixels tall which is an aspect ratio of 57:10. This ratio is equal to putting 3 and a half wide screen (16:9)  televisions together to show a very wide scene.

It also needed to look great when viewed on a desktop computer full size, reduced size on a phone, and any size in-between.

I wanted to choose only from my own photos which meant I had to pray I had been creative when taking shots over the last few years. Also, since my site name is Railroad Crossing, and I have used various pictures of cross-bucks across all of my social profiles including Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, I really wanted to keep the theme alive with a railroad crossing picture. I am also partial to the BNSF orange and black “New Image” paint scheme so I hoped I could get one of those in there. With my checklist ready I went to work going through my photographs.

Luckily my photos are pretty well organized on my computer and I was able to quickly sort through them. About the only photos that matched these criteria were all taken in Fremont, Nebraska, where there are wide open spaces perfect for train photography.

BNSF 6318 rounding a curve

The first photo I considered was of BNSF 6318 (a GE ES44AC), in the “New Image” paint scheme coming towards the 23rd Street crossing in Fremont. It was rounding a bend and the trail of grain cars could be seen curving out from behind to the left which really accentuated the curve of the track. Also on the left I liked seeing the row of telegraph poles. However, there wasn’t a railroad crossing and, when cropping the top and bottom, there was only enough room to show the ditch lights of the locomotive, cutting out the roadbed, sky, and cab. Uncropped, though, it is pretty nice.

BNSF 6318 rounding the curve west of Fremont, Nebraska

BNSF Mixed Freight Meets with Coal Train

My next possible picture was a northbound BNSF mixed freight waiting for a southbound coal train to pass just north of Fremont. I had used this picture in a previous web design several years back.  However, the image just didn’t seem sharp enough to use. The front locomotive was in the “New Image” theme and the second was in the “Heritage II” scheme.

BNSF train waiting north of Fremont

Four Engine Train

These two had promise with telegraph poles, an old machine building, grain elevators, four locomotives (a mix of Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific), and switch stands. The second picture shows the same train crossing the BNSF mainline over a diamond complete with a search light signal. However, in that picture the train is going away from the camera. I kept on looking as there wasn’t a BNSF train or a railroad crossing–though there is one in the space between the two pictures if laid side by side!

Finally, I Found It!

This one was taken north of Fremont in Nickerson in March of 2010. It shows a fast moving, short mixed freight approaching a highway crossing. It has an orange and black “New Image” BNSF 2828 (a rebuilt EMD GP39M) and, as a bonus, a green and black Burlington Northern  1503 (a rebuilt EMD GP28M). Though not seen in the picture, 1503 still has the white “BN” logo on it’s nose. The train was approaching the camera and there is a crossing on the right. I have also always loved the elevated crossing signal shacks BNSF has in the ditches along this route. It met all the criteria, was sharp, the locomotive was decently sized in the frame and it was the winner!

It is also very fitting that I had a camcorder with me that day and this run-by became my first video uploaded to YouTube. These two locomotives also have a long history. Engine 2828 was built in May 1962 as a GP 30 for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and was originally numbered 942. Engine 1503 was built in February 1957 as a GP 9 for the Northern Pacific Railway and was originally numbered 313. In 2010 and 2011 they were common sights around Fremont doing local jobs.

My Ham Radio Pic

And finally, here is the shot I set up for my amateur radio web site. My call sign is K0RRX (Kilo Zero Romeo Romeo X-Ray) and the RRX in it was chosen show my love of trains (RRX = Railroad Crossing). This was taken in a park near my house which borders the Canadian Pacific tracks. I made sure to get the railroad crossing, my car and license plates, radio, and SkyWarn window sticker (rear driver’s side window)  in the shot.

Railroad crossing, radio, car, and plates - image for my ham radio site

About Chad Leigh Kluck

Chad Leigh Kluck
Originally from Nebraska, I am a history and railroad enthusiast currently living near Saint Paul, Minnesota. I enjoy trains, photography, and nostalgic memories, as well as the history of transportation, agriculture, eateries, breweries, and railroad towns. More...

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