Like the Speed of Light
Intel confirmed. Signals lit. Train imminent. Anticipation.
I scope out the area. It’s cold enough that I’ve got to don another jacket from my grip. I plant my pod and frame. A couple of test shots; some calculations; corresponding adjustments: I’m ready. Won’t be long now. No sound, just the banter between us aficionados and the distant, distinct, all-too-familiar note of the train. Not much around. ‘Neath moonlit, near clear skies of constellations twinkling, are a few mostly dark houses; abandoned Bates-like motel; shuttered “Dealers in Mercantile;” closed brick schoolhouse; foundation of a long raised speeder shed; crossing gates for Manila Road that leads to nowhere but rusty elevators and dusty fields, but Espanola, home to a handful of diehard residents, has never lost its strategic railroad importance.
Thousands of miles away in the Lone Star State, BNSF dispatchers rely on it to orchestra meets for its plenty long siding for longer and longer and of late, more frequent freights. But this is no freight we’re here to record. It’s the eastbound Seattle section of the Builder now blowing for the road to nowhere and “through” this nondescript “place,” streaking silver, red, blue and gold across our frame as it slips its sleepy and slumbering passengers past our prone and poised cameras in less than seconds leaving this indelible photographic mark four minutes into the morning. Quickly we compare our results: “Nice! Cool! Sweet!” Disassemble and vacate. The townsfolk? None the wiser to our momentary presence and fortuitous intent: to catch the Empire Builder track-speeding at Espanola.
About the Authors: Frederich Manfred Simon is a conductor at Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad and a professional photographer. Follow Frederich on Instagram to see more of his work.