Matt finds the trains in TRAINS’ backyard: Crossroads of Canada

Posted by Matt Van Hattem
on Thursday, August 04, 2011

SD60 No. 6023 is headed east on the point of Canadian Pacific train 282Throughout the month of August, I want to share photographs of the trains in TRAINS Magazine's backyard. How many different pictures can be made in a circle extending 10.27 miles from Waukesha, Wis.?

Spend any time train-watching in southeastern Wisconsin and at some point or another you will wind up in Duplainville, which is 5 miles north of Waukesha.

I've dubbed this location the "crossroads of Canada," since there is a diamond here, where Canadian National's main line from Chicago to Vancouver, B.C., crosses Canadian Pacific's main line from Chicago to Vancouver.

CN's line is single track and runs north-south through the area. CP's line is double track, running east-west. Canadian Pacific controls the diamond.

Canadian Pacific's route is the former Milwaukee Road main line from Chicago to Minneapolis, which was purchased by CP subsidiary Soo Line in 1986, and sees about 20 trains a day. Amtrak's long-distance Empire Builder uses CP's line as well between Chicago and the Twin Cities (then runs on BNSF the rest of the way to Seattle and Portland, Ore.)

Canadian National's trackage was Soo Line's original route from Chicago to Minnesota, but in 1987, Soo Line spun off its original trackage south of the Twin Cities to regional railroad Wisconsin Central. Canadian National bought Wisconsin Central in 2001. CN runs more than 20 trains a day through here.

In terms of railroad tonnage, this diamond typically ranks as the second busiest location in the state of Wisconsin. (The first is La Crosse, where Canadian Pacific's main line crosses BNSF Railway's ex-Burlington Route main line between Chicago and the Twin Cities.)

Curiously, the CN and CP lines cross at each railroad's milepost 102, as measured from Chicago. In Canadian Pacific's case, milepost 0 would be Chicago Union Station; in Canadian National's case, it would be Grand Central Station.

Soo Line-painted engines have rolled across this diamond from every possible direction. But today, July 31, SD60 No. 6023 is headed east on the point of Canadian Pacific train 282 (with a Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern SD40-2 assisting), moving 100-plus cars from St. Paul to Chicago.

What I like: 

This angle, showing both rail lines from the north side of the CP main, can only be photographed in good light in summertime.

What I don't like: 

Nothing, really, since my goal was to show a train going over the diamond. The challenge with Duplainville is it often becomes a default spot for photographers because of its volume.

It can be tough to take really creative pictures here, since the area is surrounded by trees and private property. (I'm standing on a public road that crosses the CN line, and I'm using a telephoto lens.) As the month unfolds, I want to revisit this location and see if I can come away with something more than the standard photograph. Stay tuned!

Flickr: Matt finds the trains in TRAINS' backyard album
Facebook: Trains Magazine Facebook Page 

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