Burlington Northern, Sentinel Butte, North Dakota, July 12, 1994.

Revisiting the Badlands.

Empty coal train, North Dakota.

BN SD60Ms westbound at Sentinel Butte. Exposed with a Nikon F3T with f1.8 105mm lens on Kodachrome 25 slide film; shutter and f-stop information unrecorded; metered using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe hand-held light meter.

In mid-July 1994, I spent several days photographing along Burlington Northern’s former Northern Pacific mainline in western North Dakota. Here the railway snaked through the Badlands, with the landscape characterized by unusual geological formations.

On the evening of  July 12, 1994, BN sent a fleet of westward empty coal trains (described as ‘coal cars’ on the railroad) over the NP between Mandan, North Dakota and Glendive, Montana. At 7pm I caught this empty led by an SD60M at Sentinel Butte. Fast moving fair weather clouds made for some complicated lighting and a tricky exposure, but ultimately resulted in a more dramatic photograph.

This was my second experience with this line. My first was viewing the line from the dome of the North Coast Limited some 24 years earlier. I was only four years old on that trip, but the train ride gave me lasting memories. My dad exposed slides from the dome and dutch-doors of the train and from the Vista dome, but I wasn’t yet working with cameras.

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