Steam and diesel

DAILY POST: Diesel Meets Steam at Dresser, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Central GP7 and a Northern Pacific 4-6-0 in August 1996.

 This old Kodachrome is a prize! Sometimes a scene has more background that I could have incribed on the slide mount.

Back in August 1996, Dick Gruber and I drove up to Osceola, Wisconsin to spend a weekend photographing Northern Pacific 4-6-0 number 328 that was scheduled for Minnesota Transportation Museum’s Osceola & St. Croix Valley trips over Wisconsin Central’s former Soo Line.

Two days worth of trips were scheduled and we made the most of this classic locomotive under steam. There were some challenges; such as finding a place to stay. I recall scouring motels in the Minneapolis area without any luck.

Steam and diesel
A Wisconsin Central local freight meets Northern Pacific 4-6-0 number 328 at Dresser, Wisconsin on August 17, 1996. I made this image from a low-angle using my Nikon F3T with a 28mm lens.

We ended up back in Osceola in the early hours chatting with crew. The mosquitoes were fierce and accommodations were lacking. I had a sleeping bag in my car, and one of the steam crew suggested I sleep on 328’s tender.

I took this suggestion to heart and laid out my bag on a flat spot away from the coal and got a few hours rest. The heat from the boiler kept me warm, while the smoke discouraged the bugs. Unfortunately, about 5:30 am, a crewman woke me with an apology. “Sorry, you’ll need to move, I need to stoke the engine.”

This was the start for a long but productive day of photography. Some 13 hours later, I made this image. After an excursion, NP 328 had run, ‘light engine,’ (by itself) to Dresser to turn on the wye. Here it met a Wisconsin Central local freight with a former Chicago & North Western GP7, still in its former owner’s paint.

At the time I was researching for my book The American Steam Locomotive (Published by MBI in 1998). I couldn’t help but thinking, that it was GP7s like this one had ousted 4-6-0s from their duties more than 40 years earlier. (However, 4151 was built new for Rock Island, and only acquired by C&NW in 1981). The irony is the GP7 was probably scrapped while today 328 is still around (pending overhaul).

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