Tag Archives: Byron Hill

Loram Ballast Cleaner on the Move: the ghost of an old GP.

What is that roar?

Brian Schmidt, Chris Guss and I didn’t know what to expect at Hamilton Road when we heard an old EMD grinding away up CN’s Byron Hill south of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

I still didn’t know what to expect when I first spotted a mustard yellow machine belching black smoke.

It was a Loram ballast cleaner on the move!

Now that was unexpected!

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A Rolling Meet, a DPU and Sun at Highway F, Byron, Wisconsin.

With some pavement passing beneath us in spirited run on the ascent to Byron, Brian Schmidt and I arrived at the Highway F overpass near the summit of Canadian National’s Wisconsin Central line over Byron Hill in time to record the passage of a northward double stack train meeting a southward freight.

I’ve featured both trains previously on Tracking the Light:

Byron Hill, Lost Arrow Road—Old location Revisited in January 2019.


Canadian National Kicks Up Snow at Ackerville.

For this post: as the northward train glided below me, I was watching for the DPU (the locomotive working as a ‘distributed power unit’, 1990s-speak for a ‘radio controlled remotely operated helper). I timed my exposure to document its passage as the uphill train approached.

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Byron Hill, Lost Arrow Road—Old location Revisited in January 2019.

Years ago I’d work vistas along Lost Arrow Road south of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to picture and record Wisconsin Central’s thunderous SD45s.

Last weekend, TRAINS Magazine Brian Schmidt and I revisited this location to photograph a southward Canadian National freight on its ascent to Byron, Wisconsin.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.

Bright sun was contrast from snowy weather earlier in the day. As the freight made its slow progress up Byron Hill we followed with an aim to make more photos, just like in olden times (but with no SD45s this day).

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DAILY POST: Wisconsin Central, Byron, Wisconsin, 1994.

SD45s in a Corn Field.

On the afternoon of December 3, 1994, Mike Danneman and I were following a southward Wisconsin Central freight up the 1 percent grade south of Fond du Lac known on the railroad as Byron Hill.

Wisconsin Central
Wisconsin Central as viewed from across a cornfield at Byron, Wisconsin on December 3, 1994. Exposed with a Nikon F3T with a 28mm wide angle lens on Kodachrome 25 color slide film. Scanned with a Epson V600 scanner. No post processing except as necessary to scale image for internet use and insert byline tag.

Here, heavy freights would slow to a crawl for several minutes as they laboured to reach the summit at Byron. With a bit of swift driving we were able to make several images of the train in the low evening light.

The best part of the experience was listening to the 20-cylinder throbbing roar pulsing into the rural Wisconsin countryside as the SD45s clawed their way up the hill.

Ten years later, I returned to Byron Hill with a DAT recorder to make stereo sound records of SD45s at work.

Tomorrow, Tracking the Light looks at CN on Wisconsin Central.

Also see Tracking the Light’s: Chicago Medley, June 2013

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