MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — I was driving along Interstate 24, when I came to a familiar bridge over a rail line.
On every trip along this stretch of highway, it was tradition to gaze over and see what train might be traversing the Rutherford County landscape. Usually, there wasn’t a train, just a pair of parallel rails heading towards the horizon.
But today was different. I caught a glimpse of a pair of locomotives — the lead being a BNSF C44-9W, No. 5097. “Surely, this must be rare,” I thought to myself.
Regardless, I was deter- mined to catch this one — No way was this train going to get away. Along this stretch of tracks — the former Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad — I wouldn’t expect to see much more than CSX locomotives pulling mixed freights. So to me, this was an unexpected treat, albeit a welcome one.
Coming to the next exit, I veered off. Luckily, I was somewhat familiar with the town’s surface streets and had once before tried to railfan in the area and had a spot in mind of where I could stop and snap a few — dozen, that is — pictures.
There was no luck on my previous attempts of railfanning in Murfreesboro, but I knew today would be different. Undeterred, I thought I might have met my match — a red light. I sat, none too patiently, waiting for the light to change. To my right, I could see the auto rack rail cars passing through grade crossings.
The train appeared to be moving faster than I first thought. I began to think I might not be able to catch this train. As the light changed, I motored along, continuing to look to my right. Before long, I again spotted the lead engines and knowing my stop-off point was near, I was confident I had indeed caught my train.
I readied my camera. I crossed a bridge over the tracks and veered off to the left and stepped out of my car. With my camera poised, it dawned on me — I had time to spare. What was I worried about?
Within seconds, the train came and my shutter snapped. And finally, I had success in Murfreesboro. And on a day I wasn’t anticipating railfanning. Isn’t that how it always works?