Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com


The Bus up to OKC, the Heartland Flyer Back and Finishing the DART Red and Blue Lines

The morning began with me waking up at 5:30, showering and going to the breakfast room of my hotel at 6:00. At 6:30 I walked out onto the relatively cool streets of Norman Oklahoma to walk about a mile to the nearest stop for the 6:50 Commuter Bus for Oklahoma City. I paid my $2.25 fare into a standard modern GTE fare box, which had issues accepting my dollar bills. The driver commented that they were getting old and probably had been maintained all that well. I sat down in one of the most commuter buses I have been on (although it was a bit too cold for my liking) complete with headrests on all seats. I got to OKC at 7:25 and got off right at the train station. This gave me plenty of time to get my pictures of the historic Santa Fe depot and the single island platform on the viaduct that the Heartland Flyer uses to carry passengers through downtown Oklahoma City. The only ticketing facilities are a single Quick-Track machine. The fact we now have eTickets makes this matter less and less. I went up to the platform in time to see and photograph the Heartland Flyer leaving one side of the island platform, a stub-end siding with access only to the north, and enter the mainline track (there were a few others beyond the platform) to pick up maybe a car full of passengers. The conductor checked our ids on the platform again as I flashed my iPhone and as I got on the middle car with the cafe beneath he asked me “Jeremiah (he had just seen my id), how crowded is that luggage rack?” I said its looking mighty full and the rest of the passengers were directed to the rearmost car, the front car stayed closed for our entire journey.

8:17 – Welcome aboard announcement, same as yesterday, No Smoking except for the smoke stop in Ardmore, “I’ll let you know so you can get your cigarettes and lighters ready.”. Lounge car won’t open until after we leave Norman. We will leave on time in about 5 minutes.
At 8:24 the double toot comes and we begin to pull out of Oklahoma City on its wide elevated trackway with a few tracks and some overgrown. First we pass industry of some type and then go over I-40, on what is a modern concrete railroad bridge with a surprising amount of graffiti. Next is an auto parts yard full of lots of automobiles with there hoods open being spared for parts.
8:29 – cross a river and are between an industrial area and Santa Fe Avenue when we come to a stop briefly, and then come to our first grade crossing of the day at the Burnett siding and South 23rd Avenue. The whistle becomes more pronounced and keep going through industry,
8:34 – see a footbridge across the tracks to connect to a school. I notice the other conductor is issuing a hand issued ticket for $27.20 a piece with the senior discount. Cash will continue have to be handled onboard at non-staffed stations. (I paid $23.40), there chatting away having fun. The crew doesn’t recognize me.
8:38 – speed and go over I-240 passing a Budwiser distribution center, and pass a nice large freight yard. We keep passing subdivisions and suburban ranch style houses as I go back through Moore at a grade. I am a bit surprised this community doesn’t have a stop especially with the non-existent parking in downtown OKC.
8:42 – a modern subdivision right along the edge of the tracks with a railfan with his truck is photographing the train.
8:45 – Continue through the suburbs along Flood Avenue and pass some modular homes.
At 8:47 we go over a wide being expanded highway overpass as the conductor announces he has no one before correcting it to one person getting off and that were going to stop and pick-up some folks. We enter Norman following a park at a grade, the engineer leaning on the horn which is quite loud even from the middle coach, I don’t miss the exhaust smell though. I need a few photos to supplement those I took inside the depot and I get few not great ones out the windows of the train. If the train used California style BiLevels with automatic doors I would have run downstairs for a few photos but know the conductors are opening just one door. The stop is faster than I originally thought and notice that ridership is light enough the front coach is closed as few passengers wonder the wrong way to find that door locked. They definitely needed it yesterday. I guess the Heartland Flyer is much more of a weekend leisure travel train. I don’t see anyone aboard in a business suit. We leave Norman faster than I think we will with a railfan and his dog photographing the train and pass some modern college apartments of OU that look like they could be anywhere.
8:57 – running quickly we are within the trees with a few farms of Oklahoma.
9:00 – cross another river that looks like it is running dry and see cows on a green pasture before we pass through more trees.
9:04 – announcement for Purcell, I get to the otherside of the train for photos. We stop to pick-up one passenger and see the conductor’s chatting with an old retiree waring a hat that says Purcell Station Master. I see the conductors chatting with some regulars, the Heartland Flyer is that kind of train.
9:09 – slowly go over a quite dirty river and back to seeing trees.
9:16 – see a large horse ranch on one side of the train, there are fields with bales of hay on the other. We slow down again.
9:19 – see a BNSF track gang with lots of High Railers at the siding Wayne
9:24 – speed up in hay fields with quite a few trees around and see some ponds. There is quite a lot of trees over the tracks and all around us as we speed through the fields.
9:34 – Slow down again in an area with oil wells in the middle of cornfields
9:37 – Another muddy river, and the announcement for Pauls Valley. I get up and do my little on train photo essay, not enough to justify making a station page though with my current system for them. We leave and go back to fields, and trees of the heartland.
9:49 – speed through Wynnewood and its chemical plant with a thud beneath the tracks, I think we just ran something over
9:57 – speed through the town of Davis with a nicely restored Santa Fe Depot. Unfortunately where going too fast to get a photo of any decency. We keep passing through trees some hay fields are still off in the distance.
10:00 see the Washita River for the first time I go and sit on the other side of the train to try and get some decent photos of it.
10:03 – we return to rolling hills and trees but I am looking for the decent spot for photos of the river, it shortly returns back into view
10:07 – slow down as we go through another siding and the river comes back into view. Not quite as pretty compared to at sunset. It leaves our view again and we go back into the fields and trees.
10:13 see the low muddy trickle that is the Washita River with an announcement as we cross the river. We get a nice crossing view and see the rolling Arbuckle Mountains (look more like hills to me). She also announces that Ardmore will be just a two minute smoke stop very soon.
10:31 – slowly go through trees as we keep approaching Ardmore, seeing a large industrial dirt area and then a nice large chemical plant.
10:35 – north of Ardmore see quite a few houses
At 10:38 we pull into Ardmore and I am the first off the train for what is just a four minute stop, with many fewer people stepping off to smoke and the fact I photographed the same to locomotives sitting in the station yesterday I don’t run up for a photo of either of them. I get a few more photos to supplement my previous ones but definitely don’t have enough time to run inside the depot.
10:47 – We pass a nice large cemetery as we slowly leave and then speed up from Ardmore.
10:53 – We are in the fields and trees of southern Oklahoma approaching the Texas boarder, crossing over little bodies of water. Trees are on both sides of the train.
10:58 – Speed through the North Marietta siding and then see the little town.
11:06 – Keep going through fields and trees, seeing I-35 off in the distance.
11:09 – See a few houses of Thackerville and pass a train on its sidings of mostly containers, didn’t realize they were sent up this way.
11:17 – cross the Red River (different than the one which divides the Dakotas and Minnesota) on a long bridge and I am back in Texas going through trees and fields. None of the hay bales of North Texas have moved since yesterday.
11:23 – get the announcement that were approaching Gainsville, TX, and pass a yard full of freight trains and then a redi-mix concrete plant as we enter Gainsville, the whistle tooting.
11:28 – It is a much shorter stop then yesterday (fewer passengers) and we continue south. The conductor comes through and collects and throws out the tiny little seat checks. I notice that almost every set of seats in the two open cars are taken, no one though has had to double up with a stranger.
11:31 – Keep going through the northern Texas fields seeing cows.
11:34 – Go through wide fields of northern Texas, trees and grass and seeing I-35. The highway leaves us and we see fields and hay bales again.
11:45 – See a few tall buildings off in the distance, I wonder if this is downtown Denton. I will see tomorrow when I go up there to ride the A-Line Express.
11:51 – go under a highway I-35 again and pass a drag racing track. I no longer see the few tall buildings although were quite close to Denton.
11:55 – start seeing the suburban subdivisions of Krum
11:59 – see a few subdivisions and more horse farms and then over a ravine full of trees
12:04 – go through Ponder and then back to the hayfields. A few rivers run through the area.
12:09 – go over another muddy river and then another
12:16 – pass a huge subdivision under construction I am distracted because I am changing my Southwest Chief reservation for next Wednesday from Kansas City to La Junta that just became $20 cheeper. I was curious and decided to check the app. I have to do the full canceling it and paying again routine, the change trip option of the app doesn’t work. $86 sounds a lot better than $108 my previous fare. Might it go down to the $77 area (the cheapest I have found), we will see? I am curious and check the app again, ten minutes later, I notice its back up to $120 without the NARP discount. Thank you Amtrak with your fully refundable tickets for saving me $22.
12:20 – pass along the edge of a nice large rail yard and a lot full of new cars, think this is one of those intermodal facilities.
12:28 – pass between fields and Saginaw.
12:32 – go by a mill, home of light crust flower and Texaco feed
12:35 – Go through the switches at South Saginaw.
12:39 – We slowly roll through the suburbs north of Fort Worth there a surprising number of trees and cross a very green looking river on one of three parellel railroad bridges.
12:42 – Get an announcement that we are approaching Fort Worth and he announces 21 leaves at 2:10 and 22 at 2:20, didn’t realize Amtrak needs both tracks if there on time. We are reminded of the back-up move to enter the station and start seeing parts of downtown.
12:44 – start crossing above a neighborhood full of older looking apartment buildings that have an entrance in a restored freight depot and go around downtown Fort Worth and see the intermodal station. I wait to put my computer away until we begin the back-up move. We stop first at 12:47 and lose power to back in briefly. Almost immediately power comes back and I step off at the Fort Worth depot once again.

I arrive and look at the Trinity Railroad Express Schedule. I still haven’t gotten to its actual terminus, the historic T and E station. Although its only 2/3 of a mile away I want to ride a train there. I buy my $10 Regional ticket from the TVM (and like the fact its on different The T instead of DART ticket stock) and take the 1:13 train over to the T and E Station. Its lobby is completely grand and I get my pictures of it. The former tower appears to be used for apartments. I then have a productive quick walk back through downtown Fort Worth, getting more photos of the Santa Fe Depots before reclaiming my bag and boarding 1:51 train which I take to Irvine. I board the front Cab Car of this train in push mode and realize there is a decent rail fan window looking through the driver’s cab. I get off in Irvine to drop my backpack off at the one youth hostel in the DFW area (I didn’t stay there on Sunday night because it would have been a long, slow bus ride to get there since the TRE doesn’t run on Sundays). It is a small little place but I can tell Ivan the proprietor is trying to make it welcoming to backpackers. I take the next train, which originated at Centerpoint (where the TRE yard is) and is nearly empty into Dallas Union Station. There I notice the Stadler DMU owned by Denton is open for viewing as part of the APTA conference so I go in and have a look. The most interesting thing is that with some modifications it has been approved for mixed use (not time separated use like the RiverLine) with freight trains at the same times on the same track. I spend about ten minutes inside before I am off on the red line for this evenings adventures.

The DART red line out to Plano is the busiest branch and recives service every seven minutes during rush hour (combined with the few runs branded with the Orange Line) so I have a simple railfan trip spending seven minutes at each of the 11 stations, no backtracking required, as I head out to Parker Road. I am on an inbound train by 6:30 and realize that I have enough daylight to try and get the rest of the Blue Line. I look at my schedule and realize the doubling-back trick will only work for the middle two stations. I go out LBJ/Skillman. There I get annoyed by a Cop on a MotorCycle Riding down the actual platform like he is a stunt artists. (What’s wrong with just getting off and doing a quick patrol on foot). I double back to Lake Highlands before spending 20 minutes at Forest/Juniper and get to watch a freight train go by. I then finish at Downtown Garland. I still need White Rock and want to stop again at Mockingbird but decide things are looking too dark. I take the train into downtown and find a taco shop (one of the few places open) in downtown Dallas for some dinner. I am then on the 9:20 train back to South Irving for a little hanging out with the other guests at the hostel and then bed.