2018 Christmas in Riverside – Trains

Dates of Visit: December 19 – 29, 2018

Our two grand sons live near Chicago; they are at the prime Christmas ages so we knew where we would be on Christmas morning. We arrived in the afternoon of Wednesday December 19 and had a beautiful dinner with our son, daughter-in-law, Jurgen, and Cornelius.

Both of the adult kids had work. Andrew is a high school math and music teacher and his school wasn’t on break yet. Henriët had rehearsals and performances every afternoon and evening. She sang solos in the Messiah at a large Catholic church where she works occasionally. She is also in the Chicago Symphony Chorus and they were performing the same piece. At 2:30 in length, that is a lot of singing. That meant we were on duty to take the four-year-old to pre-school and attend the Christmas show early Thursday morning. What a kick!

Jurgen stayed for his afternoon session; after giving Cornelius his lunch he was down for his nap. So, it was quiet and the weather was good. Carla stayed home while I walked the mile to the Riverside train depot to catch some action.

The weather was surprisingly pleasant – mostly cold, crisp, and clear – during our trip so I was able to get to the platform a few times on our trip. I’m posting my train photos from all the days to keep them together thematically.

No sooner had I reached the east-bound Metra platform than I saw a headlight approaching. I leisurely turned on my camera and adjust the settings when I realized it was coming faster than most trains do. It was the Chicago-bound Zephyr running right on time and it didn’t want to be late this far along. I put the camera up and pushed the shutter release.

I was well behind the yellow line but it was a rush to have it roar by at close to its 70 MPH speed limit. All that work I did this summer on perfecting my settings paid off. I now have my train settings saved in a memory preset. If not for that I never would have got the shot.

A while later a west-bound Amtrak rolled through. I think it was the west-bound Zephyr – or maybe the Southwest Chief.

California Zephyr? Accelerating past Riverside, IL

Don’t tell the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona – which I love – but I think this is my favorite train catching site on the BNSF Transcon. There are two nice platforms – stretching 1/4 of a mile from east to west. This allows good positioning and a better chance for good light. Except for early mornings, the photo spot in Winslow is shooting into the sun. Later in the week I got my favorite shot of the trip. It was cold but clear and the low sun lit up this BNSF freight beautifully.

Train picture of the trip: Westbound BNSF on a Bright Winter Afternoon in Riverside, IL

One of the great things about my Sony RX10M4 is its 600mm equivalent zoom. When I saw headlights down the track I could to see what was on the way. You can also see the line up of traffic lights every mile or so. I think that tall building in the background is Willis (nee Sears) Tower. Looking on the map it’s a pretty straight line along the tracks.

Downtown Chicago in the distance

Of course there is plenty of Metra traffic on this line. We went with the kids to downtown Chicago on Thursday and Friday after Christmas and took Metra back home. Well, Henriët had to drive the car back. More on that in a later post.

Outbound BNSF Metra on a Sunny and Cold Sunday Afternoon in Riverside, IL

The old water tower is the distinctive feature of Riverside; I think it’s a Riverside misdemeanor if you don’t include it at least 1 photo of it. I have another picture for an upcoming post.

Inbound Metra Passing by the Old Riverside Water Tower

On my last day on the platform, just before my favorite shot I realized there was another rail-fan on the other side of the tracks.

A bush tailed squirrel trackside in Riverside, IL

I learned my lesson about having the camera ready on the first day. On Saturday as Carla and I headed out for a walk – I thought I ought to look at some things in Riverside that aren’t near the train tracks – I heard the low rumble of an accelerating heavy freight train. The zoom came in handy as I snapped this BNSF heading through the intersection.

Kids and grandkids are the real draw but it’s not like I’m going to skip looking at trains if the opportunity arises. I’ll have more on our trip soon.

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