Empty Oil Train Over the Swinomish Channel Bridge

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Yard Limit

Member
[video=youtube_share;dAOjnQc0AUQ]https://youtu.be/dAOjnQc0AUQ[/video]

Coming off the BNSF Bellingham Subdivision in Washington, is the Anacortes Spur which goes west to Anacortes, WA. The primary traffic for this spur are oil trains bringing crude from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, to the refineries in Anacortes. There are usually two trains per day; one loaded and one empty.
The highlight of the approximately 8 mile track is the Swinomish Swing Bridge over the Swinomish Channel. Two previous videos have provided some history on this bridge and I encourage you to view them.
This was shot in December and this time of year, there isn't a lot of good daylight to shoot, but we were lucky on the morning of December 11, 2016 when I noticed that the bridge was lined with the tracks. I gathered my equipment and set up on the grassy field and waited. My two previous captures here were loaded westbound trains, but this was an eastbound empty.
 

Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
Nice video, like that it's in 4K too, those look really good.

I like the shot of the bald eagles at the beginning. I really enjoy photographing Bald Eagles and there are lots of them up there. I also do track inspections at one of the refineries. Like most refineries, they have a strict "No cameras on the property" rule. I am pretty sure the eagles know this :) They love to fly by and taunt me, or even perch nearby as I walk the track, squawking a few good morning greetings to me. Still fun to watch, but I often wish I had a nice long lens with me.

I also look to see how the bridge is lined every time I drive up there. Of course for me, having it lined with the tracks can be bad, since it often means having to wait for a train to arrive or depart, and usually they end up doubling over. The process can take an hour or more, and staring at oil cans for that long isn't much fun.
 

Yard Limit

Member
I've been really lucky the three times I've stayed at the Swinomish Lodge to catch an oil train each time. There's an eagle's nest along the road toward the refineries from there and we saw it inhabited last Spring. It is a great place to see eagles and birds.
That's cool that you get to inspect track at one of the refineries, although I agree that staring at oil cans very long would be a bore. Nice area to work, though!
Thanks for watching!
 

Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
Glad somebody is having good luck at the Swinomish, as a rule the casinoes usually come out on top. (Always amazed how folks drop $100, win $20 on a slot machine and say "I won!")

As for trains, they run quite frequently, close to a train a day, which means two moves, one inbound and one outbound. Not quite every day, and it fluctuates, but they get a lot of traffic.

It is indeed a good place for eagles. Herons too. You can also see an ancient wood passenger car that was used as a cabin out along March Point Road.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
That area up there on the Skagit and Samish flats is very popular with birders and wildlife photographers, especially during the winter after the snow geese, trumpeter swans, short-eared owls, and other winter migrants arrive.
 




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