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The following photos were taken near El Paso, Illinois on or around August 4, 1998. They ran twice along the Toledo, Peoria & Western line. I had the pleasure of meeting the engineer, Rance Greider who has worked on the TP&W since the early 80's. This special train was taking prospective buyers of the TP&W which CSX already owns 60% of. NS, Conrail, BNSF, and many other major railroads, not to leave CSX out were present for this trip. As for the origins of the two E9's (#2400 & 2402 both which originally saw service on BN's line) are stationed somewhere in upstate New York.

I am fortunate as a teen growing up, as since the early 90's my family and I have driven across the country (from Ca, to Ill and even to upstate New York). I have really enjoyed these trips as we will usually chase a BNSF or UP when they're wide open around 75mph. I'm not really sure why I'm a train buff except for the fact that I can't suppress a grin when I hear that familiar sound of that blast that pierce the silence of the night and a dim beam of light glimmers in the distance. Part of the mystery of railroading is just the sheer power of these trains. This past vacation I added some memories that I will cherish forever.

I had learned from my grandma (who is 81 and still teaching piano) that Rance Greider (who she had in Kindergarten) was an engineer for a local line. (I was hoping it was the NS for favor of adding some more pictures) I was able to call him up and we stopped over later that night. I had so much fun talking about the railroad industry and seeing all of his pictures from his career. Also I learned that a special was coming through later this week around Friday.

Wednesday morning I got a call around 7AM from Rance. He said only a few words, "It'll be at Crugar in about twenty minutes". (Crugar is the largest elevator for Woodford county) Two minutes later my dad and I were in the car speeding towards Eureka, Ill to try and cut it off before it passed. I had no idea what I was in store for. We pulled over at an implement dealer off of US150 and asked one of the mechanics it a train had passed yet. He replied with well not yet I guess. Just as he had finished his reply we heard a blast in the distance which confirmed his statement. I have never heard anything older than an SD40-2 so when I saw the rotary beacon in the nose flashing I knew that it was something special. With both a Sony Hi8 and a Cannon I was ready. As it got closer and closer my excitement grew as a part of railroading history that I had missed came towards me. I'm 16 years old and really regret the fact that I missed the steam to diesel transition and the early railroading in the 60's. I would pass up a C40 series any day to see an E9 again. But twenty years from now I will probably say the same thing about the SD2000MACS or some monorail system. This will always by a railfanning trip that I will remember. Ok, so it's the first one that I've really been on... but I had so much fun running along side it going at 45mph and chasing it for 10 miles. Oh, there were also about ten other cars that were "in the pack" that showed up from no where. It was a ton of fun driving along with the "guys" that I have never seen or met before all honking our horns and smelling the exhaust from the E9. It was one of the most memorable days that I will cherish. I hope you enjoy the pictures...
-Jonathan Sharp 

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