So as is our tradition, we always go to Brenham for the Thanksgiving holiday. Of course, now that I’m in college with my own car and Austin is a two-hour drive away, I got into town a lot quicker than the rest of my family on Wednesday.

So of course, I did what any railfan would do with time to kill in a town with a fairly active rail line would do: wait for a train.

I initially went to my favorite spot right next to the Santa Fe depot in downtown. I was caught off guard with what I saw there. The old searchlight signals had finally be replaced by the Vader signals at the diamond with the branch line down to the Blue Bell factory. Also new was the fact that the mainline signals had been changed to “approach-lit,” meaning they only activated when a train was approaching or in that block. Previously, they always showed red unless a train was approaching.

A new Vader signal stands guard over the diamond with a branch line near downtown Brenham.

A new Vader signal stands guard over the diamond with a branch line near downtown Brenham.

This proved to be quite the advantage. Shortly after arriving, the southbound light turned red, with a northbound on its way. A few minutes later, a empty coal train rumbled through town. But this was an odd train. It was headed by an Union Pacific engine — an abnormal sight on a BNSF subdivision. Whatever the case, it was an excellent opportunity to tryout my longer range lens as well as get a nice juxtaposition with a Union Pacific engine and the Santa Fe Depot in one shot.

A Union Pacific engine leads a BNSF empty coal train past the Santa Fe Depot in downtown Brenham.

A Union Pacific engine leads a BNSF empty coal train past the Santa Fe Depot in downtown Brenham.

Two days later I was back at it again. My brother and I had time to kill while waiting for our cousins to get going. So once again, we headed back to that spot and once again we were rewarded. We showed up to a green southbound signal and within ten minutes of arriving a southbound general freight rolled through. There wasn’t anything special about this one, but it was another opportunity to play around with the camera.

A BNSF general freight train rolls through Brenham on the day after Thanksgiving.

A BNSF general freight train rolls through Brenham on the day after Thanksgiving.

That was all for the railfanning for the holiday, but it was certainly another success. We head back down in the week between Christmas and New Years and hopefully it’s another opportunity to railfan once or twice. We shall see.

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