I spent a good part of my work week covering train stories this week. Both stories garnered a lot of interest from our readers.
Thursday I sped, only a little bit, all around the county searching for the historic refurbished Nickel Plate steam locomotive. I managed to see the train at three locations starting south of Goshen on C.R. 42 just off of S.R. 15 where the train was moving at a very fast clip. I was surprised there were several other people who thought this would be a good location to see the engine up close...and it was.
Luckily for me it slowed at some point and I was able to move to the overpass on C.R. 17 over the tracks that run parallel to U.S. 33. The train was moving much slower at that point and the engineer didn't sound the whistle like he did south of Goshen. It was kinda neat to see the 1944 engine traveling next to modern cars and to be enveloped in the rising steam as it moved beneath the bridge. The only bad part of the overpass was the extreme wind, which caused cold hands and less than stellar audio for the video I was also working on. A shout out to the Elkhart County Sheriff's Deputy who stopped to make sure I didn't need assistance as I waited with my hazard lights flashing.
Next was a race to the Elkhart train station downtown. I pulled in and could hear the trains' whistle, which I knew meant I didn't have much time. Within seconds of getting out of the car the train was moving past a fairly good size crowd that gathered near the station where they recorded video and took photos on everything from actual cameras to smart phones and iPads. The train didn't stop at the station, but continued west toward its final destination.
The most frustrating part of my adventure was that after working out in the cold weather and recording and sending video and photos to Instagram my poor phone battery was nearly finished. I tried to use it sparingly to keep in touch with reporter Dan Spalding who was positioned between C.R 17 and Elkhart. But between the cold, all of the social media, and recording of video, sadly I had only a few seconds of power to record the train as it passed the station in Elkhart. Better a snippet than nothing at all I guess. It made for a busy, but fun day.
Friday rolled around and I was off to an extra early start to photograph the Concord Jazz Band rehearse for the upcoming Jazz Cafe. I was back at the office editing photos and video of the band when a call came over the scanner for a train vs. car accident near the C.R. 13 train crossing near C.R. 45. Reporter Sharon Hernandez and I headed for the door as quickly as we could. I was importing video from my phone to clear space so I experienced a moment similar to so many TV and movie scenes when people are frantically watching the copy bar on screen, waiting for it to finish before the bad guys catch them. But soon enough were were on our way.
This spot news call provided a much different scene and vibe than what I experienced leap frogging ahead of the restored steam engine on Thursday. The accident resulted in the death of the driver of the van. Covering fatalities is never enjoyable. It is never something that journalists look forward to. I often feel that the public misunderstands a journalists' response to covering spot news. It is a part of our job. We take it seriously because we are all about telling the full story of our community, but we don't take pleasure in doing it. Ever.
Following a brief statement from the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department spokesman we departed the scene to return to the office and began editing our work.
Two days, two trains and two very different stories and emotions.