Horseshoe curve in Illinois
An eastward Canadian National train swings away from the frozen Mississippi River to follow the Galena River at Galena Junction, Illinois. When the Illinois Central Railroad built this line in the early 1850s, its locating engineers employed nearly a full half-circle of track at 8.5 degrees of curvature to connect the route between the two valleys. The grade here is just 0.3 percent, but east of Galena, it ramps up to 0.8 percent for eight miles to climb out of the Upper Mississippi Valley.
This shot had been high on my list ever since getting a drone more than a year ago. Summer foliage hides too much of the scene, so a winter view was necessary, but the short days and infrequent trains on this line make it challenging. I snowshoed into this spot from the Casper Bluff Preserve (1.5 miles each way) on two consecutive afternoons. There were no CN trains on the first day, but the second day offered up this one in the late afternoon.