Friday, October 21, 2016

The Great Western Trip -- Part Five

Denver Union Station, Denver, Colo.; July 23, 2016
In the first part of the trip we went from New Jersey to Kansas City and on to Crawford Hill in Nebraska. In the second part we went to South Dakota to chase steam and diesel, then headed into the Powder River Basin and Sherman Hill in Wyoming. In the third part we hit a variety of short lines in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona including Deseret Power, Navajo Mine, Apache, and Copper Basin. In the fourth part we hit New Mexico, including the Rail Runner commuter trains into Albuquerque and Amtrak's Southwest Chief. In this fifth and final part, we head into Denver before heading back to New Jersey.

The first day in Denver was Day 17 of the trip -- July 19, 2016. I was in town for the National Railway Historical Society convention, but the convention's first day was spent riding the Royal Gorge Scenic brunch train. With no photo opportunities available on that trip, I opted to do my own thing around Denver. The day was spent getting acquainted with the new commuter rail system between Union Station and the airport on the parts near the convention hotel, but in mid-afternoon I headed into the mountains to catch Amtrak's California Zephyr coming out of Moffat Tunnel. The shot I wanted was from an overlook reachable by driving the former roadbed of a long-abandoned railroad over Rollins Pass. I thought the shot was from the first switchback on the road, but after driving a long way in and encountering a road that was more and more rough, I turned around well short of my goal. As I drove back out, I discovered I had actually passed the overlook (only about a half-mile up the hill) and just didn't see it because I was concentrating on the road. I paused at the overlook and was rewarded with the Zephyr coming out of the tunnel.
Amtrak; Moffat Tunnel, Tolland, Colo.; July 19, 2016
Day 18 of the trip had the convention heading for a light rail tour of Denver's RTD system. Once again, with limited photo opportunities on the convention trip, I headed out onto the new heavy rail system, this time riding it end-to-end. At the airport I found a large platform from which to shoot trains as they emerged from the Westin Hotel and terminals.
Regional Transportation District; Denver International Airport, Denver, Colo.; July 20, 2016
The other end of the line is at Denver Union Station downtown. The airport line is the first heavy rail line to open, but two more were undergoing testing for opening later in 2016. The cars used are Silverliner V cars built by Hyundai Rotem similar to those operating in Philadelphia. Just as these photos were being taken, Philly's Silverliners were being taken out of service for a manufacturing defect; the Denver cars were apparently unaffected.
Regional Transportation District; Denver Union Station, Denver, Colo.; July 20, 2016
Day Three of the NRHS convention (and Day 19 of the trip) had the NRHS heading to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden for an afternoon of activities and a night photography event. There was time in the morning, however, to get Union Pacific's freshly restored 4-8-4 steam locomotive, No. 844, as it traveled from Cheyenne, Wyo., to Denver to get ready to power an excursion in a couple of days. The big Northern was coming out of Cheyenne as it headed through Speer, Wyo., on its way south.
Union Pacific 844; Speer, Wyo.; July 21, 2016
Once the chase with 844 was done, it was time to head to the Colorado Railroad Museum. Denver & Rio Grande Western 2-8-0 No. 346 was powering a passenger train every half hour on the museum's narrow gauge loop.
Colorado Railroad Museum; Golden, Colo.; July 21, 2016
That evening, No. 346 was the star of the night photo session. Four different scenes using the Consolidation (and three additional scenes using other museum equipment) were shot during the event.
Colorado Railroad Museum; Golden, Colo.; July 21, 2016
Day 20 of the trip was unusual -- no photos were taken! I am on the board of the NRHS and the day was spent with meetings and the banquet that night. It was back to photos for Day 21, however. with the NRHS venturing to Leadville, Colo., to ride the Leadville, Colorado & Southern railroad. But first there was time to catch UP 844 as it powered the Denver Post's Cheyenne Frontier Days train out of Denver.
Union Pacific 844; Commerce City, Colo.; July 23, 2016
Back in Denver, the convention attendees boarded buses for the ride to Leadville. Once there, everyone got on the train for a ride on the former Denver & Rio Grande Western branch from Leadville to Climax, Colo. This line hits an elevation of over 11,000 feet, making it the highest standard gauge railroad in North America. A photo stop was held at French Gulch water tank at an elevation just shy of 11,000 feet.
Leadville, Colorado & Southern; French Gulch Tank, Climax, Colo.; July 23, 2016
An alternate angle at the photo stop location shows the water tank at French Gulch.
Leadville, Colorado & Southern; French Gulch Tank, Climax, Colo.; July 23, 2016
Once the buses had returned everyone to Denver, I headed out with Nick Hovey to photograph around Union Station at night. The train from the hotel to the station was packed -- the line is certainly well-used and the area around Union Station has a vibrant night life. We spent about an hour shooting around the station (including the top photo in this post) before heading back to the hotel near what was Stapleton Airport.
Regional Transportation District; Denver Union Station, Denver, Colo.; July 23, 2016
Day 22 of the trip would feature something unusual -- a chase of UP 844 by bus for the NRHS convention. But that trip didn't leave until noon, so I had one final morning in Denver to get some shots I wanted. First up was heading back to Union Station to get the westbound California Zephyr leaving town.
Amtrak; Denver, Colo.; July 24, 2016
From downtown I headed out towards Golden to get some light rail shots. The highlight was a train crossing the unusual basket-handle arch bridge over U.S. 6 at Lakewood.
Regional Transportation District; Lakewood, Colo.; July 24, 2016
Meanwhile, the Colorado Railroad Museum had its "big" engine operating, 2-8-2 No. 491, so it was back to Golden to get the Mikado making the loop around the museum grounds.
Colorado Railroad Museum; Golden, Colo.; July 24, 2016
Finally it was back into town for the bus chase with 844. I drove my own car as a support vehicle for the chase, while 50 NRHS attendees were on the deluxe motor coach. After shooting the train in the yard prior to departure, our convoy headed north (the bus, me in my car, and two other support cars) where we actually caught the train three times. Our final shot was of the train roaring through Ault, Colo., on its way back to Cheyenne.
Union Pacific 844; Ault, Colo.; July 24, 2016
Once the final shot was done, I broke away from the convention to start the long drive eastward. In some of the last sun of the day I caught a Union Pacific freight heading west out of Limon, Colo. From here it was a run to somewhere in Kansas where I stopped for the night (back to car camping after enjoying six nights in a real bed).
Union Pacific; Limon, Colo.; July 24, 2016
It was not much but driving for Day 23 of the trip, heading across Kansas and Missouri. The interstate goes near Granite City, Ill., and by late afternoon what had been mostly cloudy skies gave way to sunshine. The Port Harbor Railroad (operated by Respondek Rail) serves a port (obviously) near Granite City, and I have a few friends that work for the railroad. Knowing they usually run in the afternoon, I swung by and found friends (and brothers) Mark and Mike Mautner working the ground with Scott Nauert running the locomotive.
Port Harbor; Granite City, Ill.; July 25, 2016
They had a lot of work to do on the maze of track, providing some nice photo angles. But I had miles to knock off still, so after a couple of final shots I bid them farewell and continued east.
Port Harbor; Granite City, Ill.; July 25, 2016
That night I pulled into a rest area on the Indiana/Ohio border for some sleep. Day 24 was strictly a driving day (the third day of the trip where no photos were taken), arriving back in New Jersey in early evening. Finally the trip was done, with 9,827 miles on the odometer. But while I was on the trip, my boss set up a business meeting in Kansas City for two months hence. Head back west again? Sure!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Great Western Trip -- Part Four

New Mexico Rail Runner; Los Lunas, N.M.; July 15, 2016
In the first part of our adventure we traveled from New Jersey to Kansas City and on to Crawford Hill in Nebraska. In the second part we chased trains in South Dakota, then hit the Powder River Basin and Sherman Hill in Wyoming. In the third part, we hit a variety of short lines including Deseret Power, Navajo Mine, Apache, and Copper Basin. We start this part waking up south of Albuquerque, N.M.

With 5,788 miles put away since leaving New Jersey on July 3, Day 13 started with a commuter operation -- the New Mexico Rail Runner, which sports possibly the best paint scheme of any commuter railroad in the country. The trains run both north and south out of Albuquerque -- north to Santa Fe and south to Belen. Since the trains would be in "push" mode heading north into Albuquerque, I needed a location that would be a broadside photo (since the engine would be on the rear of the train and wouldn't have its headlight on). The best shot of the morning was of a northbound train passing a small airport near Los Lunas (above).

With some time to kill and the trip about half over, it was time to take Sparky (my 2004 Ford Explorer) to a garage for an oil change. There isn't much rail activity around Albuquerque without going south to Belen to hit BNSF's transcontinental line, so I spent the day poking around for potential shots for the evening commuter rush, as well as hitting the Wheels museum in old Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe shops in downtown Albuquerque. One shot high on my hit list would be of a Rail Runner coming down the median of I-25 as it heads south from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, and that shot was accomplished near La Cienga.
New Mexico Rail Runner; La Cienga, N.M.; July 15, 2016
I found a really nice shot I wanted near Rosario, but the remaining daylight Rail Runners came after clouds had built up, making for a less-than-stellar photo. Defeated by clouds for the day, I set up my lights at a different location near Rosario and got the last train from Santa Fe to Albuquerque crossing a small bridge. I then went into Santa Fe and grabbed a motel for the night.
New Mexico Rail Runner; Rosario, N.M.; July 15, 2016
Day 14 was a Saturday, so Rail Runners wouldn't be running as often as they would on a weekday. I started the day by visiting the worksite of the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society, which is restoring massive Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 2926. I spent almost four hours with the crew, watching the work that was being done on the engine. The quarters were cramped and the sun was at the wrong angle, so photography was challenging, but I did like the way the light came into the cab and illuminated the water sight glass warning sign. Scenes of the workers working will probably make a decent post at some point in the future. I was impressed with the plan the group has, both for restoring the Northern and eventually operating it (perhaps as early as 2017). When the crew broke for lunch, I departed the worksite and headed back trackside.
Santa Fe 2926; Albuquerque, N.M.; July 16, 2016
One of the reasons I was in the Albuquerque area was to photograph Amtrak's Southwest Chief, since the line used by the Chief is protected by semaphore signals. At one time these types of signals were common throughout the U.S.; now the line from the Colorado border down to just below Lamy (near Santa Fe) is the last place to find these relics. I found a lone semaphore near Los Cerrillos and waited for the Chief; it did not disappoint.
Amtrak; Los Cerrillos, N.M.; July 16, 2016
With the southbound Chief now gone (and the northbound had run earlier in the day while I was in Albuquerque) I turned my attention back to the Rail Runners. I still wanted that shot at Rosario that I missed the day before, so I went back and finally got it in sun.
New Mexico Rail Runner; Rosario, N.M.; July 16, 2016
Annoying afternoon clouds were once again building, so I headed into Santa Fe where I could shoot stationary stuff when I got a sunny break. Santa Fe was originally on a branch line of the mighty Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, connecting to the main at Lamy -- so the railroad was most commonly known by the name of a town located at the end of a branch! Later, the Santa Fe Southern tourist operation took over the branch. Rail Runner trains use the Santa Fe station, but when service was extended north of Albuquerque the Rail Runners were largely put onto a new right-of-way. The Santa Fe Southern is now dormant, but some of its equipment still shares the Santa Fe station with the Rail Runners.
Santa Fe Southern and New Mexico Rail Runner; Santa Fe, N.M.; July 16, 2016
As night moved in, I hung around downtown Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Railyard hosts some night life, and I listened to a bad ensemble band waiting for the last Rail Runner of the night to depart for Albuquerque. Once I got that, I headed out to a rest area on I-25 and found a quiet spot to sleep.
New Mexico Rail Runner; Santa Fe, N.M.; July 16, 2016
For Day 15, I started focusing on those semaphore signals. The Southwest Chief can really move along, so the key to getting multiple shots of signals is to get a set north of Las Vegas, N.M., then use the train's stop there to get ahead of it for a set south of Las Vegas. One chase can easily rack up 50 or more miles between shots. The line is only used by Amtrak, so only two trains go past the signals each day -- the Chief in each direction. I got the southbound train at Wagon Mound, N.M., then easily beat it during its stop at Las Vegas to get it again at Chapelle. I waited at Chapelle and got the northbound Chief there as well.
Amtrak; Chapelle, N.M.; July 17, 2016
Using the Las Vegas station stop, I got the train again at the ghost town of Colmor, about 60 miles later.
Amtrak; Colmor, N.M.; July 17, 2016
Somewhere north of Wagon Mound the string of semaphores end. After clearing the town of Raton, N.M., the line crosses into Colorado while climbing and descending Raton Pass. After a high-speed chase through the semaphores, the chase over Raton is anything but... I was able to catch the northbound Chief multiple times on the pass, including at Gallinas, Colo.
Amtrak; Gallinas, Colo.; July 17, 2016
For the second night in a row I headed into the semaphores to get shots of them under the stars. The first night I did okay with them, but I did better the second night, especially the set at Levy, N.M. It was the only semaphore set I found that had one of the signals lit. After finishing with night shots, I headed to a truck stop on I-25 that had a nice, large, quiet parking area for autos.
BNSF Railway; Levy, N.M.; July 17, 2016
Day 16 started with driving into Colorado in search of a ghost. Way back when, grade crossings were protected by devices called wigwags -- a target that moved back and forth like someone waving a flag when a train was approaching the crossing. The rumor was there was still a surviving, functioning wigwag in the ghost town of Delhi, Colo. Arrival there proved the rumors were true -- for no apparent reason there is a wigwag guarding a dirt crossing in a ghost town. Like the semaphores south of it, only Amtrak's Southwest Chief passes here. I got the southbound Chief and commenced the chase back towards the semaphores.
Amtrak; Delhi, Colo.; July 18, 2016
Using the train's stop at Trinidad, I got the train as it began its ascent of Raton Pass. Almost as rare as semaphore signals are searchlight signals, which have one lens that displays the three colors. There are a couple of sets of searchlight signals on ex-Santa Fe cantilever signal bridges near Gallinas. I couldn't find a good way to track level here, and settled for a view from the adjacent dirt road.
Amtrak; Gallinas, Colo.; July 18, 2016
I used the train's slow climb up and over Raton Pass to get ahead of it again, beating it easily to the overhead bridge just before entering the town of Raton.
Amtrak; Raton, N.M.; July 18, 2016
Once again I wound up chasing the Southwest Chief down through the semaphores, getting it on either side of the Las Vegas stop. I then chased the northbound Chief, once again getting it once on each side of Las Vegas. Sun angles and clouds meant my results weren't as good as the previous day, so the next shot I was happy with was from the same bridge as above, getting the train as it pulled out of Raton and headed for Raton Pass.
Amtrak; Raton, N.M.; July 18, 2016
Once out of Trinidad, it was time to head for Denver. The convention of the National Railway Historical Society was taking place in a day or two, and -- after all -- that was the primary reason I was out here. I headed into Denver and went to my motel -- one I would have for the duration of the convention, meaning I'd have a real bed for more than one night in a row for the first time on the trip. The long drive to Delhi in the morning, the long chase of the Chief both ways, and the drive to Denver made this 16th day one of the longest of the trip -- 741 miles of driving in one day. But things would now slow down a lot for the convention. I hit the sack in Denver with 7,435 miles so far logged in on the road.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Railfan Day at Steam Into History

Steam Into History; Hanover Junction, Pa.; September 24, 2016
Steam Into History held its second annual Railfan Day on September 24 on its Northern Central Railroad in Pennsylvania. The line heads north from New Freedom to Hanover Junction, where the surviving station saw President Abraham Lincoln change trains on his way to Gettysburg in November 1863.
Steam Into History; Hanover Junction, Pa.; September 24, 2016
The star of Steam Into History is 4-4-0 No. 17, William H. Simpson (formerly York). Despite its 1860s appearance, it was constructed by Kloke Locomotive Works in Iowa in 2013. The locomotive is based on blueprints used in constructing the replica locomotives at the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Utah.

Steam Into History; Hanover Junction, Pa.

The Railfan Day festivities kicked off with a daytime trip heading north from New Freedom. No. 17 pushed the train the ten miles north to the restored Hanover Junction station. There was enough time here to do a few static photos, and Christopher Brang and his crew of Civil War reenactors (Curtis Keester, William Keith Kesler, Christiana Bredbenner, and Kitty McKellips) were put to good use. The locomotive crew of Steve Meola and Stephen Lane also posed for photos, as did Steam Into History volunteer Will Horowitz. A runby was held (top photo in this post), and it was time to head south.

Steam Into History; Hanover Junction, Pa.; September 24, 2016
Another runby was held in a cornfield just south of Hanover Junction, followed by a stop in Glen Rock where the historic inn was used as a backdrop for a runby. The inn has an 1880s Wrigley’s gum sign painted on it, and even though the advertisement is a bit late for our 1860s era it did make a nice scene.
Steam Into History; Hanover Junction, Pa.; September 24, 2016
Steam Into History; Glem Rock, Pa.; September 24, 2016
The reenactors were used again for a photo runby at the tastefully named town of Railroad, with a final runby held at New Freedom. The final two runbys were exceptionally good, as Steve and Stephen really had the locomotive working.

Steam Into History; Railroad, Pa.; September 24, 2016
The final runby was short (the train didn't back very far) but the request was made for smoke. The locomotive crew certainly came through.
Steam Into History; New Freedom, Pa.; September 24, 2016
The fun wasn’t over yet, however. After dinner, a night photography train headed north, with No. 17 once again pushing all the way to Hanover Junction. Once it got dark, the strobes were brought out (provided by Michael Burkhart and yours truly) and the first two night scenes were recorded at Hanover Junction. 
Steam Into History; Hanover Junction, Pa.; September 24, 2016
Steam Into History; Hanover Junction, Pa.; September 24, 2016
Next up was a night shot at the Glen Rock Mill Inn in Glen Rock. The building features a vintage advertisement for Wrigley gum. Even though Wrigley's gum wasn't invented until the 1880s (about 20 years too late for our Civil War-era scenes) it still made a nice prop.
Steam Into History; Glen Rock, Pa.; September 24, 2016
The gentlemen tipped their hats to the ladies during the next night photo scene at Railroad.
Steam Into History; Railroad, Pa.; September 24, 2016
Finally, the train returned to New Freedom for one last scene in front of the old Pennsylvania Railroad depot in town. Thanks to the crew of Steam Into History and all the actors that made for a memorable day.
Steam Into History; New Freedom, Pa.; September 24, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Great Western Trip -- Part Three

Copper Basin; Kelvin, Ariz.; July 13, 2016
Note: In the first installment of our western trip we ventured from New Jersey through Kansas City and on to Crawford Hill in Nebraska. In the second installment we headed into South Dakota for a couple of railroads and then down to the Powder River Basin in Wyoming before heading to Sherman Hill near Cheyenne. We concluded camped out along the tracks of the Deseret Power Railroad near Dinosaur, Colo.

Day 9 of the trip found me awake at 6:15 a.m. in the middle of nowhere. Pre-trip intelligence said the Deseret Power Railroad would make its first trip from the coal mine near Dinosaur, Colo., to the power plant near Bonanza, Utah, sometime after 6:30 a.m. I drove the short distance from where I had parked for the night to the grade crossing and waited. The railroad operates Monday-Thursday, and usually a track inspection is made on Monday morning before the first train of the week runs. This was a Monday...

Around 7:30 a track inspection truck went past on the railroad. The friendly driver told me the train should be about an hour later. I could have gotten more sleep, but at least there was something coming. But 8:30 came and went, as did 9:30... Finally, at 10:30 there was a headlight and the chase was on as three E60 electric locomotives led a string of coal cars past me. The shot at the grade crossing was okay, but a better shot was to be found just south of the town of Blue Mountain (the highway sign says its a town; there is one house there) as the train crossed the highway on a high fill.
Deseret Power; Blue Mountain (Dinosaur), Colo.; July 11, 2013
The Deseret Power Railroad is isolated -- it has no railroad connection with the rest of the U.S. rail system. All it does is shuffle coal from the mine to the power plant. Passing through the town of Dinosaur, my next shot was where the railroad heads south before hitting Mormon Gap.
Deseret Power; Dinosaur, Colo.; July 11, 2016
The railroad is about 35 miles long, and the trains move right along at a decent pace. Unfortunately, the road and tracks separate after Mormon Gap, and you have to drive into Utah to the power plant to get ahead of the train again. Except... The road between Bonanza and the power plant has collapsed, and the detour is long and dusty. It is no longer possible to beat a train from Mormon Gap to the power plant, and if you went to the power plant to shoot the train leaving (it takes about two hours to unload), you would get one shot there and wouldn't be able to get anything else on the east end near Dinosaur. Thus, I let the train go and caught up on sone sleep for a couple of hours. About three hours after I saw the train receding west at Mormon Gap, it returned heading back towards Dinosaur.
Deseret Power; Dinosaur, Colo.; July 11, 2016
The normal operating pattern has the morning train getting back to the mine sometime around noon, where the crew will reload the train and a second crew will make a round trip starting at about 4:30. However, because of the late start in the morning, it was already closing in on 3:00 and there was no way the train would be loaded in time for 4:30. Figuring it would be a couple of hours no matter what, I stopped for a Brontosauras burger in Dinosaur (what did you expect?). I then headed towards the mine, where the entrance road gives a nice overview of the complex. It was now 4:30 and I could see the train was sitting under the loader, not moving. No second train today... It was time to move on, so I headed through the barren desert (I didn't pass a gas station for 168 miles) through Colorado and Utah, heading for New Mexico (including a spectacular drive into Moab). My next destination was near Farmington, N.M., and I pulled into the tourist information center in that town for the night.

The quarry for Day 10 was going to be the most elusive railroad on the trip, the Navajo Mine Railroad. Like the Deseret Power Railroad, it is an isolated operation that moves coal from the mine to the power plant. This railroad, however, is nowhere near as accessible at the Deseret Power. It is deep in the Navajo nation. There is only one public grade crossing on the railroad, and some views near the power plant. By early morning I was camped out at the public grade crossing. After some visits by mine security (which led to securing a photo release), I was soon rewarded with the shuttle train heading north from the mine to the power plant behind a heavily-modified E60 electric locomotive.
Navajo Mine; Ojo Amarillo, N.M.; July 12, 2016
The railroad operates with an E60 on one end of the train and an Alco C425 diesel on the other. The coal dust blowing off the train obscured a going-away shot of the Alco, so I decided to wait at the grade crossing (knowing it would be a couple of hours at least) to get the train's return. After waiting for awhile, a couple of railroad employees stopped by. I found out from them that the train was still about 90 minutes away. Hmmm... I decided to use that time to head up to the power plant to see what was going on.

As I arrived at the power plant, I saw the train had just finished loading and was moving out to head south. I got a shot of the C425 passing the power plant, just before I was visited by security. They made it plain that they'd prefer it if I moved on, and I had every shot you can possibly get on the railroad anyhow, so I headed on out.
Navajo Mine; Waterflow, N.M.; July 12, 2016
Wandering down into Arizona, I crossed the busy former Santa Fe Railway mainline at Holbrook. Not on my original itinerary was the Apache Railway that runs between Snowflake, Ariz., to interchange with Santa Fe successor BNSF Railway in Holbrook. With the loss of its biggest customer, a paper mill near Snowflake, Apache operations are infrequent and hard to plan for -- thus, the reason they weren't on my itinerary. But when I crossed the tracks in Holbrook and looked into the yard, there were Apache's nicely painted Alcos doing some interchange work. Alas, access points on the Apache are few and far between -- all the dirt roads intersecting the tracks are gated and marked private. I was able to get the train leaving Holbrook from a public grade crossing, however.
Apache Railway; Holbrook, Ariz.; July 12, 2016
After an unsuccessful chase almost all the way to Snowflake, I headed back into Holbrook, then turned towards Winslow. The Santa Fe had a string of Harvey Houses along it, restaurants and hotels run by Fred Harvey, and Winslow's Harvey House, La Posada, has been nicely restored. I pulled up a chair on the patio behind La Posada and watched trains as the sun set.
BNSF Railway; La Posada, Winslow, Ariz.; July 12, 2016
The Santa Fe closely follows old U.S. Highway 66 across Arizona, so as darkness fell I headed out to a Route 66 landmark outside Winslow, the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. I got a couple of trains passing the famous "Here It Is" sign before heading back into Winslow and a real motel for the night.
BNSF Railway; Jack Rabbit, Joseph City, Ariz.; July 12, 2016
On Day 11 the target was the Copper Basin Railway near Hayden, Ariz. The Copper Basin supports a large copper smelter near Hayden, bringing ore cars from a mine near Ray. Unlike the Deseret Power and Navajo Mine Railroads, though, the Copper Basin is connected to the outside rail world. I arrived just after noon and a quick check at the office at Hayden Junction told me a train had just left for the mine. I quickly overtook the train, chased it to the mine and back to the unloader at Hayden, fighting bad sun angles most of the way. However, there would be a second train on this day, a train that delivers sulphuric acid to the mine. This train ran in much better light, and I caught it as it wound its way down from the smelter.
Copper Basin; Hayden, Ariz.; July 13, 2016
This would prove to be a pretty decent chase, and I knew the roads pretty well from chasing the train earlier in the afternoon. The scenery in the area is punctuated by saguaro cactuses (cactii?) and I was able to get the train passing through valleys filled with them.
Copper Basin; Hayden Junction, Ariz.; July 13, 2016
Chasing along, I caught the train a few more times, including at Kelvin (top photo in this entry). Once the train reached the mine I knew it would be a few hours before it would be back and it would be after dark. I set up at a small bridge near Ray Junction and waited for the train to come back. Incidentally, the mine at Ray would mark the westernmost point on the trip. After the night shot, I found a nice spot to park outside Hayden and watched the fire from the smelter occasionally light up the entire valley.
Copper Basin; Ray Junction, Ariz.; July 13, 2016
Day 12 found the trip continuing south. After letting the rush hour traffic die down a bit, I ventured into Tucson to shoot the new light rail line there. After following the entire line by car, I decided to start my shooting on the University of Arizona campus. The university bookstore on Park Avenue made a nice backdrop.
Sun Link; 2nd & Park, Tucson, Ariz.; July 14, 2016
The Sun Link system opened in July 2014 and runs almost four miles, using cars built by United Streetcar in Oregon. Looking the other way at the same spot on Park Avenue, there is a sign with a warning for bicyclists.
Sun Link; 2nd & Park, Tucson, Ariz.; July 14, 2016
A parking garage on 2nd Street where it crosses North Mountain Avenue provided a nice elevated view of one of the line's modern streetcars.
Sun Link; 2nd & Mountain, Tucson, Ariz.; July 14, 2016
Sun Link; Congress Street, Tucson, Ariz.

Finally, I followed the line downtown, past the old Southern Pacific station and out Congress Street. The place where the streetcar line dives under Interstate 10 would mark the southernmost point on my trip (after hitting the westernmost point the previous day on the Copper Basin).

It was only early afternoon, but I wanted to get to Albuquerque, N.M., that night to be in position to get commuter trains there in the morning. A pleasant surprise was finding an In-N-Out Burger location just east of Tucson. The highway followed the former Southern Pacific "Sunset Route" for much of the way, but the line was largely quiet; the couple of trains I did see I couldn't get off the interstate in time to get down to the tracks and catch. I finally arrived in suburban Albuquerque well after dark and found a Denny's parking lot to catch a bit of sleep before the next morning's commuter rush, now 5,788 miles into the trip since leaving New Jersey.

About Me

Newton, New Jersey, United States

Thanks For Visiting