Sunday, July 20, 2014

Random Ramblings - Rocket Train

Union Pacific; Henefer, Utah; May 19, 2010
As I write this, it was 45 years ago today that man first set foot on the moon -- July 20, 1969. And I am reminded of one of the few times I got the chance to mix railroads and rockets. In May 2010 I was in Utah for photo charters on the Heber Valley Railroad. With a free afternoon I headed to two scenic canyons that are located several miles apart from each other on Union Pacific -- Weber and Echo. I started hearing reports on the railroad radio about a high-and-wide move coming east, so I went west through Weber Canyon and found a well-guarded train with six strange containers. Not wanting to mess with the guards, I headed back east and set up at Henefer, located halfway between Weber and Echo. The high-wide train was easy to track on the radio -- because of the wide dimensions, the dispatcher didn't want the train passing other trains on curves, so the special train dashed to straight sections of track for all meets. Finally the train arrived and I got the above photo.

It wasn't until I returned to New Jersey that I discovered what I had photographed. NASA's space shuttles are sent into orbit using solid rocket boosters manufactured by Thiokol in Brigham City, Utah, and shipped to Florida via train. This train was the very last set of solid rocket boosters for the shuttle. Without knowing it at the time, I captured the end of an era in the U.S.'s exploration of space.

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Newton, New Jersey, United States

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