HIGH IRON Online Magazine. Issue 1, Winter-Spring, 2001
Published by Iron Horse America, Hosted by Railfan.Net
More Older Stuff.
On a tour of the famous 'Tehachapi' grade I got this Santa Fe as it raced towards Bakersfield, California through "Sand Cut". 60 MPH., Fujichrome, F.16, 1/45th second.
In America, there are a few really great steam engines left, that still strut their stuff on the open high iron. I've said before that I'm not a big steam fan, but I must say that after shooting Southern Pacific's famous "Daylight" steamer in May and June of 96' for Pentrex, my feelings for steam may have changed a bit. What a rush! I got to spend two weeks chasing the 4449 up and down the west coast from Portland to Vancouver, BC,.. and SP personnel were great, the weather cooperated for the most part and the route followed the I-5 interstate, so chasing wasn't too unpleasant. Call Pentrex to order their tape about the trip, on sale now. "Daylight To Vancouver"
Burlington Northern runs many trains across Montana every day, it's been that way for years, but in 1995 some things began to change. BN merged with Santa Fe, and in western Montana the last of the old Northern Pacific 'Semaphore' type signals began being replaced. Fortunately I was lucky enough to catch pure BN trains in their last summer as they split the semaphores of Winston Hill. This eastbound grain train is clawing up the grade under stormy skies, about a half hour east of Helena, MT.
In the spring of 1995 the hottest topic in railroading was the merger of Chicago & North Western into Union Pacific. The great midwestern carrier almost made it to it's 150th birthday but the merger news meant the disappearance of a unique railroad. Like many people I felt the need to capture the last days of the C&NW before it disappeared. I spent a month in April traveling from Chicago north to the ore lines of Michigan, west to the end of the mainline in Nebraska, out to the incredible Powder River coal lines in Wyoming, and came back east to the twin cities of ST. Paul and Minneapolis, to follow the lines south to the main lines in Iowa. I am working on a triple length show remembering the final days of the C&NW, and will have it ready in 2001! On the coal "Connector" line from Wyoming's Powder River Basin, an eastbound drag rolls through Lusk, Wyoming, past a historic water tower. The train will be delivered to UP at Morrill, Nebraska, about 60 miles south east.
Something about steam engines has a magical effect that even the non-rail enthusiast can appreciate; power, history, even romance. I don't chase many steam trips or get to ride them much either. Having never actually seen steam in revenue service, I don't get the same urge to hunt the big brutes like some railfans do, but I have done a little hunting. This was the first real steam photo I ever shot; it's N&W #1218 sitting in Buffalo, NY having just returned a few hundred happy riders back home from an excursion. Believe it or not, the skies actually looked like this, the shot is not colorized!
I have visited the famous "Tehachapi Loop" at Walong, California many times to shoot video or take pictures, but never gotten that really neat "over-under" effect that a train and it's helpers can do. In April of 96' I finally caught this image, which will also be see in an upcoming video program. The mid-train helper locomotives work hard to assist getting this Santa Fe "Q Train" up the grade at the Loop.
Sometimes you get lucky. You're standing trackside, waiting to shoot a run of the mill roster shot, when a truck pulls up and a railroad worker gets out, waves, and goes about his business maintaining the high iron. I've found that the most interesting shots of railroads don't always include trains. No action shots were taken on this rainy June day in Squamish, British Columbia, but this switch tender made the day worth while, as he worked in the yard.
Even in 1993, original Chessie locomotives were still running on CSX rails. This geep is on the point of train Q384 as it overtakes a slower freight at the east portal of Sand Patch tunnel at Manila, Pennsylvania. At the time of this writing there were only 6 Chessie locomotives left on the CSX active roster. Our double length, Into The Allegheny Range volume 4, video takes viewers on a very comprehensive tour of the famous Sand Patch Grade. The program was shot over a four year period and is a favorite subject for me,...check it out!
Last updated: 31,OCT,01 URL: Information and Comments:Webmaster
Copyright 1996, 1997,2000,2001 Iron Horse America Video ABOVE PHOTOS AND MAP By Will Holloway