Tehachapi grade in South-Central California is probably the world's best known mountain grade. BNSF, and UP formerly SF and SP share the grade which includes the incredible Tehachapi loop, where the railroad line makes a complete circle passing 77 feet over itself before continuing to climb towards the summit (in the grade's namesake town.) Here we see a westbound manifest descending towards Bakersfield as it emerges from tunnel 9 at the loop.
An SP conductor waits to get the signal at Walong, CA. Walong is the east end of the siding on the Loop. By this time in 96' there were only a few seasons left for the SP and even fewer for this caboose.
Just before reaching the Loop this eastbound Santa Fe trailer train is seen negotiating the horse shoe curve that crosses Tehachapi Creek. Solid sets of "Yellow-Bonnet" power are nearly impossible to see today, now that the BNSF merger is complete.
A brief window of two or three weeks every spring provides the opportunity to photograph the Tehachapi Grade with fields of green instead of the usual brown that the California climate generally maintains. Here, we see an eastbound refer train negotiating the horse shoe curve at the west portal of tunnel 2, miles below the loop. We chased this train up to the loop but I like this picture better than the one I shot at Walong.