Rails & Trails Pages

Sunday, April 29, 2018

California 5 2018 Tehachapi Loop

 Brian Sykes of Atlanta recently retired from the Norfolk Southern Railroad.  He asked me to join him on a railfan trip to southern California.  Here is what we did on Day 5.

It's the last day of our California trip and we 'Saved The Best For Last!!'  The Tehachapi Loop is one of the top railfan locations in the United States and visited by thousands of people each year.  And--we were very lucky.  The previous day had been overcast and foggy and snow was predicted for the following two days.  BUT ON THIS DAY--temperatures started out at 37 degrees in the city of Tehachapi with some snow still on the ground from the previous night's snowfall.  But by the time we got to the Loop, temperatures were in the 50s, bright sunshine, and no wind!  More on the Loop later.

As we head to Tehachapi, we saw lots of trains--and, as what became to be 'expected,' another meet right beside us.

And we pass this huge wind/solar farm.
We arrive in the city of Tehachapi and see these neat houses in the mountainside.  I couldn't find an internet reference about them.
There is a Railroad Museum in Tehachapi in a recreated depot, but it being Monday, it was listed as closed.  We decided to walk around it for an inspection and as I got close, a man motioned me up the steps and asked if we wanted a tour of the Museum!!  We spent at least an hour here looking at exhibits and I purchased a couple of neat T-shirts.
Here's a neat exhibit.  It is a section of rail 'worn down' by a locomotive traction motor.  The crew knew it was spinning but couldn't stop it.  Nowadays, with computers in the new locos, this couldn't happen.
As we were shopping, we heard a train approaching and stepped outside to catch this train led by 8 BNSF locomotives.
Here's a couple of shots of memorabilia on the outside of the depot.
Inside the depot they had this map of the Tehachapi Loop.  X marks the spot where I would be taking my pictures.
There is a road with parking spots right beside the Loop and this marker--but we walked up the hill to get a better vantage point.  It is private land but the owner doesn't mind railfans walking there, just as long as they don't litter.
The Tehachapi Loop is a 0.73 mile long spiral, or helix through the Tehachapi Pass of the Tehachapi Mountains.  It connects Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley to Mojave in the Mojave Desert.
Rising at a steady two percent grade, the track gains 77 feet in elevation in the Loop.  Any train of more than 4,000 feet long passes over itself going around the loop. At the bottom of the loop, the track passes through Tunnel 9, the ninth tunnel built as the railroad worked from Bakersfield.
The line, which sees an average of almost 40 trains each day, is one of the busiest single-track mainlines in the world. With its frequent trains and spectacular scenery, the Tehachapi Loop is one of the prime railfan areas in the country.

Since we had met many trains coming off the Pass before we got there, we knew action might be slow.  For 2.5 hours NOTHING except a rail truck.   And then the floodgates opened!  First, two BNSF trains met at the loop, then two UP trains met at the loop (there is a passing track on the loop).  The westbound UP train would wait there for FOUR more trains coming from the west to pass it before it headed out.  So we would see 8 trains in two hours, all meeting another train at this location!  You could NOT ask for more!!!  I'll explain how the loop works via pictures.  As we were waiting, the fog in the mountain was lifting.  Grrreat scenery!
Finally, a BNSF train approaches from the east.
It will stop on the inner track, short of the signal.
Meanwhile, a BNSF train approaches from the west.  It will pass behind the train in the foreground through the cut marked with an arrow.
And loop around and come through the tunnel under the first parked train.
It will pass the first train and keep heading east.
Then the parked train will head west and stop in a siding to let 5 east bound trains come by it before heading to Bakersfield.
Then a UP train comes from the west.
And a UP train from the east.
They will pass before another eastbound comes into view.
Enjoy more train pix!
Meanwhile, California wildlife enjoyed the great weather also.  Here is a lizard, or salamander, or gecko, or what??
And, I never thought I would see a Bullock's Oriole (a relative of the Baltimore Oriole) and not found in the Midwest.
Back to the trains . . .
Who is this railfan enjoying the beautiful weather on the Tehachapi Loop???
Time to head back to LA to fly home the following day.  As we drive on the Interstate, we note several tunnels where these trains run.  Wouldn't those be great photo ops??  Maybe . . . some day . . . . . . . . .

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Durand Speeder Work Day 2018

Work Day for our Chippewa Valley Motorcar Club was Saturday, April 28, 2018.  The goal was to get the line ready for the May speeder rides starting in a week by changing oil in the 'locomotives,' greasing axles on all the cars, and clearing brush down the line.  With the late spring, the trees and brush are still quite barren as they are usually leaved out by this time.  With the coming warm weather and rain, this will soon again look fantastic and full of migratory birds.

Paul Johnson and I started the morning by firing up one of our cranes to re-rail a dumpy car that had been on the ground since last fall.
Terry Yust was in charge of changing oil on the locos (sorry, no pix) while the rest of us made quick work of greasing the axles.  Here Doug Anderson greases a car.
As we were rearranging some cars, one of the hopper cars jumped the rails!!
Even though these cars aren't full size railroad equipment, they still weigh a LOT!

Some wood blocking and a jack and we are able to get it back on rail.
It turns out the gauge was narrow, so we removed spikes, spread the rails to proper gauge, and re-spiked!
Yours truly does the spiking while lots of 'inspectors' make sure I am doing it right!

And now the track works PERFECT!!!
So it is time to find how many trees were downed over the winter and blocking our path.
A fine mess you got me in this time!  But chainsaws make quick work of the tangle.
Paul and Dave Linderud contemplate how they are going to get this tree down!
And some of the higher ups require the assistance of the Santa Fe A4!
We come to as far as we can go--SAVOY.  This washout has held us up for years.  We are really hoping to fix this problem this spring/early summer so we can ride the rails for a few more miles!