The Shasta Route III

by Steve Eshom on January 25, 2013

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Shasta Route January 2013

Our second day we awoke to a northbound Herzog ballast train pounding by the cabin just after 6am.   Immediately we knew the ballast train was headed up to Portland to supply another load of fresh ballast for the big tie project in the gorge.  This would be the first of several detours or reroutes sent down the Cascade and Black Butte subdivisions because of the tie project.

We drove into Dunsmuir to find a southbound manifest stopped at the depot for a crew change.  There was a problem though.  The train check continued to fail and the train line air pressure on the DPUs was dropping while the head end was in full release.  Something was blocking the train line. After an hour of trying things one of the crew men finally found a box car with a kinked air hose.  After some discussion it was decided the best thing to do would be to set it out.  The crew on the ground got the hose unkinked enough the rear end would release so they pulled down into the yard at Dunsmuir for the set out.

Remember the ballast train? They’d been sitting in the yard at Dunsmuir now for a couple of hours.  Since crew changes block the mainline in Dunsmuir there was no place for them to go.  With the southbound now pulling down to the yard the ballast train departed off the drill track and headed north.  During this whole escapade we hung out at Mott waiting for something to move.  In the end  total of 3 trains were bollixed up by this mess and it took about 3.5 hours to clear up.

 At Gibson, Ca. a sounthbound freight crosses under I-5.

We chose to shoot the train with air trouble at Castella and the train following it at Gibson based on Bob Morris’ suggestion.  I was so impressed with Gibson’s horseshoe that I recommended we come back later for a night photo.  It is pretty rare that you find such a nice looking place to shoot a horseshoe like this.  A northbound Z train was waiting in the siding at Gibson for the two delayed trains so now we had something to chase back north.

We photographed the Z train several times as it passed through South Dunsmuir and Mott.  Finally we decided to drive into the Dry Creek trestle north of Hotlum and see what we could see.  There wasn’t a great amount of snow on the ground but there was certainly enough to give you the impression of which season it was.  Looking at the valley below it is quite easy to spot the inversion layer hanging around.

Dry Creek trestle towers high above the valley below.  The conductor would be looking out his window at the community of Lake Shastina.

It takes about 20 minutes to drive out so we ended up well behind the Z as it whipped up the hill to Grass Lake.  Finally we heard a meet happening at Kegg with a southbound.  We drove into the former mill town of Bray and photographed the train in the low sun followed by another photo at Grass Lake, and finally the last one for the day at Black Butte.

Black Butte

The water tank still stands at Black Butte, Ca.

Remember the Dogwood Diner I mentioned in the last post?  Thursday night is their live music night which Bob told us we couldn’t miss.  We headed over there again.  A local band named 3 on a Match performed a couple of hours worth of adult contemporary hits.  Their style seemed to work out just fine for our 40+ age group.  Again, it was another fabulous meal with some good home town entertainment.

Stay tuned for more coming soon….

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