UP 4045 on the point of the K-BRLC passes through the winter wonderland at “The Slide”.
Merry Christmas everyone! As my last post indicated a major health issue impacted my family starting in October. Treatments are going well however I’m still in for a long commitment to this issue so I do not expect regular posts to begin again soon. In fact it could be another 6 to 9 months before the new normal settles in. As I mentioned previously, I’m making lemonade.
In the mean time I will pull an image from the archives to help put everyone in a Christmas mood. This image dates from December 2005 trip to Pengra Pass where our little group experienced some wonderful Northwest snow and enough train traffic to keep the trip very interesting. Oh and we had the pleasure of retrieving one of our vehicles out of a snowy ditch. Thank goodness for shovels, tire chains and clear thinking! That year enough snow fell to limit us to Fields and below on the north side of the pass. On the south side we ventured as far as Chemult where lots of dry snow lingered around in the single digit temperatures. Brrrr. It was cold but lots of great images came out of the effort.
Some of the best weather we have in the Pacific Northwest happens in September. The sun starts down after 7pm but with the warm days the temperatures are still comfortable enough to be outside after sunset. Early September usually remains dry so the skies are clear and the bugs are few. All this adds up to some great September nights outside!
Amtrak Cascades train 509 has a clear indication on the cantilever signal at Vader, WA on
a beautiful September evening. 509 was the last of 14 trains passing this spot in a 4 hour period on September 12th 2013.
Thursday last week I visited Vader, WA with the idea that the cantilever signals there won’t be there much longer. The nationwide PTC mandate has BNSF replacing signals and upgrading the signal system at quick pace. While work to stand up replacements hasn’t begun in Vader I’m certain the plans are in place and it will just be a matter of time before it does.
From 4pm to 8:20pm 14 trains passed! Daytime maintenance held the train traffic up a bit so the early evening time turned quite busy. At one point the UP local was switching Napavine while 3 northbound trains stacked up from Vader to Napavine South. Soundbound trains kept rolling but only so the dispatcher could clear a path for Amtrak Cascades trains 508 and 509 could meet more conveniently.
It was a good night to be hanging out with friends and enjoying the activity.
I ran across a set of UP locomotives in Vancouver last Sunday. The first thing which caught my eye was the little red signs hanging on the trucks. With the signs being clean and the trucks coated with years of road grime the signs stood out. It seems Union Pacific wants only tread conditioning brake shoes applied to this locomotive and they need a sign as a reminder. I wonder what the little red sign will look like after a few years of time on the road?
While Central Montana Railway’s bridges are unusable and under repair the CMR is storing cars where they can. About half of the track from Moccasin to the former GN Judith River trestle is filled with coal cars of various ownership. These long strings of cars stand out on the open prairie and are quite a contrast to the wheat fields that dominate this particular area. Kristi from the CMR told me last month they have over 240 cars stored currently. Nice bit of income for a shut down railroad.
At one of the grade crossings near Kolin I stopped when I noticed how the moon lit the sides of the stored hoppers. I spend 10 minutes or so photographing this spot until the moon moved around to where it wasn’t shining on the car sides any more.
Coal cars stored near Kolin, MT shimmer in the moonlight.