Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Longest Ore Trains - Part 2 Estrada de Ferro Vitória-Minas (EFVM)

Estrada de Ferro Vitória-Minas (EFVM) 1202. In my quest to locate the longest regularly scheduled railroad operations, I began with the SNIM operation on the Sahara Desert.

Then I discovered the EFVM, which began operations to service a diamond mining operation in Brazil but has subsequently gone on to be the busiest iron-ore railway, handling 32% of Brazils heavy haul freight.

EFVM is a 562-mile long narrow gauge operation carrying 32% of all Brazilian rail freight. Look carefully, KM fans, they had a Kraus-Maffei ML 4000 on the books!

The Trains. EFVM a runs a fleet of modified General Electric Dash 9’s, designated BB40-9W. The GE BB40-9W is a narrow-gauge version of the GE Dash 9 40-CW locomotive. All 141 examples of this locomotive are owned by the EFVM railroad in Brazil, numbered 1113 to 1253.

They are equipped with four B-style trucks, replacing the conventional C-style trucks. This is necessary because EFVM is meter-gauge and the standard C44-9W traction motors cannot fit in the narrower trucks. A smaller motor, with an extra axel, allows full application of 4,000 hp to the rails.

Working 320 car ore trains is a daunting task! Using distributed power in a combination of a Dash-9 + 160 cars, a Dash-9 + 80 cars, and a final Dash-9 + 80 cars.

There is also a fleet of General Motors narrow gauge DDM45’s – an SD45 on steroids, also with four axle trucks. As with the GE locomotives, smaller traction motors of the meter gauge locomotive were unable to handle the full current capacity from the 3,600 HP prime mover.

EMD engineered a meter gauge version of the Flexicoil-D four-axle trucks, similar to those found under the domestic EMD DD35, EMD DD35A and EMD DDA40X locomotive model, creating the DDM45 in the process. The additional 2 traction motors of this design allowed full power to be used.

My thanks to Nick Slocombe in England for sending me these close ups of the specialized four-axle trucks. Nick has put together a great photo-essay “Brazil’s Super Railway” with many interesting photos of the EFVM in action.

Suggested reading: This article from the
International Railway Journal, gives a highly detailed account of the use of distributed power to move these heavy weight trains!

Railroad Stuff: EFVM 836, Built by General Motors as Meter Gauge DDM45, 3,600 hp, April 1973, serial number 12618.

See Also Longest Ore Trains Part 1.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Location, Location, Location!

Northern Pacific Railway 5409A, Green River Washington, August 14, 1960. Just a few days after my 17th birthday, and I was anxious to get a shot of the Northern Pacific tip-toeing across the Green River Bridge. But low and behold, when I got there, "swamp gas," "fog!" I thought I was going to be “skunked” on my choice of locations to grab this eastbound freighter, because I did not have a back up plan!

I loved shooting the Northern Pacific eastbound, climbing up out of Auburn - and the flats of the East Valley – they had nowhere to go but up – Run 8 territory! Plug "Covington" into the adjacent Google Search Engine.

The Green River Bridge was just east of Auburn, and the roar was exhilarating as the hogger has his foot to the metal. As I heard her approaching, it was as though the breath of angles came through at the last moment, moving the swamp gas away just in the nick of time. And I got a memorable shot of an eastbound FT leading a gang of hoods onto the Green River Bridge.

This is the “A” unit end of the A-B-C-D lash up. Here be her sister,
NP 5409D.

And you know what makes this extra special? I am the only one who shot this consist at this location! This is a one of a kind photograph, taken at this location!

Railroad Stuff: Northern Pacific Railway 5409A, nee 6009A, built by General Motors at La Grange Illinois, as an FT, 1,350 horsepower, in 1945, serial number 2838. Traded by BN in 1971, for an SD45.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Extra West 9060!

Canadian National Railways 9060, Mile Post 75, Skeena Subdivision, November 18, 1959. In a torrential downpour, we find Extra West 9060 scurrying west bound along the Skeena River, under cover of white flags, heading for Prince Rupert.

White Flags and white bullet lamps indicate a train running off the published Employee Time Table. This is TRAIN ORDER country, real railroading that runs on flimsies, an employee time table, corrected pocket watch, moxie, and reasoning ability!

In foreground is Trans-Canada Highway 16 - the Yellowhead Highway: 500 miles of gravel and dust in the summer; 500 miles of gravel and mud the rest of the year. Prince George is 500 miles − 500 miles east of this location! Directly behind me is the mighty Skeena River, one of the major rivers of North America. Tracks, highway and river share close company for many, many miles!

If one encountered a train at night, the drill was to stop and turn your eyes away from the locomotive. Even though crews would dim headlamp, turning away would protect your night vision. Log trains were especially scary, as bark, dirt and gravel would often fly off the logs.

Geeze, those were exhilarating days up there, from 1957 through 1959! And this is one of my final photo shoots, as within a few weeks, we will be moving back to Seattle.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railways 9060. Built by General Motors Division (GMD) London Ontario, as an F-7, 1,500 horse power, road class GFA-15c, December 1951, serial number A-330. Retired August 1971. Rebuilt and renumbered 9156, September 1972, modified for snow plow service in southern Ontario by providing removable steel grill for the windshield and covers for the roof-mounted radiator fans, retired December 1989.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Static Display #6: Willamette "Six Spot" Shay

Crown Zellerbach #6, Cathlamet, Oregon, June 10, 1962. On a family vacation to the Long Beach Peninsula, we found the “Six Spot Shay” on display. This locomotive is a Willamette Locomotive, built entirely from the ground up by Willamette Iron and Steel, who built a lot of logging apparatus.

There is an interesting story behind the Corporate decision to compete with Lima, Ohio, beyond the scope of this article. I refer you to the book
“The Willamette Locomotive” by Steve Hauff and Jim Gertz.

Furthermore, the Willamette Locomotive cannot be correctly referred to as a "Shay," and is not to be confused with the “Pacific Coast Shay.”

"Shay" is a trademark owned by Lima Locomotive Works. Lima’s come back to the Portland upstart, was to incorporate all the changes loggers wanted in a locomotive, incorporating them into the "Pacific Coast Shay."

In all, 33 “Willamette’s” were built, with Car Number 13 built for Simpson Logging, delivered in October 1928 as road number 6.

Here is the text of the display board bolted on her tender:

“This 70 ton Shay locomotive built by Willamette Iron and Steel Company at Portland Oregon, first saw service at Crown Willamette Paper Company’s Young’s River logging operation near Astoria, Oregon, in December, 1923.

Shay Geared Locomotives were a familiar sight in woods from Maine to Washington during the first half of the 20th Century. Over 2,500 were manufactured in Lima, Ohio, while 33 were built in Portland. “Six Spot” was one of those “Western Made.”

Named for Ephraim Shay, a Michigan logger who built the first of the geared locomotives around 1879, this locomotive was sent to do the job where other engines could not venture – up steep grades; around short radius curves; across trestles spanning deep ravines in the forests.

Six Spot was transferred to Cathlamet shortly after going into service near Astoria, only to return to the Young’s River logging operations in 1928. Later, she was assigned to the Clatsop Railway Company, a common carrier line, operated by Crown Willamette to haul logs from its Lewis & Clark camp near Seaside, Oregon.

When the Clatsop Railway was discontinued in 1940, returned to Crown Zellerbach Corporation’s Cathlamet Tree Farm where it remained in service until December 1958, when log trucks replace the company’s last rail operation. ”

Railroad Stuff: Crown Willamette Paper Company #6. Construction Number 13, built at Willamette Iron & Steel, Portland, Oregon, delivered January 20, 1924. Known as model 70-3, she was a 70 ton 3-truck "Shay" type, built at a cost of $22,500!

See Also
The Willamette Locomotive (CN 21)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Espee's Natron Cutoff - Update

Just received an email from Zoe Richardson, Director of Media, Union Pacific.

Work continues to repair extensive damage caused by the January 2008 - the so-called "Coyote Mountain Slide."

The Union Pacific mainline artery between Oregon and California has been down more than three months, with no definite re-opening date.

The Coast Starlight resumed, being more a bus line than rail line on I-5.

When consider this photograph, clearing the upper severance, just south of Fields, and the lower severance, leaves a big problem of all the loose material, reportedly up to 20 feet deep, poised between rail lines.

That material has to be dealt with, and is proving to be a challange!

See also: "Big Time Trouble" "More Trouble" "End of the Line" and "Tentative first step!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CN's "Bent Paper Clip"

Canadian National 9124, and 4497. Prince Rupert, December 24, 1962. Although my family had moved back to Seattle in 1959, we had reason to visit in 1962.

I was home in Seattle for Christmas from my studies at Washington State University, and Dad had been sent back to Prince Rupert as relief chief engineer on the
ABC tug “Comet” over the Christmas slow down at Ketchikan Pulp.

My Mom, Sister and I were talking over dinner, about us being in Seattle, while Dad was up in Prince Rupert. Within a few hours we packed up the family bus, and took off for the 1,000-mile trip to Prince Rupert.

I was 19, my Sister was too young to drive, and my Mom could not drive. It wasn’t until we got up into the Cariboo Country, that it dawned on us what an adventure this was going to be! Tons of ice and snow, and a loooong way to go!

But it was the disblieving look on my Dad’s face when I woke him up in his stateroom, the morning of our third day out! We had a wonderful Christmas with Dad and the skeleton crew on the “Comet,” with the cook being delighted at having us show up. I'd never seen such a big turkey, and we had all the trimmings!

When folk ask, what is your most memorable Christmas, this is Number 1, with Christmas in Biloxi Number 2.

The Bent Paper Clip. Naturally, I took the opportunity to wander across the road to the CN Engine Facility, where I spent so many hours as a young man, when we lived there from 1957 – 1959.

The Canadian National Railways had recently re-invented its image as CN, dropping the Maple Leaf logo, in an effort to create a new international image, and I found examples of CNR changes to CN in the new paint scheme and the famous “Bent Paper Clip.”

A fellow by the name of Allan Fleming was barely 30 when he was recruited to come up with a fresh new logo for CN. He was Vice President and Director of Creative Services at the typographic firm Cooper and Beatty Ltd. when he designed the new CN logo in 1959. The new logo was introduced to the world, in January 1961.

Sadly, Fleming died after a long illness in December 1977, at just 48 years of age.

Railroad Stuff: CN 9124, built by GMD, London Ontario, as a F7A, 1,500 horsepower, November 1952, serial number A-398, GFA-15d. Tripped over rockslide at Mile Post 120.7, Ashcroft Subdivision, in March 1966 whilst in the company of CN 9066 (F7A) and Geep 9’s 4351 and 4284. Both cab units were declared constructive losses and retired. The Geep’s, running behind the lead cab units, were repairable and returned to service.

CN 4497, built by GMD, London Ontario, as a GP-9, 1,750 horsepower, November 1956, road class GR-17g. Re-numbered 4201 in 1957. Branch line Flexicoil trucks were switched out for Bloomberg’s in 1962, and returned to 4497. Rebuilt as road class GY-00f, slug number 243 in 1990.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jordan Spreader - Does the work of an Army of Men!

Canadian National Railways Jordan Spreader 50192, Prince Rupert March 14, 1958. A gentleman by the name of Oswald F. Jordan a roadmaster on a New York Central subsidiary when in 1900 he invented a combination spreader-ditcher. In 1905, he left the railroad to start his own business and he purchased land in East Chicago, where he set up his works.

Just one of many MOW –
Maintenance of Way machines, the Jordan spreader was used for maintaining trackside structures including profiling drainage ditches, slopes in cuts and embankments, spreading ballast, and even snow removal.

An absolutely fascinating piece of machinery! I always got excited watching the maintenance people at work on her. When this wing was extended for repair, the whole unit shook, pneumatic valves snorted, and she seemed ready to tip over!

The giant building on the bluff above the CNR yard was the Elizabeth Apartments, destroyed by fire on November 17th, 2004.

Jordan later became Jackson-Jordan, which became part of Pandrol International in 1990. Pandrol also absorbed, among others, Speno Rail Services. With all this corporate stuff happening, apparently now operates as Harsco Track Technologies Division.

In 2001, the Jordan Spreader was inducted into the North America Railway
Hall of Fame.

Two gentlemen, Paul Strubeck and Jim Otto, have created the essential
Jordan Spreader web site I encourage you to look this site up and let them know you appreciate their efforts!

Railroad Stuff: The builder’s plate reads: “O.F. Jordan Company, East Chicago Indiana, USA. Serial Number 518. Patented on January 20, 1920, and also on July 27, 1920.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Prince Rupert Container Port - Update!

Seattle, April 19, 2008. In earlier posts, "Container Cranes Arriving," "Dedication Day," and "First Ship - First Train," I wrote about the massive state of the art container port, which opened for business in Prince Rupert last fall, operated for the Port Authority by Maher Terminals out of New Jersey.

Prince Rupert is 500 miles closer to Asian ports than all West Coast facilities. By building this facility, shipping companies can squeeze out an extra round trip sailing per year - a big money issue.

Since it's opening in September, 2007, containers take a mere 12 days travel time from Asia to Chicago.

A massive cooperative effort between the Port of Prince Rupert and the Canadian National, who invested a ton of money for new locomotives, stack cars, and line side improvements.

And there has never any bashfulness about the Port of Prince Rupert painting giant targets on Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Long Beach to snatch up highly competitive and lucrative container business.

I've been hoping to get some shots of the container trains running through Northern BC, but apparently they are passing through areas I have contacts in, in the middle of the night! Where is O. Winston Link?

This article appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Saturday, April 19. This meeting was set to discuss the impact of Prince Rupert's World Port.

My guess is, there is plenty to worry about!

Phase II, an expansion of the container port, is already on the drawing boards and scheduled for opening in 2012, just four short years from now!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Western Pacific with a large round object!

Western Pacific 704, Oakland Yard, November 27, 1960. I am a tender 17 year old, and our family has travelled to Oakland to spend Thanksgiving with my Uncle. Dad and I drifted down to the Western Pacific to see what's what, and find this gem!

Let me explain why she's a gem.

Shortly after the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the UP-WP-MP merger on December 22, 1982, Western Pacific's locomotives were scattered to the winds, partially due to efforts by Union Pacific to erase all remaining signs of the once proud and unique Western Pacific as quickly as possible.

GP7's 701, 703, 704 705, 706 and 710 were sold to Mountain Diesel Transportation in July, 1987. The large round object on the end of the 704's hood is a longtime Western Pacific trademark: a large, single bulb headlight made by the Pyle National company. Nearly all non-streamlined WP locomotives were built with these lights until 1967.

Originally delivered in the road's Zephyr-inspired
Aluminum & Orange paint scheme, we see her here in the Perlman’s Green scheme. Gem? Yes! She’s been immortalized; Atlas made an N scale model of her!

Railroad Stuff: Western Pacific 704, built by General Motors as GP-7, 1,500 horsepower, October 1952, serial number 17028. Became Union Pacific 102 (having difficulty verifying), and sold to Mountain Diesel Transportation in 1987.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Milwaukee Snow Machine!

Milwaukee Road Rotary X900215, South Tacoma, May 29, 1960. Still bearing her original builders plate - American Locomotive Company, Cooke Works, 8/06 - X900215 was converted from steam to electric drive in 1955.

Conversion included taking out the boiler and drive gear, replaced by two GE traction motors, and adding a pantograph to the roof. While the plow could run the blade from overhead 3,000 volt wire, it proved to be more efficient drawing 600 volt juice from accompanying diesels.

In all, there were four conversions, two assigned to the Rocky Mountain Division, and two, including this unit and her sister on the adjacent track, to the Cascades. All other steam rotaries were scrapped in the ‘70’s.

Found a shot of her hard at work!

Any thoughts as to the oversize journal box?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Righteous young lady!

Northern Pacific 3617, Yakima Washington, July 21, 1967. So I am in my final year in the Air Force, stationed at Hamilton AFB. I became smitten by a righteous young lady, and we consummated our nuptials in the Base Chapel. Ever notice how churches on military bases are “chapels,” not churches?

Be that as it may, we charted out a West Coast honeymoon to see several National Parks, beginning with Mt. Shasta. By and by we ended up in Yakima, on our way to Mt. Rainier National Park.

No sooner had we checked into our motel than I heard the unmistakable sound of heavy horsepower near by. Flipping open the bathroom window, low and behold the mainline of the Northern Pacific!

This lash up was pulling on a westbound freighter and was creeping along meeting an eastbound train. These units were fresh off the assembly line at La Grange, so much so I swear I could smell the
DuPont Imron!

I didn’t stick around to watch the meet complete; remember, I am on my honeymoon, and there is a righteous young lady back in the motel room who does not want to be upstaged by a diesel locomotive!

Railroad Stuff: Northern Pacific 3617, built by General Motors as SD45, 3,600 horsepower, 1967, serial number 33038. Became
Burlington Northern 6417 in 1970, retired in 1987 and scrapped by Pielet Brothers.

Photograph of her sister, BN 6416, nee Northern Pacific 3616, in the so-called
“Cascade Green” scheme.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Great Northern runs up Elliott Avenue

Great Northern 358C, Elliott Avenue, Seattle, July 9, 1960. For the first time since leaving King Street Station, the hogger has a brief opportunity to clear the throats of his two unit consist. Running along Seattle’s waterfront, parallel to Elliott Avenue, the Great Northern’s International Service is running between two of the Pacific Northwest’s beautiful cities – Seattle and Vancouver.

Within moments of passing me, the throttles are pulled back for the restricted speed run through Interbay Yard and out across the Ship Canal over “Bridge Four.” The urge for unleashing the V-16’s continues past Golden Gardens Park, where finally the train can run at speed at water level up the magnificent Puget Sound. On a good day, the Olympic Mountains are seen off in the distance.

In it heyday, Great Northern ran two Internationals a day from between Seattle and Vancouver, from 1950 through 1969. And the fare? $11.25 First Class, $8.90 coach - round trip!

After “The Merger” there were hundreds of locomotives that would require repainting. Here is an example of the “interim” markings; “BN 668” painted on the cab. Looks like employees used a belt sander to try to obliterate the Great Northern logo.

Oh, yeah. The reference to “It’s in the PI” on the Google Earth photo. Every bit a Seattle land mark as the Smith Tower or the Space Needle, the 30-foot glowing ball of the Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper is an absolute beauty at night!

Railroad Stuff: Great Northern 358C, built as General Motors F3A, 1,500 hp, December 1947, serial number 4690. After “The Merger” became Burlington Northern 9708. Scrapped at Precision National in December, 1972.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NW-2. What a History!

Union Pacific 1000, Argo Yard, Seattle, December 13, 1959. Check out the "stove pipes" of this NW2! One of the identifying points, in a addition to the rounded cab windows and unique headlight.

Most of UP’s goats had "Route of the Streamliners" on the cab. Then these signs started showing up - probably the brainchild of someone up at corporate! How does a yard crew "practice" perfect shipping?

Union Pacific owned 95 of a total of 1,143 these 1,000 hp yard gophers, produced from 1939 through 1949, although WWII suspended production from 1942 to 1945.

“N” standing for “Nine hundred horsepower,” and “W” standing for “Welded frame.”

Railroad Stuff: Found this information on the UP 1000 on the UP 1000 was built as Electro Motive Corp. NW2 demonstrator 889; built October 1939, serial number 889, for demonstration service on UP; sold to UP March 1940.

UP 1000 was sold to Stockton Terminal & Eastern Railroad 1000, Stockton, California, in July 1966; sold to WP in October 1968, rebuilt and placed in service as WP 607 in June 1969; sold to Sacramento Northern 607 in May 1973; assigned UP 1886 after December 1982 UP/WP merger but never carried that number.

Retired again in September 1983 and donated to tourist operation Wasatch Mountain Railway, Heber, Utah in May 1984, delivered in early August 1984; repainted back to original UP black switcher paint scheme; sold to Nevada State Railroad Museum in February 1993, moved to Boulder, Nevada in 1994; repainted and re-lettered to Boulder City Southern; re-lettered to Nevada Southern.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Prince Rupert November 18, 1959, Train Orders. In this modern day and age, locomotive operators operate over a subdivision responding to line side light signals. They respond to an immediate, simple stimulus of light signals, and must obey them precisely "stop - go- slow".

But “back in the good old days” operation over the subdivision by time table and train orders required completely different skills, including memory, analysis and judgment, reference to time, comprehension of written instructions, and calculations of time and distance measured out by the mile posts and speed tables.

And, an intimate knowledge of their subdivision. It is, therefore, this type of operation that was infinitely more interesting and stimulating. Railroad men were proud of their skills, and rightly so.

While there are variations on the theme, train orders were written on two types of forms, the so-called "31's," which had to be signed for by a member of the train crew, and "19's," which did not. “31’s” were employed when the dispatcher needed written confirmation that the affected train actually had the order, while the “19’s” were used when he did not.

I spent many an hour at the Yard Office in Prince Rupert as a teenager, watching the telegrapher assemble a set of flimsies – so called because the paper was onion-skin thin, composed of blank train order form 19’s, sandwiched with carbon papers, and reeled into the Remington typewriter.

Imagine what it was like before typewriters! A fellow had better have good penmanship. Can you imagine the engineer asking “what is THIS word?”

“Smack-smack-smack” as the typewriter spelled out instructions from the dispatcher at Smithers, droning out the words over the company telephone line, dictating meets, slow orders, and the minutiae of Northern BC railroading.

The operator in turn, would spell out meeting points, and annunciate numbers back to the dispatcher, to insure accurate communication, to prevent disaster. The dispatcher was referenced only by his initials, for each order in the set, with a communication time, repeated time, and operator’s last name.

The Skeena Subdivision was a Train Order and Time Table operation. There were no radios in those days, only a few track side phones. The entire symphony was played out between Conductor and Engineer, synchronized by the ubiquitous pocket watch.

I am truly blest to have been able to experience these operations. It was really exciting for me as a teenager to watch the Conductor, Engineer and crew trouping into the Yard Office, telling jokes, warming hands, small talk all around; a cup of rotten cup of burnt coffee.

And then the operator hands the stapled – sometimes straight pinned - flimsies to the Conductor and Engineer, who will compare train order sets, check pocket watches against the master clock on the wall behind the operator, sign the Train Register, grab their grips and head out for the locomotives.

Here is a set of Train Orders issued to 1st Class Passenger train number 196, from Prince Rupert to Terrace, the last time I had a chance to ride in the cab. Ten days later, we were back home in Seattle. (Double click on images to enlarge.)

The return trip on 195 had only two orders, the one about speed restrictions – 712 – and 890 referring to cars on sidings. The work crews - 202 - and preceding train – 207 - were irrelevant on the return trip.

I was glad on the return trip on 195 that it was dark in the cab, because as we rumbled through the night, with the chanting of the V-16, the generator whine and smell of diesel oil, I was fighting back tears.

I knew I was going to miss these guys and the Skeena Subdivision.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My First Road Trip on CNR 4215

Canadian National 4215, Prince Rupert, May 1957. This locomotive is of special interest to me, as this was the first road locomotive I rode from Prince Rupert to Terrance on the so-called “Log Train.”

A fellow by the name of Bill Geddes was running the train, I recall the fireman’s name was “Floyd” and the Conductor was Stan Wozney.

The plan was for me to ride to Kwinitsa in the caboose, and do an end for end with the brakeman, who would give me his seat in the locomotive for the run on up to Terrace.

Of course these guys subjected me to the usual pranks afforded newbies, including the “Exploding Locomotive. This called for a wadded up piece of train order being stuffed into the exhaust port on the brake stand. After setting me up with the notion that one of these locomotives could explode, the brake handle was hit, resulting in a loud “pop” which got the desired result!

We whistled off with about two dozen cars, jogging out of Prince Rupert about 10 miles to the Columbia Cellulose Mill at Port Edward, where we picked up 60 or so empty log bunks, to be delivered to Kitsumkalum Log Reload just this side of Terrace.

CNR 4215 is stripped down for branch line rail operations, with a small fuel tank and Flexicoil trucks.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railways 4215, nee 4597, GMD GP-9, 1,750 horsepower, built London, Ontario June 1957, sn A-1249. Renumbered 4380 in 1984, and rebuilt as GP9RM 7021 in 1991. Wrecked at Coteau du Lac, QC on 6 May 1997 along with GP40 9429, retired 27 August 1997.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Espee's Natron Cutoff - End of the line!

My thanks to Union Pacific’s Ms. Zoe Richmond, Director, Corporate Relations and Media, Western Region, who sent me today’s blog photos!

The Southern Pacific’s – now Union Pacific's – Natron Cutoff was a very special place for me. My wife and I spent many, many hours up there on the Willamette Pass, enjoying mountain railroading at it’s best.

We’d pack a lunch, and head out up to Fields, Cruzatte, and Beamer Ranch Road, to photo Espee’s long double horseshoe curvatures up and over the Willamette Pass to Klamath Falls, thence to Grass Lake, Black Butte, down the Cantera Loop to Red Bluff and eventually, the Bay Area.

See also Natron Cutoff #1, Natron Cutoff #2.

So. Photo number 1. End of the line! Rails disappear into a freaking mess of logs, stumps, snow, and earth. Where does one start?

Photo number 2. Ariel view of the upper end, beginning, of the slide, just beneath a logging road.

The slide begins just beneath a logging road, which gives rise as to who is responsible the slide. The slide heads down toward the lower end of the Field’s horseshoe curve, cutting the line for a second time!

And in the red circle?
Vehicles! Now you can grasp the immensity of the slide!

Photo number 3. Union Pacific becomes a logging railroad! More than 200 carloads of timber are hauled down the mountain. Look carefully at the back of the train, and you will see a tong loader loading logs into rail cars.

And finally Photo number 4. Taken from the southernmost point of the slide, looking north. You can barely make out the log loader from Photo number 3, at the other end of the 3,000-foot wipe out.

Ms. Richmond also confirmed that the former Siskiyou line - now Central Oregon Railroad - isn't up to par, which is why they are detouring thru Bend and Salt Lake City.

Railroad Stuff: Union Pacific 576 built by General Motors La Grange as GP38-2, 2,000hp, May 1980, serial number 786272-14.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Espee's Natron Cutoff - More Trouble!

Tripped over a massive slide show - 325 photos - of the landslide that has kept Union Pacific's main north-south Oregeon to California artery shut down for months now. I don't know who the author is, but the photos tell the story of what a difficult situation the railroad faces in clearing up this mess.

Some impressive photos of Wes Lematta's Columbia Helicopter's Boeing 234 "Chinook in action, helping clear some 700,000 board feet of timber caught up in this slide.
Finally, I've read some outrageous information about this slide on the Internet over the past few days. When in doubt, go to the source, to get the correct story!

Union Pacific - Former FP3A

Union Pacific 1454, Argo Yard Seattle, April 1960. Four rectangular and two porthole openings along with chain link fencing, are the hallmarks of the early “Phase II” F3’s.

Although General Motors never referred to “phases” in their catalogs, locomotive enthusiasts created the “phases” to mark the progression of models. 1454 sports the annoying single blat air horn, mark of a true basic model without white-walls or power steering!

UP 1451-1455 were built as UP 964A-968A for passenger service; renumbered to UP 900-904 in March and April 1948. UP 900-902, 904 were re-geared for freight service and renumbered to UP 1451-1452, 1454 in May to November 1953.

I found this unit awaiting assignment at Argo Yard in Seattle. At the time, I didn’t realized how lucky I was to be seeing different railroads in Seattle. We just took it for granted. In 1960 I was one year away from graduation!

Although Union Pacific never laid rails from Portland to Seattle, they signed on the dotted line for track rights over the Northern Pacific, and once in Seattle, they could interchange with the Great Northern for access to Canada.

Note the grab handle under the windshield, but how does one get to it? Well, it turns out they had a ladder with hooks on it, to get to the windshield!

Railroad Stuff: Union Pacific 1454, General Motors F3A, 1,500 hp. Built as UP 967A, September 1947 at LaGrange, serial number 1454. Renumbered 903, renumbered 1454 January 1955. Retired and traded to General Motors in May 1963.