Pass November 2002. Part 1. Waiting at Caliente
|Tehachapi is a name
all over the trainspotting world. The railway line climbing up the
pass over the Tehachapi mountains topped by the loop where a long
freight train will actually pass over itself in order to gain the extra
height needed to get over the top of the pass. Most all railfans know
of it. In November of 2002 my wife and I were lucky enough to be in
California visiting her sister, and when I found out we were only going
to be less than 2 hours drive from Tehachapi I just had to go.
Surprisingly my wife and her sister both agreed to come along on the
The drive was a little longer than I thought but we arrived at the lineside at Bealville about noon and found a MOW crew there. I asked them when I might expect to see trains that day. They told me that the line was closed until 3pm for track inspections. This is pretty much a daily occurence and should anyone go to Tehachapi trainspotting for the first time you should be aware of this mid-day shut down.
So with three hours to kill we drove around looking at the countryside which was really quite spectacular in places and we arrived back at Caliente, the base of the pass, just before 3pm just as the first train pulled up a drew to a halt.
|Five loco's! Who
wants to double
head when you can lash up like that! Four C-44's and an NREX leased SD
(in UP colours no less) would be the train that I would chase up the
hill to the loop. The roll call is, C44's No's 4106, 739, 5393 and 5229
The NREX leased SD is No. 5087 As an interesting aside, I spotted the
second unit in this lash up No. 739 in Elk River, MN only a couple of
|But things were not
to be so
simple some of the line up the pass is single track so we had to wait
train to come down the pass first and there, in the distance, it was,
coming down the hill. A BNSF container train.
|As it came down the
hill I could
hear the breaks squeaking and squealing. Then it rounded the curve at
the base of the grade and turned to face my camera. I could see I had a
warbonnet SD70MAC No. 122 sandwiched between 2 C44's No. 4662 leading
and 4440 bringing up the rear
|It passed by my
and eased off into the distance. I was ready to chase my train up the
hill... Not so fast! There was another coming down. As this one came
down the hill brakes squeaking I was feeling that this was going to be
special day indeed.
|A triple headed BNSF
train, it passed by, saluted the waiting train with a blast of its horn
and headed off west. Three C-44's No's. 4466, 4494 and 4406 looked
impressive to my eyes. Strange to think that now over 5 years later I'm
pretty sick of them.
|Now I was ready. But my train
wasn't, there was another one coming down the hill! I could see yellow
at the front this was to be a UP train
|UP locomotives do
impressive with that big American flag on the side. What we have here
is an SD70M No. 5039 on the lead and a pair of C44AC- CTE's No's. 5822
and 5813. I got a cheery wave
from the driver and that train headed out to Bakersfield. OK then lets
go up the hill. I was ready. Woah Emma! Not so fast there! There's
another train coming down
|A mixed freight this
time. With a mixed bag of power on the front a C44-9W No. 4862 leading,
and a pair of SD40's 6955 and 6754. It
followed the usual routine coming down the hill, brakes squeaking and
squealing, rounded the curve and headed off west. As this one arrived
though the sun came out to brighten things up.
|But this one also had
surprise for me. Some extra power at the rear another BNSF C44-9W, No.
4406 and a Norfolk Southern D9-40C, No. 8803. Pretty unusual I thought
to see an Eastern loco such as this out on the West coast. It must have
been paying back some horsepower miles or something
|Now I was ready and
so was my
train. Lets go on to page 2 and follow the train up the hill...>>>