New Trip – A Rainy Day with CP 2816

I haven’t posted a lot of stuff lately, not for lack of railfanning, but for lack of time to do anything except dump it on the computer and get back to work. However, I decided that in the interest of timeliness, I’d post the few shots that I got of Canadian Pacific 2816 coming through Iowa about a month ago. I spent a day in the rain on May 9 following it from Savanna, IL, to Davenport, IA, as it worked its way south from Calgary all the way to Mexico City. Click here to go see the few shots I got from the day.

Sometimes you stand in the rain for three hours and think you’re going to get screwed by a local blocking the shot, but at the last minute everything comes together.

Gone Solar

After thinking about it for two decades at various levels of seriousness, I finally started the process of putting a photovoltaic array on the house and taking control of my own power generation. I’m still grid-tied, but should be covering all my own needs for the immediate future.

Now that the year-long project is successfully completed and online, I thought I’d write up a bit about the process, the results, and things I’ve learned for anybody else thinking of doing it. Click here to read the full details.

The new array in action, looking southwest towards Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain.

New Trip Report – Steam in the Cane Fields

It’s been a very busy year, and while I’ve managed to get some time out with the camera, I haven’t had much time to actually process the images and do the write-ups. However, there was one that was close enough I thought I’d get it finished off, so that 2022 didn’t go by without a single railfan trip getting posted.

At the end of January, Trains Magazine ran the first photo charter on US Sugar’s rail system around Clewiston, Florida. These lines primarily serve the sugar industry, bringing cane from the fields to the mill, as well as bringing other supplies in and moving finished product out. Recently, US Sugar completed restoration of former Florida East Coast 4-6-2 #148 as part of a public relations effort. We spent three days out with 148 on the line, seeing parts of the operation that are normally far from the public eye.

Come along and see this very unique operation – the last sugar hauler in North America! Click here for the the full write up and pictures.

The Pyrex 701s of Bisbee, Arizona

As an insulator collector, I was largely born too late to see many of the glass pieces that adorn my house up in the air and doing what they were designed for – carrying the power, telephone, and telegraph signals that built our modern world. There are small pockets, though, where a few have survived on the lines and can still be seen and appreciated in the wild. The former Phelps Dodge power system around Bisbee, AZ, is one of those places. These lines, which powered the mines for some 60 years, still have a few of the largest single-piece glass power insulators ever made – the Pyrex 701s.

Two Pyrex 701s sit unused atop a pole near Highway 92 at Lowell, AZ

On my way back from the annual February Yuma Insulator Swap-meet, I decided to detour down through Bisbee and see what remained. Honestly I was surprised. In the nearly 20 years since I’d last been down here, only a few had disappeared. 20 of these big beauties are still up in the air and visible from public property.

Click here for a little history and photos of what remains of the big Pyrex 701s of Bisbee.

New Trip Report – C&TS Rotary OY Run – Feb 2020

The weekend of Feb 29 – Mar 1, 2020, saw something that hasn’t been seen on Colorado narrow gauge rails in 23 years – a rotary snowplow in action. 150 lucky individuals, including myself, were on hand to witness D&RGW Rotary OY clear snow from the west side of Cumbres Pass for the first time since 1997.

After only 18 months, I’ve finally gotten through my photos and pulled everything together. They’re in a new trip report over here.

Rotary OY works through light snow just above the second crossing on Saturday, Feb 29, 2020.

New Trip Report: Amtrak 301 Across Colorado

On Saturday, July 17, Amtrak’s latest new piece of motive power was added to the eastbound California Zephyr leaving Emeryville – Amtrak ALC-42 #301. 301 is the second of 75 new Siemens Charger locomotives purchased to replace the aging P42DCs on the long distance trains. It also wears a scheme commemorating the very first Amtrak painted locomotive – #4316 – from back when Amtrak was founded in 1971.

With the train running late and having nothing else that I really absolutely had to do on Sunday, I decided to go chase it and see this new engine while it was still pristine. I caught up with it at Glenwood, when it was about 3h30 behind schedule, and wound up chasing it all the way to the Moffat Tunnel. The results can be found in a new trip report – Amtrak 301 Across Colorado.

A first good look at AMTK 301 while the train makes a station stop at Glenwood Springs for a surprisingly large number of passengers

New Trip Report – The Towner Line Lives!

Last Sunday (April 18, 2021), I was finally able to catch a move on the old Missouri Pacific Towner Line. The route used to be a significant route linking the Rio Grande (and later SP) at Pueblo with Kansas City and Chicago. As of the UP merger, traffic evaporated overnight around 1997 and most of us here in Colorado had given the line up for dead. Sure, the state bought it and preserved it for a while, but when it was sold to a scrapper masquerading as a short line, we all assumed it was just a matter of time.

Then Stefan Soloviev showed up. A billionaire whose business interests (KCVN, LLC and Crossroads Agriculture) own some 78,000 acres in eastern Colorado along the route, he recognized the value of rail transportation to his ag enterprises and put an offer on the table to purchase and refurbish the line for use. It took several years, but the STB finally pried it away from the scrappers and forced the sale in 2018 to his new railroad, the Colorado Pacific. The last several years have been spent doing millions in repairs and upgrades. Still, while the line is in better shape than it’s been in a while, train traffic has been sparse thus far. When I got word they’d be pulling 134 coal gons out of storage and hauling them east on a beautiful spring Sunday, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get out with the camera. I’ve been waiting to photograph a train on the eastern part of the line for 21 years now, and I finally got it. It’s the most fun you can have at 15-25 mph.

Photos from the trip are posted here.

New Trip Report – Snow Goose!

In February 2017, Rio Grande Southern “Galloping Goose” #5 did something it hadn’t done since the end of the RGS in 1952 – run in the wintertime. Brought over to the Durango & Silverton RR in coordination with the railroad’s Winter Photographers’ Special, RGS 5 ran sold out trips Friday-Sunday sporting its brand new (but historically accurate) snow plow.

Speeding along through some gloriously snowy weather

Check out this latest trip report for three days of RGS 5 and D&S action in the snow.

New Trip Report – SP 18 on the D&S

Thanks to more mind-numbing meetings, I’ve gotten the photos processed and sorted from the SP 18 winter photo train on the Durango & Silverton back in on Feb 16, 2019. This Saturday trip and the following Monday (which I couldn’t attend because my employer needed me in Memphis) wound up being the only public photography trips that ran during the 10 months that SP 18 stayed on the D&S.

You can see the full trip report and photos here.

SP 18 up around Tall Timber

New Trip Report – FoCTS 2016 Flanger Trip

Continuing to slowly work through my photographic backlog as life allows, I’ve gone back to March 12-13, 2016, when the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic ran a snow flanging special west from Antonito. Unfortunately, unlike the 2015 trip, we weren’t blessed with much snow, but there were a few spots to get snow shots. It did, however, yield one of my absolute favorite narrow gauge shots of all time – a sunrise at Hangman’s Trestle, just west of Antonito.

Here’s the link to the 2016 Flanger Trip Report.

D&RGW 487 pushes through a bit of snow just west of Big Horn, NM.