Category Archives: Trips

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 – 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.

New Trip Report – Sumpter Valley Photographers’ Weekend 2014

Continuing with my effort to get through a number of my old photos from the past decade and do something useful with them, I’ve gotten the 2014 Sumpter Valley Railway Photographers’ Weekend shots processed and up. This was the end of the big fall trip in October 2014 that started on the Chelatchie Prairie and then the Oregon Coast Scenic. The SVRy’s Photographers’ Weekend that year was October 18-19, which landed perfectly after the other two charters. So many of us took it in as a bonus for the trip.

Here’s the trip report page. Enjoy!

Our photo train at sunrise, out near the Hawley spur.

New Trip Report – Chelatchie Prairie 2014

I have nearly fifteen years of photography to get through that I haven’t edited, sorted, or published. Since 2020 is the official year of never leaving the house, I’ve had some time to devote to picking out and editing some of the good stuff and getting it online. So there’s going to be a small torrent of trip reports as some of this finally makes it to the web. Plus moving from the old www.drgw.net trip report system to WordPress on my personal site makes it a lot easier to work on a little bit at a time.

Today’s addition is from another Pacific Northwest Pete Lerro charter back in October 2014. This is the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, a short tourist line operating the end of a former Northern Pacific branch between Lucia Falls, Yacolt, and Chelatchie, WA. Power for this trip will be Crossett Western Lumber #10, a 1929 Alco 2-8-2T.

Here’s the link you’re looking for…

Heading north towards Yacolt, just out of the Moulton Falls tunnel.

Steam on the Oregon Coast – 2014 & 2018

I’ve finally gotten around to editing and posting photos from two trips out to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (the former SP Tillamook Branch) for Lerro photo charters. The first is from back in October 2014, and the second is from October 2018. You can find the full trip report here.

McCloud River 25 leads past the “Three Graces” – the large eroded rock structures in the bay – at Barview, OR

New Trip Report – Two Trips to the Texas State RR

In an effort to do literally anything that wasn’t software development or a meeting this evening, I decided to dust off a couple trips I made down to the Texas State Railroad for a pair of photo trains – one in May 2012 while American Heritage Railways (the Durango & Silverton’s parent) was running the line, and another in May 2015 shortly after Iowa Pacific Holdings had taken over and returned some of the equipment to a more historic appearance. I’ve also included a brief history of the route, for anyone curious.

If you’re interested, here’s the page you’re looking for.

Sunset at Palestine, May 2, 2015