When I was growing up under the tutelage of my wise old grandmother in Kingsville, Texas, I used to sneak out and go down to the railroad yards. I had to be careful sneaking out, obviously, but I also had to be careful at the railroad yards since that’s where my granddad worked as a Road Foreman of Engines for Missouri Pacific. My dad and his three brothers also worked for Missouri Pacific at various times, so they could have friends there who might recognize me. It was dangerous, and I’m not even talking about possibly getting smushed by a train!
Railroad classification yards have always fascinated me. When I moved to Houston in 1977, I quickly found Englewood Yard and Settegast Yard. Both are huge classification yards, both now operated by Union Pacific, but formerly used by Southern Pacific (Englewood) and Missouri Pacific (Settegast). Unfortunately, we don’t have much of a railroad yard here in San Diego, , and the one we do have is not accessible to rail fans without, say, a 1200mm camera lens.
Up in Los Angeles, however, they have several classification yards. I think the huge Hobart Yard is the biggest, but there also are several huge intermodal yards, which is where trains, big rigs, and ships come together. Truckers who don’t want to drive cross-country can move their truckloads by train. Containers from ships travel the same way. Huge cranes lift the trucks and containers on and off the rail cars.
Intermodal rail traffic (trucks and containers riding on trains) is heaviest in the nation going into and out of Los Angeles, most of it handled by the Union Pacific Railroad. When I was up in San Bernardino at Railroad Days on April 13, I got to watch some intermodal cranes in action at the BNSF San Bernardino Intermodal Yard from the top of a bridge that spanned the rail yard. Here’s how it works in a 1:50 video:
Of course, I took lots of pictures and videos of trains. Following is a video of a BNSF freight train rumbling past ATSF 3751, the 1927 steam engine that I went up to see. I had the pleasure of riding in the consist being pulled by ATSF 3751 from San Bernardino back to Union Station in Los Angeles that day, and for just $40!
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